Number 5: Octavio Dotel
|Octavio Dotel age 28-30||2.64||69||1.00||269.2||31.3||8.4||5.92||6.0|
|Craig Kimbrel age 28-30||2.44||57||0.91||184.1||42.3||10.4||5.14||6.0|
|Difference in Performance (Kimbrel – Dotel)||-0.2||-12||-0.09||-85.1||+11||+2.0||-0.78||+0|
|Octavio Dotel age 31-35||4.03||95||1.41||185.1||28.2||12.1||-0.48||1.4|
After watching him toil in mediocrity for the better part of a decade, it’s become easy to forget how dominant Octavio Dotel was in the early stages of his career.
From 2002-2004 – his age-28 through age-30 seasons – Dotel struck out 31.3% of batters, maintained an ERA of 2.64, and allowed a batting average against of just .183 in the middle of the steroid era.
Unfortunately, Dotel underwent Tommy John surgery in May of 2005 and managed to pitch only 56 innings between 2005 and 2007. He had a pretty clean bill of health after that point and pitched all the way through his age-39 season. However, he was never the same. Dotel failed to earn more than half of his 2004 fWAR total in a single season again until 2012.
Obviously, if Kimbrel undergoes Tommy John surgery next year his contract would be disastrous. But, while predicting injuries is a difficult task, there is little reason to think Kimbrel is a high risk for any major arm issues. Dotel threw at least 85 innings every year up through his age-30 season. In contrast, Kimbrel has not thrown more than 70 innings in a season since 2011. Kimbrel also lacks some of the tells of arm troubles. Namely, he has no history of elbow or shoulder injuries and his pitch repertoire doesn’t scream disaster. Specifically, he relies heavily on a curveball and doesn’t have a slider, which are two positive traits for pitchers hoping to avoid Tommy John surgery.
Dotel represents the worst case scenario for a Kimbrel contract, but it also doesn’t appear to be the most likely one.