Why Jon Rauch Could Be The Man of The Rays’ Hour | The Process Report

Why Jon Rauch Could Be The Man of The Rays’ Hour

Brian Fuentes appears to Oakland-bound, which leaves one more relatively big-named reliever on the market. That reliever is Jon Rauch, who Tommy briefly mentioned last week. The Rays reportedly have interest in Rauch, which should shock no one, and I would offer the chances of him winding up here as decent if only because there are few closer jobs available.

Rauch is an odd bird. He once served as the ace of the U.S. Olympic team and had issues with injuries throughout the minors. A Google Image search returns evidence of Rauch’s myriad of tattoos (including at least two on his neck and one that runs down his spine), a goatee that gives Matt Garza pause, shaggy hair, a downright creepy mug shot, and a few side-by-side comparisons of the 6’11” Rauch and shorter players.

He broke into the majors as a 23-year-old with the Chicago White Sox as a starting pitcher. Eventually the Montreal Expos converted him to relief and he spent his time with the Washington Nationals until heading to Arizona in 2008 in a midseason trade. Rauch again switched teams in 2009, this time heading to Minnesota, where he spent the last season and a half.

Now he’s a relatively obscure free agent coming off a strong season as a late inning reliever with a playoff team. Using xFIP to evaluate Rauch appears to be worthless. He’s a tall dude who gets a lot of flyballs perhaps not by his choice, but his home run per flyball rate is less than 8% for his career and right around 7.5% over the last three seasons.

His BABIP since 2008 is .310 despite 14% of his flyballs being of the infield variety (i.e. auto outs) which seemed unusual, but Jonathan Papelbon holds essentially the same BABIP and infield fly rate (.306 and 13.6%) which should ease the concerns. Rauch’s ERA and FIP since 2008 have been nearly identical (3.66 and 3.64) and not too far off from Kerry Wood (3.55 and 3.43) who signed the baseball equivalent of a sweetheart deal with the Chicago Cubs earlier this offseason.

Rauch may not be Rafael Soriano, but he’s not hittable either. For their careers, a lower percentage of Rauch’s hits allowed have gone for extra bases, while only 0.3% more plate appearances wound up going for two or more. With the exception of a weird 2009, Rauch’s career marks against righties (.238/.280/.372) mostly stand true to form. The same can be said about his career line against lefties (.255/.328/.417) that’s not perfect by any means, but it should play up better in the ninth inning than Octavio Dotel.

With all the talk about how Garza benefited from playing for the Rays – what with Tropicana Field’s layout and elements creating a flyball pitcher’s dream dome – it seems a relationship would be mutually beneficial.


  1. I.Welsh-Art wrote:

    It’d be great to have him on the team so Neimann doesn’t feel like he’s in a land of smurfs. In all seriousness, adding him to our bullpen may add to the “intimidation” factor you touched on with Farnsworth. This guy looks like a monster and doesn’t seem very poised like Soriano was, he seems like he puts his emotion out there, which I like. MFIKY was a nice nickname for Soriano but the only time he showed any attitude was at the end of the game. With Farnsworth pitching for us with his attitude and then if Rauch was up there, I’d be kinda scared.

    Twins took advantage of his scariness.

  2. Hatfield wrote:

    Oh wow. I mean… wow. The awesomeness of that video is absolutely off the charts.

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