First Pitch

First Pitch: It’s Time to Recognize Mark Melancon as an Elite Reliever

First Pitch: It’s Time to Recognize Mark Melancon as an Elite Reliever

Mark Melancon is one of the best relievers in baseball.

That's not just my opinion. It's a statistical fact. Just take a look at the numbers over the last two years. Melancon ranks 7th of 139 relievers in xFIP. If you prefer ERA, he drops down to 8th. He's been an amazing reliever for the Pirates, but he doesn't get the credit he deserves in Pittsburgh.

I'm always baffled by the reactions towards Melancon. It seems that part of the fan base takes him for granted, assuming that he's just doing what any good reliever does. He's set the bar so high that when he actually pitches like a good reliever, instead of an elite reliever, the doom and gloom predictions come out. That's usually from the other part of the fan base that is just waiting for the other shoe to drop, then predicting his downward spiral after a bad outing.

Even with numbers that show Melancon as one of the top relievers in baseball over the last two years, a lot of people don't fully appreciate what the Pirates ha...

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Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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