Glen Perkins, Don't Forget This Twin

John Grieshop

After taking over as closer for the Minnesota Twins in the second half of 2012, Glen Perkins picked up 16 saves with nearly 10 strikeouts per nine. Don't forget this starter-turned-closer on draft day.

Outside of Minnesota, Glen Perkins isn't a household name. The 29-year old reliever took over as the Twins closer in the second half of 2012, picking up 16 saves along the way with 9.98 strikeouts per nine and -- unless some unforeseen change takes place -- claiming the job for the 2013 season.

I admit I didn't know much about the left-hander prior to last season, but what he did in 2012 (2.56 ERA, 1.04 WHIP) has my attention. After failing to stick as a starter (he last started exclusively at the major league level in 2009), Perkins' transition to the bullpen has been night and day:

IP

ERA

WHIP

K/9

K/BB

As a starter

251.0

5.06

1.47

4.34

1.92

As a reliever

184.1

2.83

1.17

8.84

3.42

Perkins is nowhere to be found in the Top 20 Fake Teams Consensus Reliever Rankings released earlier today, but based on his dominant run to close out 2012, he's got a great chance to finish there. Excluding relievers-turned-starters Kris Medlen, Chris Sale and Lance Lynn, Perkins finished as the 24th most valuable reliever in 2012, according to ESPN's Player Rater, and he did so serving as his team's closer for only one half of the season. Not bad.

In an interview with FanGraphs' David Laurila, Perkins explained his successful transition to the bullpen (he has a 143:37 K:BB ratio in 132 innings the last two seasons), like this:

"A big reason has been more confidence, and the mental side of it came with the physical side. Going to the bullpen allowed me to get healthy. As a starter, I had just worn down...My stuff got better when I went to the bullpen. I got healthy and started throwing harder."

Perkins has put on more than 3 mph on his fastball over the last two seasons, averaging between 95 and 96 mph in 2012, and he's also simplified his pitch selection, ditching his changeup altogether and strictly throwing a four-seamer, a 2-seamer and a slider. The change has worked wonders for Perkins. In addition to locating his fastball better -- his first pitch strike has gone from 58.2% in 2010 to better than 64% the last two seasons -- Perkins' slider resulted in a swing and miss 34.95% of the time in 2012, according to Brooks Baseball, up from 17.39% in 2010.

While Perkins is striking out 13% more batters over the last two seasons and his walk rate has gone down, his ground ball rate fell from 49.7% in 2011 to 42.5% in 2012, resulting in a HR/FB spike from 4.3% to 11.6%. But, like most of his stats, Perkins' ground ball rate is better as a reliever, at 44.1%, compared to 41.9% as a starter -- he also has a HR/FB rate of 7.3% as a reliever, compared to 11.1% as a starter. The three seasons prior to 2012, Perkins averaged a ground ball rate of just under 49%, so I think he can get back to that level, dropping his HR/FB rate considerably.

Now for the bad . . .

One thing fantasy owners look for when acquiring a closer is the team he plays for. It's no secret the Twins aren't very good. Only three other teams lost more games than the 96-loss Twins in 2012, and only three other teams produced fewer saves than Minnesota's 35 -- as a team, the Twins blew 14 saves, with Perkins blowing four of them. And it was worse in 2011, as the Twins had the third fewest saves as a team.

You're probably not going to get elite numbers from Perkins, but his value as an under-the-radar closer is still worth monitoring -- he should go for a buck or two on draft day. Still, in my opinion, he's a good bet for an ERA in the mid 3.00s, 25 or so saves, a low WHIP and better than a strikeout per inning. If the opportunities are there, 30-plus saves isn't out of the question -- remember, Joel Hanrahan once saved 40 games for the Pirates after his team lost 105 games the year before.

Unless a closer falls to me, I'm not one to reach, and Perkins represents the type of guy I target in the late rounds on draft day. I'll probably end up with him on a number of teams, and I suggest you take a low-risk chance on him too.

Follow me on Twitter at @akantecki.

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