MLB Free Agency 2013: Why Mike Adams Is Overrated and Jason Grilli Isn't

Charles BennettSenior Analyst INovember 4, 2012

After posting a 3.27 ERA in 2012, Mike Adams' status as the number-one free-agent setup man is undeserved.
After posting a 3.27 ERA in 2012, Mike Adams' status as the number-one free-agent setup man is undeserved.J. Meric/Getty Images

Many articles have placed Texas Rangers reliever Mike Adams at or near the top of the list of MLB free-agent setup men, a list that also includes Luis Ayala, Jason Grilli, Joel Peralta and Jeremy Affeldt. 

Some have even placed him at or near the top of all free-agent relievers, a list that includes Jose Valverde, Rafael Soriano and Brandon League.

He shouldn't be that high on the list.  And there are a couple reasons why.

One is his age. Adams is 34.  Even among relief pitchers, 34 is an age at which most players have peaked.  And if Adams is signed to a multi-year deal, you're looking at holding on to him until he's 36 or 37, well past his prime. 

True, most of the current crop of middle-relief free agents are around that age, with the exception of the underwhelming Francisco Rodriguez (2-7, 4.38 ERA).  But he is a good five years older than Brandon League, and a year-and-a-half younger than Soriano.

Another thing you want in a setup man is the potential to step into the closer's role, which Adams would have a sporting chance of doing at some point in a multi-year deal.  Adams has only converted four saves in his career, but has blown 17.

But the most compelling evidence that Adams is overrated are his underwhelming stats from 2012.

Adams posted a 3.27 ERA.  Ayala's was 2.64, Affeldt's was 2.70 and Grilli's was 2.91.

Adams recorded 27 holds.  Not bad. Five fewer than K-Rod or Grilli, and 10 fewer than Peralta.

Adams notched 7.7 strikeouts per nine.  That's barely half of what Grilli (13.8 K/9) got, and is considerably lower than Peralta (11.3) and K-Rod (10) as well.

One stat that I personally consider is OPS allowed.  Adams ceded a .718 OPS.  That's about dead-even with Ayala, but is .083 worse than Grilli and .089 worse than Peralta.

This isn't even comparing him to closers; both Soriano (2.26 ERA) and League (3.13 ERA) have better ERAs than him.  The two also combined for 56 more saves than Adams.  

Also, Adams' WHIP on the season was a disappointing 1.39.  

Bottom line: I'd probably take Luis Ayala or Jeremy Affeldt over Mike Adams, and I'd definitely take Jason Grilli over Mike Adams.