New Oakland Athletics closer Sean Doolittle wasn’t able to hit a game-tying home run in the bottom of the 10th on Sunday against the Boston Red Sox, but he’s been about as dominating as you can get from the bump thus far this season. The former minor league position player has not yielded a run in his last 24.1 innings. He has struck out 37, walked one and given up six hits during that span.
To put that into perspective, Doolittle’s WHIP since yielding four runs to the Houston Astros in late April is 0.29.
Sean Doolittle has retired 34 of the last 35 batters he has faced and 60 of the last 64. #Athletics
— Oakland Athletics (@Athletics) June 22, 2014
Overall this season, the left-handed reliever has struck out 50 and walked just one batter. He boasts a 2.00 ERA, but if you take that one disastrous performance against Houston out of the equation, Doolittle’s ERA on the year is 1.00. His WHIP is 0.58 and the opposition is hitting a mind-numbingly low .157 against him in 2014.
Back to the K/BB ratio for a second.
Hall of Fame pitcher Dennis Eckersley had what has to be considered one of the best seasons for an A’s reliever in the history of the franchise back in 1990. He posted a .061 ERA with 73 strikeouts compared to four walks. “Eck” gave up a total of five earned runs in 73.1 innings pitched while recording 48 saves. In the end, his WHIP (0.61) was the same as his ERA. That’s utterly ridiculous.
The A's Sean Doolittle (48 K, 1 BB) is the first pitcher since 1900 to strike out 45 batters prior to issuing his second BB (@EliasSports)
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 19, 2014
Based on what Doolittle has done thus far this season, he could very well be looking at an Eckersley-type season. If his current pace holds up, not only will Doolittle’s season make it to legendary status in Oakland, it could very well be one of the best statistical seasons in the history of the game for a reliever.
Look at these following numbers (via ESPN).
Now compare them to Doolittle for a second. The A’s reliever would rank outside of the top-five in batting average against, but would tie Koji Uehara with the lowest on-base percentage allowed and rank right behind “Eck” with the lowest OPS allowed.
Continuing his run of the last two months throughout the second half of the year will place Doolittle’s season among the best in the history of the game for a reliever. Besides earning him an All-Star appearance, it could very well garner the lefty some Cy Young votes.
This is how good he has been. And to think, he’s just a few years removed from hitting 22 homers in the A’s minor league system as a position player. This takes the term “moneyball” to an entirely new level.
Photo: Sports on Earth