There are a bunch of reasons to love Antonio Bastardo, from his bubble butt to his funny delivery to the incredible amount of joy I got from calling him “Tony No-Dad” all year. But the 26-year-old lefty, who was a middling starter prospect back in 2009 (which seems like ancient history), was quite possibly the most electrifying Phillies reliever ever, out of nowhere putting together a season that can only be described as fantastic in both meanings: excellent and resembling something from the works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Over the whole of 2011, Bastardo went 6-1 with a 2.64 ERA and a 0.931 WHIP in 58 innings spread over 64 appearances, but that’s including a September that, due to fatigue or some undisclosed injury, was more latter-day Dennis Cook than latter-day Dennis Eckersley. Take out September and Tony No-Dad compiled an opponent slash line of .114/.204/.223. Over the course of the full season, Bastardo’s fastball was worth eight runs above average and his slider was worth 7.1 runs above average, good, between them, for a K/9 ratio that, in the finest tradition of Nigel Tufnel, nearly went all the way to eleven.
Bastardo was effective against lefties and righties and, despite being the team’s fourth-choice closer after injuries sidelined Brad Lidge, Jose Contreras, and Ryan Madson in order, filled in admirably in that role, saving eight games from nine chances and recording 32 FanGraphs shutdowns against only eight meltdowns. The only NL relievers with a higher net WPA than Bastardo were Tyler Clippard, John Axford, Jonny Venters, J.J. Putz, and Eric O’Flaherty. Bastardo’s final opponent OPS was the fifth-lowest for a Phillies reliever since integration.
Due respect to the voters who said that Ryan Madson should be re-signed over Jimmy Rollins, but not only will Madson cost more money than he’s worth, we should not be afraid if he walks away this offseason, because Tony No-Dad can fill in as the Phillies’ relief ace and, if his 2011 season is any indication, the Phillies won’t miss a beat.
Grade: 9.8/10 That awful last month cast a pallor over what was otherwise an unbelievable season, and made Bastardo’s 2011 outstanding, rather than historic. Still, the Dominican with the funny name and the prominent posterior went from middle reliever to folk hero this summer and deserves all the praise we can heap on him.