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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke says his team has no closer

Brewers: Closer-by-committed.

That sound you hear is a million devotees of sabermetrics cheering Brewers manager Ron Roenicke.

Roenicke wouldn’t call Jim Henderson his “closer,” but he did say Henderson would get the call when the Brewers needed an out the most.

From MLB.com:

  “I don’t want to say that he’s our closer, but he’s going to be in there,” Roenicke said. “If it’s tongiht and there’s a closing situation, it will probably be him. I don’t want to say that it will definitely be him, but it will probably be him.

  “The problem is, the game may be won or lost in the seventh inning, and if I feel like Henderson is the best guy to stop that right then, maybe he’s in the seventh. If I wait to get to the ninth, we may not even get to the ninth.”

That’s what the so-called “stat geeks” have been saying for years about closer usage—use your best bullpen arm when it matters the most, or in other words, in the highest leverage situations.

The Brewers have blown 22 saves this season, with John Axford and Francisco Rodriguez having served as the team’s closer before Henderson’s gotten the call in the ninth recently.

Repoz Posted: August 11, 2012 at 09:36 PM | 39 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: brewers

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   1. Mayor Blomberg Posted: August 11, 2012 at 09:43 PM (#4206558)
I wish my team had a lot of pitchers capable of blowing saves the way the Brewers do.
   2. Tripon Posted: August 11, 2012 at 10:12 PM (#4206572)
I don't really give a hoot about closer vs. non-closer. The real issue is that if you're going to use a bullpen, is that you fill it up with as many quality arms as possible.
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 11, 2012 at 11:18 PM (#4206613)
Imagine there's no closer
Its easy if you try
No saves to blow tonight
A game that ends in a tie
   4. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: August 11, 2012 at 11:39 PM (#4206620)
I have no son. Er, closer.
   5. Tricky Dick Posted: August 12, 2012 at 12:19 AM (#4206636)
Well, Henderson gave up the Astros' walk off hit in today's game.
   6. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: August 12, 2012 at 12:20 AM (#4206637)
Funny how the best situation many times is to have a "name" closer who is good (and gets paid the big bucks) but the heavy lifting is done by more talented (and cheaper, often younger) middle relievers who come in when the game actually hangs in the balance.
   7. dirk Posted: August 12, 2012 at 01:30 AM (#4206646)
Funny how the best situation many times is to have a "name" closer who is good (and gets paid the big bucks) but the heavy lifting is done by more talented (and cheaper, often younger) middle relievers who come in when the game actually hangs in the balance.


very true.
   8.     Hey Gurl Posted: August 12, 2012 at 01:34 AM (#4206647)
If I wait to get to the ninth, we may not even get to the ninth.


How completely logical. It's so bizarre that this is a revelation.
   9. Nasty Nate Posted: August 12, 2012 at 12:57 PM (#4206766)
Funny how the best situation many times is to have a "name" closer who is good (and gets paid the big bucks) but the heavy lifting is done by more talented (and cheaper, often younger) middle relievers who come in when the game actually hangs in the balance.


But in these situations you don't see the set up guy(s) pitch in the 9th protecting a 1-run lead after the starter goes 8.
   10. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 12, 2012 at 01:35 PM (#4206789)
bit bothered it took ron 4.5 months to determine the bullpen is an issue
   11. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 12, 2012 at 01:55 PM (#4206794)
But in these situations you don't see the set up guy(s) pitch in the 9th protecting a 1-run lead after the starter goes 8.


But if you did, then the set up guy(s) would be the closer(s)!

On a more serious note, the point of the dominant current bullpen usage pattern isn't that managers really think the "name" closer is always the best option just because it's the ninth inning. It's equal parts having defined roles and maximizing the day-to-day availability of all of your best relievers. If we're going to criticize, then we should be arguing (and hopefully demonstrating) that the benefits of a different usage pattern would outweigh the benefits of the current approach. As opposed to just calling 30 managers idiots for being slaves to the save rule. Even if that's true, it's not necessarily a compelling argument for doing anything differently.
   12. Walt Davis Posted: August 12, 2012 at 05:43 PM (#4206900)
#11: Your request seems reasonable -- and yet there's been no such evidence supporting the current usage. One difficulty of arguing against tradition or orthodoxy is nobody has laid out the criteria by which the orthodox has been judged effecive. That is nobody has ever demonstrated the existence of a closer mentality or the benefit of set roles and yet you're asking folks to show that a different approach would have more benefit.

Anyway ... the following strike me as common-sensical:

a) 8th inning, you've got a 1-run lead, they have men on 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. This seems like a time when you'd like to have your best* reliever in the game.

b) In the 9th inning, they have up Heyward, Chipper and Freeman. 2 LHB and a switch-hitter -- seems a good time for a lefty** not your righty closer.

c) In the 8th inning, they have Trout, Harper, Pujols and (if anybody reaches) Trumbo due up. This seems like a time when you'd like to have your best reliever in the game rather than hoping you survive the 8th so you can use your best reliever to pitch to Morales, Callaspo and Aybar (not that those guys are easy outs exactly).

d) Tie game on the road, heading to the bottom of the 9th and the reliever who pitched the 8th is done for the day. Seems like a time for your best reliever to maximize your chances of making it to the 10th.

I agree with your implication that we can't just assume that firemen can give us multiple innings and throw 110 innings a year without risk and loss of performance. But we can -- and some folks have -- show that there are lots of high leverage situations where managers don't seem to be making optimal decisions.

* "best" varying based on fatigue, handedness, etc.

** Assuming your lefty is any good.
   13. Spahn Insane Posted: August 12, 2012 at 06:02 PM (#4206907)
I nominate this headline for this year's "No $hit" award.
   14. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 12, 2012 at 06:27 PM (#4206926)
That is nobody has ever demonstrated the existence of a closer mentality or the benefit of set roles and yet you're asking folks to show that a different approach would have more benefit.


Not exactly. What I'm saying is that we can measure how effective current usage is without concerning ourselves with whether it is effective for the reasons it is believed to be effective. Then we can argue that a proposed alternative usage would add a certain amount of effectiveness above that for whatever reasons we think it would.

we can -- and some folks have -- show that there are lots of high leverage situations where managers don't seem to be making optimal decisions


No doubt. But the question remains: how much do these suboptimal decisions add up to in "wins left on the table" (as it was put in the other bullpen thread) over the course of a season, when considering the possibility of reduced availability and/or effectiveness of your best reliever(s) under the new paradigm?
   15. Walt Davis Posted: August 12, 2012 at 09:07 PM (#4206972)
But the question remains: how much do these suboptimal decisions add up to in "wins left on the table" (as it was put in the other bullpen thread) over the course of a season, when considering the possibility of reduced availability and/or effectiveness of your best reliever(s) under the new paradigm?

a) there's no a priori reason to expect reduced availability or effectiveness in a "leverage-based" model -- you can still keep everybody throwing 1 inning at a time, usually not pitching more than 2 days in a row. Reduced availability/effectiveness only comes into play if you're talking about relievers frequently going more than one inning.

b) how can you measure availability and effectiveness if everybody is doing things the same way? You've only got two options that I see. (1) use data from earlier eras with different usage -- major assumptions involved; (2) pool those rare instances where teams are forced to deviate from their preferred pattern -- which simply by being rare means there may be tons of other factors involved.

I think (a) has been shown -- that lots of situations exist where you should want your best reliever in but managers aren't putting their (apparently perceived) best reliever in.* How many wins does it add up to? How many wins does any single thing in baseball add up to? Everything seems "small" -- rarely on a magnitude of more than 1-2 wins. Easily countered by "but we lose the benefit of set roles" or some other bit of mumbo jumbo. This is why it is crucial that the benefit of the accepted mumbo jumbo needs to be demonstrated before you can truly successfully counter it.

That is, (a) has been shown under (implicit or explicit) assumptions that there is no benefit from "set roles" and that "closer mentality" doesn't exist. And I don't think there's any other way to test (a) unless some teams start doing things differently. If pitching the 9th with a 2-3 run lead really is something that only about 20% of relievers are good at you probably would be nuts to move a closer out of his role. If shifting a guy out of his set 8th inning role to coming into the game anytime after the 5th increases his "true" ERA by half a run, then it probably would be a bad idea to shift away from set roles.

If you go into it assuming there is a benefit from the (non-empirical) accepted mumbo jumbo you've largely already lost the argument.

I will say that I don't think I've seen anybody go through a few team/seasons on a game-by-game basis to try to adjust for tired bullpens, etc -- although really lots of us have done this "naturally" in DMB. To do that enough times would take a lot of time though.

Don't get me wrong -- I almost kinda agree with you. Those who advocate a return to the 100-140 IP fireman model have to be able to demonstrate maintained short and long-term effectiveness (or, easier, at least show that current usage leads to as much reliever variance and injury as the fireman era had).

Hmmm ... poking around the Angels seem to be alternating saves between Frieri and Downs yet nobody seems to be howling about their closer by committee. Angels fans -- is that a L/R thing or a Scioscia gut thing or what?

* All of this proposed analysis relying on the identification of the "best" reliever in given situations plus who the manager perceives as best. Basically, did managers really think Joe Borowski was their best reliever or did they just plop him in the closer's role by default? Was that based on a belief in "closer mentality"?
   16. Spahn Insane Posted: August 12, 2012 at 10:05 PM (#4206993)
Basically, did managers really think Joe Borowski was their best reliever or did they just plop him in the closer's role by default?

As I remember it, he was the Cub middle reliever who was pitching best when Alfonseca imploded, so he got the role by default.
   17. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: August 12, 2012 at 10:38 PM (#4207004)
If you go into it assuming there is a benefit from the (non-empirical) accepted mumbo jumbo you've largely already lost the argument.


I still don't know why you think this is what I'm doing or suggesting. All I'm saying is that we have a current status quo where bullpens are largely run in a specific way and we know precisely how effective this usage pattern has been on a league-wide basis over a number of seasons. In other words, we have a pretty good baseline that we can measure the effect of changing the usage pattern against. Either empirically should some team really start doing things differently for a significant length of time, or theoretically.

I will say that I don't think I've seen anybody go through a few team/seasons on a game-by-game basis to try to adjust for tired bullpens, etc -- although really lots of us have done this "naturally" in DMB. To do that enough times would take a lot of time though.


Isn't there a guy or two who post here regularly and have blogs of there own who can run 10,000 DMB simulated seasons in a day or so?
   18. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 12, 2012 at 11:01 PM (#4207016)
What is the big problem with using your best relievers in according to the game situation and not according to the inning?
   19. MM1f Posted: August 13, 2012 at 03:00 AM (#4207052)
What is the big problem with using your best relievers in according to the game situation and not according to the inning?


Braves relievers of the mid-00s (when Leo Mazzone made guys like Alfonseca, Darren Holmes, Chris Hammond and Kevin Gryboski look like Trevor Hoffman) often credited their success to the fact that they "knew their role." That they knew they were the 7th inning guy, 8th inning guy, ect.

I would want to always use my best relievers in the toughest jams, no matter the inning, but its silly to completely dismiss that assigning guys to specific roles might help their performance
   20. MM1f Posted: August 13, 2012 at 03:03 AM (#4207053)
Also, damn, your bullpen is ###### if some 29 year old rookie, who was posting a 5.50 ERA while repeating AA as a 27 year old, is now your sort-of closer.
   21. Walt Davis Posted: August 13, 2012 at 05:42 AM (#4207064)
Isn't there a guy or two who post here regularly and have blogs of there own who can run 10,000 DMB simulated seasons in a day or so?

Unless it has added a lot of flexibility since the last time I played it (which was several years ago), there's no way to force the DMB manager to make optimal decisions within a game. I've seen it send up pitchers to bat with 2 outs in the 9th down by 1 because apparently all the hitters it had left were ahead of their playing time limits.

Isn't there a guy or two who post here regularly and have blogs of there own who can run 10,000 DMB simulated seasons in a day or so?

I meant more why he got the role again later. Especially that season in Cleveland with 45 saves and the ERA over 5. Did they really think he was a better pitcher than Betancourt, Perez and Lewis ... or did they think he was a better pitcher but he had closer magic but the others didn't ... or did they think those guys were better and the closer job was eeasier?

He had a similar but better season in Fla the year before but that was generally just a poor bullpen so he might have been the best reliever.

I still don't know why you think this is what I'm doing or suggesting.

I'm trying to say that what you're suggesting isn't likely to be effective. I could walk in with some lovely analysis showing that following my brilliant plan would save a team 15 runs. And the team would likely respond with something like:

Our relievers often credit their success to the fact that they "knew their role."

And what can I say other than "I don't buy that and I assumed that makes no difference."

To demonstrate that whatever brilliant strategy I have (call it Y) is more effective than existing strategy (call it X), I have to test Y while maintaining X which is kind of impossible if a key point of Y is getting rid of X. I don't knwo what we lose if we get rid of X so how can I advise somebody on whether they should replace X with Y?

That was a point I was trying to make earlier. The "fireman" model gets rid of innings limits (in-game and seasonal) and, to a certain extent, set roles (the firemen usually did finish the game). A "leverage" or "optimal" model needs to only get rid of set roles. If a team believes set roles don't matter, then you've got a shot to show them a more optimal way. Or if the more optimal way is esimated to reduce RA by 50 runs or something extreme then it's pretty safe to assume it's worth changing. But I seriusly doubt that -- and the things I vageuly recall seeing don't show anything like that. The models around the realistic optimizations of lineups yield maybe 2 extra wins, it's hard to imagine that optimal management of 500 innings of pitching could have much more effect than that.

I have spent a lot of my life doing statistical consulting and one thing you often have to do is (a) get the client to explain and defend why they've done what they've done; (b) what they hope to accomplish by coming to me; and (c) establish the criteria by which success needs to be judged.

In other words, we have a pretty good baseline

Sorry I've rambled on and am about to repeat myself but hopefully this may be more clear.

It's not a good baseline if removing set roles costs a team 10 runs and I have no way to know that and incorporate it into my model. Baselines work in the sense of "keeping everything the same as the baseline but increasing this by Z leads to ..." But we won't be keeping everything the same as the baseline so if the things we remove matter, we're in trouble.

It's the same with the lineup optimisers. They assume events are independent (e.g. protection), they assume clutch hitting doesn't exist or there aren't magical RBI men, they assume average opposition pitching, they don't account for fatigue, etc.

What you're asking for can be done and I think has been done in that lineup optimisation way. It just doesn't really answer the question any better than "don't you want your best reliever facing Trout, Hunter, Pujols and Trumbo in the 8th rather than hoping he gets to face Morales, Callaspo, Aybar and Kendrick in the 9th?" I don't think I need simulations to win that argument, I think all I need is someone who doesn't believe in closer magic.
   22. Howie Menckel Posted: August 13, 2012 at 06:40 AM (#4207068)
I think one more optimal situation that might work, even granting RPs loving "roles," is the one where the "closer" is used with leads of 1 and 2 runs and tie games when feasible - instead of 1-2-3 runs. Then you let anyone else close the 3-run leads.

The 1970s featured the Rolaids fireman award. I think at first it was SV + W, then maybe also -L. Still primitive, but idea was that RP wins mattered, too. Nowadays some great closers never win a game (or have much of a chance to), and there's no sense of "credit" for it even if he enters in a tie game and the team wins. But that can change.
The other piece here is that other decent RPs get a SV bone tossed to them at times. That's a model not ignoring the "human" part at all. Almost like one of those 'lucky hats,' or what have you, that teams will informally hand out post-game as 'star of the day' as a way to keep things fun.
   23. Cooper Nielson Posted: August 13, 2012 at 07:17 AM (#4207070)
Braves relievers of the mid-00s (when Leo Mazzone made guys like Alfonseca, Darren Holmes, Chris Hammond and Kevin Gryboski look like Trevor Hoffman) often credited their success to the fact that they "knew their role." That they knew they were the 7th inning guy, 8th inning guy, ect.

I have no doubt these guys believed this was true, but I don't see it as compelling evidence. After all, there have been hundreds of counter-examples of relievers who have "known their roles" and have still sucked. There have also been role-less relievers who have excelled.

When you're pitching 50-60 innings per year, it's pretty easy to have small-sample-size flukes. Good pitchers can have bad/off years (Mariano Rivera had a 3.15 ERA in 2007, right in the middle of 8 years of sub-2.00 ERAs) and mediocre pitchers can have great years (Chris Hammond). Those Braves guys probably got some good coaching, but they also might have been lucky.

John Axford had been an excellent reliever for three straight years (including the minors), he "knew his role" coming into this year, and yet he has still been terrible. Such is the reliever's lot. I wouldn't be surprised if he's excellent next year, whatever role he ends up in, and I'm rooting for him.
   24. bobm Posted: August 13, 2012 at 07:55 AM (#4207080)
[15] If pitching the 9th with a 2-3 run lead really is something that only about 20% of relievers are good at you probably would be nuts to move a closer out of his role.

The Book covered this extensively for the 3-run save:

Here we are, in the information age, and the managers still operate almost exclusively on instincts. Instincts are valuable if you don't have all the data and time you need to make a decision. Your experience and wisdom will control your decisions when your instincts need to be kicked in. But, the three-run lead? You have plenty of time to formulate your thinking. And, there's plenty of data to assist. Let's take a look at some. ...


http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2006/baseball/mlb/04/17/thebook.excerpt/index.html
   25. Belfry Bob Posted: August 13, 2012 at 07:59 AM (#4207082)
The story headline connects me with Laurence Olivier hissing to Neil Diamond in the inexplicable remake of 'The Jazz Singer'...

'I HAV no son!'
   26. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 13, 2012 at 08:17 AM (#4207088)
what really derailed the brewers season wasn't axford as much as it was rodriguez and veras. yes axford has been bad and blown multiple saves. but rodriguez and veras were placed in low leverage situations and made them high leverage thanks to walks and home runs. ron was adamant that everyone 'stay in their role' and 'work their way out of it' and by the time he recognized that this approach wasn't working the brewers season was lost

many brewer fans at various blogs insist the entire bullpen was horrid and ron had no options. i believe otherwise. i think ron was slow to push his starters, too willing to yank guys a la yost and insert a questionable reliever into a situation where said reliever would have a meltdown. this situation built on itself so that the entire bullpen soon was aflame.

melvin should have cut frankie, elevated some nashville guys and optioned ax to triple a. johnny is a solid citizen and would have handled it ok and cutting frankie would have clearly told everyone that playing in the majors is a meritocracy.

understand that i despise rodriguez' style of pitching and consider him a horrible influence on others around him as the entire bullpen became a pack of nibblers. i lost track at 5031 the number of 0-2 and 1-2 counts that became 3-2 with this bunch

i am hopeful ron learns from this debacle.

and this reinforces with me for the 1000th time that the single greatest tactical skill that a manager must have in 21st century baseball is bullpen management.
   27. Boileryard Posted: August 13, 2012 at 12:23 PM (#4207237)
Braves relievers of the mid-00s (when Leo Mazzone made guys like Alfonseca, Darren Holmes, Chris Hammond and Kevin Gryboski look like Trevor Hoffman) often credited their success to the fact that they "knew their role." That they knew they were the 7th inning guy, 8th inning guy, ect.

Going with the sabermetric approach (for lack of a better term) to bullpen management wouldn't eliminate roles -- it would merely redefine them. A team's ace reliever would still know when he's likely to enter a ballgame, as would the team's next-best guys. Instead of having roles defined by innings and save situations, they would be determined by the game situation. For pitchers who are long or middle relievers, their roles probably wouldn't change that much, if at all.

The shift away from the save as a meaningful statistic is what makes this approach seem like a radical idea to some. In terms of the actual changes in reliever usage patterns, however, I don't think the changes are that dramatic. I don't see why relievers couldn't still "know their roles" with this type of approach.
   28. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 13, 2012 at 12:40 PM (#4207255)
I would want to always use my best relievers in the toughest jams, no matter the inning, but its silly to completely dismiss that assigning guys to specific roles might help their performance


And I think it's silly to conclude that roles help; certainly there's been presented no evidence to that effect. Relievers whining about roles is not the same thing.

And in my system, their "role" would be "pitch whenever the damned manager calls your name. If you're good he'll call it more often in critical situations."
   29. PreservedFish Posted: August 13, 2012 at 01:18 PM (#4207277)
I don't disbelieve that having set roles can be helpful to pitchers, not only psychologically but also physically, by easing and standardizing their warmup routines and probably other ways I haven't considered.

I also believe that a good manager could instill in his best relievers a sense of pride and accomplishment tied to the fact that they are roleless, that they pitch whenever the team needs them most.

That salaries are tied to saves is a significant hurdle, though. An experimental bullpen would be best tried with young or unaccomplished pitchers. Unfortunately this typically means that they're not very good, that they'll fail, and that the scheme will be blamed.
   30. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 13, 2012 at 01:30 PM (#4207286)
brewer relievers cannot point to lack of compensation as a concern. rodriguez was making i think 8 million, veras signed a healthy contract and axford was just upped for good money. and all 3 of them threw up on themselves so many times you would have thought they were daring max von sydow to perform an exorcism
   31. Nasty Nate Posted: August 13, 2012 at 01:34 PM (#4207287)
That salaries are tied to saves is a significant hurdle, though.


I don't think it's that big of a hurdle. Salaries are definitely tied to being the closer versus not being the closer, but not necessarily by the number of saves accrued. I think a closer who was given 75% of a team's save chances (and used in tie games) instead of 98% of the saves would still command the same salary.
   32. PreservedFish Posted: August 13, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4207296)
I think a closer who was given 75% of a team's save chances (and used in tie games) instead of 98% of the saves would still command the same salary.


That's probably true, but I'm not sure. (Saves may be the most important number in arbitration hearings, for all I know). I do think it would be a sticking point if you took a veteran guy and told him that from now on he'd probably only save 25 games a season (and win 5+). I mean, some closers probably judge themselves by saves. If you keep the average closer on the bench for a 3-run save situation, he probably feels a bit butthurt.

Then you get the weirdos like Billy Wagner that just broadcast to everyone that they are uncomfortable pitching in non-save situations.

These aren't deal breakers, just extra things to consider...
   33. Nasty Nate Posted: August 13, 2012 at 01:49 PM (#4207306)
That's probably true, but I'm not sure. (Saves may be the most important number in arbitration hearings, for all I know).


Good point. I wasn't considering arbitration, only free agent contracts.

Then you get the weirdos like Billy Wagner that just broadcast to everyone that they are uncomfortable pitching in non-save situations.


This brings to mind how supposedly the psychology and mentality of closers is what sets them apart. And then the closer not being comfortable pitching in non-save situations is used as justification for not using them in tie games on the road - which would imply that their psychology is a weakness and not a strength. But then the same closer will be used in tie games at home, as if his mentality is somehow suited to pitching in tie games at home but unsuited for tie games on the road. These retroactive psychological justifications are obviously just contortions to avoid acknowledging that managers are managing with the save stat being a high priority. This leads many to be highly skeptical (rightly or wrongly) of other psychological justifications such as the "clearly defined role" benefit.
   34. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: August 13, 2012 at 02:06 PM (#4207321)
john axford has been horrendous in non-save situations as closer

as a middle reliever, if you will, he was quite good

so ron stuck him back as closer and kaplooey

nobody asked me but i think john got messed up due to the birth of his child earlier this season and has never gotten his head totally back into the game

not stating this to be critical of john for being a new dad, just that i think it's contributed to his inability to work out of his funk

if stan musial can have a rotten season because he couldn't get any sleep due to a sick child john trying to help with the newborn is just as plausible

frankie stinks because he used up all his pixie dust last season when batters swung at balls in the dirt for strike 3 and 7/8th of the hard hit shots went to brewer gloves
   35. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 13, 2012 at 02:27 PM (#4207334)
And I think it's silly to conclude that roles help; certainly there's been presented no evidence to that effect. Relievers whining about roles is not the same thing.


I feel like I've asked this question a lot recently about various topics, but what possible "evidence" could there ever be about this, other than what the relievers themselves say? Double-blinded trial? Case-control study?
   36. SOLockwood Posted: August 13, 2012 at 02:46 PM (#4207347)
I find it hard to believe that a relative lack of saves would affect arbitration that much. If the team raised the issue in the hearing, it would be fairly simple for the player's agent to submit an exhibit consisting of news stories, etc. demonstrating that the usage pattern was explicit team policy. Then point to the player's success rate in the opportunities he did receive and QED.
   37. Boileryard Posted: August 13, 2012 at 04:50 PM (#4207465)
If a significant number of teams ditched the closer role and the importance of saves diminished, I imagine other statistics would be emphasized during contract negotiations and arbitration hearings. Even if there was an initial drop in the salaries of top relievers due to the loss of save opportunities, players and agents would quickly adjust. There would still be prestige in being the #1 guy in a bullpen.

On the subject of roles, I've never viewed the debate over bullpen usage as being between defined and undefined roles. To me it's always been about how roles should be defined, not whether they should be. Unless a team's relievers are completely interchangeable or the manager makes pitching changes randomly, a bullpen will have roles. Regardless of whether a manager employs a conventional bullpen strategy or a more sabermetric one, some relievers will be more likely to enter the game at particular times than other relievers. If a reliever feels he does not have a clearly defined role, I think that has more to do with how the manager communicates with his players than the bullpen strategy being implemented.
   38. Ray (RDP) Posted: August 13, 2012 at 05:33 PM (#4207504)
And I think it's silly to conclude that roles help; certainly there's been presented no evidence to that effect. Relievers whining about roles is not the same thing.

I feel like I've asked this question a lot recently about various topics, but what possible "evidence" could there ever be about this, other than what the relievers themselves say? Double-blinded trial? Case-control study?


First, the burden to provide evidence is on those claiming that defined roles help.

That said, you could compare expected performance by relievers in defined roles vs. not.
   39. PreservedFish Posted: August 13, 2012 at 06:01 PM (#4207531)
Oh Ray.

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NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - November 2014
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NewsblogOT: Wrestling Thread November 2014
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