Pull up the name ‘Blaine Boyer’ on the MLB Video website, and you’ll find multiple videos from this season of the Kansas City Royals’ ginger reliever getting key outs in important situations. MLB Video would like you to believe that he’s just another baseball player doin’ his job and gettin’ outs.
The actual evaluation of Boyer is, in fact, the opposite, like when you bite into a soft chocolate chip cookie only to find out that the chocolate chips are actually guinea pig testicles.
‘Woah,’ you probably just thought, ‘I thought that was going to be ‘raisins!’’ Well, uh, we are unfortunately way beyond Blaine Boyer and the Sneaky Raisin Cookie and are full-on into much more brutal metaphors, because Boyer is having one of the worst seasons of all time.
Pitchers getting crushed in limited playing time is just a fact of baseball. Remember Ryan Verdugo? The left-handed starting pitcher made his big league debut and final appearance on the same day in 2012 for the Royals. Verdugo started a July game against the Seattle Mariners, threw 1.2 innings, and allowed six runs on 10 baserunners. That’s good for a 32.40 ERA, which is an astonishingly awful career number but still not the worst in Royals history. That honor belongs to Chris Booker, whose delightful inning for the 2006 Royals yielded a 54.00 ERA, a 27 BB/9, and a 51.15 FIP. Booker, thankfully, pitched a few more innings in his career to lower that ERA to something that was modestly more respectable.
Managers usually don’t allow apocalyptic pitchers to get a bunch of playing time because it’s very clear that these guys don’t have it, which is why you don’t usually see single season ERAs in double-digits if a pitcher also has double-digit innings. In other words, managers will recognize that their pitcher is repeatedly noodling about on the mound and will stop putting them in the position to noodle in the first place.
But not Ned. Nope; not Ned Yost, Hunter of Beasts and Recoverer of Hips and Desecrator of Pitchers, who with Boyer is throwing him to the wolves without nary a stick to defend himself.
So not all of this is on Boyer, but since Yost isn’t doing the pitching for Boyer Shuri-style Boyer must nevertheless shoulder some of the blame, though maybe he shouldn’t, because his shoulder is causing mayhem and gnashing of teeth.
I went to Fangraphs and dialed in a few settings before pressing ‘submit,’ after which the Fangraphs servers probably sighed and mumbled with disgust at my query as they pulled the 21,647 individual player-seasons of all pitchers with at least 10 innings since 1969 from their digital vaults. This filtered out the Verdugo-esque dumpster fires of a season, the pitchers who were so bad they couldn’t get to 10 innings on the year. At the same time, it kept all the people who got to 10 innings on the year but were bad enough to earn the metaphor ‘like guinea pig testicles’ from a sports writer on the internet.
And, ah, here you go! The worst seasons over the past 50 years among anybody with at least 10 innings pitched filtered by ERA!
Yes, you’re reading that correctly. Boyer’s 2018 is the sixth-worst year by ERA among all 21,647 individual player-seasons in the past half century.
Boyer’s other marks are just exclamations on the year. His FIP of 9.00 ranks 67th-worst, and his K/BB of 0.5 ranks 194th-worst, placing him in the 99th percentile or better (er, worse, I guess?) in both categories in addition to his ninety-nine point, uh, ninth percentile in ERA suckitude.
For Royals fans tired of Boyer’s withered arm or of Yost not caring or noticing just how badly Boyer is getting shellacked, there is some light at the end of the tunnel. While there were 171 pitchers with a double-digit ERA with at least 10 innings pitched, that total shrinks to 40 who kept a double-digit ERA through 20 innings and only 11 with a double-digit ERA through 30 innings. Being that awful for so long is hard, and since the deck is stacked in the pitchers’ favor anyway it’s easy to luck or regress into some merely bad results as opposed to the results that violate Geneva Convention statues on torture. And, of course, managers tend to stop playing their bad players at some point anyway.
So chin up, Royals fans. Either he’ll be better or Yost will stop playing him and will turn to Richard Lovelady or Josh Staumont or something. But until then, bask in the historic awfulness that has been Boyer’s 2018 season. His bus heroics notwithstanding, of course.