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Kansas City Royals Closer Greg Holland Has Been Dominant


One of the bigger omissions for the All-Star rosters is the closer for the Kansas City Royals, Greg Holland, who has been dominant for most of 2013. While it was great the Royals garnered two deserving spots instead of the single, unearned, token spot an undeserving Royals players took up in past seasons, a case could be made for two or three other Royals players as well. The most deserving is Greg Holland.

Jun 26, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Greg Holland (56) delivers a pitch in the ninth inning of the game against the Atlanta Braves at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

It was surprising the Royals got two players elected and one of them was not Greg Holland. Both Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez deserve to go, but so does Holland. He has been one of the most dominant closers of the season. Some of his numbers are staggering.

Thus far in the 2013 season, in 35 appearances, Holland has thrown 34 innings. He has a 1.85 ERA, and a .941 WHIP – both outstanding. He’s 2-1, with 21 saves. These are all terrific numbers but a look at some other numbers show just how incredible he has been.

In March, KC Kingdom discussed what Holland needed to do to be a dominant closer, namely, work at reducing his walks. Well, he has done that, and more.

In 34 innings, he has only allowed 7 earned runs, only 21 hits, and has issued just 11 walks. He has struck out 59! 59! Among all qualifying pitchers, all starters, Yu Darvish leads the majors with a Strikeouts Per 9 Innings ratio of 11.84, which is outstanding. Greg Holland’s K/9 is 15.6. Yes, the best relievers will be better than the top starters, but 4 strikeouts per 9 innings better? Come on!

Adam Wainwright leads the world in Strikeouts Per Walk Ratio with an incredible 9.0 mark (He has walked only 13 in 133.2 IP. he has struck out 117). If Holland were a starter, and had the same ratio, he would rank 4th in the majors with a 5.36 K/BB.

It may seem a bit slanted to compare these numbers with starters. How does he stack up with some of the relievers who made the American League All-Star team? Joe Nathan – his ERA and WHIP are even better than Holland’s but his K/9 is 9.5 and his K/BB is 4.20. How about legendary Mariano Rivera? His ERA is as good but his WHIP is much higher. His K/9 is 8.4 and his K/BB stands at 4.43, both marks significantly lower than Holland’s.

What about Brett Cecil? This Toronto reliever has had an incredible year, kind of out of nowhere, but his numbers are great. Both his ERA and Whip are better than Holland’s but neither of his ratios are – 10.5 (K/9) and 3.47 (K/BB). Glen Perkins? His numbers are better than you may think – 1.93 ERA, .765 WHIP, 12.4 K/9, and 6.43 K/BB (wow!). These guys all belong and it would be hard to bump any of these guys, even for Holland. Jesse Crain‘s numbers don’t compare either, and he is injured!

What about the players who were including in the fans choice vote. Joaquin Beniot? Nope – only his ERA is better. All of Holland’s numbers are better than David Robertson‘s. Steve Delabar? His ERA is better, and he has 5 wins, but nothing else is even close Holland’s numbers.

What were they thinking when they included Tanner Scheppers on the list? Nope! His numbers don’t hold a candle to Holland’s. Koji Uehara is actually the only one of these that maybe should have been on the list with Greg Holland and he has all of 5 saves.

It’s not like Holland built his numbers up during a great April. He has been getting better and better as the season progresses. He has not walked a batter since June 16th, over 9 appearances. He has struck out the side in 4 of his last 6 innings, and 2 in one of the others. He has not pitched an inning without at least one strikeout since May 30th – 17 appearances. Since May 6th, covering 22 outings, he has only allowed 2 runs. He has only surrendered 12 hits since April.

There is just no logical explanation as to why Greg Holland wasn’t selected for at least the chance to be voted in. His numbers and performances are better than all 5 candidates with only Uehara being comparable, and he is not an everyday closer.

One other reliever with a legitimate beef with being left out is Grant Balfour, who has been great, as well. Not only has Balfour saved 23 games this season, but he has 41 consecutive save opportunities converted, going back to last season. Both he and Holland should have been a choice for the fans’ vote, at the very least.

While Holland’s ERA and WHIP are very good, it is his strikeout numbers that show just how dominant he has been this season, especially in May, June, and July. A look at his stats and his performances as a whole show he has been magnificent and he deserved a place on the All-Star team. If any pitchers need to be replaced because of injuries, or for any other reasons, Greg Holland should be one of first guys called, if not the very first guy.

Greg Holland is now a dominant closer.