In 16 of Scott Oberg’s 24 appearances this season, he didn’t give up a run. Fourteen of Oberg’s 26 innings were clean. Oberg came into the game and the score remained the same until he left.
Perhaps Oberg’s 2016 can be best described as “misremembered.” Or, maybe it couldn’t. Oberg did give up runs, after all. He finished with an ERA over 5.00 and clearly showed moments where he didn’t belong in the major leagues. But, it’s still unfair to consider his 2016 a total failure. 16 times Scott Oberg kept the game the same, which is the only job a reliever has, all things considered. That’s two-thirds of his appearances. 66 percent of the time Scott Oberg was good.
When Oberg was bad, though, he was extremely bad. He gave up six runs in two appearances to Texas, three runs to St. Louis, two to Arizona, and a long home run to Washington. In his first appearance of the year, he took the Rockies completely out of a game with the Pirates by allowing a terrible three run home run. Oberg represented the bullpen’s worst moments at times, personifying the entire unit’s maddening inconsistency.
Scott Oberg is an enigma. He’s a man that you seemingly could defend, if you wanted to. You could say, “he’s 26! He had some really good moments! Don’t give up on him yet!” and who could tell you that you’re wrong? He did have some really good moments.
But you could also irrationally hate his guts. You could say “he can only pitch when nothing is on the line! He gets rocked by good hitters! He had some horrible moments!” And who could tell you that you’re wrong? He did have some really bad moments, seemingly always when the game meant the most. Oberg could fit nicely and snugly into that box of pessimism, if you wanted to put him there.
The problem with Oberg is the problem with most relievers. They’re effective until suddenly they aren’t. But nobody has any idea when that moment will be. Oberg could walk into 2017 and throw 58 scoreless innings—or not. Nobody has really any idea who or what Scott Oberg is, besides a 26-year-old reliever who had some good moments and some bad moments.
Scott Oberg was a roulette wheel with 66 percente of the slots reading GOOD and 33 percent reading REALLY BAD. How much do you bet on him before people start to worry you have a gambling problem? Scott Oberg’s 2016 was an enigma, and his 2017 may be even more so.