LA Angels' RP Raisel Iglesias is the most unlucky closer in baseball

Cleveland Guardians v Los Angeles Angels; Raisel Iglesias
Cleveland Guardians v Los Angeles Angels; Raisel Iglesias / Katelyn Mulcahy/GettyImages
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In 2021, LA Angels closer Raisel Iglesias was arguably the best reliever in baseball.

In 2022, it’s safe to say that things haven’t gone quite as smoothly for the hard-throwing righty as he currently owns a less than ideal 4.64 ERA and is falling short of his own sky-high goals.

However, does Iglesias deserve all the blame for his bloated ERA, or is something else the cause?

LA Angels' Closer Raisel Iglesias is the victim of some incredibly bad luck in 2022.

Now, before we get into it, I’m not saying Raisel Iglesias is 100% blameless here or that his struggles are all on his LA Angels teammates, more so that there are some truly unlucky things affecting him that really shouldn’t be happening.

I know that not everyone fully trusts advanced stats when someone is struggling as much as Iglesias is, but just bear with me for a bit. When comparing Iglesias' ERA and FIP to some of their predictive counterparts, you’ll get an idea of just how unlucky he’s been this season.

  • 2022: 4.64 ERA, 4.18 FIP | 3.68 xERA, 2.18 SIERA, 2.76 xFIP

2022 stats are through June 14.

Right off the bat you’ll notice just how similar his 2022 predictive stats are to 2021’s. His 2022 SIERA and xFIP in particular are notable as they are each the second-best marks of his whole career after 2021. For someone whose previous “worst” season came at the height of the juiced ball era in 2019 when he owned a 4.16 ERA (112 ERA+), you’d expect him to at least be outperforming that season right now.

Going even deeper, Iglesias’ SIERA and xFIP are also both in the American League’s top 10 among qualified relievers according to Fangraphs' leaderboards. It’s here that you’ll begin to understand just how unlucky Iglesias has been compared to the rest of the league’s top relievers. On both leaderboards, the next worst ERA among pitchers in the top 10 is 2.81.  

Expanding on this further, among the top 50 pitchers by SIERA, only five more have an ERA above 4.50 vs. 32 with sub-3.00 ERAs. Likewise, for the top 50 pitchers by xFIP, there are again just five other pitchers with ERAs above 4.50 vs. 31 with sub-3.00 ERAs.

Keep in mind, all of this is going on while Iglesias continues to put up elite strikeout and walk numbers, as well as greatly limiting the total amount of contact he’s giving up, just like in 2021.

  • 2021: 13.2 K/9, 1.5 BB/9, .207 BAA, .190 xBA, .288 BABIP
  • 2022: 12.2 K/9, 1.7 BB/9, .225 BAA, .227 xBA, .283 BABIP

At this point, you’re probably asking what the actual problem is that’s causing Iglesias’ troubles. This is only speculation, but I believe I’ve come up with two possible sources that directly correlate to each other.