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Monday, November 27, 2006

Rollie Fingers

Eligible in 1991.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: November 27, 2006 at 02:33 PM | 78 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: November 27, 2006 at 02:37 PM (#2246394)
The second greatest relief pitcher as of his retirement (though Gossage has comfortably passed him by '91; not sure about Quiz yet), will that be enough for him? Maybe.
   2. DL from MN Posted: November 28, 2006 at 12:19 AM (#2246851)
Fingers probably has the best argument for strike credit in 1981 - he was phenomenal and lost 50 games to the strike. Peak voters especially should be boosting that season.
   3. Mark Donelson Posted: November 28, 2006 at 12:37 AM (#2246871)
Peak voters especially should be boosting that season.

Should we, though (at least, a lot)? I mean, given the small sample size we're working with on relievers, isn't it plausible that a guy like this, with an insane half-season, would--or at least might--regress to the mean in the other half? (In a way it's almost a moot point, as in my PRAA system this is by far Fingers's best season even without extra credit.)

Nothing's certain either way, of course, but I'm not sure just assuming he'd have been equally lights-out for another 50 games makes sense with a relief pitcher.
   4. sunnyday2 Posted: November 28, 2006 at 04:02 AM (#2247031)
>I'm not sure just assuming he'd have been equally lights-out for another 50 games makes sense with a relief pitcher.

Or with anybody. That was certainly not the customary method in adjusting NeLs to 162 games.
   5. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 28, 2006 at 03:03 PM (#2247264)
I'm deeply skeptical about Fingers. WS, while flawed has him among the top dozen relievers, but near the top. I'm going to do a little more research about LEV and IHRA and maybe WXRL before I make a decision either way. Goose seems better to me.

Which reminds me. I think someone out there has expressed reservations about the use of WXRL. Whoever you are, could you please restate those reservations? Is WXRL something we should be paying close attention to, or does it have difficulties that need to be taken into account?
   6. sunnyday2 Posted: November 28, 2006 at 03:10 PM (#2247270)
Goose is better than Rollie for sure. And Jim Palmer is better than Fergie Jenkins, and Schmidt is better than Brett.

To me, the reliever list is Hoyt, Goose, Rollie and then some guy named Rivera some day. We have had relief specialists for 50 years now. You can argue whether to elect 4 of them, or any of them. But if you're only gonna elect 4, Rollie is one. (If 3, then probably not.)
   7. DL from MN Posted: November 28, 2006 at 03:59 PM (#2247321)
I think you should regress the missed innings in 1981 to Rollie's mean performance, which would add PRAA since he was generally above average.

Goose is better. I like Eck's career better than Rollie's but his relief work alone wouldn't make the short list. If you're including Rivera you can add Trevor Hoffman to your short list also. Lee Smith and Fingers are closer than you might think.
   8. Mark Donelson Posted: November 28, 2006 at 04:14 PM (#2247343)
But if you're only gonna elect 4, Rollie is one. (If 3, then probably not.)

I still haven't done research on Sutter and Quiz and Eck yet, and you may be right, but I'm still not convinced it's a slam-dunk. (I agree about Hoyt, Goose, and probably Rivera, from my quick looks at his numbers--hey, I'm a Yankee fan, so I'm more familiar with them.)

Anyway, I prefer to look at this the other way around: not with a quota of relievers, but simply how many meet the criteria necessary to get my vote. Right now, Fingers doesn't, quite--I have him slotted now right at the borderline where he may or may not eventually make my pHOM.

But I'm not saying that means I'll only take 3 relievers ever. I'll check out the other guys as they come up, and I think there's at least a chance that Sutter or Quiz have peaks large enough to get a vote from me. (There's also a decent chance they don't.)

I think you should regress the missed innings in 1981 to Rollie's mean performance, which would add PRAA since he was generally above average.

Absolutely. Which turns him into John Hiller plus a strong prime (Hiller's all peak). That (and some other things) get Fingers past Mike Marshall, but he still falls a bit short, IMO.
   9. sunnyday2 Posted: November 28, 2006 at 04:24 PM (#2247352)
>Lee Smith and Fingers are closer than you might think.

Well, true, I overstated. I guess my point is, having eval Smith (and Sutter) I am pretty comfortable that I won't be voting for them. I haven't eval Eck or Rivera or Hoffmann. All are better than Smith, probably, not sure if they're better than Sutter, and not sure if they're above the line (Eck or Hoffmann, Rivera is above the line).

I am confused about Quiz, though. Peak looks incredible, Gossage-like. But the general word is "not good." I guess it's about inherited runners. But look at his OBA and OOB. Dunno. Right now he is well below the line, but more study needed.
   10. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 28, 2006 at 05:15 PM (#2247431)
Sutter strikes me as possibly more electable than Fingers. He's got a sweet peak/prime. That's all there is, but it's not short either.

Sunny, I agree that Quis merits more study because there's a disconnect between his performance and his reputation.
   11. Mark Donelson Posted: November 28, 2006 at 05:24 PM (#2247444)
I guess it's about inherited runners.

I have a question about this, too: Has there been a study showing that preventing inherited runners from scoring is a skill, beyond just how good a pitcher you are in general? And even if so, is this along the lines of clutch hitting--it's a skill, but not a particularly huge one (or as huge as generally thought, anyway)?

I've long wondered whether the difference between two otherwise equal pitchers who have wildly different records with inherited runners comes down to luck, or largely so. I can't imagine this hasn't been studied, but an admittedly quick search isn't turning anything up that seems definitive (or even terribly analytical)....
   12. sunnyday2 Posted: November 28, 2006 at 05:49 PM (#2247459)
>Sunny, I agree that Quis merits more study because there's a disconnect between his performance and his reputation.

Do you mean good performance, bad rep or good rep, bad performance?

Maybe the disconnect is between his old reputation and his new one.
   13. Mark Donelson Posted: November 28, 2006 at 06:13 PM (#2247487)
Did some more searching, found this from mgl in 2005:

Given enough innings, ERA (adjusted for park and league) tells us pretty much everything about a reliever we need to know. Their strand rate, even adjusted for bases/outs, over and above ERA, again, in the long run, is simpy random variation (i.e., luck). In the short run, of course, strand rate helps us to determine how "effective" a releiver actually was (in terms of helping his team actually win games or not). It doesn't really tell us how effective a pitcher he was (in a context neutral sense). For example, if a pitcher comes into a game with runners on first and second and two outs and allows a bases clearing doublem, he was not very "effective." If he comes in with 2 outs and no one on and allows a double, no problem. Both pitchers pitches the "same" but in terms of value in retrospect, one was way more valuable than the other.

The problem with articles and stats (strand rate) like this is that they serve to further blur the line between past value and true talent/future value. People too often equate the two. For example, if pitcher A has a 3.00 ERA and a great strand rate and pitcher B has a 2.50 and a terrible strand rate, while pitcher A was probably much more valuable than pitcher B in retrospect, the pitcher you would want pitching for you in the present or future is clearly pitcher B. How much confidence you have that pitcher B will perform better than pitcher A in the future depends on how many innings those ERA's are based on, but in no way shape or form, does it depend on either pitcher's strand rate.

It is disheartening (and inconsistent) to me to see sabermetric oriented people and knowledgeable fans clamoring for "inhereted runner" (strand rate) type stats for relievers and VORP-like stats for batters (for example to help determine the MVP). They are completely different types of stats. One is 100% context neutral (VORP) and does not necessarily have anything to do with how much value a batter actually produced for his team (how much he actually helped them win), and the other (an inhereted runner stat for pitchers) is just the opposite in that it gives you an idea as to how much value a reliever created for his team, at least in terms of runs allowed (although not necessarily in terms of wins). The equivalent stat to VORP for pitchers (relievers and starters) is an ERC (component ERA) turned into a runs above average or replacement saved. Again, VORP for batters or for pitchers or an ERC turned into a VOPR-like stat is strictly a context neutral "theoretical value" type of stat and nothing necessarily to do with actual value produced (although it will obviously correlate well with actual value produced, especially as you increase sample size). This is not the right thread for this, but using a theoretical, context-neutral stat like VORP or linear weights (absolute or rate) is ridiculous for an MVP award, for obvious (to me at least)reasons, yet, again, so many saber-types try and do this. Enough of my late-night rant...


So, as I was starting to realize on my own, we're dealing with the difference between value and skill here--if preventing inherited runners from scoring is largely a matter of luck (beyond how good a pitcher you are in the first place, anyway), should that matter for our purposes, since we're not trying to figure out how well any of these guys will pitch for us next year?

Yet somehow, to me, the luck vs. skill factor does matter somewhat. If the difference in a given system between Fingers and Quiz comes down to inherited runners--and we feel that preventing them from scoring does indeed come down largely to luck, which I realize is far from established thus far, at least by me--I'm inclined to adjust things so that the difference doesn't count for quite so much. Results matter most, of course, but someone can be unlucky and still remain a dominant (and, to me, worthy) player.
   14. sunnyday2 Posted: November 28, 2006 at 06:33 PM (#2247502)
Obviously, if BABIP is random, then we have to factor random events into the evaluation, which is just giving due consideration of all things that create value.
   15. jimd Posted: November 28, 2006 at 11:58 PM (#2247854)
we're dealing with the difference between value and skill here

Lot of such discussions here lately. For example:

I'm not sure just assuming he'd have been equally lights-out for another 50 games makes sense with a relief pitcher.

Doesn't matter. The 1981 season was 109 games long, not 162. The VALUE of every single thing that happened in those 109 games was magnified by 50%, because a pennant was still a pennant. Could Rollie have sustained that level of excellence over 116 innings instead of 78 innings had there been no strike? Irrelevant, because there WAS a strike. We're trying to measure the value of what he actually did, not try to figure out what he might have done. He did what he did, and it had an IMPACT on a 109 game season that was EQUIVALENT to the impact a similar rate over 116 innings would have had in a 162 game season.

The question of whether he could do it for 116 innings only becomes relevant if you're curious if he could ever have that much impact in a regular 162 game season. Probably not, but that doesn't take away from what he actually did. Giving everybody two months off in the middle of the season may very well help the relievers more than anybody else because they could possibly be paced differently in the second half, taking on more innings and/or appearances due to the time off. It doesn't make him more skillful though. The fact is that Fingers took advantage of a special circumstance to have a uniquely valuable season. Good timing.
   16. Mark Donelson Posted: November 29, 2006 at 01:08 AM (#2247937)
The fact is that Fingers took advantage of a special circumstance to have a uniquely valuable season.

Good point. I've adjusted accordingly, but it still doesn't get him all that close to my ballot.
   17. sunnyday2 Posted: November 29, 2006 at 02:09 AM (#2248002)
OTOH if that was the final word on schedule adjustments, the HoM would be full of pre-1893 pitchers.

Can I interest anybody in Tommy Bond? Jim McCormick?
   18. jimd Posted: November 29, 2006 at 02:39 AM (#2248040)
OTOH if that was the final word on schedule adjustments, the HoM would be full of pre-1893 pitchers.

Can I interest anybody in Tommy Bond? Jim McCormick?


Only if you're a peak voter using out-of-the-book Win Shares ;-)
   19. Mike Emeigh Posted: November 29, 2006 at 02:45 AM (#2248046)
if BABIP is random, then we have to factor random events into the evaluation


And if it isn't? (hint, hint...)

-- MWE
   20. TomH Posted: November 29, 2006 at 03:06 AM (#2248055)
To sum up what I originally posted about Rollie and his post-season heroics on a discussion thread:

I will add about 10 career "wins" (or one win per prime year) to Finger's career totals, based on what he accomplished in Octobers between from 1972-74. He basically added almost one whole World Seires trophy to the A's collection in those 3 years, compared to what likely would have hapened had a 'typical' good reliever been in his place; or even if Rollie had pitched no better than he did throughot his career.

Without this credit, he would not get on my ballot; he just did not save as many runs as many other backlogged pitchers. But with this, he edges on the bottom, and edges about even with the Goose thru 1990 as the 2nd best reliever to date.
   21. jimd Posted: November 29, 2006 at 03:20 AM (#2248061)
OTOH if that was the final word on schedule adjustments

Yes, I can be a little dogmatic about the schedule adjustments. ;-)

My point is that when it comes to the value numbers, we're scaling, not extrapolating. The impact of 12 WS in 81 games is the same as the impact of 24 WS in 162 games; scaling is simple arithmetic.

If we're trying to figure out what the guy would have done if he had actually PLAYED 162 games, all of these extraneous considerations come in when we extrapolate. Was it even feasible to do that? (For 19th century catchers and pitchers the answer was often no; they would be too banged up. For the other guys, why not, later generations did it without much problem.) What was the guy's individual likelihood of getting injured during the extrapolated playing time? Was he having a good season or a bad season? (If it wasn't typical of him, then regression is called for.)

But all of these questions when we extrapolate have different answers for different players, and they can change the ordering of certain players when compared to other players who played in the same season. Bennett or McCormick may have been more valuable than Anson over the sprint of an 84 game season, while Anson might have been more valuable if they'd gone out and played the 162 game marathon. But they only actually played 84 games, so extrapolating and then concluding that Anson was the more valuable player is not a true result.

Similarly, the 1981 season was only about 108 games long. Fingers probably couldn't have sustained that pace over 162 games. But to downgrade his season relative to the position players that could have sustained their pace? That does not yield a true picture of his impact during that season.
   22. Sean Gilman Posted: November 29, 2006 at 05:25 AM (#2248156)
OTOH if that was the final word on schedule adjustments, the HoM would be full of pre-1893 pitchers.

Can I interest anybody in Tommy Bond? Jim McCormick?


Only if you believe the way WS splits credit between 19th Century pitching and fielding is correct.

Didn't we all have this exact discussion a couple "years" ago?
   23. OCF Posted: November 29, 2006 at 08:16 AM (#2248254)
What happens if I just run the straight RA+ Pythpat system, with no leverage adjustments or anything. Fingers comes out at 111-78, compared to 88-50 for John Hiller, 108-80 for Stu Miller, and 89-65 for Mike Marshall. His 1981 checks in at an equivalent 8-1, but constast that to 1979 when he was an equivalent 4-6. Actual conversation I had in 1981: "Is Fingers really that good?" "No, because no one is that good."

Fingers had a lot of decisions, considering how much he pitched. It works out to 7.33 IP/decision. But the same can also be said for Miller (8.14 IP/decision) and Marshall (6.63 IP/decision). And many of the "extra" decisions were losses, which can also be said about Hiller, Miller, and Marshall - the bad W-L record with the "extra" losses just comes with the role.

Is what Fingers did good enough to clearly separate himself from the likes of Hiller and Miller? I don't see much separation.
   24. Chris Cobb Posted: November 29, 2006 at 02:54 PM (#2248314)
Joe has argued, and I agree, that just looking at RA+ or ERA+ as a measure of effectiveness will underrate Fingers relative to his contemporaries because

1) he was more successful in preventing inherited runners from scoring
2) he was more highly leveraged
3) he was, in a career context, much more durable

There are a variety of ways of looking at Fingers that don't fully take these factors into account, and they all show Fingers to be excellent, but maybe not excellent enough. The big question for ranking Fingers, it seems to me, is whether one should take these factors into account, or not. I think they are all important to a reliever's merit, so I am convinced that Fingers should be elected.
   25. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: November 29, 2006 at 04:31 PM (#2248401)
Chris, I think mark's/mgl's point above, however, is that maybe all of those things aren't equal. I'm talking somewhat theoretically here, not about Fingers specifically.

If pitchers have either no ability to prevent BIP hits or a limited ability to do so, then it seems speculative to weight IHRA too much more than we would general effectiveness. This may be particularly true for certain types of pitchers. Quis for instance was a pretty extreme sinkerballer (I think). Would an extreme sinkerballer have a propensity toward BIP hits? And more over, would an extreme sinkerballer like Quis (without too many Ks) have a propensity to give up more IHR because he allows more balls in play even without hits: so giving up groundballs that score runners from third (or second on conseutive ground outs in the appropriate base-out situations).

But on the other hand, doesn't leverage, in essence, take IHR into account? If a guy enters the game with no one on and no outs and a three run lead in the ninth, his leverage is X. If he enters with a three run lead in the ninth with three on and no outs, his leverage is much higher. Those inherited runners are already part of the leverage function. So part of my concern is the possibility of double-counting. If we use leverage as Karl has suggested (as a simple multiplier) we're accounting for performance and for inherited runner situations. If we do that AND we figure out effectiveness with IHR, I wonder if we're overrepresenting IHR in our figuring.

Finally is career durability all that important for a reliever? In a way I could see arguing it's not terribly important. High-peak relief seasons, it seems to me, should be more valuable for relievers than perhaps at other positions because they do pitch in specifically leveraged situations. Because of the leverage, dominant performances are of magnified importance. Now if you wanted to argue that X pitcher displayed a lot of in-season durability, well that's something else. Being available for multiple inning stints mulitple times a week, particularly when you're pitching at peak efficiency, seems more valuable to me than being able to string together lots of one-inning appearance seasons.

I don't really know the answer here, but my own thinking suggests that leverage is the most important factor, then maybe IHR, then durability, but that the difference in importance between LEV and the others is pretty big. But that's just a recently formed opinion, and I hope others will be able to shed more light on this.
   26. Mike Webber Posted: December 12, 2006 at 03:37 AM (#2258432)
Rollie Fingers – I have been thinking about what the minimum amount of career win shares it would take to make my ballot. Koufax has the fewest of any player I have voted for, 194 and he had 3 MVP type seasons. I know Fingers won an MVP, but I don’t think of that as an MVP type season.

So what is Rollie's arguement? Best at his position? Because I don't really see that.

Gossage had 3 20+ win share seasons, Quiz had 4, Fingers none. I didn't really have time to has this out last week, so I hope to this week.
   27. Howie Menckel Posted: December 12, 2006 at 03:44 AM (#2258441)
Mike, I think almost all of us know how impressive Gossage was, so Fingers doesn't really need that to get him there.
What he had that others didn't is incredible inherited-runner stops and also stellar WS results - if a pennant is a pennant, what's being a key to multi-WS titles?

Everyone should at least mull over Dimino's stats on this.

Like most of us, I'm not looking to elect a platoon of relievers either. We all liked Wilhelm, most will like Gossage and Rivera and quite possibly Hoffman.
Fingers is the challenging case, I think.
   28. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 12, 2006 at 05:36 AM (#2258581)
What he had that others didn't is incredible inherited-runner stops and also stellar WS results - if a pennant is a pennant, what's being a key to multi-WS titles?

I just don't know that this is reasonable grounds for a HOM case, in fact, I think it's pretty shaky.

Why do I say that?
1) No one has shown us that IHR prevention is a skill/talent, but there is some evidence that relievers have less control over it than we might think based on the divergence of IHR rates among the top relievers we've looked at. IHR stops DO happen, just as clutch hits DO happen. But without compelling evidence that IHR stops are a skill/talent, I'm concerned that we will use it as a measuring stick for merit where it may only be appropriate for accounting and may be inconsistent with the use of the many context-neutral stats upon which we all base our evaluations (or nearly all of us).

2) Giving post-season credit is truly a matter of taste among the members of the electorate. I don't think I'm likely alone in believing that it's a potentially unfair practice, particularly if it is selectively applied (I don't know if that's the case, but I don't see lots of October credit citings in the comments, but I could have missed them, of course). There's many reasons for believing that October credit is a dubious practice, most important among them that it rewards circumstances and opportunities which are not distributed anywhere close to evenly throughout the league and which clearly benefit certain groups of players, for instance: Yankees, Early 1970s A's, 1970s Reds, 1990s Braves, 1990s Indians, 1910-1914 A's or Giants. If October is a very, very small portion of a system, then maybe it's fine, but if we're considering hanging a guy's plaque up in some large part on the basis of post-season accomplishment, particularly a second-best reliever, then I think we really need to talk out the implications of post-season credit.

Anyway, if, indeed, Fingers can be summarized as having IHR and October as his leading arguments, I'm wondering if we've overbuffed the shiny new toy.

However, despite my somewhat combative tone, I agree with Howie on this point for sure:

Fingers is the challenging case, I think.
   29. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 12, 2006 at 05:46 AM (#2258595)
Eric . . . what inherited runner stops tell is how many runs a pitcher's performance prevented. That's incredibly important, and for guys that pitch a lot of partial innings, it can be much more important than ERA. If a guy comes in throws 1/3 of an inning, gives up 2 hits and a walk and no runs, his ERA is 0.

But if there were two runners on and he allowed them to score, that's much more representative of his performance than his ERA, isn't it? I mean what's the run expectancy for bases loaded one out? It's 1.65 runs (based on 1999-2002).

Inherited runners isn't a 'clutch' stat. It's one more way to look at a pitcher's performance, besides the all too often misleading ERA.

And inherited runs prevented is compared to an average pitcher, it's not a counting stat like RBI. I think it's a mandatory modifier on any reliever's record.
   30. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 12, 2006 at 05:47 AM (#2258599)
If October is a very, very small portion of a system, then maybe it's fine, but if we're considering hanging a guy's plaque up in some large part on the basis of post-season accomplishment, particularly a second-best reliever, then I think we really need to talk out the implications of post-season credit.


2nd best reliever? What do you mean? Please elaborate . . .
   31. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 12, 2006 at 06:23 AM (#2258625)
2nd best reliever? What do you mean? Please elaborate . . .

I see gossage as the best reliever of the era. Fingers probably second best. Based on commentary in various threads, this opinion seems to be held by a pretty large percentage of the electorate as well.

But if there were two runners on and he allowed them to score, that's much more representative of his performance than his ERA, isn't it?

I don't disagree with you here. This is truistic. But I'll fire back with my own situation: Bases loaded, no outs, ninth inning. Fingers comes on, gets two easy grounders then the third out, but two runs score before the final out on those grounders. Three-up, three-down, as Fingers trades outs for runs and finishes off the win. Sure he lowered the WinX, but on the ground, he's also just had a 1-2-3 and salted away a win by inducing weak contact. All IHR may not be created equal, nor all IHR that are allowed to score.

While I agree that the accounting of a relievers' effectiveness is changed by his performance with runners on board, I still don't know whether or not his actual performance with runners on board is a function of his skill/talent or whether it is a random thing. For example, let's say for discussion's sake that Fingers allowed the exact same WHIP and opp SLG (relative to league) as Quisenberry. Yet Fingers is miles ahead of Quis in IHR prevention while Quis is fairly well below average in that department. What does this tell us about them as pitchers if anything? Does it tell us that Quis couldn't bear down and get the big outs? Or that Fingers could? If that is what it tells us, that's important information to have about their merit, and I'd be excited to know that!

Or does it say nothing about them?

And if it says nothing about them, then is IHR performance an argument for Fingers that makes him meritorious? Or does it mean that he had a verifiably amazing string of fortunate outcomes in IHR situations that are now accounting for a moderate boost to his overall run prevention? And if so, then what?
   32. sunnyday2 Posted: December 12, 2006 at 01:27 PM (#2258702)
The problem I have with IHR is that the modern closer almost never has any IHR to prevent or allow, whereas the fireman model frequently faced batter with IHR. It's trickier than it looks, if you ask me.
   33. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 12, 2006 at 02:08 PM (#2258711)
If October is a very, very small portion of a system, then maybe it's fine, but if we're considering hanging a guy's plaque up in some large part on the basis of post-season accomplishment, particularly a second-best reliever, then I think we really need to talk out the implications of post-season credit.

I mentioned something similar a few weeks back to OCF via e-mail. Something just seems wrong to me that a reliever has a disproportionate advantage over position players and starting pitchers when combining regular season and postseason play because relievers don't pitch that much during the regular season. I think some type of postseason relief adjustment may be in order in our analysis.
   34. karlmagnus Posted: December 12, 2006 at 02:18 PM (#2258719)
I have to say the more I look at relievers the fewer I want of them. Papelbon is clearly, from the team's actions, more valuable to the Red Sox as a #2-3 starter than as an elite closer. I'm glad we elected Wilhelm but even Gossage looks very iffy. Their ERA+ just isn't that great, and if you adjust IP to reflect an equivalent starter you have to adjust ERA+ as well, at which point they fall below the borderline (except for Wilhelm and Mariano.) Going into the analysis, I would have expected the elite relievers to have unadjusted ERA+ of 140-150; if they don't it suggests they were mostly overhyped midlevel starters.
   35. Howie Menckel Posted: December 12, 2006 at 02:39 PM (#2258731)
I wasn't saying that Fingers' case is mainly inherited runners and postseason - I was saying that he already was a close call, and those other things help a bit. I'm not a huge postseason credit guy at all. It's just part of a pattern - Fingers is very good all the time, and the bigger the spot, the greater he got.

The Yankees' Wang fairly clearly right now is deliberately inducing ground balls all the time, except when he needs a K - then he dials it up. I guess some SABRmeticians just think he's lucky, but this is a skill.
I don't know the exact Fingers analog, other than that his inherited runners numbers seem too far ahead of the norm to ASSUME that it is luck. At a certain tipping point, the burden falls to those who want to prove something is NOT a skill. I think this may be one such example. If not, he should take Lou Gehrig's "luckiest man on the face of the earth" comment away and claim it for himself.
   36. Chris Cobb Posted: December 12, 2006 at 02:55 PM (#2258741)
Re IHR:

Something Joe hasn't said in defense of _his use_ of IHR in his _comprehensive, quantitative evaluation_ that perhaps should be said. Joe is looking at all the IHR data and including it in his total assessment of runs prevented. He's not looking at IHR independently as a rate stat, like we would do when we compare hitters by OPS+. If a reliever doesn't ofen enter a game with runners on, then IHR will have little impact on Joe's assessment. If he often enters with runners on base, then his IHR will have an important effect. So, saying IHR is problematic because it doesn't apply to modern closers is beside the point, at least in Joe's system, which does not penalize pitchers for dealing with few inherited runners, but rewards pitchers with many inherited runners for preventing them from scoring, which his system should do, because that is what, generally, relievers who have many inherited runners are being asked to do. If Quiz, for example, has a low IHR but actually had few inherited runners to deal with, then that low rate shouldn't affect his value much.

If it is possible to post _aggregate data_ showing total numbers of inherited runners and number who scored, per season and per career, as well as rates, that might help voters judge the importance of this statistic more effectively.

In the case for Fingers, Joe is not arguing (and I am not arguing), that because Fingers had a great IHR, that makes him a great reliever.

The case, instead, is this. By straight ERA+ or DERA, Fingers' effectiveness seems to make him a borderline candidate. His effectiveness over his career in preventing inherited runners from scoring, which was exceptional, raises his effectiveness a significant amount that is not reflected in his other statistics.

The thought-experiment case where a relief pitcher enters with the bases loaded, no outs, and three run lead and allows two runs to score on groundouts in an interesting case, but it is not really meaningful. In this case, wouldn't we say the reliever who comes on and strikes out the side, preventing any runs from scoring, has performed better than the pitcher who has allowed two runs on ground outs? In the context of this particular win, the two pitchers will both have done their jobs in getting their teams the win, but the one who has allowed no runs has clearly been more effective as a pitcher. I think the cases where allowing inherited runners to score is good strategy are fairly infrequent, and even when it _is_ good strategy, not allowing inherited runners to score is _better_, if it can be managed. Therefore, in the aggregate, IHR ought to be a meaningful statistic about the pitcher's performance.

As to the argument that IHR might be random and have no link to a pitcher's skill, an obvious approach to assessing that would be to look at the data for a lot of relief pitchers and see if there is any correlation between success at preventing inherited runners from scoring and other kinds of success. Maybe I'm incurious, but I have to suppose that the good stat heads at BP wouldn't be counting the things if they didn't think the stat was meaningful. I'm certainly open to considering data that shows that it _is_ random. Nevertheless, since it is generally considered to be a relief pitcher's job to prevent inherited runners from scoring, the presumption should be that we should give them credit for doing so, unless there is strong evidence that pitchers have little ability to affect the rate at which runners on base score. And phrasing it that way, I have to say that I am highly skeptical of the idea that they don't, as we generally believe that the quality of the pitcher has a significant effect on runners' scoring in general, and that most runs that a starting pitcher gives up begin as runners on base, which he either strands or allows to score. He doesn't have _sole_ responsibility for these runs, as his fielders will play a role, but that's a division of responsibility we are pretty comfortable with quantifying. I can't see why the IHR case should be significantly different from the general case.
   37. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 12, 2006 at 03:26 PM (#2258754)
Since I introduced the IHR topic, particularly with regard to rates of IHRS, let me put forth some stuff.

These are the MLB IHR/IHRS/IHR% figures I calculated a couple years ago. At the time, what I did was to simply copy all of the IHR and IHRS data for all relievers in BP's IHR/BQR tables for the years 1972-2005. Those tables have since been reformatted and no longer include this data.

Here's the yearly IHR data:

year     IHR  IHRS  IHR%
-------------------------
1972    4243  1452 34.2%
1973    5174  1789 34.6%
1974    5353  1968 36.8%
1975    5289  1799 34.0%
1976    5071  1776 35.0%
1977    5668  1980 34.9%
1978    5514  1846 33.5%
1979    5905  2112 35.8%
1980    5865  2034 34.7%
1981    4058  1350 33.3%
1982    6056  2082 34.4%
1983    5932  2109 35.6%
1984    5586  1928 34.5%
1985    5902  2053 34.8%
1986    6051  2037 33.7%
1987    6460  2265 35.1%
1988    5778  1901 32.9%
1989    6048  2007 33.2%
1990    6304  2060 32.7%
1991    6383  2048 32.1%
1992    6334  1953 30.8%
1993    7174  2305 32.1%
1994    5059  1675 33.1%
1995    6685  2197 32.9%
1996    7318  2572 35.1%
1997    7137  2295 32.2%
1998    7514  2451 32.6%
1999    7815  2595 33.2%
2000    7569  2588 34.2%
2001    6996  2272 32.5%
2002    6787  2182 32.1%
2003    7040  2330 33.1%
2004    7324  2352 32.1%
2005    6987  2182 31.2%
========================
Total 210379 70545 33.5


Sunny may be generally correct that the incidence of IHR per relief appearances is trending downward from in the high 90% range in the 1970s to now about 50%. But this is likely a function of the fact that there's simpley more games in relief nowadays and only so many IHR to go around, so take it with some salt. In general, however, it does appear that slightly fewer IHR are scoring today than did in the 1970s and even the 1980s, with the numbers generally trending down from the mid 30%s to the low 30%s.

OK, that's your overview. Back with cases in a little while.
   38. TomH Posted: December 12, 2006 at 03:51 PM (#2258775)
If only MLB had adopted different rules w.r.t who gets charged with the run when more than one pitcher appeared in a certain inning, this issue would be much smaller.

I'd personally prefer something like

reliever enters game with 0 outs in the inning - starter gets charged with all inherited runners
1 out - reliever gets charged with runner on first if he scores, but starter with runners he bequeathed on 2nd and/or 3rd
2 outs - reliever gets charged with all inherited runners who score

outs runners on
.. 1st 2nd 3rd
0 .St .St .St
1 .Re .St .St
2 .Re .Re .Re

But they didn't ask me, and it ain't so; ergo, the IHR analysis is one salient point for evaluating relievers. Their saves/blown saves record will reflect their IHR success, which is probably one reason Saves have at least 10% of the relevance most writers and fans give them.
   39. sunnyday2 Posted: December 12, 2006 at 04:04 PM (#2258791)
Of course, BS almost always also result in an L and a modern closer almost never gets an L without a BS.
   40. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 12, 2006 at 04:33 PM (#2258838)
Who are guys who have faced a lot of IHR? Who are the guys with the best career IHRS%? The following is an overview.

Here's the top 25 guys in the raw total runners inherited and in the unindexed rate of IHRS.

Top 25 RP in Raw IHR

NAME                 INH INHS INH
%
-----------------------------------
OroscoJesse       1047  261  25%
StantonMike        970  291  30%
GossageRich        828  276  33%
PlesacDan          817  222  27%
TekulveKent        770  216  28%
LyleSparky         690  240  35%
AssenmacherPaul    686  184  27%
JacksonMike        678  217  32%
FingersRollie      671  189  28%
BurgmeierTom       660  181  27%
BorbonPedro        655  208  32%
MartinezTippy      644  182  28%
GarberGene         635  221  35%
MyersMike          629  151  24%
GroomBuddy         621  162  26%
McClureBob         611  169  28%
NelsonJeff         594  165  28%
HernandezWillie    587  194  33%
LavelleGary        586  195  33%
StanleyBob         578  206  36%
CampbellBill       577  178  31%
HarrisGreg         566  181  32%
ReedSteve          549  157  29%
EichhornMark       542  184  34%
JacksonGrant       530  149  28


1970s Relievers: We Eliminate the Middle Man.

Top 25 RP in Unindexed IHR% (100 or more career IHR)

NAME                IHR IHRS IHR%
---------------------------------
DonnellyBrendan   117  21  18%
BaezDanny         101  19  19%
RinconRicardo     407  77  19%
WilsonSteve       175  34  19%
HoffmanTrevor     316  63  20%
SwanRuss          138  28  20%
KlinkJoe          145  30  21%
EyreScott         301  64  21%
LopezJavier       118  26  22%
FoulkeKeith       198  44  22%
GalloMike         108  24  22%
OsunaAl           166  37  22%
AlmanzaArmando    173  39  23%
HarrisPep         124  28  23%
HickeyKevin       246  56  23%
MyersRandy        401  92  23%
RockerJohn        113  26  23%
MasonRoger        130  30  23%
HoltzMike         315  75  24%
MyersMike         629 151  24%
PowellDennis      162  39  24%
SantanaJulio      127  31  24%
ThomasStan        106  26  25%
gleatonjerry don  293  72  25%
BankheadScott     117  29  25


If we narrow it down to guys with 200+ career IHR…

NAME                IHR IHRS IHR%
---------------------------------
RinconRicardo     407  77  19%
HoffmanTrevor     316  63  20%
EyreScott         301  64  21%
HickeyKevin       246  56  23%
MyersRandy        401  92  23%
HoltzMike         315  75  24%
MyersMike         629 151  24%
gleatonjerry don  293  72  25%
PercivalTroy      213  53  25%
OroscoJesse      1047 261  25%
SambitoJoe        361  90  25%
vande bergEd      452 115  25%
MurphyRob         398 102  26%
VizcainoLuis      202  52  26%
DibbleRob         271  70  26%
EckersleyDennis   349  91  26%
EmbreeAlan        441 115  26%
GroomBuddy        621 162  26%
PerezYorkis       260  68  26%
CasianLarry       209  55  26%
CormierRheal      304  80  26%
CadaretGreg       372  98  26%
RawleyShane       258  68  26%
SwindellGreg      234  62  26%
SchmidtDave       280  75  27%
SpeierJustin      224  60  27


On the back end of it, the worst guys are a little over 40%. Interesting to note the presence of Hoffman, Myers, Percival, and Eck among the closers. The 1970s aren’t well represented here at all, if at all.

One group that’s extremely well represented are lefty set-up men. Were I to guess this might be because
1) They don’t face a lot of hitters
2) They have a very strong platoon advantage to begin with
3) They may have an advantage over righties at holding runners on first base.

So who are the top 1970s guys? I eyeballed the list and pulled these guys off who seemed like they were 1970s guys to me. BTW, the average MLB IHR% in the 1972-1980 period was 34.8% to give some context. As you move closer to now, it gets lower, but by 1985 the average hadn't really begun to drop yet and remained around 34.7%-34.8% (depending on whether you use the average of the averages or weight the average by the number of IHR).

Top IHRSat least 100 IHR
NAME                IHR IHRS IHR
%
---------------------------------
BahnsenStan       191  50   26%
McLaughlinBo      102  27   26%
BurgmeierTom      660 181   27%
HallTom           144  39   27%
FingersRollie     671 189   28%
JacksonGrant      530 149   28%
LeeBill           104  29   28%
RichertPete       101  28   28%
SosaElias         517 143   28%
TekulveKent       770 216   28%
LaRocheDave       522 150   29%
ScarceMac         157  46   29%
LockwoodSkip      240  70   29%
WilloughbyJim     219  63   29%
ForsterTerry      506 149   29%
BrownJackie       100  30   30%
FrailingKen       105  32   30%
MetzgerButch      122  37   30%
RomoVicente       115  35   30%
WillisMike        178  54   30%
KnowlesDarold     419 127   30%
LaceyBob          362 112   31%
PinaHoracio       146  45   31%
SandersKen        132  41   31%
HernandezRamon    242  74   31%
HouseTom          206  63   31%
JohnsonJerry      181  57   31%
KernJim           481 151   31%
CampbellBill      577 178   31%
CruzVictor        211  66   31


And among 200+ IHR guys

Top IHRSat least 200 IHR
NAME                IHR IHRS IHR
%
---------------------------------
BurgmeierTom      660 181   27%
SosaElias         517 143   28%
TekulveKent       770 216   28%
JacksonGrant      530 149   28%
FingersRollie     671 189   28%
LaRocheDave       522 150   29%
WilloughbyJim     219  63   29%
LockwoodSkip      240  70   29%
ForsterTerry      506 149   29%
KnowlesDarold     419 127   30%
HernandezRamon    242  74   31%
HouseTom          206  63   31%
CampbellBill      577 178   31%
LaceyBob          362 112   31%
CruzVictor        211  66   31%
KernJim           481 151   31%
BorbonPedro       655 208   32%
PattinMarty       223  71   32%
HillerJohn        432 138   32%
MingoriSteve      353 113   32%
HraboskyAl        487 157   32%
FarmerEd          279  90   32%
MongeSid          459 149   32%
McGrawTug         368 120   33%
MoffittRandy      429 141   33%
LindbladPaul      373 123   33%
LaGrowLerrin      263  87   33%
LavelleGary       586 195   33%
GossageRich       828 276   33%
ReedRon           286  96   34%
MarshallMike      410 138   34%
DragoDick         349 118   34%
HamiltonDave      283  97   34%
GiustiDave        247  85   34%
TidrowDick        422 146   35%
LyleSparky        690 240   35


The lefty issue is pretty much eradicated since these guys are mostly right handed and if not tended to face more batters anyway. As noted above, this was a pretty loose definition of 1970s reliever, so it’s possible I’ve left some guys out.

Back in a little while with some career IHR season-by-season breakdowns.
   41. Mark Donelson Posted: December 12, 2006 at 04:53 PM (#2258857)
In this case, wouldn't we say the reliever who comes on and strikes out the side, preventing any runs from scoring, has performed better than the pitcher who has allowed two runs on ground outs?

This is a pretty specialized case, but I would say no. In the ninth inning, baserunners who, if they score, won't tie the score simply don't matter at all; this is why no one holds runners on then, and fielders (if they're smart) pay no attention to them except as potential outs on the bases (and even then only if they're damn sure they can get them).

So to me, a reliever coming in that situation who gets out of it without losing the lead--however he achieves this--has done the job. I honestly don't think he's done a better job if he did it with three straight strikeouts; that will just be more exciting, and look better. The result is what matters, and that's the same regardless.
   42. Mark Donelson Posted: December 12, 2006 at 05:09 PM (#2258870)
I think the cases where allowing inherited runners to score is good strategy are fairly infrequent, and even when it _is_ good strategy, not allowing inherited runners to score is _better_, if it can be managed.

Sure, if you're confident the guy you have out there can manage it. I admit that I'd rather have vintage Koufax pitching my ninth innings than CM Wang. But when you become less confident your guy can strike out the side, the idea of having a guy you know (or at least are reasonablly confident) will induce weak groundballs to the right side becomes more appealing.

And unless you're talking about extremely high-K pitchers, I think the question really comes down to what you go on to discuss: is preventing inherited runners from scoring a skill, or luck (or some combination, most likely, as with most things)? I'm less sure than you are about this--just looking at Eric's '70s list, the names aren't breaking down as you'd expect, exactly. You do have some of the stars of the era at the top (Fingers, Tekulve, plus guys like Burgmeier and Grant Jackson who had some great years), but there are also some guys sneaking down to the league average for the era (Gossage, Lyle, Marshall).

I'm looking mainly at that last list, with the over-200-IHR guys, so we're unlikely to see any really bad pitchers here. But the distribution of these names at least seems like it could be random.

Maybe, in fact, all those guys at the bottom are indeed a little overrated because they let all those inherited runners in. And maybe Dave LaRoche was a lot better than I realized at the time. But that list just makes me want to see more evidence that IHR isn't similar to clutch hitting (a skill, but not nearly as significant a skill as it would appear).
   43. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 12, 2006 at 05:43 PM (#2258928)
Thanks Chris Cobb for your post #36, sums up my system better than I have . . .

As for how I count inherited run prevention - I'm not using any percentages. I'm using the BPro stat, Inherited Runners Prevented, which gives the total number of runs prevented (or allowed - the stat goes negative) compared to the runs an average pitcher would have allowed.

The two biggest negative numbers are lefties (Tom Burgmeier and Darold Knowles); this makes me think they are looking at something along the lines of base-out state as opposed to just raw inherited runners, but I'm not positive.

To elaborate, I use this number and add it or subtract it as appropriate from runs allowed. So as Chris says if the pitcher never inherits any runners, it's a big zero.

I also use their Bequeathed Runs Prevented stat, which adjusts for whether the relievers that inherited the pitchers runners were good or bad. And for starters I use their bullpen support stat, which works the same way.

Nearly all relievers have a positive number for BRP (which means they are helped by their relievers), which again shows me evidence they are using base-out state, as opposed to raw numbers. Also, I think this is where much of the "reliever ERA advantage" comes from, when you adjust relievers for this, it brings their ERAs back closer to the starters.

For Fingers specifically:

*As a starter, his relievers cost him 7.6 runs.
*As a reliever, he prevented 33.1 more inherited runs from scoring than an average reliever.
*His relievers prevented 22.4 of his inherited runs from scoring (which is typical for a reliever with as many innings as Fingers - an average reliever that I've studied would have 22.9)

So the net total is that I subtract 18.3 runs allowed from Fingers for his career.

His defenses were slightly below average, so that basically knocks .01 off his RA in a 4.50 R/G environment. His leagues were weak (as were all expansion era pitchers, especially those with significant time in the AL) so that adds .08 back on.

So how do I get his DRA+ up to 124 from 119 - it's mostly the 18.3 runs I subtract and a little bit that he didn't give up a whole lot of unearned runs either, despite playing for slightly below average offenses. 10.7% of Fingers' runs were unearned, Lindy McDaniel was at 12%, Wilhelm 18.2%, Gossage 9.7%, Stu Miller 12.5%, McGraw 11.6%.

There's no doubt in my mind that Fingers was a better pitcher than his ERA+ suggests.
   44. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 12, 2006 at 05:50 PM (#2258939)
Oh and I don't see why people discount Fingers' 1981 season.

Maybe (and that's a real maybe, it's not impossible that he did), Fingers didn't deserve the MVP, but he sure as hell deserved the Cy Young Award. It was an amazing season. He gave up NINE runs in 78 innings. He has 28 saves in his 47 appearances (note the IP/G ratio, these were not 3 out/3 run lead saves). His IRP and BRP move his RA total to 9.4, so that 9 is legit, it's not like he gave up a ton of inherited runners or left behind a bunch of messes.

His innings were leveraged at 1.78 that year - so it was, over a full season the equivalent of a starter throwing 198 innings with a 1.43 RA (not ERA, RA) in a 4.50 environment. That's one helluva valuable season. The 3rd most valuable reliever season I've found so far, behind only Hiller's 1973 and Gossage's 1977. And his team won the division and made the playoffs for the first time in their history.

So Fingers' reliever peak is just fine by me. He's got the 3rd best 'best season'. He's got the 8th best '2nd-best season'. He's got the 5th best '3rd-best season'. And he's second only to Gossage on 4th and 5th best season.

So I'd describe his peak as 'damn-good' and his prime as 2nd best, only to Gossage.
   45. TomH Posted: December 12, 2006 at 06:04 PM (#2258955)
Maybe the LHP tend to come out when still in mid-inning, minimizing the opportunities for inherited runners to score while they are actualy in the ballgame?
   46. Mark Donelson Posted: December 12, 2006 at 06:12 PM (#2258960)
To add some useless anecdotal observation to all this: I've watched just about all of Mariano Rivera's career closely, and I'm quite convinced that he, at least, ignores runners in the ninth that aren't the tying or go-ahead runs--he really appears not to care at all if they score. He does generally seem to bear down more to be sure the runners that can tie the game up or win it don't come around, Luis Gonzalez notwithstanding. Hey, he was tired that day. :)

Of course, most of these runners these days aren't inherited, since he doesn't come in with runners on all that often, so this may be a moot point as far as strict IHR numbers for him. Eric, where does Mariano fall on your charts--I notice he's not there, but is that because he has a mediocre rate, or because he just doesn't have a ton of inherited runners at all (or both)?
   47. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 12, 2006 at 06:24 PM (#2258980)
One thing to clarify - the big numbers for lefties are in the Bequeathed Runners Prevented, not Inherited Runners Prevented. In my mind I've kind of merged the two, so I just wanted to clarify what I wrote in #43.

Burgmeier and Knowles have fairly normal IRP, but their BRP are through the roof. It's probably because of what you say Tom, that they leave mid-inning, and therefore leave more messes behind.

BTW, the two worst IRP by far that I've seen are Jack Baldschun at -29.2 and Quisenberry at -27.5. I'd think this is probably because of Quisenberry's low K and high H/IP rates. Quisenberry's WHIP was very good because he never walked anyone, but he did give up a decent number of hits, a little more than a hit per inning.

Baldschun had a good K rate, but he threw a ton of WPs, 49 in 704 IP, and he wasn't all that good anyway.
   48. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 12, 2006 at 06:26 PM (#2258982)
Oh, and Quisenberry's DRA+ is 132, compared to his ERA+ of 146, so that's the kind of impact extreme Inherited Runner stats can have. Quis also had pretty good D behind him and pitched in fairly weak leagues (similar to, but slightly worse than Fingers).
   49. TomH Posted: December 12, 2006 at 07:07 PM (#2259024)
Quiz will not be on my ballot, partly because of what you said here, Joe; the H/9 are high, which meant he was not as effective coming in with runners on. I played a simulation league when Quiz was a star reliever, but despite the stellar ERAs and surreal control, the high H/9 were a red flag and I thin Quiz' "owner" was disappointed with those years.
   50. Mike Webber Posted: December 12, 2006 at 09:56 PM (#2259218)
My thought about Fingers - and relievers in general - is the last guy on my ballot has 302 career win shares, 3 30+ Win Share Seasons, and 7 seasons over 20. Fingers doesn't seem to provide A) the total career value B) the best single season values - or strung together peak values.

I understand the concept of leverage, but suppose the A's didn't have Fingers. Well, then Knowles or Bob Locker or Diego Segui, would have filled in. Suppose they didn't have Bando, then Ted Kubiak would have filled in.

I guess I am just saying that finding a closer is doable, finding a Bando, or a Murcer, or a Singleton or a Campaneris appears to be much harder.
   51. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 12, 2006 at 10:48 PM (#2259264)
OK, before I do season-to-season breakouts, I forgot to talk about indexing a reliever's IHR% versus his league. I did this for most of the important relievers of the 1970s-2000s. Not all of them, and now with the data gone it's too late to go back, but I can share what I've got. The method I used goes like this:

For season
1) Find RP's IHR% by dividing IHRS by IHR
2) Divide into league's IHR%

For career
1) For each season, take IHR% and figure how many runs the league average pitcher would give up given the same number of IHR
2) Sum the league's IHR
3) Divide player's career IHR%, divide into league's.

OK, so when we do that for my pool of 45 top relievers, here's what we get:


name IHR%+
---------------------
hoffman 1.65
wagner 1.45
myers 1.43
orosco 1.34
percival 1.33
smith, l 1.32
eckersley 1.27
fingers 1.23
tekulve 1.23
righetti 1.19
benitez 1.17
nen 1.14
beck 1.13
campbell 1.13
reardon 1.13
aguilera 1.12
sutter 1.12
henke 1.10
kern 1.10
rivera 1.10
hiller 1.09
hrabosky 1.08
mcgraw 1.07
worrell 1.07
giusti 1.05
smith d 1.05
hernandez w 1.04
marshall 1.04
mcdowell 1.04
wetteland 1.04
franco 1.03
gordon 1.03
gossage 1.03
hoerner 1.00
lyle 1.00
garber 0.99
eicchorn 0.98
carroll 0.96
hernandez r 0.96
stanley 0.96
granger 0.95
olson 0.94
jones 0.92
quisenberry 0.90
montgomery 0.87
==================
AVERAGE 1.11


Generally, the top relievers are indeed above the league average as a group. It is interesting to note that the ones we'd flag as possibly worth studying the merit of are dispersed throughout the rankings. For example, Quisenberry, Gossage, Marshall all fall below the group average. So do Wetteland and Lyle, even Mariano is a hair below average. On the other hand, Fingers, Hoffman, L. Smith, and Eck are all safely above. Sutter is just a hair above average for this group.

(to be continued...)
   52. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 12, 2006 at 10:51 PM (#2259269)
When you get down to cases what do you see? First to cut a wide swath, I just took a look at each guy and figured out in how many seasons his IHR%+ was within .50 of his career average. The average guy in this pool was within .50 of his career mark, under or over, 76% of the time. They were within .25 of their career marks 47% of the time. They were within .10 of their career marks 20% of the time.

Here's some of the most consistent relievers in this group in terms of their IHR%+. These are guys with the highest percentages of seasons within 10% of their career average. This is not the best way to measure this, I’m aware of that, but I’m also not sophisticated enough statistically to know the best way to measure consistency.

NAME    lyle giusti hoerner campbell carroll quisenberry  nen
CAREER  1.00  1.05   1.00     1.13    0.96     0.9       1.14
--------------------------------------------------------------
YR1     1.27  1.23   0.86     1.21   1.17      0.81      0.88
YR2     1.15  0.97   1.08     1.10   0.89      1.24      9.27
YR3     0.96  1.05   1.51     1.06   0.92      0.80      1.12
YR4     0.89  1.57   1.06     1.11   1.08      0.95      1.32
YR5     0.91  1.05   1.05     1.77   0.93      0.95      0.64
YR6     0.91  0.80   0.38     0.72   0.84      1.10      1.37
YR7     1.30                  0.98 
#DIV/0!     1.12      0.62
YR8     1.09                  1.04             0.81      1.23
YR9     0.89                  1.04             0.58      1.11
YR10    0.94                  0.97             0.64      1.04
YR11    1.03                  0.84             1.20 
YR12                          1.12             0.65 
YR13                          2.26   
YR14                          1.69   
YR15                          2.11 


If we include only guys with 10 years or more data available…

NAME    lyle campbell quisenberry  nen Hernandez,W  Montgomery beck
CAREER  1.00  1.13       0.90     1.14   1.04          0.87    1.13
--------------------------------------------------------------------
YR1     1.27  1.21       0.81     0.88   0.95          1.05    0.90
YR2     1.15  1.10       1.24     9.27   1.07          1.56    1.40
YR3     0.96  1.06       0.80     1.12   0.66          0.74    1.61
YR4     0.89  1.11       0.95     1.32   1.70          0.84    0.90
YR5     0.91  1.77       0.95     0.64   0.52          0.77    1.24
YR6     0.91  0.72       1.10     1.37   1.15          0.88    1.16
YR7     1.30  0.98       1.12     0.62   1.05          1.20    1.21
YR8     1.09  1.04       0.81     1.23   1.14          0.99    1.16
YR9     0.89  1.04       0.58     1.11   1.22          0.66    1.00
YR10    0.94  0.97       0.64     1.04   0.94          1.33    0.74
YR11    1.03  0.84       1.20            1.08          0.77    0.98
YR12          1.12       0.65            1.30          0.33    0.66
YR13          2.26                       0.86          0.69    1.12
YR14          1.69   
YR15          2.11 


Any connections among them? A couple lefties, five righties. One or two sinkerballers (was Monte a sinker guy?), a couple blow-em away types. Did Hernandez have a screwgie? A couple 1970s guys, a couple 1980s guys, a couple closers. Not much to suggest similarity. The only thing I spot is that none of them is well above the group’s average and some are well below.

Now the least consistent…

NAME   marshall tekulve gordon percival rivera eckersley aguilera myers
CAREER   1.04     1.23   1.03    1.33    1.10     1.27     1.12    1.43
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
YR1      1.24     1.10  #DIV/0!  1.94    0.82     0.73  #DIV/0! #DIV/0!
YR2      1.34     1.36   0.68    2.46    1.29    #DIV/0!   0.56    0.67
YR3      0.89     0.85   0.91    1.74    1.37     0.34  #DIV/0!    2.22
YR4      1.23     0.92   1.17    1.56    1.96     1.60  #DIV/0!    1.78
YR5      1.40     1.65   0.67    0.75    1.79     0.96     0.63    1.79
YR6      0.64     2.09  
#DIV/0!  0.51    0.82     0.89     1.55    3.49
YR7      1.31     1.06   1.55    4.55    1.63     2.37     1.32    1.52
YR8      0.84     0.74   1.33    0.61    0.71     1.11     1.76    0.77
YR9      0.64     1.46   0.43    2.65    0.68     4.77     1.12    1.93
YR10     0.58     0.97   1.28    0.64    0.91     0.79     0.83    0.85
YR11              1.57   1.75   
#DIV/0!  2.81     1.39     1.25    1.22
YR12              2.03   1.98                     6.25     0.79    0.70
YR13              1.58   0.61                     1.23     7.17    1.07
YR14              1.63                            1.40     0.85 
#DIV/0!
YR15              1.03                            0.98     0.72 
YR16              0.66 


These are mostly closer types. I think there’s extra variability in their records because they often don’t handle very many IHR. So (un)lucky bounces could skew them 5-10%. Billy Wagner, for instance has had four full seasons below ten IHR, including one where he inherited just two runners! Other than that, it’s hard to say there’s much similarity between these guys. We’ve got curve guys, sinker guys, cutter guys, splitter guys, control artistes, power pitchers, all sorts. Most are righties. A couple of them are very, very good with IHR, a couple average for the group, a couple above the league but below the group of top relievers.

Fingers, for his part, nearly made the list of inconsistent IHR guys. He had just one season within .10 of his career mark. Gossage had six such seasons. Expanding the lens out a bit, seven of Fingers’ 13 seasons fell within .25 of his career mark, nine fell within .50. Of Gossage’s 22 seasons, 11 fell within .25 of his career, and 20 within .50. Yet Gossage, with a 1.03 career IHR%+ is below average for top relievers and barely above his leagues. Fingers’ 1.23 is well above the average of both this group and his leagues.

So some of the variability I think is related to the limited opportunities that relievers have with IHR. Yet for most of Fingers and Gossage’s careers, they were working with a ton of IHR (by comparison). More than 50 a year in many cases, and in some amazing years as high as 70 or 90. Gossage hit 99 one year, Fingers was usually over 50-60 through about 1980. Yet these are still small samples. As we often say, anything can happen in fifty opportunities.

OK, now one more way to look at this. Persistence. I took two, simplistic tacks on this question. On one hand, I figured out how often each guy was above or below his career average then to see if those instances tended to line up with one another. If IHR success is persistent, say the way power is, we might expect that as pitchers went along, a lot of them would have strings of seasons above their career average when they are at their best and strings below when not. So first I counted the number of instances where a pitcher had two consecutive seasons above or below his own career average. The average pitcher in the group pitched thirteen seasons within the sample dataset and had 5.2, or about 40% of their seasons, were consistent with their previous season. Rod Beck, Dave Smith, and Bill Campbell were the pitchers exhibiting the most IHR persistence in their records. More than half of their seasons were seasons of persistence. Others with very consistent records in this regard include Sparky Lyle, Jeff Montgomery, Todd Worrell, Gene Garber, and Dave Righetti. The least persistent records belonged to Robb Nen, Wayne Granger, and Dennis Eckersley with nods to John Hiller, Rick Aguilera, Bob Stanley, Billy Wagner, Jim Kern, Roger McDowell, Tom Henke, Armando Benitez.

But I also recognized that it would be helpful to know how long the typical reliever’s spells of consistency were. So I simply looked at each guy’s longest streak above or below his career average. The typical reliever in this group of 45 had an average longest streak of 2.4 seasons. Bill Campbell had six straight years below average, Goose Gossage, five straight above, Rod Beck four straight below, and Randy Myers four straight above. Wayne Granger had zero streaks of persistence.

I also used this strategy and found how many times consecutively they tended to exceed or be lower than the league average in consecutive seasons and with what kind of streaks. The typical group member had 5.9 seasons in which they showed a two-year persistence of above or below average IHR rates. Bill Campbell remained “strong” in this department, he was joined this time by Willie “Don’t Call Me Guillermo” Hernandez, and Trevor Hoffman. But the big movers were actually a little different…Rollie Fingers was one. Todd Worrell and Dave Righetti were two more. Number one was Jesse Orosco. The least persistent guys were again Hiller, Wagner, and Benitez among others.

Looking at duration of persistence, the typical streak of persistence went up to 3.2 years when compared to the league average instead of career average. And the duration of the longest streaks really shot up. Ten for Orosco, nine for Righetti, six for Fingers, L. Smith, and Hoffman, five for Gossage and Worrell.

So is there a lot of persistence? Sort of, I guess. I mean if we took the best 45 hitters or starting pitchers, and we agreed on the right measurement to work with, I’d speculate we’d see a little more persistence, but I have no data to prove or disprove that with. As it is, this line of inquiry has eaten up a whole day….

Here’s the things I’ve learned today that I can elucidate right now…I’m sure more will come along:
-Lefty situational guys appear to have the best IHR numbers.
-Top relievers seem to have about an 11% advantage in how often they allow IHR to score, compared to their leagues.
-Top 1970s relievers faced a lot more IHR than do top 1990s-2000s relievers.
-Because top 1990s-2000s relievers face fewer IHR, they may be subject to greater variability in their IHR%s and so less consistency
-At this surface level, there appears to be little to otherwise explain why some top relievers are excellent with IHR, some are not, and some are really not—particularly when this is a textbook definition of the reliever’s job.
-There’s also not too much to explain why some might be more or less consistent at stopping them, though there may be a relationship between in/consistency and effectiveness at stopping IHR.
-The level of consistency among top relievers, as I’ve very crudely measured it, is kind of up and down, and it doesn’t tend to last very long when we view it through the lens of the player’s own career, though somewhat longer when viewed through the lens of the league average.
-These guys are all very effective pitchers, so it’s hard to pinpoint at all how IHR and effectiveness interact.

In each case more info is realistically needed. I think someone else with a better statistical faculty should look at the issue, and I’m happy to share my data to facilitate it. I also think that a retrosheet exploration of the circumstances of the IHR might be profitable.

But returning to the question that’s driving this for me: Does this information about IHR tell us anything at all about the merit of these relievers? Or about some of them? If it does, is it helpful to describing merit? If it says nothing, what’s that mean to us?

Well, I’m certainly unsure at this point, and I suppose you can perhaps understand why. I’ve looked at the issue as best I’m able to, using admittedly crude tools at times, but ultimately I’m finding that the relationship between effectiveness and IHR prevention isn’t always very clear.
   53. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 12, 2006 at 11:19 PM (#2259283)
I understand the concept of leverage, but suppose the A's didn't have Fingers. Well, then Knowles or Bob Locker or Diego Segui, would have filled in. Suppose they didn't have Bando, then Ted Kubiak would have filled in.

I was thinking sort of like this recently. Let's say the league average is a 4.50 RA/9. You have a guy with a 2.25 RA/9. Let's say that you play 16 one-run games where a reliever pitches the ninth with a lead. How many leads will the 4.50 reliever hold? Well, should be 8, right? He gives up a run one half of the time. The 2.25 guy gives up the lead four times, right? Now let's also say that in each instance, the game then goes tied into your half of the ninth, well, you'll win a little more than 50% of those games. So 4.50 guy is giving you 8 saves + 4 wins in tied games on average. 12 total wins. 2.25 guy is giving you 12 wins + 2 wins in tied games. 14 total wins. Two wins in one-run affairs is pretty good, but maybe not worth 10 million...though there are lots of other games, naturally.

Now let's figure the average closer is 3.33 RA/9. You've still got the 2.25 RA/9 guy. 3.33 is going to cough up 5 leads (ignoring the decimal). So you'll have 11 saves + 2.5 wins in tied games. So 13-14 wins in these 16 one-run games. 2.25 is still netting out at 14 wins. So you're getting .5 to 1 wins more for your money.

In Mike's example of Sal Bando.... Bando in his prime creates roughly 6 r/g in about a 4 r/g league. In the 425 outs or so he consumes, that's three wins worth of runs. According to the SBE, the typical 3B is a league-average hitter. 3 wins versus .5 to 1 wins.

That said, however, I don't think any of us is doubting this is true. That's why Fingers is challenging! We're asking ourselves whether we think we should induct more than one 1970s reliever since it appears that most of us agree that Gossage is the best of the era. How many relievers? Curiously, my closer example is stretched with Fingers since he would have thrown two or more innings in many instances. I suspect therefore that the benefit accrued to a team by having a top reliever in the 1970s might have been higher than in the closer era simply due the innings. But I don't know it.
   54. Mike Webber Posted: December 13, 2006 at 12:04 AM (#2259327)
Joe Dimino Posted: December 12, 2006 at 12:26 PM (#2258982)
Quis also had pretty good D behind him and pitched in fairly weak leagues (similar to, but slightly worse than Fingers).


I'm going to pick on Joe here because 1) he's tough and can take it 2) knows I love him.

How in the world can people talk about a league that is integrated, strong minor league system, has free agency, has a fairly large number of Latin players, as weak? Weaker than the NL of his time, ok I am good with that, but weak? In fact I would say the only things that even slightly detract from the strength of the AL in this time period is college baseball is still realitively undeveloped, and the Australian/Asian players aren't here yet.

Lets compare that to say, BEN TAYLOR'S league. Now that is a WEAK league. Not integrated (yes I know why, but it doesn't help the league strength), very few Latins, no structured minors leagues, scouting is weak also, no college system, the players play all the time.

What leagues up to that time would be better than Quiz's? Only the NL of the same time period.
   55. Michael Bass Posted: December 13, 2006 at 12:09 AM (#2259330)
Not entirely a fair comparison, Mike; I can think of a league that:

- is integrated
- has a strong minor league system
- free agency
- heavy Latin influence
- even has Aussie/Asian influx

And yet, I'd consider objectively weak. I'm of course thinking of the 2006 National League, which had exactly one team that I would rank in the top 8 MLB teams (and I could make a case for 1 out of the top 10).

Maybe my case is weakened by the reality that one of the teams outside that top 10 won the World Series, but I'm willing to be stubborn. ;)
   56. Mike Webber Posted: December 13, 2006 at 12:29 AM (#2259349)
Michael,
but you still think the 2006 NL is better than
The 1980's with no Aussies or Asians and poor weight training,
The AL and NL of the 1970's without the Dominicans and few college players,
The 1960's when and ACL or MCL or a torn elbow ligament meant your career was over,
The AL of the late 50's that wasn't integrated and no draft,
The pre War WW2 leagues with out a real minor league structure.

Its not time lining to acknowledge that the structure of today produce a better selection of athletes from a larger pool than ever before.
   57. Michael Bass Posted: December 13, 2006 at 01:16 AM (#2259406)
Anything not-integrated obviously is out.

However, one could make a really good argument for the 60s-80s on one basic fact: basketball and football weren't eating the (American) talent pool like they are now. One just has to compare the number of African American stars of the 60s and 70s to the number today to see the stark difference in that demo. Same is true for white players as well, albeit to a lesser degree.
   58. Michael Bass Posted: December 13, 2006 at 01:24 AM (#2259425)
To follow up on that, I have a half-brained theory on the cause of this...

By having by far the best (both for talent development and in terms of fairness) feeder system in the minor leagues, baseball inadvertantly hurt itself. The minor leagues make college baseball about 5th tier. With college baseball showing at 1 PM on ESPN12, high school is also damaged (much of the emphasis on HS sports revolves around seeing the local talent who may move on to help State U).

So if you are an athletically talented 8th grader, which are you going to choose to emphasize, baseball in front of friends and family or basketball/football in front of hundreds or, especially in football's case in many parts of the country, thousand or more fans?

Of course, this may well be a full of crap theory. The more obvious explanation is that baseball allowed itself to be framed as not as cool as basketball/football. But the popularity of HS/college basketball and football has a significant impact on young athletes deciding which sport to go for. The existance of the minors cut college baseball off at the knees.
   59. Chris Cobb Posted: December 13, 2006 at 02:01 AM (#2259468)
In Mike's example of Sal Bando.... Bando in his prime creates roughly 6 r/g in about a 4 r/g league. In the 425 outs or so he consumes, that's three wins worth of runs. According to the SBE, the typical 3B is a league-average hitter. 3 wins versus .5 to 1 wins.

Correct me if I'm wrong, Eric, but this comparison is looking, for the relief pitcher, at only 16 1-inning appearances in one-run games. Obviously, those are the games with very high leverage, but they make up only, say, 25% of the contemporary closer's workload (on the quite lightly used Trevor Hoffman model). So the reliever is going to add a not-inconsiderable amount of value in those other innings, too, that would have to be accounted for.
   60. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 13, 2006 at 06:04 AM (#2259710)
Mike, I've gone into this before, but the influx of talent from the late 50s through the early 80s did not keep pace with the increase in teams. Baseball expanded too rapidly (by 63% in 17 years) for the increase in the talent pool to keep up. This didn't wash out until about 1984. On a team for team basis I don't think MLB was any stronger overall in 1980 than it was in 1941. The war(s), loss of players to other sports and expansion were basically offset by the increase in the talent pool.

Add that to the fact that the AL was much worse during the NL until about 1991, and that's where I get the league was weak.

Remember I don't timeline - I only compare leagues to other leagues that season and adjust for expansion, despansion (1892, 1900) and wars.
   61. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 13, 2006 at 06:07 AM (#2259711)
And don't forget Mike, it's not a huge hit anyway. Quisenberry I think loses about .09 on his career DRA (in a 4.50 environment), Fingers loses .08, it's not a 'huge' hit.
   62. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 13, 2006 at 04:59 PM (#2260070)
Chris, you're correct. But there's still two wins out there to a RP to get over the average closer, relative to Bando versus the average 3B. In his other 50 innings the average closer gives up 18.5 runs. So our 2.25 guy has to yield around zero runs to make up 2 wins (at 10 r/win), which obviously isn't happening since we've identified him as a 2.25 guy. His actual savings is 12.5 runs or .6 wins over the average closer.

Now some of those other games will be leveraged probably somewhat less highly than the 1-run games (esp in modern usage), however, which helps our 2.25 guy, but that's not accounting for the leverage of Bando's PAs and RC either. I don't have the base-out-score LEV tables handy, but let's say for ease of calculation that the one-run situations are a LEV of 3.00. And let's say that our closer's LEV is 2.00 in 64 rel apps.

In 16 one-run games, he's got a 3.00 LEV. So in the remaining games, his LEV will be around 1.70.
Our 3.33 closer, in identical LEV usage, saves the equivalent of 31.5 runs (his 18.5 R in 50 innings * 1.70). Our 2.25 guy is saving the equivalent of 21.25 runs. Difference is 10 runs. Still only one win, and still trailing Bando's margin over the average 3B by a full win.

Again, this is just thought experiment stuff, I don't know the precise LEV numbers or anything, and I could be doing it wrong....

Well, and I haven't taken any fielding into account either, something where Bando might be less effective than average. But for the moment let's just keep it at hitting for simplicity.

All this said, as I noted above, it certainly seems like it's possible for a Fingers, in his biggest innings years, to get close to position-player value above the average for his position, at least with hitting only considered. But then, the multi-inning apps may also mean he has a lower chance of not forking over a lead since there's more opportunity to give up runs in each appearance.
   63. Michael Bass Posted: December 13, 2006 at 06:46 PM (#2260216)
Fingers seems to be the candidate who could go either way...he could GVH off the induction radar screen entirely or he could be the next backlogger inducted. Why? The 7 15th place votes. My intepretation of that unusual number is that many (not necessarily all) of those 7 wanted to generally voice support for Fingers' election, but either a) couldn't figure out how to rank him or b) their systems kicked back a real bad placement for them and the voters don't trust that. (This isn't a shot at those voters, just that statistically, it is *highly* unlikely that that high a number of voters randomly placed him in exactly the same backlog spot which just happens to be the last ballot spot).

The challenge to the voters who this describes is that over the next 3 elections (the next two the backlog is kinda irrelevant, which gives plenty of time to sort it out) to decide where Fingers actually should go. If those 15th place voters move in favor of him, Fingers could very easily top the Fox/Wynn group for quick elections. If they decide he needs to be moved down, he could disappear quickly off the map.
   64. Daryn Posted: December 13, 2006 at 07:12 PM (#2260250)
The challenge to the voters who this describes is that over the next 3 elections (the next two the backlog is kinda irrelevant, which gives plenty of time to sort it out) to decide where Fingers actually should go. If those 15th place voters move in favor of him, Fingers could very easily top the Fox/Wynn group for quick elections. If they decide he needs to be moved down, he could disappear quickly off the map.
Page 1 of 1 pages


That's right -- and I think the move has to be in favour of him if the voters care anything about the general voters' consensus -- he was on more ballots than any backlogger.
   65. rawagman Posted: December 13, 2006 at 07:31 PM (#2260284)
but if he was on the ballot as a hedged bet, it doesn't necessarily mean anything.
I had him rated in the 50's last election, but I had an opportunity to review my releiver system and rankings and realized that Fingers should move up, but Sparky Lyle should move up even more. Go figure.
   66. Paul Wendt Posted: December 14, 2006 at 12:30 AM (#2260704)
Eric Chalek #28
Why do I say that?
1) No one has shown us that IHR prevention is a skill/talent, but there is some evidence that relievers have less control over it than we might think based on the divergence of IHR rates among the top relievers we've looked at. IHR stops DO happen, just as clutch hits DO happen. But without compelling evidence that IHR stops are a skill/talent, I'm concerned that we will use it as a measuring stick for merit where it may only be appropriate for accounting and may be inconsistent with the use of the many context-neutral stats upon which we all base our evaluations (or nearly all of us).


similarly, we don't know that there is any ability (skill/talent) to pitch effectively during a season when one works in high leverage situations, but the pitcher who does so puts a big year on the board --directly on the win shares board, indirectly on this board

John Murphy #33
a reliever has a disproportionate advantage over position players and starting pitchers when combining regular season and postseason play because relievers don't pitch that much during the regular season.

this is also true for starting pitchers relative to position players

Mike Webber #50
suppose the A's didn't have Fingers. Well, then Knowles or Bob Locker or Diego Segui, would have filled in. Suppose they didn't have Bando, then Ted Kubiak would have filled in.

but this is so because a team assembles and uses a staff of pitchers,
in turn because pitchers cannot work regularly;
in contrast, the utility infielder is an emergency player
   67. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: December 14, 2006 at 12:44 AM (#2260719)
this is also true for starting pitchers relative to position players

True, but no where to the same degree as relievers.
   68. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 14, 2006 at 03:33 PM (#2261127)
Chris, you're correct. But there's still two wins out there to a RP to get over the average closer, relative to Bando versus the average 3B. In his other 50 innings the average closer gives up 18.5 runs. So our 2.25 guy has to yield around zero runs to make up 2 wins (at 10 r/win), which obviously isn't happening since we've identified him as a 2.25 guy. His actual savings is 12.5 runs or .6 wins over the average closer.


Except that you can't compare him to the average closer. No more than you can compare a starting pitcher to the average number one starter. You need to compare him to the average relief pitcher not the average closer.

I think you are setting the replacement bar WAY too high otherwise. Again, it's the equivalent of setting the starting pitching bar using only #1 starters.
   69. KJOK Posted: December 27, 2006 at 11:05 PM (#2269614)
I don't really see how Fingers could be a top 10 player...

If we DOUBLED the number of innings he actually pitched, we get a line like:

IP - 3403
RSAA - 206
ERA+ - 119

comparable to guys like:

Vic Willis
IP - 3997
RSAA - 194
ERA+ - 118

Dutch Leonard
IP - 3220
RSAA - 209
ERA+ - 119
   70. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 27, 2006 at 11:40 PM (#2269634)
Well for one, ERA+ severely underrated Fingers. I get his DRA+ at 124.
   71. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 27, 2006 at 11:50 PM (#2269641)
So how about Stan Coveleski, 3082 IP, 127 ERA+ (actually I get his DRA+ at 128).

But doubling is too high, I agree. The factor is more like 1.6, which puts Fingers at 2566.3 IP.

So 2566 IP, 124 DRA+, who is that most similar to?

It's better than Wes Ferrell, 115 DRA+ in 2618 tIP, but Ferrell could hit.

Amos Rusie, 2851 tIP, 128 DRA+ - better than Fingers on both ends, but he had a little room to spare, right?

Coveleski, 2854 tIP, 128 DRA+

Rube Waddell, 2455 tIP, 129 DRA+

Three-Finger Brown, 2822 tIP, 118 DRA+ - Fingers beats him pretty easily.

Bob Lemon? 2913 tIP, 110 DRA+ - not close, but does the hitting (76 RaR) make up for that much pitching edge?

Clark Griffith? 118 DRA+ 2676 tIP.

Iron Man McGinnity? 117 DRA+, 2900 tIP.

Fingers can definitely hang with these guys, at the bottom of the Hall of Merit.

I also give relievers a little boost (15-20%), because I believe it's a valuable position, and I'd like to induct more than 2.5 of them (Wilhelm, Goose and 1/2 of Eck) before we are finished, just like I'd like to induct more than the 8-10 or so catchers pure numbers say we should induct.

I still think Fingers is a fairly easy choice. He's defensible by the pure numbers (I have him above Waddell, Brown, Lemon and Iron Man) without any boost (other than leverage).
   72. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 27, 2006 at 11:58 PM (#2269651)
The way I see it, Fingers is behind the top 2, but he's closer to them than he is #5 Sutter, who kind of leads the 'pack' of relievers.

So to me, that 'separation' is what puts Fingers in - shows he was a 'great reliever'. Lee Smith to me is going to be the tricky one - he's between Fingers and Sutter - to me, that's the real tweener, no Fingers. To show the top 20 list again:

Reliever   PennAdd
Wilhelm     .898
Gossage     .893
Fingers     .796
Smith       .728
Sutter      .634
Miller
,S    .625
McGraw      .595
McDaniel    .595
Tekulve     .572
Hiller      .550
Face        .530
Marshall    .505
Quisenberry .476
Stanley     .441
Perranoski  .414
Lyle        .404
McMahon     .399
Lavelle     .398
Garber      .389
Brewer      .375 


Fingers (#3) is as far ahead of Sutter (#5) as Sutter is ahead of Quisenberry (#13). That to me is the difference between in and out. Smith to me is right around that line . . .
   73. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 28, 2006 at 12:02 AM (#2269653)
And I guess what I'm saying is that in the Hall of Fame, the only way I can see justifying the Sutter election is induct Gossage and Lee Smith pretty-quickly. I'm a 'big Hall' guy I guess, and I can live with Sutter being the "Mendoza-line" of Hall of Fame relievers, if they also induct Stu Miller.

I really think Lee Smith is the one that should be the low-bar though, not Sutter.
   74. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: December 28, 2006 at 06:15 PM (#2270005)
Three-Finger Brown, 2822 tIP, 118 DRA+ - Fingers beats him pretty easily.

Just a nit-pick. Didn't Brown have a lot of highly leveraged relief innings that should boost him upwards? Moreso than the others mentioned, I think. I wasn't around for that discussion, so I might be wrong about it.
   75. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 28, 2006 at 10:27 PM (#2270302)
Didn't Brown have a lot of highly leveraged relief innings that should boost him upwards? Moreso than the others mentioned, I think. I wasn't around for that discussion, so I might be wrong about it.


Dr. C - Yes . . . and I've accounted for that already. He threw 431.3 of his 3172.3 innings in relief, at an estimated LI of 1.30.

For his career he was 29-20, with 49 saves in 149 relief games.

My ratings account for relief innings for all pitchers using Palmer's formula for estimating LI, which is 9*(rW+rL+(.25*SV))/IP.

In his prime Brown's LI's were about 1.3-1.8, but the career average is brought down some by 1905, 1914 and 1916, where he wasn't used in as many key spots. He finished 138 of the 149 games he relieved in, so I don't think it was just that he wasn't getting decisions those years.

I look at everything year by year, not in terms of career totals, so he's definitely getting proper credit for his relief work.
   76. Joey Numbaz (Scruff) Posted: December 28, 2006 at 10:47 PM (#2270324)
Just a note, I only use that formula from 1876-1959 . . . from 1960-2006 I use the LI numbers on BPro.
   77. Paul Wendt Posted: September 28, 2008 at 02:38 PM (#2959146)
One theme of this thread concerns InHerited Runner Stops, continued from somewhere else. -- evidently Joe Dimino's data and Joe Dimino's arguments for Rollie Fingers. For example see #24-27, espy Cobb and Menckel.
   78. Paul Wendt Posted: September 28, 2008 at 02:40 PM (#2959147)
What are the other sources for that data and discussion?

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