- Oliver Perez became the latest Mets injury casualty Wednesday when the team announced he will undergo season-ending surgery on his right knee. An MRI revealed that Perez has "patella tendon tendinosis," the Mets said in a statement.
It's unclear how significant a role his injury played in Perez's poor performance this season.
"I would say his knee issue probably had an effect on maybe his conditioning," manager Jerry Manuel said. "Even though you try to do different things, a lot of times pitchers have to get out and hit this ground and get turned over and those types of things instead of doing things in the gym. ... Now, I can't say how much of an effect or how long it has hampered him to perform to the expectations we had for him."
Perez walked 58 hitters in 66 innings this season, or 7.91 per nine innings. That's the worst ratio since Bobby Witt walked 8.81 per nine innings in 1987 ... after having walked 8.16 per nine innings in 1986 ... and he would walk 7.51 per nine innings in 1991!*
* Witt enjoyed sort of an amazing career, when you really look at it. He did eventually tame his fastball to a point, and among pitchers with at least 500 career innings, his 5.02 walks per nine innings is just 12th worst. What's more, he pitched until he was 37 and won 142 games in the majors. Sure, he also lost 157. But for a guy who could well have just given up after his first few seasons, Witt enjoyed one fine career.
Oliver Perez isn't the only pitcher this season with big-time control problems, as Rich Hill (6.24 walks per nine innings) and Dontrelle Willis (7.5) also come immediately to mind. Those three had me wondering if there's been anything special about this season ... and as usual, there's not. I mean, we've seen already that Perez is special. But since 2000, 14 different pitchers -- including Perez and Kazuo Ishii, twice each -- have pitched at least 50 innings in a season and walked more than six batters per nine innings.
Sometimes they can even get away with it. In 2004, Victor Zambrano walked 6.46 per nine innings and still went 11-7 with a 4.37 ERA. In 2002, Ishii walked 6.19 per nine innings and still went 14-10 with a 4.27 ERA ... and the next year he walked 6.18 per nine and posted a 3.86 ERA!
It never works for long, though. Ishii last pitched in the majors in 2005, and Zambrano won only eight games in the majors after his big-walk season. It's just not the way game works.
Perez and Hill might not be unique. But if they don't stop throwing so many pitches so obviously outside the strike zone, they'll soon be non-unique in the non-major leagues.