2011 Dodgers Player Profile: Ron Mahay, From Extra To Leading Man?

Ron Mahay walked two of the 68 left-handed batters he faced in 2010. (Photo: Jeff McIsaac | Getty Images Sport)

The Dodgers were spoiled last season with the amazing ascension of Kenley Jansen, from failed minor league catcher to major league pitcher in roughly one calendar year. It is very rare for a converted position player to even sniff the majors as a pitcher, let alone in such a quick fashion. However, the Dodgers have another player in their camp was in a similar position to Jansen 14 years earlier, but the story of Ron Mahay is oh so different.

Mahay was drafted in 1991 by the Red Sox as an outfielder, but through 1995 had a career line of .250/.327/.345. Mahay, at 25 years old and seeing the end of the line, converted to pitcher in 1996, and by July 1997 Mahay was pitching in the major leagues as a reliever. Plus there was the added fact that during the strike, in early 1995, Mahay was a replacement player for a few weeks, which means he is ineligible for the MLBPA to this day. "I can't talk to anyone about it; the guys don't know what happened, so I just have to let it settle," Mahay told the San Francisco Chronicle back in 2000. "The guys who know me know I'm not a bad person. And as the years have gone on, it's kind of faded."

Mahay has carved out quite a career for himself, pitching for 14 years in the major leagues mostly a situational lefty. He has pitched for eight different teams in his 14 seasons as a pitcher, and hopes to join his ninth team by making the Dodgers this spring. Mahay enjoyed success last year (a 3.44 ERA in 41 games with the Twins) thanks in large part to the best walk rate of his career. Here is a look at Mahay's last eight seasons, during which he has thrown at least 30 innings in each season.

Ron Mahay's Unintentional Walks
Year BF BB IBB UIBB%
2003 189 20 7 6.88%
2004 290 29 5 8.28%
2005 167 16 1 8.98%
2006 246 28 2 10.57%
2007 281 37 2 12.46%
2008 278 29 0 10.43%
2009 239 22 2 8.37%
2010 141 8 0 5.67%

Mahay saw a large decrease in walks last season. Part of that success came from the fact that he issued a free pass to just two of the 68 left-handed batters he faced in 2010. Mahay held lefties to a line of .219/.239/.281 last season, and has held them to .232/.302/.386 in his career. However, Mahay's good years against left-handed batters seem to have corresponded to the years in which he has had a low batting average on balls in play.
Ron Mahay Against LHB
Year BF BA/OBP/SLG OPS BABIP
2003 59 .208/.288/.340 .628 .256
2004 122 .213/.292/.287 .579 .259
2005 68 .302/.338/.571 .910 .304
2006 110 .240/.336/.458 .795 .292
2007 117 .189/.250/.292 .542 .231
2008 110 .255/.327/.394 .721 .288
2009 111 .262/.306/.437 .743 .288
2010 68 .219/.239/.281 .520 .250
Last 8 Years 765 .234/.298/.378 .677 .270

During that same span (the last eight seasons), right-handed batters have hit .261/.351/.404 in 1,066 plate appearances off Mahay, with a .302 BABIP. In just the last two years, RHB have pounded Mahay, to the tune of .310/.395/.540 (with a .338 BABIP).

Trivia

Mahay has been an extra on the soap opera All My Children.

Mark Teixeira was the throw-in in the famed Mahay for Neftali Feliz, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, Beau Jones, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia deal between Atlanta and Texas at the trade deadline in 2007.

Mahay also turns 40 on June 28, the oldest player in Dodgers camp this spring. The Dodgers have had at least one player age 40 or older play in a major league game in each of the last five years:

Contract Status

Mahay signed a minor league contract on February 4 that will pay him $900,000 if in the major leagues.

Stats

Year Age IP BB/9 K/9 ERA FIP x-FIP tERA ERA+
2008
37 64.2 4.04 6.82 3.48 4.21 4.70 4.34 126
2009
38 50.1 3.93 7.51 4.29 5.56 4.90 5.34 104
2010 39 34.0 2.12 6.62 3.44 4.23 3.84 4.71 122
2011 Projections - Age 40 Season



Year
IP BB/9 K/9 ERA FIP


Marcel
47.0 3.26 6.70 4.31 4.46


Baseball HQ
29.0 3.72 8.07 4.03


ZiPS
45.7 3.35 7.29 4.53


2011 Outlook

The likelihood of Mahay making the team seems dependent on whether or not Don Mattingly decides he needs a situational lefty in the bullpen. If the Dodgers do decide to carry a second southpaw in the pen (behind setup man Hong-Chih Kuo), the battle is between Mahay and Scott Elbert. Elbert has a definite chance to make the team, but he also has options. I think Mahay makes the team, and puts up a 4.45 ERA and 1.326 WHIP in 28 2/3 innings.

What is your prediction? Be sure to guess Mahay's ERA and number of innings pitched for the Dodgers, plus anything else you would like to project.

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