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Tigers sign Benoit to fortify their bullpen

Joaquin Benoit

BenoitThe Detroit Tigers signed relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit to a three year, $16.5 million contract on Wednesday. The 33-year-old right-hander was 1-2 with a 1.34 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 60 ⅓ innings this year as a setup man for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Benoit had one of the best relief pitcher seasons of this generation, from one perspective. His walks + hits per nine innings pitched was among the best rates ever.

Best WHIP in Season, Minimum 60 IP

According to Inside Edge, no pitcher who faced at least 100 batters last season got hitters to chase pitches out of the strike zone more frequently than Benoit. If he threw a pitch out of the strike zone, there was a better than one in three chance that the hitter swung.

His most effective pitch was his changeup, which was a putaway pitch with 2 strikes. According to Inside Edge, the typical right-handed pitcher gets hitters to chase at two-strike changeups 44 percent of the time, and gets hitters to miss 28 percent of the time. Benoit's rates were way above the norm -- 60.8 chase percentage and a 45.2 miss percentage.

Highest Chase Pct 2010 Minimum 100 Batters Faced

Fangraphs has a metric that measures pitch effectiveness by run value (basically looking at how often it's used to get outs in important situations). Among AL pitchers who threw at least 50 innings, no pitcher had a higher effectiveness per 100 changeups than Benoit did.

Also, this signing marks a change in approach for the Tigers when it comes to free agency.

Since 1990-91, this is the first time the Tigers gave a deal of three years or more to a free agent reliever. In fact, it's the first time the Tigers have signed a free agent pitcher to at least a three-year deal since they gave David Wells 3 years and $7.5 million in the 1993-94 offseason.