Todd Coffey Signs With Dodgers

This may seem odd, but Todd Coffey is one of my favorite relievers in baseball. I have this thing for middling, fringe-y relief pitcher — Casey Fossum has stolen my heart — and there’s just so much of Coffey to love. How can you not love a teddy bear like him, especially considering he’s an underrated asset?

We tend to complain and moan about the large, guaranteed salaries that relief pitchers receive, but this deal looks excellent for the Dodgers. Coffey has a checkered history, seemingly oscillating between success (3.62 ERA, 3.41 FIP in 2011) and mediocrity (4.76 ERA, 4.20 FIP in 2010), but his peripherals paint him as a reliever with more upside than downside. His strikeout rate (17 percent career) and walk rate (7 percent) are both average to above average, and Coffey’s one weakness over his career has been homers (12 percent HR/FB rate). But in the pitcher-friendly Dodgers Stadium, Coffey should be in a perfect position to succeed.

The one caveat is that Coffey has wide platoon splits. He’s solely a two-pitch pitcher — four-seam fastball, slider — and his fastball is below-average while his slider is excellent. As a result, Coffey is much more effective against same-handed hitters (righties) than he is against opposite-handed hitters (lefties). He throws his slider 51 percent of the time against righties and gets swinging strikes on 38 percent of them, but he throws his slider less often against lefties (22 percent) and receives considerably fewer swinging strikes (21 percent).

Coffey struck out 21% of the right-handed batters he faced last season, compared with only 13% of left-handed hitters. He also held righties to weaker contact (.219 BABIP) than lefties (.388 BABIP), which all suggests that Coffey should be used primarily as a right-handed specialist.

Despite having this limitation, Coffey can be a valuable asset to the Dodgers if they use him well. Dan Wheeler is a similar pitcher to Coffey — wide platoon splits; home run issues; much better against righties — and the Rays were able to leverage his appearances so that his 3.35 ERA in 2010 was his worst in Tampa Bay. So the question remains: will the Dodgers be smart enough not to use Coffey against lefties? If so, they may have gotten one of the better deals of the off-season.




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Steve is the editor-in-chief of DRaysBay and the keeper of the FanGraphs Library. You can follow him on Twitter at @steveslow.


13 Responses to “Todd Coffey Signs With Dodgers”

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  1. JMag043 says:

    Coffey was my neighbor a few years back.

    All around nice dude. He always greeted my friends and I with “Howdy Y’all”.

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  2. DavidYoungTBLA says:

    Dan Wheeler also signed a minor-league deal with Cleveland. Colletti guarantees Coffey $1.3M. Sure Wheeler’s three years older, 34 vs. 31, but for one year, who cares? Not that big a deal, but …

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  3. Brian says:

    I like my Coffey like I like my women – black?

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  4. will h says:

    Plus fans get to watch his run to the mound get timed… is that an “intangible”?

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  5. Bill says:

    Will, don’t forget his Ultimate Warrior theme music while he runs to the mound.

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      Does he run back and forth and shake the guard rails too? Then by the time he’s done, he’s too winded to perform? He should come out to a playing of a Folgier’s commercial.

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  6. DodgersKingsoftheGalaxy says:

    The blogs have his vids and gifs, even one where the coach spreads his arms out as if to call for the “big guy” to the pen lol
    If a guy is going to remind me of Susan Coffey all season he’s ok with me :)

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    • Antonio Bananas says:

      Really? A scrawney pale ginger with no butt or boobs is your thing? Do you have a Pippi Longstocking fetish?

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    • Bryz says:

      If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t even connect Todd and Susan. That sounds absurd, doesn’t it?

      Don’t listen to Antonio Bananas. I approve of Susan Coffey, and Antonio, no, I do not have a thing for Pippi Longstocking. But I do have a thing for cute gingers.

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      • Antonio Bananas says:

        You like Christina Hendricks then? I do, but she actually looks like a woman. I just don’t find women without either a butt or breasts to be attractive. They look underage to me and it grosses me out. Sure Susan Coffey is cute, but so are puppies and babies.

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      • Bryz says:

        Hendriks: She looks good in some pics, not-so-good in others. Anyway, I’m not interested in motorboating a woman.

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  7. Professor Oak says:

    Maybe with this new deal he’ll evolve into a Weezey.

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