Why Has Glen Perkins Been So Effective?

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 13: Glen Perkins #15 of the Minnesota Twins pitches against the Kansas City Royals during the seventh inning of their game on April 13, 2011 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Royals defeated the Twins 10-5. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Along with Jason Kubel, Glen Perkins has been one of the very few bright spots this spring. Which is a bit more of a surprise than seeing Kubel excel. Mostly because Perkins has never been particularly more than serviceable at the best of times. Yet here we are, roughly one quarter of the way through the season, and he's been hands-down the Twins' best relief pitcher.

After the jump we'll explore the three biggest reasons why Glen has had such a successful start to the season.

Stranding Base Runners

Even with the league average strand rate up again this season, Perkins has had an astounding rate of success. Through yesterday, Perkins has posted a left-on-base percentage of 89.5%. That's good enough to rank 12th in the American League among relievers. The fact that he's allowing so few base runners means he's stretching this success even further.

Contact

For whatever reason, Perkins isn't allowing hitters to square up and put good wood on the ball. And these numbers are across the board. Only 13.6% of his balls in play are line drives. 52.3% of his balls in play are grounders, which is the highest rate he's posted to date in his career. And he's even induced four infield flies, which accounts for a stunning 26.7% of his balls in play.

Inside Edge agrees that batters aren't making good connections.

Key Stat

2011

MLB Average

Grade

Well-hit average of ABs

.102

.203

A+

Well-hit average of strikes

.036

.075

A+

All in all, opposing hitters are struggling to a .203/.284/.271 triple slash off a solid .273 batting average on balls in play.

Missing Bats

The only thing that's a surer out than an infield popup is a strikeout, and getting that swing-and-a-miss (or, whiff) is a big indicator of how many strikeouts a pitcher might tally. Perkins, of course, hasn't been a big strikeout threat in his Major League career, sending down just 4.91 batters per nine via the K in his career. This season however, he's struck out 16 batters in 17.2 innings. That's his highest rate (8.15 K/9) in a marginal sample size since his days in double-A.

He's getting more swings and misses than he has in years, too. A large part of that is coming off the success of his slider.

Year

IP

Swinging Strike %

Slider Whiff %

2008

151.0

6.4

7.2

2009

96.1

5.3

13.1

2010

21.2

7.9

7.1

2011

17.2

8.0

21.4

That incredible rate certainly won't continue, but there's no doubting the fact that the success of Perkins' slider has been a big factor in his success so far. It's good to actually see Perk with an out-pitch, or at least a pitch that's enabling him to have this level of success.

Perkins continues to prove my off-season doubts wrong, appearance after appearance. But what about you? Is there something else you think is contributing to his success? A real lack of pressure probably helps, or maybe there's something he's actually doing differently with his mechanics? Let's hear it.

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