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Mets Fans, Meet Your New Closer July 17, 2011

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball, Economics.
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It’s been a while since the Mets traded Francisco Rodriguez, the 1982 model, to the Milwaukee Brewers. Mets manager Terry Collins has indicated that Rule 5 draft pick Pedro Beato, cranky old man Jason Isringhausen, and veteran Met Bobby Parnell are in competition for the closer role. Rodriguez had a reputation for being unpredictable, and watching him certainly gave that impression – he pitched wildly and emotionally.

I decided to dig out K-Rod’s stats for this year and figure out what his numbers looked like, using a couple of measures of control: his K/BB ratio (aka ‘control ratio’), his K/9 and BB/9, and then his batters faced per out (BFPO). If Rodriguez is unpredictable, then he should have a relatively high standard deviation for BFPO. With that in mind, if predictability is an important factor in selecting a closer, these stats are relevant for Beato, Isringhausen, and Parnell as well. Here they are, for 2011:
The best number overall is bolded. The best from among the three closer candidates is italicized.

\begin{tabular}{r||rrrrr}  Pitcher & KBB & K9 & BB9 & BFPO & SD \\  \hline  Rodriguez & \textbf{2.875} & 9.703 & \textbf{0.375} & 1.461 & \textbf{0.476} \\  Beato & 2 & 5.4 & 5.7 & \textit{\textbf{1.292}} & 0.723 \\  Isringhausen & 1.615 & 6.831 & 4.229 & 1.386 & 0.638 \\  Parnell & \textit{3.2} & \textit{\textbf{11.221}} & \textit{3.506} & 1.442 & \textit{0.503} \\  \end{tabular}

Rodriguez had the best KBB and BB9, as well as the lowest standard deviation, but his BFPO was the highest in the group. Since he wasn’t walking many batters, that indicates that he was giving up a lot of hits or otherwise allowing lots of runners. That’s not good – it breeds high-pressure situations, some of which are bound to result in runs.

Beato had the lowest BFPO, but Parnell led all the other categories for current Mets as well as having a better K/9 than Rodriguez as well. Parnell’s BFPO was only .02 below Frankie’s, and was .15 higher than Beato’s (and about .05 greater than Izzy’s). Without a lot more data, it’s hard to compare these numbers meaningfully. However, over the course of 70 innings, that .15 differential adds up to 31.5 extra baserunners for Parnell above Beato. Parnell’s lower standard deviation means that those runners are going to be spread a bit more evenly than Beato’s, but it’s tough to distinguish the best choice. Isringhausen has been strong as a setup man, and Beato, as a rookie, is still unpredictable.

Parnell will probably come out of this with the closer’s job, but Collins would be a fool not to leave Isringhausen where he is.

Weird Pitching Decisions Almanac in 2010 December 24, 2010

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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I’m a big fan of weird pitching decisions. A pitcher with a lot of tough losses pitches effectively but stands behind a team with crappy run support. A pitcher with a high proportion of cheap wins gets lucky more often than not. A reliever with a lot of vulture wins might as well be taking the loss.

In an earlier post, I defined a tough loss two ways. The official definition is a loss in which the starting pitcher made a quality start – that is, six or more innings with three or fewer runs. The Bill James definition is the same, except that James defines a quality start as having a game score of 50 or higher. In either case, tough losses result from solid pitching combined with anemic run support.

This year’s Tough Loss leaderboard had 457 games spread around 183 pitchers across both leagues. The Dodgers’ Hiroki Kuroda led the league with a whopping eight starts with game scores of 50 or more. He was followed by eight players with six tough losses, including Justin Verlander, Carl Pavano, Roy Oswalt, Rodrigo Lopez, Colby Lewis, Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez, and Tommy Hanson. Kuroda’s Dodgers led the league with 23 tough losses, followed by the Mariners and the Cubs with 22 each.

There were fewer cheap wins, in which a pitcher does not make a quality start but does earn the win. The Cheap Win leaderboard had 248 games and 136 pitchers, led by John Lackey with six and Phil Hughes with 5. Hughes pitched to 18 wins, but Lackey’s six cheap wins were almost half of his 14-win total this year. That really shows what kind of run support he had. The Royals and the Red Sox were tied for first place with 15 team cheap wins each.

Finally, a vulture win is one for the relievers. I define a vulture win as a blown save and a win in the same game, so I searched Baseball Reference for players with blown saves and then looked for the largest number of wins. Tyler Clippard was the clear winner here. In six blown saves, he got 5 vulture wins. Francisco Rodriguez and Jeremy Affeldt each deserve credit, though – each had three blown saves and converted all three for vulture wins. (When I say “converted,” I mean “waited it out for their team to score more runs.”)

Adventures in the Mets Bullpen: One-Run No-Decisions and Vulture Wins July 19, 2010

Posted by tomflesher in Baseball.
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A close cousin of the Tough Loss discussed earlier is what Jayson Stark of ESPN calls the Criminally Unsupported Start. Stark defines a CUS as a start in which the pitcher pitches 6 or more innings but the offense scores one run or less in support. Johan Santana didn’t fit that definition last night, but he was close: he left the game with a 2-1 lead after 8 innings pitched and ended up with a no-decision. (A friend of mine liked to call that “the ol’ Roy Halladay” back when Doc was pitching in Toronto.) Just as he was the centerpiece of Jayson Stark’s CUS standings back in 2007, Santana currently leads the league in starts with 6.0 or more innings pitched, at most one run allowed, and no decision. He has six such games, and no other pitcher has more than four. (Yovani Gallardo, however, has a respectable 3.)

In all of 2009, no one hit the six-game mark in one-run no-decisions. Surprisingly, this year the Mets aren’t leading the league in these one-run no-decisions – the Cubs are, led by Randy Wells and his impressive 4, along with Ted Lilly with 3.

Francisco Rodriguez also picked up his third Vulture Win of the year last night. A vulture win is the combination of a blown save and a win in the same game. Usually, that happens when a hometown closer blows the save in the top of the 9th and his teammates score in the bottom for the win. Frankie blew the save in the bottom of the 9th last night, but they left him in to pitch the bottom of the 10th and he held on (despite Phil Cuzzi’s hissyfit and some questionable umpiring going in both directions). Tyler Clippard leads the league in vulture wins this year with four.

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