The offseason is unfortunately here and so we are simultaneously tasked with reflecting on the 2015 season and looking forward to next spring. As part of Rumbunter’s off-season coverage, we will be grading out virtually every member of the Pittsburgh Pirates who spent substantial time on the team’s 25-man roster over the past season. We will look at their seasons as a whole, show you their relevant stats, and assign a final grade to each player. Today’s entry: Joakim Soria
The Pittsburgh Pirates finished the 2015 season with the league’s best bullpen in terms of ERA and this mid season acquisition was a huge part of the bullpen during the final stretch of the regular season. Joakim Soria was acquired from the Detroit Tigers in a trade for minor leaguer, JaCoby Jones and instantly became the team’s other primary setup man.
Joakim Soria went from the closer of the Detroit Tigers to the seventh/eighth inning man on the Pirates and he took to that job like a fish to water. His overall numbers with the Pirates were absolutely outstanding, pitching to a 2.03ERA and more important a 1.93FIP, coupled with his fairly solid numbers with the Tigers, Soria had an outstanding 2015 season and probably priced himself out of the Pirates’ plans for 2016. However, most fans and the organization knew that Soria was always going to be a rental, so him playing well for the Pirates was all anyone could have asked for. Soria got to pitch for a contender and the Pirates got another reliable arm for the best bullpen in baseball.
The biggest surprise for Soria was his substantial platoon split as he absolutely thrived on right handed batters, but had some struggles against lefties, especially compared to how dominant he was against righties. While neither really dominated Soria, it’s fairly obvious that in terms of match-ups, Soria is better against righties.
The platoon split isn’t completely staggering on the Pedro Alvarez scale of platooning, but it is something that I am sure Clint Hurdle was aware of and probably influenced when he used Soria and who he used him against. Most pitchers generally have a better hand to pitch against, but when the numbers involve a batting average almost 100 points higher and a slugging percentage over 160 points higher, it is something to pay attention to. Despite this, Soria was still a very reliable and at times dominant pitcher for the Pirates.
It was never a secret that Soria was going to be a rental for the Pirates and when you trade for a rental, you have one goal in mind and that is get the most out of a player before sending him on his way in the offseason. Soria was very good with the Tigers, but he really took his game to another level when he put on the black and gold.
The biggest area of improvement was his FIP, which showed that there wasn’t any luck in Soria’s performance and if anything, he was actually slightly unlucky in his time with the Pirates. While in Detroit, his ERA completely outperformed his FIP, but in Pittsburgh, in much more meaningful games, Soria was as good as advertised as his FIP was slightly lower than his ERA. While many fans got a little nervous when Soria entered the game, there was nothing to fear as more often than not, Soria did his job as well as anyone not named Mark Melancon and Tony Watson.
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