The bullpen in save situations

This is a comment from Solanus that I pulled over from today's daily thread.  I thought it would be better served as a fanpost where we could all access it and comment on it.  -- chuckb

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Our biggest problem last year was probably our inability to hold on to leads. Knowing this, I thought it might be interesting to get a statistical picture of just how effective each our bullpen guys were during save-type situations.

I went through the game logs on and parsed out any outcome that was: produced by a reliever; occurred in the 6th inning or later; & occurred with a 3-run-or-less lead and/or qualified as a save situation (4-run lead & 2 runners on, or 5-run lead & bases loaded). (Sometimes you can have a 3-run lead and it is not a save situation, but it wasn’t worth quibbling over.) Anyway, here they are:

WPA	Name	Out	Reach	Run	BS	Sv	IP	ROW	WHIP	Holds	K

-2.670	Team	416	219	88	31	42	138.2	5.71	1.58	106	112
-.179	Franklin	109	50	23	8	17	36.1	5.70	1.38	13	26
.951	McClellan	108	57	17	5	1	36.0	4.25	1.58	30	27
-2.921	Izzy	47	40	21	7	12	15.2	12.06	2.55	2	14
-.722	Perez	39	15	7	4	7	13.0	4.85	1.15	6	15
.511	Springer	31	13	4	2	0	10.1	3.48	1.26	15	11
-1.057	Flores	22	22	9	2	1	7.1	11.05	3.00	14	4
.059	Villone	20	11	3	1	1	6.2	4.05	1.65	16	6
.717	Motte	14	2	0	0	1	4.2	0.00	0.43	4	5
.295	Garcia	12	3	0	0	0	4.0	0.00	0.75	3	1
-.058	Thompson	9	2	1	1	0	3.0	3.00	0.67	1	0
.040	Reyes	5	1	2	0	1	1.2	10.80	0.60	2	3
-.306	Mulder	0	2	1	1	0	0.0	INF	INF	0	0

Going through the columns: WPA is Win Probability added, a measure of game impact (see Fangraphs); Out is the number of outs recorded during "save situations"; Reach is the number of batters that reached base; Run is the number of runs scored while a reliever was pitching (not to be confused with earned runs); BS is blown saves; Sv; IP; ROW is Runs On Watch Average, basically the Runs listed before, converted over like ERA; WHIP, similar to the normal acronym, except I included all batters who reached; Holds; & K

(I have no numbers to compare any of this to; I did all of this by hand, a few minutes at a time at work, so I haven’t gotten around to doing all of the teams. Unless someone knows how to easily pull up this specific data online, I probably won’t complete the "study".)

Picking through the numbers, Izzy shines like a beacon, or whatever the "I suck at this" equivalent is. He recorded 47 outs while putting 40 batters on base, allowing 21 baserunners to score. Plus his WPA would indicate that he cost the Cardinals almost three full games in the standings.

Flores was nearly as bad, matching up his 22 outs with his 22 batters reaching & plating 9 guys as well. His Hold total looks impressive, given how much time he missed, but it is important to remember – Tony would not leave Randy (nor Villone, really) out long enough in a tight spot to really screw things up on his watch. Going through each particular at bat with a 1-run lead, Randy faced 14 batters; he recorded 5 outs and put 9 guys on base, throwing a WP, allowing 3 stolen bases, & blowing two save opportunities.

Speaking of Villone, his Hold total (16) & one lone save are amazing considering he only recorded 20 eligible outs.

Franklin & McClellan have rather similar numbers (IP & K), so let’s compare the two. Franklin was just a touch below average, according to WPA, where Kyle was over a full win better. This can be greatly attributed to when Franklin blew his save opportunities (1 in the 8th inning, 5 in the 9th, & 1 in the 10th) vs. when McClellan did (1 in the 6th & 4 in the 8th). Also noteworthy is that Kyle was actually 31 for 36 in save opportunities, although he was only credited with one save (30 holds).

Perez wasn’t really that bad, especially compared to the team averages (better ROW, K-rate, much better WHIP). His blown opportunities rate was higher (27% v 17%), but he didn’t have the luxury of the LOOGY one-out-hold.

Springer was under-utilized despite terrific numbers. One reason that I can see for this is that Russ has exhibited problems in the past coming out for a second inning or consecutive days. Tony probably factors that into his role-selection and has to plan out Springer’s usage patterns a little more; someone like Franklin he can "abuse" a little more with fewer ill effects. (NOTE: Russ’ 8th inning numbers were rather poor, including both of his blown saves.)

The rest of the group was quite proficient (not including Mulder). Motte & Garcia combined allowed no runs & 5 baserunners while recording 26 outs. Thompson did fairly well, although he had one blown save and most of the outs didn’t technically qualify as save situations. Reyes only allowed one hit against 5 outs, but it was a 2-run HR (no real harm – it was with a 3-run lead).

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