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Relief Pitching, 538 way

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#21 Sssuperdave

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 08:48 AM

 

It's funny how uptight some people get, when you use counting stats to talk about the past and outcomes, as if more predictive stats tell the same story. They don't. different stats are used for different stories. 

 I couldn't agree more with this.There is nothing wrong with using counting stats to talk about what actually happened.They help tell the story of what happened in a game, a season, etc., and we're all baseball fans so shouldn't we enjoy that?The problem is when a non-predictive stat is used as a defense for who should or should not be signed for next season.

 

Take something like RBIs.They are heavily situation-dependent, aren't always predictive, and don't even do the best job of differentiating a players skill.  But, if a guy has 120 RBI in a season it means a lot of exciting stuff happened while he was at bat that year, and I hope I was watching some of it! 

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#22 spycake

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 11:25 AM

 

Yes. There is plenty of room for different stats.

 

Imagine you're in a broadcast booth. Now try to explain what WPA means because saying the number 2.1 doesn't mean squat to the audience. Was that in 31 appearances or 65 appearances? How many innings pitched? What is the player's typical role out of the bullpen, fifth or eighth inning? The number, on its own, means virtually nothing. It's super-useful for a deeper analysis and comparison of performance but not good for on-the-fly talking.

 

Whereas counting stats have their use in the quick-and-dirty analysis that often happens on live radio/television. When a guy is pitching to a batter, the announcer doesn't have time to spend 90 seconds explaining to the audience all the situations that led to that 2.1 WPA.

 

But saying "Tonkin has 21 Goose Eggs and 4 Broken Eggs" gives you lots of information in just ten words.

WPA/LI is better, and addresses many of your concerns.  I'd say it's no different than citing ERA or OBP/SLG.  All stats need some context.

 

 

Goose/Broken eggs don't appear to be frequent enough for most pitchers to be terribly useful either.  Your Tonkin example is nice, but according to Jeremy's article, that sample threshold was reached by just two Twins pitchers last year.  How useful is it to know that Tonkin was 5-for-6?

 

Forget WPA/LI -- is this thing telling us much that ERA and IP isn't already telling us?

 


#23 spycake

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 11:39 AM

 

Based on this little thing from there, one can use WPA to measure relievers and call it a day.Not sure I like it (according to this Taylor Rogers and Ryan O'Rourke were the Twins' best relievers in 2016,) but WPA is a stat easy to find:

 

 

Actually WPA/LI would be better, because it would account for leverage.  Rogers and O'Rourke were racking up their WPA in a lot of lower-leverage situations.  Here are 2016 Twins relievers ranked by WPA/LI:

 

http://www.fangraphs...ers=0&sort=12,d

 

Of course, it's probably not all that different of a ranking from RA9, or better yet for relievers, RA9 plus inherited runners.

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#24 drjim

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 11:43 AM

This stat is a clear improvement on a save/hold, but I'm not sure it would lead to that significant of a difference in bullpen usage. And the gains it would lead to are pretty much happening organically. If it was adopted, would probably lead to more money for middle relievers in arbitration years, but not sure it would change free agent contracts or other player valuation all that much.

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#25 Oldgoat_MN

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 12:05 PM

 

Actually WPA/LI would be better, because it would account for leverage.  Rogers and O'Rourke were racking up their WPA in a lot of lower-leverage situations.  Here are 2016 Twins relievers ranked by WPA/LI:

 

http://www.fangraphs...ers=0&sort=12,d

 

Of course, it's probably not all that different of a ranking from RA9, or better yet for relievers, RA9 plus inherited runners.

So... Escobar should be pitching more?

That would be more fun than watching Tonkin.

Edited by Oldgoat_MN, 21 April 2017 - 12:07 PM.

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#26 Teflon

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 12:17 PM

The modern use of the closer in only statistical-save-potential starting-the-9th inning situations is pure buffoonery.

 

For older Twins fans out there who remember Doug Corbett, the 538 article makes you appreciate his 1980 season in comparison to modern relief pitching all the more. According to the 538 article, Corbett had the 14th highest single season in Goose Egg performance in MLB history. I would add that he was first in the American League that year in win-probability added, as well. He pitched 136.1 innings in 73 games allowing only 102 hits. He inherited 80 runners that season and only 19 scored. The average pressure situation when he entered games was 1.780. (Jeurys Familia who led the Majors with 51 saves last year had an average pressure index in games he entered of 0.42) Looking at his game log that season I found a stretch in August where he pitched an iinning on the 5th, an inning-and-a-third on the 6th and six-and-two-thirds innings on the 7th! He entered the game with one out in the 8th inning and pitched through the end of the 14th.

 

I'm not advocating that teams use their best relief pitcher like Corbett was used in 1980 - but we should ABSOLUTELY use the best pitchers in the highest leverage situations. Like Gossage says, if there is a pitcher on the staff that can't protect a three-run lead pitching one inning, he shouldn't be on the staff.

 

 

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#27 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 12:19 PM

 

Goose/Broken eggs don't appear to be frequent enough for most pitchers to be terribly useful either.  Your Tonkin example is nice, but according to Jeremy's article, that sample threshold was reached by just two Twins pitchers last year.  How useful is it to know that Tonkin was 5-for-6?

It's useful in that it tells us Tonkin is a low leverage reliever.

 

But use someone like Kintzler instead. He qualified for 23 Goose Eggs last season versus 20 save attempts.

 

Will all relievers qualify for a bunch of goose egg opportunities? No, of course not... because there are some parameters on the goose egg, they're simply not as nonsensically dogmatic by inning and number of outs.

 

Which means some throwaway "saves" won't count but some important 7th and 8th inning outings will count.

 

And isn't that the original intent of the save statistic in the first place? To try to give value to relievers and give them credit for helping their team win baseball games? It seems to me the goose egg strikes a pretty good balance between a counting stat and being more useful than the save statistic.


#28 spycake

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 12:22 PM

 

The average pressure situation when he entered games was 1.780. (Jeurys Familia who led the Majors with 51 saves last year had an average pressure index in games he entered of 0.42) 

 

I think you're looking at the wrong column or something?  Familia had a 1.67 gmLI last year (game-entering leverage index), pretty comparable to Corbett's 1.73:

 

http://www.baseball-...familje01.shtml


#29 spycake

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 12:32 PM

 

It's useful in that it tells us Tonkin is a low leverage reliever.

 

But use someone like Kintzler instead. He qualified for 23 Goose Eggs last season versus 20 save attempts.

 

Will all relievers qualify for a bunch of goose egg opportunities? No, of course not... because there are some parameters on the goose egg, they're simply not as nonsensically dogmatic by inning and number of outs.

 

Which means some throwaway "saves" won't count but some important 7th and 8th inning outings will count.

 

And isn't that the original intent of the save statistic in the first place? To try to give value to relievers and give them credit for helping their team win baseball games? It seems to me the goose egg strikes a pretty good balance between a counting stat and being more useful than the save statistic.

 

I didn't need to know that Tonkin had 6 goose egg opportunities, in 65 total appearances, to know that he was a low-leverage reliever last year.  I could just look at his average game-entering leverage index of 0.80.

 

The goose egg sounds more useful than the save stat, no doubt. But the save stat isn't very useful at all.I think the bar should be set higher for its potential replacement.


#30 Thrylos

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 12:58 PM

 

Yes. There is plenty of room for different stats.

 

Imagine you're in a broadcast booth. Now try to explain what WPA means because saying the number 2.1 doesn't mean squat to the audience. Was that in 31 appearances or 65 appearances? How many innings pitched? What is the player's typical role out of the bullpen, fifth or eighth inning? The number, on its own, means virtually nothing. It's super-useful for a deeper analysis and comparison of performance but not good for on-the-fly talking.

 

Whereas counting stats have their use in the quick-and-dirty analysis that often happens on live radio/television. When a guy is pitching to a batter, the announcer doesn't have time to spend 90 seconds explaining to the audience all the situations that led to that 2.1 WPA.

 

WPA is a counting stat ;)   "A" stands for "added", which is the epitome of counting.

 

I'd say that if you are not able to explain WPA, you do not belong in an MLB broadcasting booth in 2017.

Sorry DickNBert.

Edited by Thrylos, 21 April 2017 - 12:59 PM.

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#31 spycake

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 01:25 PM

 

Yes. There is plenty of room for different stats.

 

Imagine you're in a broadcast booth. Now try to explain what WPA means because saying the number 2.1 doesn't mean squat to the audience. Was that in 31 appearances or 65 appearances? How many innings pitched? What is the player's typical role out of the bullpen, fifth or eighth inning? The number, on its own, means virtually nothing. It's super-useful for a deeper analysis and comparison of performance but not good for on-the-fly talking.

 

Whereas counting stats have their use in the quick-and-dirty analysis that often happens on live radio/television. When a guy is pitching to a batter, the announcer doesn't have time to spend 90 seconds explaining to the audience all the situations that led to that 2.1 WPA.

 

But saying "Tonkin has 21 Goose Eggs and 4 Broken Eggs" gives you lots of information in just ten words.

 

Back to this post -- what is the announcer's specific objective here, in your example?

 

Is he/she trying to communicate that the player has been reasonably effective?  We have stats to do that, all kinds of them, without resorting to Goose Eggs and Broken Eggs.  ERA, RA9, K/9 if we want to get into peripherals.  Opponent's average or OPS, especially for relievers and platoon matchups.  For a reliever coming in with men on base, I'd like to hear something specific about inherited runners scored percentage, compared to league average.

 

Is he/she trying to communicate that the player has been put in a trusted role?  We have leverage index specifically, and I think most fans would understand even a generalized statement like "the Twins have brought him into the highest leverage situations, on average" or "they have brought him in to increasingly higher leverage situations this season".  Goose Eggs would still need some context to have any meaning here -- 21 Goose Eggs in a full season is a lot different than 21 in a half season.

 

I just don't know what introducing Goose Eggs and Broken Eggs really accomplishes.


#32 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 01:43 PM

 

I didn't need to know that Tonkin had 6 goose egg opportunities, in 65 total appearances, to know that he was a low-leverage reliever last year.  I could just look at his average game-entering leverage index of 0.80.

 

The goose egg sounds more useful than the save stat, no doubt. But the save stat isn't very useful at all.I think the bar should be set higher for its potential replacement.

Well, maybe, but we already have those stats on FanGraphs. The problem I see is that we're not normal baseball fans. Getting people to accept an arbitrary stat that has no real world definition will be a struggle.

 

I mean, we can't get announcers to stop talking about batting average and RBI.

 

And that's why I like the Goose Egg stat. It's a neatly bundled stat that is close enough to the save statistic to not be rejected out of hand.


#33 spycake

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 02:18 PM

 

Well, maybe, but we already have those stats on FanGraphs. The problem I see is that we're not normal baseball fans. Getting people to accept an arbitrary stat that has no real world definition will be a struggle.

 

I mean, we can't get announcers to stop talking about batting average and RBI.

 

And that's why I like the Goose Egg stat. It's a neatly bundled stat that is close enough to the save statistic to not be rejected out of hand.

 

I guess Goose Eggs is not really a step forward enough that I care about.  How much are announcers fixated on saves?  I mean, they mention them when the closer comes in and when the game ends, they are a basic accounting in box scores next to wins and losses.  I don't really mind them in that context, they help tell the story of the game.

 

But it's not like announcers are quoting save stats for setup men and we're all left scratching our heads. They use different stats for them, like ERA, K/9, opponent average, platoon stats. For that matter, I'd guess announcers today regularly use those stats to describe closers too, especially when relevant (if a guy has notably high or low K rate, or platoon splits on a particular matchup, etc.)

 

Even though the save stat is still around, I don't get the impression that a lot of people are abusing it that much anymore.  We're already seeing a shift away from it mattering too much on the field (Buck Showalter's playoff game notwithstanding!).  Trying to shift the mention of saves to Goose Eggs seems like a lot of work for little benefit.


#34 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 02:18 PM

 

WPA is a counting stat ;)   "A" stands for "added", which is the epitome of counting.

WPA is a rate stat because it can go backwards and/or into the negative.

 

A counting stat cannot do either of those things.


#35 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 02:20 PM

 

I guess Goose Eggs is not really a step forward enough that I care about.  How much are announcers fixated on saves?  I mean, they mention them when the closer comes in and when the game ends, they are a basic accounting in box scores next to wins and losses.  I don't really mind them in that context, they help tell the story of the game.

 

But it's not like announcers are quoting save stats for setup men and we're all left scratching our heads. They use different stats for them, like ERA, K/9, opponent average, platoon stats. For that matter, I'd guess announcers today regularly use those stats to describe closers too, especially when relevant (if a guy has notably high or low K rate, or platoon splits on a particular matchup, etc.)

 

Even though the save stat is still around, I don't get the impression that a lot of people are abusing it that much anymore.  We're already seeing a shift away from it mattering too much on the field (Buck Showalter's playoff game notwithstanding!).  Trying to shift the mention of saves to Goose Eggs seems like a lot of work for little benefit.

Possibly. Maybe I just have an irrational hatred of the save statistic because, not only is is mostly worthless, but somehow it changed the game of baseball for the worse.

 

I really, really hate the save statistic. In the history of the game, has a more trivial stat actually impacted how managers and players play the game?

 

The save stat is a shining example of the tail wagging the dog.


#36 drjim

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 02:49 PM

Possibly. Maybe I just have an irrational hatred of the save statistic because, not only is is mostly worthless, but somehow it changed the game of baseball for the worse.

I really, really hate the save statistic. In the history of the game, has a more trivial stat actually impacted how managers and players play the game?

The save stat is a shining example of the tail wagging the dog.


Don't you sense that this battle is already over on the field? It was a good run though.

There are still closers, but only because relievers are generally assigned pretty solid roles. And these roles are assigned for reasons beyond chasing statistics.
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#37 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 02:52 PM

 

Don't you sense that this battle is already over on the field? It was a good run though.

Is it, though? If a team is up by three runs in the ninth, I'll be surprised if the "closer" comes out less than 80% of the time unless there are usage concerns.


#38 drjim

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 02:56 PM

Is it, though? If a team is up by three runs in the ninth, I'll be surprised if the "closer" comes out less than 80% of the time unless there are usage concerns.


Yes, I expect it, but not because of the save stat.
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#39 old nurse

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 04:00 PM

The goose egg is as relevant to how good a relief pitcher as wins are to a starting pitcher.The better the team's starting pitching, the better the reliever will look. Enough offense to create a lead gets the reliever points, just bad enough offense at the time to be down a run gets you nothing.


#40 Brock Beauchamp

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Posted 21 April 2017 - 04:23 PM

Yes, I expect it, but not because of the save stat.

That's absolutely because of the save stat. What else would it be? Why do managers call out their closer with a three run lead but not a four run lead? Why is it almost always three outs? Why is it always the ninth inning?

 

The save stat (and Tony LaRussa) created the modern closer. I don't see how that's even in dispute here. Baseball has been chasing a stat for 30 years.

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