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— A Look at Baseball's All-Time Best

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Relief Pitchers

Should we maybe start a thread for general discussion of relief pitchers at some point?

- that “definitely immoral” cat :-)

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: May 04, 2005 at 05:31 PM | 460 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   301. BDC Posted: June 03, 2006 at 11:01 PM (#2049917)
No one would argue Rivera is as good as Clemens

I wouldn't either, my point being that Rivera, by some product of results and leverage, would have to be six times as good as Clemens to equal Clemens. (He only has to be three times as good as Bob Lemon, and perhaps that's within reach.) But if Rivera is the greatest closer ever and one can't come close to making that argument, that in itself says something about closing. It invalidates the "Mike Schmidt is a failed shortstop" objection, because it seems absurd to ask if Schmidt was as valuable as the weakest HOM shortstops.
   302. Backlasher Posted: June 03, 2006 at 11:33 PM (#2049973)
I wouldn't either, my point being that Rivera, by some product of results and leverage, would have to be six times as good as Clemens to equal Clemens. (He only has to be three times as good as Bob Lemon, and perhaps that's within reach.)

No, that is not true at all. To equal Clemens, Rivera would have to be as good as Clemens. I have no idea what you are talking about with him having to be six times as good as Clemens.

If by leverage and performance he equals Clemens, he equals Clemens. There is no discount because he is a relief pitcher.

But if Rivera is the greatest closer ever and one can't come close to making that argument, that in itself says something about closing.

What does it say about closing? It says that no closer has been as good as Clemens. No C has been as good as Babe Ruth. Does that say something about the position of catching.

It invalidates the "Mike Schmidt is a failed shortstop" objection, because it seems absurd to ask if Schmidt was as valuable as the weakest HOM shortstops.

No, it doesn't. Labeling somebody a failed anything has no baring on any question.

Last year, Rivera has more win shares than Greg Maddux, does that mean you will not vote for Greg Maddux because he wasn't as good as a "failed starter."

All of that is irrelevant, and none of it has anything to do with "where in the list of the Trevor Hoffmans, Lee Smiths, John Francos, Rollie Fingerses etc. does it become clear that HOM consideration is no longer reasonable?"

Each of those persons have individual candidacies. They each had certain rates, seasons, comparisons, and total impacts of value. Each should be considered on those things.

But you don't start out and say:

(1) I'm going to ignore his rate stats.
(2) I'm going to ignore his unique achievements.
(3) I'm going to ignore how he compared with his peers.
(4) I'm going to make him have to perform with six times the value because I'm going to give him a demerit as "a failed starter".
(5) I'm going to give him every downgrade I can just because I don't like the fact that these guys actually created value.
   303. Daryn Posted: June 04, 2006 at 12:04 AM (#2050034)
By the way: do YOU believe Win Shares significantly undervalues relief aces? If so, wny?

I believe that Win Shares undervalues pitchers and even slightly more undervalues closers. Roughly, I think you have to give pitchers a 20-25% WS boost to find similar value hitters, and maybe 25-30

There is a ton wrong with WS. It is laughably crude. It as if James tried to come up with a magic metric and half way through said f!@# it, this is too hard I'm just going to start making stuff up so it will look right. I'm pleased with the batter offence part of WS. I think the reliever bonus is awkward and inutile. But I am embarrassed for James with respect to the defensive allocation of points (you know, the part where he randomly allocates percentage values for randomly selected accomplishments). Also, the 35/17/48 split (if I have the numbers right) is questionable to me. Generally, I think defense is overrated, since replacement level defence is not that far from average or above average defence.

No-one doubts that Rivera has less value then Clemens. But he is not competing with the top tier of HoM pitchers, he is competing with our borderline Rixeys and Fabers and Johns and Grimes' for a spot somewhere between the 50&#xil;e and bottom &#xil;e of our Hall.
   304. BDC Posted: June 04, 2006 at 12:11 AM (#2050053)
I have no idea what you are talking about with him having to be six times as good as Clemens

Sure you do :) Rivera has pitched slightly more than 800 big-league innings. Clemens has pitched slightly less than 4,800. Rivera's got his work cut out for him.

Mike Schmidt had just over 10,000 plate appearances. Dave Hansen had about 2,000, and was a superb pinch-hitter, as pinch-hitters go. If they were equally good hitters, Hansen's opportunities would have to have been five times as important, or he'd have had to make proportionally more timely use of them, or something to make up the difference.

Now, Hansen was nowhere near as good a hitter as Schmidt, while going by ERA+ Rivera has been a significantly better pitcher than Clemens. So perhaps the analogy should be more like: Rivera is to Clemens as Dave Hansen in 1993 (batting .362/465/505 almost entirely as a pinch-hitter) was to Brett Butler in 1993 (batting .298/387/371 while playing every day) -- purely as hitters. Can the better rate performance in a few appearances match the lesser one in a lot more appearances? That's all that matters.

What does not matter is the special psychology of closing or the fact that there's a special name for that role on a pitching staff. There's an equally tough psychology of pinch-hitting, you could argue, and there's a name for the job. Nor, clearly, does it matter that closers get paid a lot more than pinch-hitters; the issue is not one of market forces.
   305. Mefisto Posted: June 04, 2006 at 12:25 AM (#2050086)
Does anyone have average salary info for "closers" and #1 starters? It would be interesting to see if MLB values them similarly (I'm assuming that, except in unusual cases, only #1 starters are likely to be considered for the HOM).
   306. Steve Treder Posted: June 04, 2006 at 12:25 AM (#2050087)
I believe that Win Shares undervalues pitchers and even slightly more undervalues closers. Roughly, I think you have to give pitchers a 20-25% WS boost to find similar value hitters, and maybe 25-30

How do you come up with these percentages?

Also, the 35/17/48 split (if I have the numbers right) is questionable to me.

Why? What would be more accurate splits?

Generally, I think defense is overrated, since replacement level defence is not that far from average or above average defence.

Why is defensive replacement not as far from average as offensive replacement?

These aren't rhetorical questions; I'm sincerely interested in understanding your thinking here.
   307. Daryn Posted: June 04, 2006 at 12:40 AM (#2050105)
These aren't rhetorical questions; I'm sincerely interested in understanding your thinking here.

I come to these conclusions by watching baseball for 30 years, reading James' books and countless other books and reading literally thousands of pages on this HoM part of the site over the last 3 years as well as reading the defense threads on the main part of the site. If we meet in Seattle next month I may get to discuss the reasons I have come to these conclusions at great length over a Girltini.
   308. Steve Treder Posted: June 04, 2006 at 12:44 AM (#2050112)
If we meet in Seattle next month I may get to discuss the reasons I have come to these conclusions at great length over a Girltini.

I sincerely look forward to it, and the Girltini is on me.

But WTF is a Girltini?
   309. Daryn Posted: June 04, 2006 at 01:08 AM (#2050156)
But WTF is a Girltini?

My drink of choice. It encompasses any brightly coloured martini that is typically ordered by females rather than males. I'm trying to popularize the word, so pass it on.
   310. Backlasher Posted: June 04, 2006 at 03:29 AM (#2050423)
Sure you do :) Rivera has pitched slightly more than 800 big-league innings. Clemens has pitched slightly less than 4,800. Rivera's got his work cut out for him.

Mike Schmidt had just over 10,000 plate appearances. Dave Hansen had about 2,000, and was a superb pinch-hitter, as pinch-hitters go. If they were equally good hitters, Hansen's opportunities would have to have been five times as important, or he'd have had to make proportionally more timely use of them, or something to make up the difference.

Now, Hansen was nowhere near as good a hitter as Schmidt, while going by ERA+ Rivera has been a significantly better pitcher than Clemens. So perhaps the analogy should be more like: Rivera is to Clemens as Dave Hansen in 1993 (batting .362/465/505 almost entirely as a pinch-hitter) was to Brett Butler in 1993 (batting .298/387/371 while playing every day) -- purely as hitters. Can the better rate performance in a few appearances match the lesser one in a lot more appearances? That's all that matters.


I still have no idea what you are talking about.

(1) No one is arguing that Rivera is as good as Clemens.

(2) What matters is the value the player provided to his team in winning baseball games. Their constitution states that. That is not a rate of multiplier on opportunity. AND NO ONE HAS SUGGESTED THAT IS THE CASE. Rivera does not need to be "six times as good as Clemens." He needs to provide enough value to get in the HoM.

And even taking it down to a more suitable level. He doesn't need to be six times as good as Drysdale. He needs to provide enough value either in peak, career, or compared with his contemporaries, in whichever mix the electorate chooses to make him worth of enshrinement.

And to be honest, if someone were trying to look for a crude translation function for value, it would be assymptotic to account for bounds of human performance and opportunity.


What does not matter is the special psychology of closing or the fact that there's a special name for that role on a pitching staff. There's an equally tough psychology of pinch-hitting, you could argue, and there's a name for the job. Nor, clearly, does it matter that closers get paid a lot more than pinch-hitters; the issue is not one of market forces.

Huh?

(1) If a pinch hitter put up enough value to make the Hall of Anything other than the Hall of Pinch Hitters, then I'd support his candidacy. There hasn't been anyone on any measure that has put up anything close to that value.

(2) I've got no idea where you came up with most of that. It seems like you are introducing things that have not come up at all in this thread, not even from Treder's misdirection. There has been very little said about psychology at all. I'll discuss some of that supra. Thankfully with this crowd, they have not had to get into a discussion to recognize that the use of relievers has changed to maximize leverage, or to recognize that leverage exists at all. In many threads you would have to have hundreds of posts to even explain these simple concepts, or you would have someone who just wanted to argue that would throw FUD at them for just rhetorical enjoyment.

(3) A pinch hitter is going to see leverage of a maximum of about 5 for at most 1 at bat. They generally don't see anything near that high. A moderate closer, because of the role he performs, not because the team just drew a name out of the hat, is going to see an average LI of 1.9 for about 3.2 outs, and some of those will also be the 5s. Per appearance, a closer is already facing between three and five times as much leverage. On opportunity, your persistent closers will see about 70-80 innings, which is going to be about on e third of the highest starters. Considering that the average starter is getting about 150 innings, a closer is seeing opportunity at about 1/2 rate.

A pinch hitter, if they were only a pinch hitter and happened to pinch hit in every game, would by definition only be able to get 162 opportunities which is going to be about 1/5 of the league highest and about 1/4 to 1/3 of the average starter in opportunities. If they get more opportunity, it is going to drive down the leverage really hard and fast because those will be distributed in a way that leverage cannot be controlled.

There is no comparision between closers and pinch hitters. There is no comparison between closers and utility infielders.

And that psychology argument, I'm not sure what you think you discussing. The closest thing said by anybody is do they gross up closers numbers because the demand of the job require quick turnover. That demand may be both psychological and physical, but its a similar dynamic that also was once considered for catchers, middle infielders and center fielders. So its worthy for them to discuss. They can arrive wherever they choose.

But the psychological demand of closing is a personnel selection criteria, it is not a criteria that is likely to impact value.

And in a forum where no one has compared Rivera to Clemens, and then suggesting that Rivera needs to be six times as good as Clemens, does not seem to do anything but advance a bias rather than look for value.

It invalidates the "Mike Schmidt is a failed shortstop" objection, because it seems absurd to ask if Schmidt was as valuable as the weakest HOM shortstops.

No one thinks that is the case, either. What one thinks is that you shouldn't give Schmidt a performance minus because he couldn't make it at SS, and you shouldn't give a relief pitcher a performance minus because Steve Treder thinks that he is a failed starter.

Schmidt put up the value he did in a role that that team required. Rivera put up the value he did in a role the team required. Measure the value, and if there is anything about the role that causes you to make a consideration, then make it, but not because of some weird assertion that somebody is a "failed x"

How do you come up with these percentages?

A much better question is how did you come up with yours. You just read what James wrote. So, how did James come up with his. That's easy, he just pulled them out of his ass.

Why? What would be more accurate splits?

Why? Why are they accurate. This shouldn't be a place for rhetoric. There isn't "Bill James as a null hypothesis and then you argue against it." That is what I hope this place doesn't become. Its one of the things that Primer in general descended into because of certain people.

There question is "should we use it at all" And to be honest, it also features a few people that are more qualified as performance analysts than Bill James.

Why? What would be more accurate splits?


Why is that even a subject for a question of reliever value. If James is pulling numbers out of his ass, then there is no reason to even worry about what are better numbers, unless and until you have a thread where you are trying to come up with Win Shares V. 2.1456. Then the whole thing takes on a DIPSy quality. Why take something flawed and work on fixing it, when you can for any purpose you need, more easily create something that does work.

Why is defensive replacement not as far from average as offensive replacement?

These aren't rhetorical questions; I'm sincerely interested in understanding your thinking here.


Why is that a subject in Relief Pitcher valuation for the Hall of Merit. What you appear to be interested in is defending James.
   311. Steve Treder Posted: June 04, 2006 at 03:58 AM (#2050432)
My drink of choice. It encompasses any brightly coloured martini that is typically ordered by females rather than males. I'm trying to popularize the word, so pass it on.

Well ... OK. I'll be enjoying a singlemalt on the rocks, just the same.
   312. Chris Dial Posted: June 04, 2006 at 03:58 AM (#2050433)
And to be honest, if someone were trying to look for a crude translation function for value, it would be assymptotic to account for bounds of human performance and opportunity.

Hey! That's my bit!
   313. Chris Dial Posted: June 04, 2006 at 04:10 AM (#2050437)
I'll discuss some of that supra.

Does that mean "later"? Can't you just type "later"? It's the same number of keystrokes.
   314. Chris Dial Posted: June 04, 2006 at 04:17 AM (#2050439)
Schmidt put up the value he did in a role that that team required. Rivera put up the value he did in a role the team required.

This isn't true, and I don't consider this a nit.

Every team has a third baseman *throughout history*.

the closer is a 20 year old creation. It isn't required, but a third baseman, for all intents and purposes, is.
   315. rawagman Posted: June 04, 2006 at 10:24 AM (#2050472)
Not a requirement, but a conscious, (well??) thought-out choice whose goal is winning baseball games and championships.
There have always been thrid-basemen, but they didn't always do the same things, position themselves equally, etc...
   316. BDC Posted: June 04, 2006 at 12:42 PM (#2050478)
Schmidt put up the value he did in a role that that team required. Rivera put up the value he did in a role the team required

And Rivera is a mensch! I'm simply not convinced that "closer" is an especially major role. It may be a popular role or a famous role, but it's a minor role.
   317. Dr. Vaux Posted: June 04, 2006 at 12:57 PM (#2050480)
Actually, it's starting to add up.

The HOF was created by the media, for all intents and purposes.

Because they are the HOF voters, the media creates HOFers.

Media pressure is what caused managers to introduce the "closer role."

The "added pressure of the ninth inning" was also created by the media frenzy surrounding that "role."

The pressure is real now, though; performances of various relievers seem to leave no other choice. Also real, therefore, is that some pitchers can't handle it.

But the HOF "closer" is a media creation by premises 3 through 5 above, for enshrinement in a media creation by premises 1 and 2 above.

So the HOM, a creation of the SABR, should not follow the HOF's lead, it should follow SABR's. Therefore, pitchers are to be judged by their value as pitchers, which is limited by the number of innings they were able to pitch. Yes, that's limited by managerial usage of the pitcher, but bench position players, no matter how good, are subject to the same thing; we don't credit them for it, partly because of the sample-size issue. Well that issue exists for pitchers, too.
   318. rawagman Posted: June 04, 2006 at 01:06 PM (#2050481)
It stands to reason that closers will not be highly represented in the Hall of anything (except maybe in the hall of closers).

That said, the role (I don't want to say "position") has real value in the last 30 years and that value has been changing over that span.

As limited as may be the value inherent in the closer role, some men have managed to excel in that role - to the extent that they were much feared by the opposition and highly valued (and now highly remunerated) by their emplyers and teammates. Those few men, beginning with Hoyt Wilhelm, deserve their candidacy to be considered seriously - as seriously as any starting pitcher - and not judged as a failed shortstop or failed starting pitcher, or failed anything else.

BTW - I don;t think there is any evidence that a closer, or any other relief pitcher is a failed starter. At worst, a converted starter. Only the baseball gods, not us HOMer voters can really know if they failed.

By implication, are we failed members of the BBWAA?
   319. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 04, 2006 at 01:44 PM (#2050485)
So the HOM, a creation of the SABR, should not follow the HOF's lead, it should follow SABR's.

I'm assuming you mean that we were created in the spirit of that group, but for others who are unaware, the HOM is not an offshoot of SABR (many of our voters are not members of that organization). We also have members who are of the "Orthodox Stathead" mode and not "acolytes" of James, Palmer, BP, etc. Of course, SABR itself is not monolithic in that respect, so maybe we should be annexed by them after all. :-)
   320. OCF Posted: June 04, 2006 at 03:02 PM (#2050500)
I've been gone for a couple of days, and this thread has mushroomed. Here's a belated response to something that Steve Treder said many posts ago, speaking of Randy Johnson:

But Johnson's late-blooming dramatic success is quite unusual among great starters.

One thing you learn at the HoM is how varied the paths of careers can really be - we have a lot of stories. We elected Dazzy Vance - left-handed, extremely late blooming (in effect, it seems he lost the front half of his career to arm injuries), and a dominant strikeout pitcher.

For another example that's been noted before around here. We elected both Amos Rusie and Joe "Iron Man" McGinnity. McGinnity was slightly older than Rusie; nontheless, McGinnity's career did not begin until Rusie's had ended (except for 22 innings of feeble belated comeback.)
   321. Mefisto Posted: June 04, 2006 at 03:03 PM (#2050501)
I'll discuss some of that supra.

Does that mean "later"? Can't you just type "later"?

He mistyped. He meant infra, which means "below"; supra means "above". Geez, Chris, how can you claim to be a chemist if you didn't pass Latin? You really need to stay current with the jargon here.
   322. OCF Posted: June 04, 2006 at 03:03 PM (#2050502)
I've been gone for a couple of days, and this thread has mushroomed. Here's a belated response to something that Steve Treder said many posts ago, speaking of Randy Johnson:

But Johnson's late-blooming dramatic success is quite unusual among great starters.

One thing you learn at the HoM is how varied the paths of careers can really be - we have a lot of stories. We elected Dazzy Vance - left-handed, extremely late blooming (in effect, it seems he lost the front half of his career to arm injuries), and a dominant strikeout pitcher.

For another example that's been noted before around here. We elected both Amos Rusie and Joe "Iron Man" McGinnity. McGinnity was slightly older than Rusie; nontheless, McGinnity's career did not begin until Rusie's had ended (except for 22 innings of feeble belated comeback.)
   323. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 04, 2006 at 03:11 PM (#2050506)
I've been gone for a couple of days, and this thread has mushroomed.

Are you attempting to make up for lost time, OCF? ;-)
   324. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 04, 2006 at 03:15 PM (#2050508)
One thing you learn at the HoM is how varied the paths of careers can really be - we have a lot of stories. We elected Dazzy Vance - left-handed, extremely late blooming (in effect, it seems he lost the front half of his career to arm injuries), and a dominant strikeout pitcher.

For another example that's been noted before around here. We elected both Amos Rusie and Joe "Iron Man" McGinnity. McGinnity was slightly older than Rusie; nontheless, McGinnity's career did not begin until Rusie's had ended (except for 22 innings of feeble belated comeback.)


Red Ruffing is another hurler without the textbook HOF or HOM career.
   325. Steve Treder Posted: June 04, 2006 at 03:26 PM (#2050515)
Red Ruffing is another hurler without the textbook HOF or HOM career.

There are quite a number of unusual paths to greatness, of course. Early Wynn also comes to mind.

But the fact remains that there is a textbook HOF or HOM career. Most great players establish themselves as standouts, if not as major stars, before they're 25, and this is certainly true of great starting pitchers.
   326. OCF Posted: June 04, 2006 at 04:43 PM (#2050557)
Even if there are rules, the exceptions also matter. It is possible for a starting pitcher to get off to a very late start and still compile an HoM career - we've shown that with Vance, Ruffing, and a couple of others. Is it possible for a position player to do the same? It seems that there's a very big hill to climb there. It's clear from this year's comments that Maury Wills isn't getting close to most ballots. You can get to the threshold, to the point of having an argument: There's Gavy Cravath, for one, and Bob Johnson. Jose Cruz, Sr. probably doesn't have enough to get there, but we'll at least have to look. And what about Edgar Martinez? But I have we elected anyone who got off to that kind of late start, or late growth into stardom? The greatest "late-bloomer" of them all was Honus Wagner, but he was already great before he got even better.

Now as for relief pitchers: there have been a lot of guys who've had a terrific 3-year, or 5-year, or maybe even 7-year run as a reliever, and they were at all sorts of different ages when they did.

One oddity about the "closer" job: it's the only job on the team for which your replacement can "audition," live, on the major league team. You can't have a great year as a #2 SS or a #2 catcher - you're not playing enough to do that, unless the guy ahead of you is hurt. You can have a great year as a #2 starter, but that means you already have the job, and the team can keep both you and the "#1." But what happens when you show up, pitch in the set-up role, and pitch lights-out for a year or two? Consider the circumstances under which Wetteland left the Yankees and Percival left the Angels. The same sorts of decisions about established players (trade them or let them walk) are made all the time because of the potential of someone who's coming up behind, but that's potential. Rivera in 1996 or Francisco Rodriguez in 2002-2003 didn't represent "potential" but rather actual realized performance.
   327. Steve Treder Posted: June 04, 2006 at 04:59 PM (#2050571)
One oddity about the "closer" job: it's the only job on the team for which your replacement can "audition," live, on the major league team. You can't have a great year as a #2 SS or a #2 catcher - you're not playing enough to do that, unless the guy ahead of you is hurt. You can have a great year as a #2 starter, but that means you already have the job, and the team can keep both you and the "#1." But what happens when you show up, pitch in the set-up role, and pitch lights-out for a year or two? Consider the circumstances under which Wetteland left the Yankees and Percival left the Angels. The same sorts of decisions about established players (trade them or let them walk) are made all the time because of the potential of someone who's coming up behind, but that's potential. Rivera in 1996 or Francisco Rodriguez in 2002-2003 didn't represent "potential" but rather actual realized performance.

Actual realized performance in every sense, of course, except for the pressure (whatever it is, and it certainly exists to some degree) of protecting ninth-inning leads.

Very interesting observation. It undoubtedly is part of the explanation for the more rapid turnover among closers than among other roles.
   328. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: June 04, 2006 at 05:26 PM (#2050607)
You are going to be in Seattle Daryn? That's great! I'll set up a thread here when I get a chance so we can get an idea of who'll be around that weekend. I'll be there from Tuesday through Sunday.

And while it pains me to do so, I must admit that I really like the Ruby Tuesday's CoffeTini (or whatever they call it) and the Applebees ChocoTini (or whatever they call it). Both are excellent when fighting a hangover, for example.
   329. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 04, 2006 at 05:35 PM (#2050619)
But the fact remains that there is a textbook HOF or HOM career. Most great players establish themselves as standouts, if not as major stars, before they're 25, and this is certainly true of great starting pitchers.

I totally agree, Steve. There is a template that the majority of players do follow. But as OCF posted, the exceptions also matter.
   330. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 04, 2006 at 05:40 PM (#2050631)
Phil Neikro is another that belongs in the "atypical paths to greatness" discussion.
   331. TomH Posted: June 04, 2006 at 05:53 PM (#2050655)
Here is some research; I’m not sure what conclusions can be drawn, but maybe it will provoke discussion.
For each decade 1960s thru 1990s, I found the 25 pitchers who started and 25 who finished the most games in the 10 yr time period. The ones who finished the most games I figure are the most-used bullpen aces. I could not use the 1950s this way, since there were some starters who also wound up with the most games finished; partly because of CG, partly because they did both, and lastly, because most teams did not have a bullpen ace. But from 1960 on, the lists were separate, even though there were some pitchers among the top ‘finishers’ who also started some.

The I found the ERAs for each pitcher, and averaged them (straight avg, without ‘weighting’ for IP). So, who would you think was better; the best starters, or the best closers? Here is the data:

Decade SP ERA RP ERA difference
1960s .. 3.26 ...... 3.20 ...... .06
1970s .. 3.29 ...... 3.10 ...... .19
1980s .. 3.69 ...... 3.21 ...... .48
1990s .. 3.81 ...... 3.32 ...... .49

If I eliminate the top 10 in each group, to throw out any potential outliers, and only use the 11th thru 25th best, the data becomes:

Decade SP ERA RP ERA difference
1960s .. 3.53 ...... 3.46 ...... .07
1970s .. 3.50 ...... 3.34 ...... .16
1980s .. 3.87 ...... 3.51 ...... .36
1990s .. 4.18 ...... 3.59 ...... .59

Pretty much the same pattern, but getting rid of Maddux, Clemens and the Big Unit hurts the 90s starters.

So, beginning around 1980, the relief aces began to be more effective (in terms of ERA) than the #1 starters in most rotations. Is it that managers aimed to cast some of their best as closers in the last generation, or has the lower IP/G usage made it easier on the relievers (see last bit of data belwo)? Or some other explanation?

Of the 25 1960s ‘finishers’ here, only Roy Face averaged less than 2 IP per G; most were 3 or over.
Of the 1990s finishers, many averaged les than 1.5 IP per G.
   332. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 04, 2006 at 06:04 PM (#2050695)
So, beginning around 1980, the relief aces began to be more effective (in terms of ERA) than the #1 starters in most rotations. Is it that managers aimed to cast some of their best as closers in the last generation, or has the lower IP/G usage made it easier on the relievers (see last bit of data belwo)? Or some other explanation?

Well, the Bruce Sutter generation of relief pitchers were created because of the wear-and-tear that the earlier models had to put up with, so it makes sense that part of the increase in ERA+ for closers has to be due to the lighter workload. Beyond that? I haven't a clue, Tom.
   333. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: June 04, 2006 at 06:16 PM (#2050722)
Don't closers clock better on the radar gun than starters?
   334. Steve Treder Posted: June 04, 2006 at 06:33 PM (#2050779)
it makes sense that part of the increase in ERA+ for closers has to be due to the lighter workload

As well as that better athletes tend to be selected for the role, most likely. Here's some of the data I presented in this article:

Average Top Save Producer

1960-1972: 94 IP, 1.68 IP/G, 130 ERA+
1973-1985: 97 IP, 1.64 IP/G, 140 ERA+
1986-1992: 77 IP, 1.30 IP/G, 146 ERA+
1993-2004: 67 IP, 1.08 IP/G, 149 ERA+
   335. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: June 04, 2006 at 06:50 PM (#2050826)
May I come back to the issue of the difference between starters' and relievers' ERAs?

I have somewhere in my possession an article Bill James wrote on the subject in the early- to mid-80s; as a testament to my organizational skills, I have been looking for it for 15 minutes, to no avail (despite the fact that I refer to it rather regularly). It was in a SABR publication and re-published in a book that comprised several different SABR articles from a vast number of authors.

To the best of my recollection, James grouped starting and relief pitchers by various peripheral stats, such as K, BB, and H per IP, separating them into many groups (or "cells", as this was done on a spreadsheet or something). He then compared the starting pitchers in each group to the relief pitchers. The advantage RP enjoyed was rougly .25 of ERA. (As a totally hypothetical example, a starting pitcher who had 6 K/9 IP, 3 BB, and 9 H would have an ERA of 4.50, and a relief pitcher with the same rates would have a 4.25.)

One of Tango, MGL, and Andy Dolphin returned to the question in The Book. In this instance, they looked at how pitchers did who pitched in both starting and relief roles. For instance, Derek Lowe allowed a .260 wOBA against 896 batters as a starter and a .309 wOBA against 1133 batters as a reliever; they then weighted both numbers by the lowest PA between the two, added it up for every pitcher ... long story short, they found that the relievers' "advantage" is .80 of ERA.

It might be interesting to apply the two methods to the other study's population to see if they uncover comparable results.

***

The Book's study covers 1999-2002, but we might guess that its findings would apply about as well to pitchers from 1993 forward, given the near unanimity of the Closer Model by that point and the relatively similar offensive contexts assigned to the Juice Era. Mariano Rivera has a career ERA of 2.33 (entering this season) against a park-adjusted league average of 4.60, giving him an ERA+ of 197. Add .80 to his ERA (I'm considering his time as a starter negligible for this illustration), and his 3.13 ERA is an ERA+ of 147. (Of course, the league-average should probably changed if you were going to do this for everyone, shouldn't it?)

Career ERA+ marks for a few starters ... Greg Maddux is at 138, Randy Johnson 142, Roger Clemens 143. In simple terms of ERA+, Rivera may come out ahead of these guys, even if you account for the advantage he gains by being a reliever.

A few other relievers of the modern day: Trevor Hoffman's ERA+ drops from 146 to 113, Troy Percival's from 150 to 119, Billy Wagner's from 180 to 134.

Of course, we (well, I, in this post) haven't looked at leverage yet, and how to adjust a reliever's innings. Going back to Rivera, if we go ahead and hypothesize an LI of 1.9 (probably high), we can say that his 107 ERA+ in 806.7 IP "converts" to a 147 ERA+ in 1532.7 IP on the scale of a starter. This is the amount of innings a top starter might throw in seven years, so obviously Rivera does not compare to the clear HoMers of our time.

Tango had an interesting look at Sutter, Lee Smith, and Gossage through the eyes of LI, and concluded "The impact of an 80-inning reliever is no more than that of a 160-inning starter." But note that Tango did not adjust for the "performance advantage" we behold in RP; he simply multiplied all of the pitchers' numbers by the LI. (Perhaps it is a "double penalty" to do so?)
   336. Los Angeles Waterloo of Black Hawk Posted: June 04, 2006 at 07:01 PM (#2050862)
Of course, there is an assumption in my post 43 on this page that we can determine RP value by "converting" their performance to its equivalent had he been a SP. This is not necessarily the case.

It may be better to compare to other relievers. Rivera's 197 ERA+ compares to the closer average of 149; his 2.33 ERA compares to an average of 3.09. By this reckoning, he has been 68 earned runs better than the average closer, coming into this season. Of course, runs saved by a closer are high-leverage, so if we apply a hypothetical 1.9 LI to Rivera's runs saved, we're up to nearly 130 (.161 ER saved against average per inning).
   337. Steve Treder Posted: June 04, 2006 at 07:52 PM (#2051057)
One of Tango, MGL, and Andy Dolphin returned to the question in The Book. In this instance, they looked at how pitchers did who pitched in both starting and relief roles. For instance, Derek Lowe allowed a .260 wOBA against 896 batters as a starter and a .309 wOBA against 1133 batters as a reliever; they then weighted both numbers by the lowest PA between the two, added it up for every pitcher ... long story short, they found that the relievers' "advantage" is .80 of ERA.

Just based on this thread, I've begun to do some research in a similar vein, that I'll be writing up as a THT article in a few weeks. I'm going to look at the full set of pitchers who've made at least 75 ML starts and 75 ML relief appearances over the past several decades. I've just begun putting it all together, but so far it's quite evident that not only do these pitchers as a group have better ERAs while relieving than while starting, they have distinctly better component stats as well (particularly hits allowed and strikeouts).

Just a few examples:

Phil Niekro 3.37 starter ERA, 2.97 reliever ERA
Joe Niekro 3.65, 3.06
David Wells 4.13, 3.23
Kenny Rogers 4.34, 3.26
Danny Darwin 4.04, 3.06
Tim Wakefield 4.35, 3.75
Mudcat Grant 3.80, 2.98
Derek Lowe 4.18, 2.98
Bruce Kison 3.79, 3.00
   338. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: June 04, 2006 at 09:10 PM (#2051321)
"It may be better to compare to other relievers. Rivera's 197 ERA+ compares to the closer average of 149; his 2.33 ERA compares to an average of 3.09. By this reckoning, he has been 68 earned runs better than the average closer, coming into this season. Of course, runs saved by a closer are high-leverage, so if we apply a hypothetical 1.9 LI to Rivera's runs saved, we're up to nearly 130 (.161 ER saved against average per inning)."

I wouldn't compare Rivera to other closers on performance - no more than I would compare starters to only #1 starters. I would compare Rivera's ERA to that of other relievers - all of them.
   339. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: June 04, 2006 at 09:14 PM (#2051330)
Steve I think your study may show bias by default. As you've most relievers are failed starters, and the percentage is higher the further back you go in time. So your sample set is going to be biased towards pitchers who were better suited to relieving than starting, which I think will show the advantage to be larger than it actually is.
   340. OCF Posted: June 04, 2006 at 09:56 PM (#2051396)
Rivera in 1996 or Francisco Rodriguez in 2002-2003 didn't represent "potential" but rather actual realized performance.

Actual realized performance in every sense, of course, except for the pressure (whatever it is, and it certainly exists to some degree) of protecting ninth-inning leads.


I'm sure that those around here who want to build a case for Rivera will be using 1996 as part of their case - as well they should.

I also remember seeing discussions of the Angels in the Percival-Rodriguez days to the effect that limiting Percival to a very strict closer role was putting Rodriguez into plenty of very high leverage situations, and that on a team level, it might make sense to put the best reliever on the team into the setup role, as long as the closer was still good.
   341. Paul Wendt Posted: June 04, 2006 at 10:03 PM (#2051402)
There's Gavy Cravath, for one, and Bob Johnson. Jose Cruz, Sr. probably doesn't have enough to get there, but we'll at least have to look. And what about Edgar Martinez? But I have we elected anyone who got off to that kind of late start, or late growth into stardom? The greatest "late-bloomer" of them all was Honus Wagner, but he was already great before he got even better.

It depends what you mean by great and by late start.
Earl Averill
Roberto Clemente.

The generalization may refer only to greater players than Averill and Clemente, the inner circle stars, in which neither Averill nor Clemente nor Vance, Ruffing, Niekro, or Leever qualifies.

OCF:
One oddity about the "closer" job: it's the only job on the team for which your replacement can "audition," live, on the major league team. You can't have a great year as a #2 SS or a #2 catcher - you're not playing enough to do that, unless the guy ahead of you is hurt. You can have a great year as a #2 starter, but that means you already have the job, and the team can keep both you and the "#1." But what happens when you show up, pitch in the set-up role, and pitch lights-out for a year or two? Consider the circumstances under which Wetteland left the Yankees and Percival left the Angels. The same sorts of decisions about established players (trade them or let them walk) are made all the time because of the potential of someone who's coming up behind, but that's potential. Rivera in 1996 or Francisco Rodriguez in 2002-2003 didn't represent "potential" but rather actual realized performance.

S.T.
Very interesting observation. It undoubtedly is part of the explanation for the more rapid turnover among closers than among other roles.

I agree: interesting, undoubtedly part of the explanation.
Some thoughts on its historical limitations:

Even now the setup role is not so well-defined as the closer role and that is not perfectly well-defined. Eg, many starting pitchers are starters more purely than Mariano Rivera, Troy Percival, or Robb Nen is a closer.

Historically, long relief and spot starts have been auditions for the regular starting pitcher role --for some long relievers and spot starters, the ones who are not yet failed starters. I think this must still be true to some extent, although development of the setup role as closer's sidekick limits the opportunities. (I suppose that "long relief" includes blowout relief whether long or short.)

For half the period the HOM project has covered, players auditioned for catcher by catching at the major league level, without benefit of injury to the team's best catcher.
   342. Steve Treder Posted: June 04, 2006 at 10:05 PM (#2051405)
Steve I think your study may show bias by default. As you've most relievers are failed starters, and the percentage is higher the further back you go in time. So your sample set is going to be biased towards pitchers who were better suited to relieving than starting, which I think will show the advantage to be larger than it actually is.

Well, Joe, perhaps, but here's the thing. If indeed the sample of pitchers who both started and relieved quite a bit in the major leagues (at least 75 of each kind of appearance) is "biased towards pitchers who were better suited to relieving than to starting," then what sample wouldn't show such a bias? Obviously those pitchers who pitched almost entirely in relief would have to be considered as better suited to relieving than to starting, too. And those pitchers who pitched almost entirely as starters, while it certainly might be the case that they uniquely weren't better suited to relieving than to starting, their group also disproportionately includes all the pitchers most widely agreed to be the very best pitchers in baseball: that group would include Seaver and Gibson and Clemens and Maddux and all the rest. It just doesn't seem very plausible that these sorts of pitchers were only selected as starters because somehow their stuff wouldn't be effective in relief.

Moreover, the dataset I'm working with isn't small: it's 291 pitchers. I'm hoping that by starting with such a large group of pitchers, and limiting the smallest number of appearances as either a starter or a reliever to 75, then small sample size issues will be able to be minimized, even when I do the sorting along various axes, such as proportion of starts, strikeout vs. groundball, general quality, and so on.

Of course it won't be perfect. But if indeed a persistent significant trend is found to be common among a group of 291 pitchers over half a century, I think it will be hard to dismiss it as a nonrepresentative sample, but instead is reflecting something real.
   343. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: June 05, 2006 at 02:48 AM (#2051510)
Steve I still disagree and think your study is going to biased (possibly extremely so).

"then what sample wouldn't show such a bias?"

Basically you are saying, "since we can't come up with an unbiased sample, I'm going to use this one, and even if the results are flawed, it's the best we can do."

I can't endorse that. If the only study that can be done is flawed, then we need to admit for the time being that the question can't be answered, at least not in this fashion. The process needs to stop there until something unbiased is thought of. It doesn't matter if it's 291 pitchers over 50 years or 10000 pitchers over a million years, if the population is biased towards being better suited for relieving, the numbers are going to show that - not that relieving is easier.

Again, I'm not saying relieving isn't easier, I just don't think this is the right way to go about studying it.

Plus, I don't see how it matters - at least not to the Hall of Merit, in terms of answering the question of who was more valuable.

I think for our purposes here, if we know how many runs an average or replacement level starter allows per inning, game, whatever . . . and we know how many runs an average or replacement level reliever allows, we simply compare the starters to the starters and the relievers to the relievers, and we know how much value each added. If relieving is easier, then the replacement level reliever is going to be a higher quality pitcher (in terms of runs allowed) than the replacement level starter and we can adjust based on that.
   344. Steve Treder Posted: June 05, 2006 at 04:39 AM (#2051557)
Basically you are saying, "since we can't come up with an unbiased sample, I'm going to use this one, and even if the results are flawed, it's the best we can do."

Actually, Joe, that's not at all what I'm saying. And I apologize for inadvertently giving you the impression that that was what I'm saying. But that isn't it at all, not even close.

If the only study that can be done is flawed, then we need to admit for the time being that the question can't be answered, at least not in this fashion. The process needs to stop there until something unbiased is thought of. It doesn't matter if it's 291 pitchers over 50 years or 10000 pitchers over a million years, if the population is biased towards being better suited for relieving, the numbers are going to show that - not that relieving is easier.

Joe, your a priori assumption is that the study is flawed. Yet you haven't established with any degree of sensibility whatsoever how the study is flawed. You've assumed it, but it seems that you haven't tested your assumption.

There is a finite actual population of real major league pitchers. It's far smaller than 10,000, and they haven't been playing for anything close to a million years. The actual population of major league pitchers working in a significant number of games over the past half-century is only a few hundred, and of that actual, finite population, 291 pitchers is a very meaningful, significant sample. It isn't a small, cherry-picked proportion, by any means. It's in fact a very large chunk of the population of pitchers who've ever pitched. The sample includes, in fact, 56,656 starts, and 55,757 relief appearances since 1957. To dismiss this huge population of pitchers and games without thinking it through isn't something anyone should do.

Again, I'm not saying relieving isn't easier, I just don't think this is the right way to go about studying it.

Well, Joe, then please explain specifically what's wrong with it. I repeat the question I asked you before: if this sample is biased in the direction of favoring relief pitching results, then what sample wouldn't be? Please tell me.

Because there are three groups of pitchers who've debuted since 1957 and who have pitched in at least 150 games:

- Those who have started at least 75 games, and relieved in at least 75 games. This is the population I'm examining.

- Those who have relieved in at least 150 games, but started fewer than 75. I'm not looking at them.

- Those who have started at least 150 games, but relieved in fewer than 75. I'm not looking at them.

Which of these three populations would not be biased in the manner you're asserting? How should I expand my selection to reduce/eliminate the bias?

Plus, I don't see how it matters - at least not to the Hall of Merit, in terms of answering the question of who was more valuable.

It may or may not matter to the Hall of Merit, although I can clearly see how it might matter very much. Why not take a look at the results of the study and find out? What about the study is so pointless? Please explain with more than "it's flawed."

Thank you!
   345. Steve Treder Posted: June 05, 2006 at 04:47 AM (#2051563)
- Those who have relieved in at least 150 games, but started fewer than 75. I'm not looking at them.

- Those who have started at least 150 games, but relieved in fewer than 75. I'm not looking at them.


Okay, of course it's actually:

- Those who have pitched in at least 150 games, but started fewer than 75.

- Those who have pitched in at least 150 games, but relieved in fewer than 75.

And I'm not looking at either group.
   346. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 05, 2006 at 01:42 PM (#2051668)
The I found the ERAs for each pitcher, and averaged them (straight avg, without ‘weighting’ for IP). So, who would you think was better; the best starters, or the best closers? Here is the data...

TomH,

Did you break out the SP/RP splits for these guys? Are there any relief appearances among the SP's innings and any starts among the RP innings? Only asking because I think in the 1960s especially, many more relievers made starts than in subsequent decades, and that could depress the ERA of the relief group.
   347. DL from MN Posted: June 05, 2006 at 02:05 PM (#2051688)
I agree with Joe Dimino - you can't compare against only closers. 68 runs saved above the average closer is phenomenal when you consider how much better the average closer is in comparison to a replacement reliever.

If the average closer is 0.8 runs better than a starter and the reliever replacement level is 0.3-0.5 runs better than a starter, I'd have to conclude that average closers are nearly a half run better than most relievers.
   348. TomH Posted: June 05, 2006 at 02:56 PM (#2051732)
No, Doc, the ERAs are for all (SP and RP) appearances; I can't break them out. I'd need to refine the data to possibly only use relievers.
   349. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 05, 2006 at 04:09 PM (#2051787)
tomH,

I would expect that when you break it out by starter-only and relief-only innings, the gap would widen a bit because starters' ERAs presumably get the reliever ERA boost when they relieve, and also that relievers, being more successful as relievers, would naturally see their ERAs go up when starting. In that era, there's plenty of Turk Farrell/Dave Giusti types who started for four years or less, but who were ace relievers for lenghty periods surrounding those starting years. Hoyt W is one, of course. We could call it the Rick Aguilera career path. I think Clay Carroll might have started for a year or two. But even more interesting is that many the 1960s relief guys tended to make a few starts here and there in most years until the late 1960s. Some like Fingers were just young pitchers finding their role, others like Farrell moved into the rotation then back to the pen.
   350. Daryn Posted: June 05, 2006 at 04:37 PM (#2051820)
But even more interesting is that many the 1960s relief guys tended to make a few starts here and there in most years until the late 1960s. Some like Fingers were just young pitchers finding their role, others like Farrell moved into the rotation then back to the pen.

That's definitely true and it would skew an analysis of relative ERAs if they are starting when their arms aren't stretched out.
   351. Steve Treder Posted: June 05, 2006 at 04:49 PM (#2051836)
That's definitely true and it would skew an analysis of relative ERAs if they are starting when their arms aren't stretched out.

Which is why it seems rather clear that the most valid comparison between starting and relieving performance is that of pitchers who performed both roles to a signficant degree. Most relevant of all will be the performance of pitchers working in both roles to a significant degree within the same year, or at least within the same portion of their careers. A guy who started during his peak but then pitched mop-up relief in his last few decling years isn't all that useful, nor is a guy who pitched long relief when breaking in before cracking the rotation.
   352. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: June 05, 2006 at 05:03 PM (#2051868)
One thing I have been thinking is that while it probably sin't fair to compare closers only to other clsoers, since they are usually teh best reliever on teh team, it isn't fair to compare a reliever only to the bottom of teh bullpen guy that would actually replace him on the team. This is because the closer or ace reliever or whatever is being leveraged in such a way that his innings are more important and those innings are taken by the #2 guy when an injury happens. So the real difference is probalby something morel ike the difference in each role 2-1, 3-2, 4-3, and so on and owuld be less than the bottom guy who might never pitch anyway, especially if Joe Torre is coach.

Does that make sense?

I also want to say that finding the average ERA+ of all relievers as compared to starters would be valuable in order to recalibrate ERA+. So a 149 ERA+ would not actually be 149 in true value but it wouldnt' be average either, it would be about as valuable as a 130 or 125 or some because it would be compared to the ERA+'s of only other relievers. Then from this point we should levereage relief innings, giving us a pretty decent account of how much value a reliever gave his team compared to an average reliever AND a starting pitcher.

Does that make sense?

If not just ask...
   353. Mister High Standards Posted: June 05, 2006 at 05:03 PM (#2051869)
whereas few if any of the closers (including, perhaps, Rivera) could have a typical Smoltz SP year.


Derek Lowe.
   354. Mike Emeigh Posted: June 05, 2006 at 05:15 PM (#2051889)
I would expect pitchers to have better ERAs as relievers than they do as starters, for one primary reason: they are likely to face fewer hitters when tired than do starting pitchers.

Phil Niekro, in 1967, threw 46 2/3 innings in 26 relief appearances (only five of which lasted three or more innings), allowing eight earned runs for an ERA of 1.54. He also started 20 times. In those 20 starts, he allowed just six total earned runs in the 60 innings that encompassed the first three innings of each start, for an ERA of 0.90. From the fourth inning of his starts on, as a starter, Niekro allowed 29 earned runs in 100 1/3 innings, an ERA of 2.60.

Of course, that's just one example - one pitcher, one season. My gut feeling is that if you look at just the first three innings of pitcher starts, and compare those results to the results from reliever outings, you'll likely see a pattern where reliever ERAs track the early ERAs of starters closely, with most of the difference between reliever ERAs and starter ERAs resulting from the bump to starter ERAs that occur later in the game.

-- MWE
   355. Steve Treder Posted: June 05, 2006 at 05:22 PM (#2051897)
I would expect pitchers to have better ERAs as relievers than they do as starters, for one primary reason: they are likely to face fewer hitters when tired than do starting pitchers.

I strongly suspect that's true. It's also the case that relievers rarely have to try and get the same guy out twice (or more).

Both of which are among the ways in which starting is a more challenging task than relieving.
   356. DL from MN Posted: June 05, 2006 at 05:42 PM (#2051922)
> relievers rarely have to try and get the same guy out twice (or more)

...in the same game. Relievers often face batters more than once in a 3 game series. I think the truncation of games is where relievers win out. If someone hits a walkoff HR off you that's bad, but your'e not going to give up more runs. In other words, your liability is limited in a bad outing.
   357. Steve Treder Posted: June 05, 2006 at 05:46 PM (#2051930)
I think the truncation of games is where relievers win out. If someone hits a walkoff HR off you that's bad, but your'e not going to give up more runs. In other words, your liability is limited in a bad outing.

All true. But it's more than just an ERA-limiting thing going on here. The data I've looked at so far indicates signficant differences among pitcher's rate stats (H/IP, and particularly SO/IP) when starting vs. relieving.
   358. Mike Emeigh Posted: June 05, 2006 at 05:49 PM (#2051937)
The data I've looked at so far indicates signficant differences among pitcher's rate stats (H/IP, and particularly SO/IP) when starting vs. relieving.


David Smith, in a presentation at a SABR convention, noted that there appears to be a "batter learning" curve within a game, where a hitter is more likely to have a positive result the second or third time he faces a pitcher in a game. So I would expect that the rate stat differences are also likely to be the result of not having to go through the lineup multiple times.

-- MWE
   359. Steve Treder Posted: June 05, 2006 at 05:54 PM (#2051947)
So I would expect that the rate stat differences are also likely to be the result of not having to go through the lineup multiple times.

Right, and the extent to which this is a function of the pitcher's increasing fatigue, and the extent to which it's a function of the batter "learning" the extent of the pitcher's reperetoire on that particular day, is impossible to disentangle, but the combination of the two is essentially the essence of what makes starting so difficult.
   360. Steve Treder Posted: June 05, 2006 at 06:04 PM (#2051957)
essentially the essence

As well as, basically the basics, and fundamentally the fundamentals.
   361. Backlasher Posted: June 05, 2006 at 06:31 PM (#2051988)
I also want to say that finding the average ERA+ of all relievers as compared to starters would be valuable in order to recalibrate ERA+.

Unfortunately, I cannot recalculate that at the moment, but I did provide the year-by-year difference of reliever ERA to starter ERA in the bullpen optimization model. That still exists in some of the reliever utilization threads. If someone comes along that can google it, they will give you a link. Otherwise, I can re-run the queries tonight and show you. It won't take me a couple of months , and you won't have to wait for any forthcoming article to get it.

I'm not sure if the information will help you, because what you will find is that it is an increasing function. Relivers ERA compared to Starters ERA improves over time, oscillates and then improves again. The times of improvement are usually during the implementation in the innovation of reliver usage.

So if you tried to recalibrate in some way, you would have to reclibrate by era, and not universally.

You expect a closer to perform better relative to starters and the earlier Win share number bears this out, with a mean closer at 11 Win Shares, and a mean starter at 6 win shares.

I'm not sure why some people are conducting the aforementioned study. It really doesn't show anything that isn't known. Players should show better rate as a reliever than starter. The better you define their role, the further the difference.

That is already known by everyone, and has already been proven with other numbers.

The output of any such study would not increase knowledge in that area or prove any existing knowledge.

And more important, it would not lead to any help in developing a conversion mechanism. We already know that the specific use of the player can improve rate, and that is going to heavily depend on era. Knowing Zach Lowenlacy's starter and reliever era in 1951 doesn't help too much, until and unless you are voting on Zach Lowenlacy.

I expect it will just be the show of pretty numbers from which a which a non-supported piece of advocacy will be launched.
   362. Daryn Posted: June 05, 2006 at 06:53 PM (#2052009)
Zach Lowenlacy

I thought you knew something about baseball history -- his name is Johnlee Lowenlacy.
   363. Mike Emeigh Posted: June 05, 2006 at 06:58 PM (#2052014)
You expect a closer to perform better relative to starters and the earlier Win share number bears this out, with a mean closer at 11 Win Shares, and a mean starter at 6 win shares.


I wouldn't be inclined to use Win Shares to demonstrate this, because of the way that saves and W/L are used to allocate WS to the advantage of the closer. The median closer, in 2005, had around 35 saves - the equivalent of about 12 wins for a starter (saves count as 1/3 of wins), in addition to his actual wins (which typically runs around 2-3 wins for a closer) - blown saves are not counted, probably to prevent double-counting with losses (although a good percentage of them don't turn into losses for the reliever who blows the save). The median starter, in 2005, had around 10 wins.

-- MWE
   364. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 05, 2006 at 06:59 PM (#2052015)
OK, get ready for something weird....

But first, something you'd expect. Here's 36 of the most prominent relievers of the 1960s era. They were chosen based on their appearnces, games finished and saves totals, as well as by being in my consciousness. In other words, I did my best to caputer the top 30ish guys in relief in that era.

What innings fall within the retrosheet-splits era are split into starting and relieving. As you can see, these guys threw almost 3 times as many innings in relief as in they did in rotation. As shown at bottom, their combined ERA is .85 points lower in relief than in rotation, very close to what we observed about all contempoprary relievers in TomH's chart above.


RELIEF PITCHERS OF THE 1960S ERA
            
as a starter  as a reliever
             ip      er    ip       er
--------------------------------------
wilhelm     383.33  136  1264      386
mcdaniel    394.33  221  1610.33   643
giusti      862     380   854.67   306
kjnowles     39.67   23  1052.33   356
hoerner                   562.67   187
miller b    554.67  263   996.67   318
miller s    292.33  109  1014.67   309
face          8       3   986.67   337
fisher e    352.67  172  1186.33   470
wood       2119.33  921   565      209
abernathy    71.33   55   925.33   293
wyatt        44      30   643.33   260
bolin      1004.33  414   571.67   182
baldschun                 704      290
granger                   638.67   223
carroll     143.67   64  1209.67   378
farrell     928.33  353   772.33   294
perranoski    4       3  1170.67   362
sherry       97.33   48   702      277
kline       843     393   755.67   263
henry         3.33    1   591.67   195
radatz                    693.67   242
regan       652     322   721      264
mcmahon      13.67    8  1297      474
upshaw                    563      196
lee b        34.33   12   457.67   158
taylor      103      57   697      313
mcbean      494.67  212   577.67   218
linzy         5       4   812.33   254
aker                      746.67   272
worthington 146      80   815      322
raymond      50      16   671      279
hall        339.33  147   763.67   243
locker                    879      269
brewer j    179.67   87   860.67   268
gladding      5       0   595.67   209
======================================
TOTAL     10168.32 4534 29929.34 10519
         
<b>ERA AS SP 4.01 ERA AS RP 3.16</b


OK, now here comes the weird thing.... I chose up 36 starting pitchers of the 1960s era to mathc the 36 relievers above. This was somewhat difficult because (a) quality SP tend to have longer careers than quality RP, so it's harder to find careers centered on this era (b) there are fewer quality SP by rate stats. Steve Barber and guys like that are all very much average-rate, mid-to-long career guys, but it was the best I could do once I got past the second tier. So I'm very aware that the quality of these two samples may not be identical; again, did my best.

When all was said and done, the ERAs for these 36 starting pitchers as starters and relievers were almost equal! What's more, they were ever so slightly higher in relief. This may be because many starting pitchers hurled relief either before or after their prime starting days ended. But by the same token, most starters in this era appear to make a handful of relief appearances a year (one or two usually).

as a sp        as a rp
              inn      er   inn     er
--------------------------------------
drysdale     3260.67 1066   72.33   29
gibson       3796.33 1376   88      42
koufax       2119.67  630  104.33   37
osteen       3363.33 1231   97.33   38
kaat         4137.67 1579  392.33  159
tiant        3348    1239  138.33   41
jackson l    2860.67 1062  139.33   46
ramos        1616.33  739  457.33  183
marichal     3476.33 1320   30.67    8
stottlemeyer 2654.67  874    6.67    4
short        2014.33  777  310.67  109
mcclain      1848.33  696   37.67   15
lonborg      2358.67 1015  105.67   41
lolich       3504    1339  134.33   51
lary         1548     630   81.67   23
purkey       1761.67  727  150      49
ellsworth    2020.67  847  134.67   43
mccormick    2129.67  868  244     111
sanford      1877.67  779  159      60
perry j      2956    1138  329.33  121
peters       1952.33  775  128.67   72
chance       1949.33  636  198      61
hands        1715.33  663  235.67   65
law          1765     678  108      36
veale        1764.33  585  161.67   71
bunning      3564.67 1289   91      18
podres       1720     684  119      45
mcdowell     2337.67  944  154.67   55
grant        1938.67  818  503.67  167
barber       1695.33  612  303.67  134
downing      2089.33  747  180      64
ford         2092     641   69.33   21
horlen       1867.67  646  133.33   45
jay          1323.33  544  176      81
johnson k    1522.67  565  215     103
maloney      1771.33  626   77.67   30
monboquette  1772     737  189.33   66
pappas       3082.33 1169  103.67   34
pascual      2414     894   79.67   22
peterson     2174     801   44.33   12
pizarro      1630.67  604  403.67  172
sadecki      2077.33 1002  423     204
siebert      1970.33  705  181.33   62
singer       2151.67  806   22.33   13
terry r      1667.33  652  168.67   78
wilson e     1991.67  819   60      23
======================================
TOTAL      104653   39574 7745.01 2964
        
<b>ERA AS SP 3.40  ERA AS RP 3.44</b


Guys who were SPs in this era had an ERA of 3.40, guys who were mostly RP had a 3.16 ERA. So.24 points of difference---a little wider gap than TomH's data above, but not wholly inconsistent. In addition, if you take the starter and reliever innings and ER of the two groups and combine them, the 72 pitchers come up with a 3.46 ERA as starters and a 3.22 ERA as relivers. It's worth noting that the starters own 10 times as many starter innings as the relievers, but the relievers own four times as many relief innings as the relievers.

Okay, so my question now is this: should relievers be measured not against starters as starters, but rather starters as relievers? (I guess it's the same question if the ERAs are that similar for SPs in starting and relief...).

------------------------------------------------------

I hate to risk another backlasher backlashing, but I think that if one squinted, one might find some evidence of the failed starter theory in the ERAs of the starters being virtually identical in either role. Alternately, I hate to risk another Steve Treder post on failed starters, but backlasher could also find support for his theory of optimal utilization of a player's talents in the diminished effectiveness of relievers when they start. Same coin, different sides.
   365. Mike Emeigh Posted: June 05, 2006 at 07:04 PM (#2052024)
In addition, I'm not sure it's a fair comparison to compare the median closer (of which there is only one per team, typically) to the median starter (of which there are 5 per team, typically). A closer works in something like half the team's games, at most - usually less than that - so a fairer comparison might be to compare the median closer to the median of the top two or three starters on each team. The closer would probably be quite close in value to that median, and that does inutitively make sense to me.

-- MWE
   366. Steve Treder Posted: June 05, 2006 at 07:27 PM (#2052060)
Okay, so my question now is this: should relievers be measured not against starters as starters, but rather starters as relievers?

Theoretically, yes. The problem is, practically speaking, how do you do it? The problem with your sample of starters above is that very few of them pitched more than a handful of relief innings during their peak years: the bulk of their relief innings tended to come either when they were just breaking into the majors, and pitching long relief, and/or after they had declined, and were playing out the string in the bullpen. So your sample of relief innings by starters when they were capable of pitching at their best is small, as well as buried.

Which is why I maintain that the best test of the difference in difficulty between starting and relieving is to look only at pitchers who did a signficant amount of both, and within that group, paying particular attention to those pitchers who did a significant amount of both at the same portion(s) of their careers.
   367. TomH Posted: June 05, 2006 at 07:53 PM (#2052124)
Dr C, that is fascinating. We may have biases in both tables; on ethat was mentioned for the SPs (tiale ned of career), but for the RPs, it may be seleciotn bais that caused those type of performers to be used omre in relief, because their managers saw their were better at it. Which backs up Steve's last sentence in #374.

David Smith...noted that there appears to be a "batter learning" curve within a game, where a hitter is more likely to have a positive result the second or third time he faces a pitcher in a game. So I would expect that the rate stat differences are also likely to be the result of not having to go through the lineup multiple times.

I heard of this study, but couldn't the 'learning curve' be the 'pitcher is getting tired' curve? Maybe the ##s are the same, or maybe it will vary as managers with quick hooks get SPs out before they tire.

I'm not sure why some people are conducting the aforementioned study. It really doesn't show anything that isn't known. Players should show better rate as a reliever than starter. The better you define their role, the further the difference.
That is already known by everyone, and has already been proven with other numbers.
The output of any such study would not increase knowledge in that area or prove any existing knowledge.


It's premature to say we 'know' all of the exact numbers. But most of us are always learning. The study might not show a great deal, but it seems foolish to dismiss it a priori.

I can re-run the queries tonight and show you. It won't take me a couple of months , and you won't have to wait for any forthcoming article to get it.

Yes, BL, I'd like to see the queires. Without the accompanying annoying sarcasm, please.
   368. Backlasher Posted: June 05, 2006 at 08:05 PM (#2052148)
In addition, I'm not sure it's a fair comparison to compare the median closer (of which there is only one per team, typically) to the median starter (of which there are 5 per team, typically). A closer works in something like half the team's games, at most - usually less than that - so a fairer comparison might be to compare the median closer to the median of the top two or three starters on each team. The closer would probably be quite close in value to that median, and that does inutitively make sense to me.

-- MWE


It not only makes since, it presents the likely current decision fulcrum. Given this pitcher's skill sets, can they:

(1) Perform as a league average #2 starter or better.
(2) Can they perform as a league average closer or better.

If option 1 is strongly supported, then the pitcher is likely going to be made a starter, regardless of how you view him as a reliver.

If option 1 is weakly supported and option 2 is strongly supported, then you make him a closer.

If neither option is strongly supported then you look for another role. Then you see if they can perform the role because the first may have unseen injury consequences and the latter may have unseen psychological consequences. Albeit both of these are factored in the initial decision.

The biggest input on this decision looks to have been:

(a) Number of effective pitches. I can only think of few persons performing as a closer that had more than 2 effective pitches.

(b) Propensity for injury. Those that have weakened parts may be asked to not perform as much repitition.

Same coin, different sides.


The problem is that coin doesn't fit in your HoM vending machine. It doesn't matter if someone is a "failed starter", that is the issue.

And you have me wrong. It should be clear and without any rational rebuttal that:

(1) Rational managers seek to maximize a player's contribution; and
(2) Manager's ability to do that with pitchers has improved with time.

There isn't any measure that would contradict those assertions. Someone might try to muddy those conclusions.

The "other side of the coin" is that the player probably did not provide value doing other things, which includes: (1) Playing SS; (2) Hitting dingers; (3) Starting baseball games ...

You can play that negation with anything. You can say I'm a failed presidential candidate, because its a goal that many people (but not all) would like, and I have not yet been elected president.

The "edge of the coin" are players that have been successes at multiple things, e.g. Smoltz and Eckersly in starting and closing or Babe Ruth in pitching and hitting taters.

Its not that complex, as an aggregate class:

(1) Relievers outperform starters in rate stats.
(2) Starters outperform relievers in counting stats.
(3) The best relievers provide as much value as upper tier starters even with the change in rate.

On that note, I'll revise one of the earlier calculations. There was an error b/c I took the best RP rather than strictly closer, so I missed the ineptitudes of Looper and Mesa. I get the "closer" as previously defined with 9.7 Win Shares, which is still more than the average starter. The median reliver is still at around 2 win shares and the median starter is still at around 5 win shares.

If you define #1 starters as the one with the most win shares and the #2 as second most win shares, then the average for these are 14.7 for the #1 starter and and the number #2 at about 10.8 WS.

That was just the back of the envelope from 2005.
   369. Daryn Posted: June 05, 2006 at 08:25 PM (#2052175)
I get the "closer" as previously defined with 9.7 Win Shares, which is still more than the average starter. If you define #1 starters as the one with the most win shares and the #2 as second most win shares, then the average for these are 14.7 for the #1 starter and and the number #2 at about 10.8 WS.


Lesson #247 on how WS undervalues pitchers. What was the average WS total for the top 30 position players in baseball that year? The top 60? Much higher than 15, for sure.

The WS book only goes up to 2000, so I only have Rivera's first 5 years on a year by year basis. I think all would agree that those five years are representative of his next five years as well. He finished first (or tied for first) among pitchers on the NYY 3 times and was third twice. Overall, he earned the most pitching WS for the Yankees over that five year period and over the ten year period of 1996-2005. Still, he only earns about 16 WS per year. That's Chad Curtis and Paul O'Neill territory.
   370. Mefisto Posted: June 05, 2006 at 08:31 PM (#2052182)
Given this pitcher's skill sets, can they:

(1) Perform as a league average #2 starter or better.
(2) Can they perform as a league average closer or better.

I agree that the thought process very likely works in some similar way, but I'm not sure the choice is quite so defined. Managers do have different preferences -- some might make the change if the guy can't make it as a #4, others if he can't make it as a #2.

However, I'm not sure it matters for purposes of this discussion. In all but very rare cases, only #1 starters -- and only the best of these -- are likely to make the HOM. If the decision fulcrum is anything less than this, whatever value relievers have is unlikely to be sufficient for the HOM.

It doesn't matter if someone is a "failed starter"

As I see it, the word "failed" has two meanings in this context. One refers to, say, me: I can't get anybody out even at my best. The other refers less to peak ability than to endurance -- he can retire batters, just not for very long. Starters have to do both, relievers only the first. "Failing" as a starter doesn't make one "failed" as a pitcher. I think Steve's basic point is correct -- it's implicit in your decision fulcrum point above -- but I'd probably use the word "unsuited" rather than "failed" in order to avoid the ambiguity.

The best relievers provide as much value as upper tier starters even with the change in rate.

If by "upper tier" you mean "#2 or #3 starters", I might agree. If you mean "#1 starters", I guess it's possible depending on the team. If you mean "HOM candidates", I'm dubious.
   371. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: June 05, 2006 at 08:44 PM (#2052202)
Daryn,

Cant' believe you placed Chad Curtis and Paul O'Neill in the same sentence there! ;-) Wasnt' O'Neill much better than that at his best and Curtis usually much worse? Also, I have no problem with most pitchers rating below postion plyaers in a stat like WS as in the modern era they don't pitch enough innings to have as much of an effect on a team as position players do. I mean pitching can't usually be more than 35-40% percent of the game anyway could it? So if more pitchers are splitting those innings, their WS totals will be lower. The question is how much should we adjust for this when if comes time to vote for them in the HOM. I think we have doen a decent job so far as neither Drysdale, Bunning, or Ford had numbers that I would have liked had they been OFers or SS's and all are in the HOM. And rightly so in my opinion.

BL,

I think the study would be useful not necessarily for the conclusions that would be made but in order to have actual numbers to help recalibrate ERA+'s.

And it is really annoying, childish, and even a little insulting to purposefully use different names for historical players and even posters, i.e. Jake Grasscock, Biz Markey, and Domino (Dimino I presume). You should be above that. Also, if you look at who we have elected I believe that SS is the most represented position followed by CF (I know we have a lot of OFers and I am not sure of the exact split), so could please stop calling this the Hall of Corner Players or whatever and do some homework?
   372. Chris Cobb Posted: June 05, 2006 at 08:46 PM (#2052205)
Overall, he earned the most pitching WS for the Yankees over that five year period and over the ten year period of 1996-2005. Still, he only earns about 16 WS per year. That's Chad Curtis and Paul O'Neill territory.

I agree that WS isn't an especially good metric for relievers, but 16 win shares for Rivera may be about right. Win shares (and WARP) still misrepresent Rivera's value, however, by not having loss shares. Rivera would have had far fewer of _those_ than Curtis and O'Neill.

A stat like win shares does not adequately reflect the value of a very high rate of value accumulation, and this affects relief pitchers as a group more than any other group of players.
   373. Mark Shirk (jsch) Posted: June 05, 2006 at 08:58 PM (#2052225)
Here's a question...

For those who have calculated LI, do they do the same for starters as well? I only ask because I would think that any starter that pitches the 7th, 8th, or 9th innings probably deserves some leverage since we are already giving leverage to relievers who pitch those innings. Does anyone know the answer to this question?
   374. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: June 05, 2006 at 09:12 PM (#2052238)
OK, on Treder's suggestion, I looked only at the hybrid relievers. I'm not going to post all the numbers, just the names, because I don't have time to do it before leaving work. But this group of around 80 pitchers was chosen because they had (a) 450+ innings pitched as a starter and (b) 150+ innings pitched as a reliever. This is not an exhaustive list of pitchers who meet that profile, in fact I'm sure there are tens, dozens, perhaps hundreds more. These are simply the first 80 or so I came up with via the SBE's sorting mechanisms (looking at G, SV, and GF in comparison to GS) and retrosheet's splits.

Their composite ERAs were 3.76 as starters, 3.40 as relievers. I made no adjustments for career path. That is I didn't partition them into early-career relievers, mid-career relievers, or late-career relievers. I'll do that next time out. Also, I made no adjustment for the presence of guys like Niekro, Niekro, Perry, Perry, Kaat, and others whose massive innings totals may be skewing the numbers in one direction or another. That also next time out. Anyhow, here's the guys I put together the data on.

aase
aguilera
alexander, d
bahnsen
barber
bird
bolin
candelaria
chance
cormier
darwindowning
drabowsky
drago
eckersley
escobar
farrell
fassero
flanagan
forsch k
fryman
giusti
gordon
gott
grant
hands
harris g
hawkins, l
hermanson
honeycutt
hough
jakcson g
jay
johnson k
kaat
kline
koosman
lamp
lockwood
lowe d
martinez d
may r
mcbean
mccormick
mcdowell s
merker
mesa
miller b
monboquette
morgan m
mulholland
murphy, t
niekro
niekro j
perry g
perry j
pizarro
power
purkey
ramos
reed r
regan
righetti
robinson d
rogers k
ruffin
russell j
sadecki
sanford
segui
short
siebert
smoltz
spillner
stanley
stewart d
swindell
terry r
tidrow
veale
wells d
wood
   375. Daryn Posted: June 05, 2006 at 09:17 PM (#2052246)
Cant' believe you placed Chad Curtis and Paul O'Neill in the same sentence there!

They just happenend to be two of the players Mo was adjacent to in the NYY WS standings in the years I was looking at. David Cone, David Wells and Andy Pettitte were other choices, but as wtih most starting pitchers, using a name out of context with a single year doesn't tell you much about the year they had. Whereas a late 90s Paul O'Neill should connote the feeling of a .285, 20 homerun, 100 rbi, 4th best position player on a great team type of season.
   376. Steve Treder Posted: June 05, 2006 at 09:24 PM (#2052253)
Their composite ERAs were 3.76 as starters, 3.40 as relievers.

The dataset I'm working with is all pitchers with at least 75 starts and 75 relief appearances for whom we have Retrosheet split data (that is, with careers starting since 1957). It contains many of the guys above, of course. I haven't computed all 291 yet, but I've got most of them in there, and so far I've got a simple average of 3.99 starting ERA, 3.63 relieving ERA.

What I hope to look at isn't just ERA, but the component stats as well, and sorting them different ways, seeing if the effect gets stronger/weaker according to various independent variables, and indeed if the minority of pitchers who've been more effective as starters (and there are some) have something in common other than that. It promises to be fun, and who knows, we might even learn something.
   377. base ball chick Posted: June 05, 2006 at 09:29 PM (#2052261)
Mike Emeigh Posted: June 05, 2006 at 01:49 PM (#2051937)

The data I've looked at so far indicates signficant differences among pitcher's rate stats (H/IP, and particularly SO/IP) when starting vs. relieving.


David Smith, in a presentation at a SABR convention, noted that there appears to be a "batter learning" curve within a game, where a hitter is more likely to have a positive result the second or third time he faces a pitcher in a game. So I would expect that the rate stat differences are also likely to be the result of not having to go through the lineup multiple times.

- i think the "batter learning curve" is REAL obvious when you watch #4 or 5 starters. you might could say that lousy starting pitchers can't adjust to the batters adjusting to them

but about closer vs starter ERA - look at smoltz. it is easier to throw 10 - 20 pitches in 1 inning than 100 over 6-9 especially when you have to adjust in the longer games, and heat up and cool down and all that stuff.

would mo rivera even LAST 6 innings with throwing just a cutter?

and guys can throw harder if it is only for 1 inning. roy oswalt usually throws his FB 92 - 94 with an occasional 94. when he relieved, he threw 97. Which he did the last time he ever relieved in sept 2004. he threw like 10 FB - and nothing else for 3 Ks.

me i got this problem comparing the 2 different jobs - yeah they are both pitching a ball, but...
   378. Steve Treder Posted: June 05, 2006 at 09:39 PM (#2052266)
and guys can throw harder if it is only for 1 inning. roy oswalt usually throws his FB 92 - 94 with an occasional 94. when he relieved, he threw 97. Which he did the last time he ever relieved in sept 2004. he threw like 10 FB - and nothing else for 3 Ks.

One of the interesting things I've seen so far is that even knuckleballers seem to have the relieving benefit (including P. Niekro, as you noted above), and at least from the few I've looked at so far, their K rates seem to be a lot higher in relief. That would suggest it isn't just a function of velocity.
   379. Backlasher Posted: June 05, 2006 at 10:01 PM (#2052279)
I think the study would be useful not necessarily for the conclusions that would be made but in order to have actual numbers to help recalibrate ERA+'s.


That was what I was addressing in the previous post. ERA comparision of reliever to starter is an increasing function with oscillation in various periods. The study being proposed would not allow you to recalibrate ERA+.

The ratio varies with time, and time is not a component of the study.

And the problem that you run into is then you are way off from your mission. For instance, look at:

One of the interesting things I've seen so far is that even knuckleballers seem to have the relieving benefit (including P. Niekro, as you noted above), and at least from the few I've looked at so far, their K rates seem to be a lot higher in relief. That would suggest it isn't just a function of velocity.

That has no valuative component in it at all. Moreover, you aren't even seeing data, you are seeing date being teased.

I agree that the thought process very likely works in some similar way, but I'm not sure the choice is quite so defined. Managers do have different preferences -- some might make the change if the guy can't make it as a #4, others if he can't make it as a #2.

However, I'm not sure it matters for purposes of this discussion.


You are correct, it makes absolutly no difference for this discussion, but there is a force that keeps yanking the discussion into this direction.

And I agree, I'm sure the actual decision mechanics vary, and I would opine they display less variance as time increases.

By "fulcrum", I am not suggesting that every person makes a decision on this basis, I am suggesting this is the point of decision for utility maximization. And right now, its a hypothesis, its not even an assertion.

In all but very rare cases, only #1 starters -- and only the best of these -- are likely to make the HOM.

And that shouldn't matter either. #1 Starter, as is used here, is a distinction of selection, not value. If you use #1 Starter for value, its going to be very rare that any pitcher is the #1 Starter every year in his career. That distinction might have some merit in the discussion for what these guys term "peak" if and only if, the #1 starter isn't playing for creampuffs. There were a lot of #1 starters that aren't even going to sniff the Hall of the Played for a little while.

What is being selected is pitchers, based on the value they provided.

Also, if you look at who we have elected I believe that SS is the most represented position followed by CF (I know we have a lot of OFers and I am not sure of the exact split), so could please stop calling this the Hall of Corner Players or whatever and do some homework?

I have no desire to repeat the sillier conversations that take place on the main board. But there is no issue of homework. And the Hall of Corner Players is what you would end up with, not what you have, if you use the warped logic being offered that has you discriminate against a class of players. And you justified that be looking at how positions compare in WS. No pitcher appears at all in the top 25 for WS last year.

If you want to see value of closers to the staff, its very consistent with Mike Emeigh's assertion.

Last year, using WS, seven teams had closers that earned as many or more win shares than the #1 starter; a total of fourteen teams has closers that earned as many or more win shares than the #2 starter. Last year, the best couple of closers are performing at Halladay, Peavy and Big Eunich level.

And when these guys start stringing together years, that is a lot of value.
   380. Backlasher Posted: June 05, 2006 at 10:07 PM (#2052288)
I think Steve's basic point is correct -- it's implicit in your decision fulcrum point above -- but I'd probably use the word "unsuited" rather than "failed" in order to avoid the ambiguity.


No, because that presupposes value that may not be valuable.

You can say the same thing about track athletes. Are all sprinters failed long distance runners? Are quarter horses failed animals?

Suitability is not only the correct word, it is the word that has more meaning.

Some people are good enough to win gun to gun, but many races are won in the bell lap.
   381. Backlasher Posted: June 05, 2006 at 10:22 PM (#2052294)
What was the average WS total for the top 30 position players in baseball that year? The top 60? Much higher than 15, for sure.


The lowest in the Top 60 position players is 21 WS; you don't even have to go to mean.

Moreover, their is only five or six pitchers in the Top 60 at all.

If you look at each team individually (and giving .5 points for ties), there are only seven teams that have a non-corner WS leader (.5 C, .5SP, 1.5 CF, 2 SS, 2 2b).

So Taguchi has more WS than any pitcher on ten teams, and the same amount as likely future HoF Tommy Glavine. If not for a couple of closers named Wagner and Turnbow, it would even be higher.
   382. base ball chick Posted: June 05, 2006 at 10:25 PM (#2052296)
Steve Treder Posted: June 05, 2006 at 05:39 PM (#2052266)
and guys can throw harder if it is only for 1 inning. roy oswalt usually throws his FB 92 - 94 with an occasional 94. when he relieved, he threw 97. Which he did the last time he ever relieved in sept 2004. he threw like 10 FB - and nothing else for 3 Ks.

One of the interesting things I've seen so far is that even knuckleballers seem to have the relieving benefit (including P. Niekro, as you noted above), and at least from the few I've looked at so far, their K rates seem to be a lot higher in relief. That would suggest it isn't just a function of velocity.

- well then i think it is part - the hitters don't have time to adjust - and maybe part the pitcher does not have to pace himself.

i know a knuckleballer only throws one pitch, but with other guys, well maybe also they can get away with 1 good pitch (like trevor hoffman and his changeup)




Backlasher Posted: June 05, 2006 at 06:07 PM (#2052288)
I think Steve's basic point is correct -- it's implicit in your decision fulcrum point above -- but I'd probably use the word "unsuited" rather than "failed" in order to avoid the ambiguity.


No, because that presupposes value that may not be valuable.

You can say the same thing about track athletes. Are all sprinters failed long distance runners? Are quarter horses failed animals?

Suitability is not only the correct word, it is the word that has more meaning.

Some people are good enough to win gun to gun, but many races are won in the bell lap.



- actually i think that you comparing sprinter to LD runner is a good one.

you don't take the time for a sprinter and multiply it by 5 miles or something to get what times "should be" for a distance runner. you can't just say - why not, they both are running, right?

it makes more sense to compare SP to SP and closers to closers. maybe we shouldn't say - well, they both pitching right???


- anyhow, now i gotta go and tie down all the backyard stuff because we gonna have hurricane force winds here in 90 minutes caused by the combined sucking of my stros and the cubs...
   383. greenback calls it soccer Posted: June 05, 2006 at 10:30 PM (#2052301)
David Smith, in a presentation at a SABR convention, noted that there appears to be a "batter learning" curve within a game, where a hitter is more likely to have a positive result the second or third time he faces a pitcher in a game.

OTOH the first inning is the highest scoring inning, presumably because that's when the best batters bat. I suppose the learning curve also could involve the park.
   384. base ball chick Posted: June 05, 2006 at 10:41 PM (#2052308)
actually, i think the first inning is the highest scoring one because the pitchers are the least sharp, or the sinkerballers are too strong. or some guys have to be more tired (brandon backe) or they haven't warmed up enough (fernando nieve)
   385. EricC Posted: June 05, 2006 at 10:57 PM (#2052325)
Dr. Chaleeko,

Your data in post 372 and similar posts is interesting, but I wonder if the analysis was done correctly. In averaging over all pitchers, it is not proper to split each pitcher into starting and relief IP and then to add up the totals of the two sets, because the relative weights of the different pitchers in each set changes.

For example, if pitcher A had a 3.00 ERA in both 120 innings as a starter and 60 innings in relief, and pitcher B had a 6.00 ERA in 60 innings as a starter and 120 innings in relief, your analysis would show the starters with a 4.00 ERA and the relievers with a 5.00 ERA, implying that the pitchers had worse ERAs in relief, even though this does not hold for any individual pitcher.

I suggest, though it involves more work, and probably would not qualitatively change your conclusions, that it would be better to take each individual pitcher's split and to prorate the part with the greater innings pitched down to the number of innings pitched of the other part before adding everything together.
   386. yest Posted: June 05, 2006 at 11:03 PM (#2052331)
Is there a differance beetween a starters first inning and closers on average?
   387. Mefisto Posted: June 05, 2006 at 11:08 PM (#2052337)
You can say the same thing about track athletes. Are all sprinters failed long distance runners?

I almost made this analogy; it's a good one. Yes, in one sense of the word, marathoners are failed sprinters. They, of course, would prefer that we say how well suited they are to marathoning.

As to value, that's harder to say. If you're chasing the giraffe, the marathoner has more value. If the lion is chasing you....
   388. Backlasher Posted: June 05, 2006 at 11:11 PM (#2052349)
it makes more sense to compare SP to SP and closers to closers. maybe we shouldn't say - well, they both pitching right???

What was being discussed by some of the Merit boys was how much of this to do. In just about any case, they are comparing:

(1) Position to Position across time
(2) Position to Position from Era to Era
(3) Value to Value on all sets of players
(4) Rate to Rate

Some may not admit they were comparing position to position, and just say "they were accounting for the defense" but considering that none would be able to observe the defense and their ability to quantify that defense is suspect, they were de facto comparing position to position.

They have a few more tools, some crude, some more exacting when doing the pitcher comparsions, so that is why they have this thread. The problem that I mentioned is that one person wants to devaule all benefits and increase the value of all drawbacks when making this comparison.

you don't take the time for a sprinter and multiply it by 5 miles or something to get what times "should be" for a distance runner. you can't just say - why not, they both are running, right?

Yes, and the reverse of this is what is being offered in the "study" that is being teased and pimped. It would be the equivalent of taking Michael Johnsons' time in the marathon, and then devaluing his actual 200 race performance.

Then taking a marathoner, and assume that they would improve by the mean difference between the 200 split differential taken from anyone who ran a marathon and every single other race they ever ran.

There is no question and no issue that most people will run a 200 meter dash quicker than their mean split time for 200 meters in a marathon.
   389. greenback calls it soccer Posted: June 05, 2006 at 11:18 PM (#2052364)
actually, i think the first inning is the highest scoring one because the pitchers are the least sharp...

While it's certainly possible that pitchers are sharper, according to Smith (via Emeigh), the numbers don't show that on a hitter-by-hitter basis.
   390. Steve Treder Posted: June 05, 2006 at 11:20 PM (#2052371)
I suggest, though it involves more work, and probably would not qualitatively change your conclusions, that it would be better to take each individual pitcher's split and to prorate the part with the greater innings pitched down to the number of innings pitched of the other part before adding everything together.

Yes, a simple average isn't really proper. Most direct and proper is just to compute the aggregate ERA of both sets based on the total innings and earned runs, which is what I plan to do.
   391. base ball chick Posted: June 05, 2006 at 11:36 PM (#2052423)
Mefisto Posted: June 05, 2006 at 07:08 PM (#2052337)

You can say the same thing about track athletes. Are all sprinters failed long distance runners?

I almost made this analogy; it's a good one. Yes, in one sense of the word, marathoners are failed sprinters. They, of course, would prefer that we say how well suited they are to marathoning.


- well their muscles are different, aren't they?

As to value, that's harder to say. If you're chasing the giraffe, the marathoner has more value. If the lion is chasing you....

- grinning

well sure

as my granma always said, a place for everything and everything in its place.
or was it
sometimes u feel like nut, sometimes u don't
starting pitchers go a whole game
but the closers won't....
   392. Backlasher Posted: June 05, 2006 at 11:43 PM (#2052436)
Yes, in one sense of the word, marathoners are failed sprinters. They, of course, would prefer that we say how well suited they are to marathoning.

As to value, that's harder to say. If you're chasing the giraffe, the marathoner has more value. If the lion is chasing you....


And in this case, the sprinter is the closer and the marathoner is the starting pitcher if you make the analogy hold true.

And for the second analogy its also proper. In the first few innings you are chasing the giraffe of nine innings. In high LI situations, that lion is biting on your ass.

And without the giraffe you don't eat dinner, but if you don't get away from the lion, you are dinner.

Proper person at the proper time.
   393. Backlasher Posted: June 05, 2006 at 11:45 PM (#2052443)
Yes, a simple average isn't really proper. Most direct and proper is just to compute the aggregate ERA of both sets based on the total innings and earned runs, which is what I plan to do.

And for all the aforementioned reasons, it will not tell you anything at all on any value question.

It will not even give you a translation, because to use Field's analogy, you will be combining 10K runs with 100 m sprints and assuming they are all the same thing. And even if you divided them up, it will not tell you anything about the specific pitcher's skill to maximize one environment.
   394. KJOK Posted: June 06, 2006 at 05:36 PM (#2053560)
actually, i think the first inning is the highest scoring one because the pitchers are the least sharp...

I would think it's a given that the first inning is the highest scoring because you are almost always facing the other team's best hitters?
   395. yest Posted: June 06, 2006 at 05:51 PM (#2053604)
I would think it's a given that the first inning is the highest scoring because you are almost always facing the other team's best hitters?
what inning did the 1961 yankees score the most runs?
   396. TomH Posted: June 06, 2006 at 05:58 PM (#2053628)
many studies have shown that the most runs are scored in inning 1, and the fewest in inning 2. Which is all about lineup construction.
   397. Steve Treder Posted: June 06, 2006 at 06:14 PM (#2053686)
what inning did the 1961 yankees score the most runs?

Away games, the Yankees scored their most runs in the 4th (59). The 1st inning was second-most with 53. Home games, the Yankees scored their most runs in the 1st (53 again -- interestingly, tied with the 2nd inning). Overall, the 106 runs they scored in the 1st was the most of any inning.

On the road, they scored 32 runs in the 2nd inning, lowest of any except the 5th (29).
   398. yest Posted: June 06, 2006 at 06:30 PM (#2053723)
the reason I asked was Richardson, Boyer, Lopez and Kubak being number 1 or 2 in the order for majority of the games would have make it less in the first inning then others
   399. Steve Treder Posted: June 06, 2006 at 06:41 PM (#2053748)
Richardson batted first in 117 games, second in 2, and eighth in 42.

Boyer batted first in 26 games, second in 11, third (!) in 3, seventh in 15, and eighth in 93.

Lopez batted second in 28 games, third in 8, and seventh in 24.

Kubek batted first in 18 games, second in 115, third in 2, seventh in 6, and eighth in 9.
   400. Steve Treder Posted: June 06, 2006 at 06:46 PM (#2053759)
The Yankees that year had only 3 regulars (Mantle, Howard, and Maris) with OBPs higher than .330. Berra's was .330, and beyond him none of the regulars got on base worth a damn.

It's a lot easier to say this in hindsight than it would have been at the time, but they probably just should have had Mantle lead off, Maris, second, Howard third, and Berra fourth, and drawn the rest of the names from a hat.
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