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Thursday, March 07, 2013

Mariano Rivera Plans To Retire After 2013 Season

It seems Mariano Rivera will call it a career after one last season in the Bronx.

The Yankees have a press conference scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, when Rivera will announce his intentions to retire after the 2013 season, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

The legendary closer promised last month he’d let us all in on his decision before Opening Day.

“Always possible private Rivera decides to change mind at last sec,” tweeted Sherman, “but time and room are booked for his retirement announcement.”

Thanks to Doug.

Repoz Posted: March 07, 2013 at 02:29 PM | 320 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: yankees

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   201. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 01:35 PM (#4384072)
Yes, relievers are pitchers. You are essentially saying they are not.

No, he's saying the best RP are much less talented and valuable than the best SP.

This is obviously true if you look at contracts closers get vs. SP, or trades. No one ever trades an above average SP for a closer.
   202. Ok, Griffey's Dunn (Nothing Iffey About Griffey) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 01:38 PM (#4384077)
Dropping the cutoff to 50ip, Mo falls to a tie for 3rd.

The top 5:

Kimbrel - 160ip, 269
Al Alburquerque - 56.2ip, 264
Mo - 1219.2ip, 206
Robby Ross - 65ip, 206

and

Mike Crudale - 73ip, 197
   203. Spectral Posted: March 08, 2013 at 01:39 PM (#4384078)
The idea of snipping out a chunk of a player's career that's equal in innings to another player's entire career and using that to draw any conclusion at all is absolutely bizarre to me. That's not just cherrypicking, it's like a defining example of cherrypicking.

I'm fine with someone saying that comparing Rivera's ability to prevent runs to a starting pitcher is basically a pointless exercise, that's a reasonable view. That just leaves us concluding that he's the best reliever ever by a wide margin, but can't be compared to starting to starting pitchers.

I don't know if there's another person alive that buys into Ray's argument that the 140 innings pitched by Rivera in the playoffs is both irrelevant and insufficient to draw any conclusions about true talent level. I guess I could go run the statistics, but I'd bet quite a bit that Rivera's postseason performance is likely to be a statistically significant difference from his regular season performance at about a 0.001 P value.

   204. SM Posted: March 08, 2013 at 01:48 PM (#4384089)
If you're drafting players with 100% foresight, and 20 y.o. Rivera and Pettitte are available, who do you take?

I take Pettitte every time. Hell, I take 5 of him to fill my rotation before I draft Rivera. It's just not that hard to find very good relievers.


I think this was an excellent point. I think Pettitte was a better pitcher than Rivera and had a better career. I don't think Pettitte is a Hall-of-Famer. So therefore....
   205. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 01:49 PM (#4384091)
No, he's saying the best RP are much less talented and valuable than the best SP.

And I am saying there is no data whatsoever supporting the "less talented" part when it comes to preventing the other team from scoring on a rate basis. Value no one here is arguing, it's not relevant beyond setting an IP cut off point. You can debate where that point should be, bbref has arbitrarily picked 1k, but if you purposely set out to exclude relievers with the cut off point you are essentially saying they are not pitchers as the should never be included, even when discussing rate basis performance.
   206. GuyM Posted: March 08, 2013 at 01:52 PM (#4384096)
Then you purposely NOT figuring out who was the best "pitcher" you are figuring out who was the best starter. Yes, relievers are pitchers. You are essentially saying they are not.

No, I'm saying that relievers are not among the very best pitchers. If I ask, "who was the greatest strikeout pitcher in baseball history?" are you really going to answer "Brad Lidge"? (tied with Billy Wagner for top K/9) I guess you can if you want. But most people will say Randy Johnson or Nolan Ryan (or maybe Walter Johnson if you believe in making aggressive era adjustments). At a career level, I'm just not going to consider anyone with less than 2,000 IP in that kind of discussion. And even if you want to discuss peak, you still have to have a separate discussion for relievers. One simple example: John Smoltz was 7.9 K/9 as a starter, but 9.6 K/9 in relief (as an old man!).

Is this really controversial?
   207. SoSH U at work Posted: March 08, 2013 at 01:52 PM (#4384097)
but to date I have not seen a single one of them actually penalize a player for poor postseason play. It's intellectually dishonest.


That's primarily becuase you only hear what you want to hear. I think Posada's poor postseason record damages his HoF case, which is definitely borderline.

As I said, repeatedly, postseason play is not extra credit, which is the mistake you keep making. It's more information about a player's career.

Now, with pitchers, there's some need to account for the fact that the extra innings do count against their shoulders and elbows. Considering Pettitte's postseason work as part of an overall assessment of his career, I'd tend to just add the innings to his body of work. He wasn't any better in the playoffs than he was in the regular season, but the playoffs give his career a little more heft because those pitches were thrown in anger. They shouldn't simply be ignored because Roy Halladay was on some beach someplace where his right shoulder was safe from harm.

   208. Nasty Nate Posted: March 08, 2013 at 01:54 PM (#4384098)
...but if you purposely set out to exclude relievers with the cut off point you are essentially saying they are not pitchers as the should never be included, even when discussing rate basis performance.


I think this is a little strong. Relievers are purposely excluded by the IP threshold when deciding rate state "leaders" for individual seasons.

However, this does not mean that people claim things like Kimbrel WASN'T better than Tim Hudson on a rate basis in 2012.
   209. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 01:59 PM (#4384107)
(2) Mariano was an unimpressive starter in 1995, but (as pointed out previously) he learned the pitch that turned him into a HoFer in 1997.

As of that point, Mariano regularly threw 3 pitches (depending on your definition of pitches): a cutter, a 2-seam fastball and a 4-seam fastball. And it stands to reason that he could have included an off-speed pitch if he had been pushed back to starting, but that was not a decision that the Yankees were willing (or chose) to make.


So the argument is that he could have succeeded in a much more difficult role (starting) that he had already failed at, and he could have succeeded using a different style -- including actually learning another pitch. I find that wildly absurd to believe.
   210. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:03 PM (#4384112)
The idea of snipping out a chunk of a player's career that's equal in innings to another player's entire career and using that to draw any conclusion at all is absolutely bizarre to me. That's not just cherrypicking, it's like a defining example of cherrypicking.


No, it's pointing out that other pitchers had stretches the same or better than Rivera's entire career -- while pitching in a more difficult role.

But they are lower than him in career ERA+ because they pitched thousands more innings.
   211. GuyM Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:06 PM (#4384115)
I don't see the point in arguing about whether Rivera or Wagner or whomever could have succeeded as a starter. Teams need relievers, so the role/position has value. The important point is that replacement level for relievers is much higher, i.e. it's much easier to get good performance from relievers. Therefore, the same rate performance from a reliever is much less valuable.
   212. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:06 PM (#4384116)
By a rough calculation Mariano is 46th all time in runs saved versus average
Whilhelm 27th
Eckersley 95th
Wagner 107th
Gossage 123rd
Tekulve 135th
Franco 141st
Quiz 155th
Hoffman 163rd
Hiller 165th
Lee Smith 168th
Lyle 174th
Fingers 190th
Sutter 194
Orosco 201st
   213. Spectral Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:08 PM (#4384119)
No, it's pointing out that other pitchers had stretches the same or better than Rivera's entire career


Right. Cherrypicking. Choosing to look at what someone did when they were at their pinnacle and comparing it to the entirety of a separate sample is either a stupid thing to do a willfully dishonest thing to do.
   214. SoSH U at work Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:09 PM (#4384121)
By a rough calculation Mariano is 46th all time in runs saved versus average
Whilhelm 27th


Not coincidentally, Mo and Hoyt are the only relievers who belong in the Hall.

   215. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:10 PM (#4384122)
Right. Cherrypicking. Choosing to look at what someone did when they were at their pinnacle and comparing it to the entirety of a separate sample is either a stupid thing to do a willfully dishonest thing to do.


Why? I'm not seeing it.
   216. Spectral Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:10 PM (#4384124)
Try applying your logic in any other statistical setting where there's two different sample sizes, let me know if anyone buys it.
   217. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:17 PM (#4384127)
? The sample size is the same. ~1200 innings.

"Cherrypicking" is not always bad, so it's bizarre that you think it is. It depends what the exercise is, what the purpose is, and what one is trying to show. Cherrypicking to show that there are samples available for cherrypicking is perfectly valid -- indeed, it's precisely the point of the exercise. The cherrypicking is to show that other pitchers had a 200 ERA+ in the same sample. It is the entire point.
   218. Spectral Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:18 PM (#4384130)
I really hope you don't do anything that involves thinking scientifically for a living. Ignoring massive amounts of data in order to match sample sizes, and picking a set of data that fits a desired belief is exactly what cherrypicking is as a logical fallacy. Your approach to this question is completely invalid, and that's not a matter of opinion.
   219. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:19 PM (#4384131)
I think Pettitte was a better pitcher than Rivera.

Why? He wasn't as good at pitching. He was not as good over many more innings however and while that is valuable does that really make him "better"? I don't see anyone questioning Pettitte's humanity in awed tones. This seems to be coming down to the old quantity vs quality debate that really has nothing to do with baseball. If there was some magic pitcher that was able to pitch 100 years and was mediocre but he got the playing time to shatter the counting stats records including WAR would he then be the "best" pitcher ever despite never being what anyone would describe as even good(much less god like Rivera) at any particular moment? Or really when it comes down to it we can divorce this debate from baseball altogether. You don't consider the "best" thing you've eaten to be the thing you've eaten the most that you enjoy at least somewhat. That's not how the word is generally used. We've come down to throwing statistics at what is in the end a question of semantics.
   220. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:22 PM (#4384135)
You don't consider the "best" thing you've eaten to be the thing you've eaten the most that you enjoy at least somewhat that's really not how the word is generally used.


Best thing I've ever eaten was probably the Babi Guling (suckling pig) at Ibu Oka in Bali. Worth moving there for that alone.
   221. Spectral Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:25 PM (#4384139)
If there was some magic pitcher that was able to pitch 100 years and was slightly above average but he got the playing time to shatter the counting stats records including WAR would he then be the "best" pitcher ever despite never being what anyone would describe as great at any particular moment?


You didn't get the memo that "greatest" really just means "compiled the most WAR"? It was in the materials packet right next to "playoff games are basically exhibitions".
   222. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:28 PM (#4384143)
In terms of the discussion, I guess this is going to be laughed at by some, but I certainly feel it was more special watching Mariano pitch than Pettitte.
   223. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:34 PM (#4384148)
I really hope you don't do anything that involves thinking scientifically for a living. Ignoring massive amounts of data in order to match sample sizes, and picking a set of data that fits a desired belief is exactly what cherrypicking is as a logical fallacy. Your approach to this question is completely invalid, and that's not a matter of opinion.


I have a degree in Electrical Engineering.

Taking a small sample of IP and drawing a conclusion based on it -- "Halladay gave up 7 runs in 5 innings - he sucks" -- is flawed.

However, saying "There are other pitchers who posted a 200 ERA+ over a 1200-IP span - here they are" is not.

I have no idea why you would think there is a problem with the latter. I'm not allowed to point out that there were other pitchers who posted a 200 ERA+ over a 1200-IP span? What the hell?
   224. smileyy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:36 PM (#4384149)
[222] I don't think that's laughable at all. "More valuable" and "Better pitcher" are distinct (though related) concepts.
   225. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:42 PM (#4384157)
So the argument is that he could have succeeded in a much more difficult role (starting) that he had already failed at

Remarkably presumptuous. The way you think is impressively geared to finding anything you can throw at the other person without even thinking it through for a second. Why don't you go through the top pitchers of all time in your own estimation and see if their rookie seasons are all over the map in terms of quality. Hell, for many of them you need to give them years before their stats give any indication that they are particularly special or even good.
   226. Spectral Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:44 PM (#4384159)
I'm not allowed to point out that there were other pitchers who posted a 200 ERA+ over a 1200-IP span? What the hell?


Feel free to point it out, as long as you realize it's utterly meaningless to select endpoints out of a sample and then compare it to a complete data set for a different pitcher. It's an interesting factoid, but a useless way of comparing two things.

If you're unable to comprehend why cherrypicking isn't a valid analytical technique, I don't think I can help you, and I have to conclude that you're either willfully obtuse or just dishonest. I suppose I could list a ton of analogies, but you seem to be fundamentally not grasping why it's not analytically valid; even if you can't understand why it's not, you should understand that it's a settled matter that cherrypicking is not a good way to reach conclusions. If you submitted any scientific paper or financial analysis that used this technique, it'd be rejected and you'd be scorned for thinking it was good analysis.

edit - Screw it, here's an an illustrative analogy anyway. If I had a two groups of vaccinated patients, and my readout was antibody titers, but the groups were of different sample sizes, I would not be obliged to simply choose the best consecutive sample of titers from the larger group. If I did so, every reader would say, "what the ####, why would anyone do that?".
   227. Nasty Nate Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:45 PM (#4384160)
The way you think is impressively geared to finding anything you can throw at the other person without even thinking it through for a second.


He simply has a reaction against people caring about the postseason, and everything else flows from that.
   228. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:52 PM (#4384168)
Nah, Rivera vs Pedro is likely a debate that hits home for Ray much more so than caring about the postseason .
   229. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:53 PM (#4384171)
Rivera vs Pedro is likely a debate

What debate? Is there anyone, even the most delusional Yankee fanboy, that wouldn't say Pedro was much, much, much better than Mo?
   230. Spectral Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:54 PM (#4384172)
Nah, Rivera vs Pedro is likely a debate that hits home for Ray much more so than caring about the postseason .


I'm not really even sure what can be cogently debated about the two. I guess you could argue about aesthetic differences, but there's not really any empirical questions that are interesting to ask about Pedro vs. Rivera.

Coke to snapper. Yeah, there's just not much to say there. Peak Pedro's work is vastly more impressive, more valuable, and higher quality than Rivera's - and I'm a Rivera fanboy.
   231. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 02:59 PM (#4384177)
Feel free to point it out, as long as you realize it's utterly meaningless to select endpoints out of a sample and then compare it to a complete data set for a different pitcher. It's an interesting factoid, but an utterly useless way of comparing two things.


Sorry, but no. It is quite useful to show that other pitchers put up this ERA+ over a 1200-IP sample.

It doesn't mean that Rivera sucks. It just means that he looks far better using b-r's 1,000 IP cutoff list than he actually was -- and that's without even getting into the difference in closing vs. starting.

Yes, I have more IP from Pedro to choose from. But I am not saying Pedro's ERA+ was as good as Rivera's over Pedro's entire career; I'm just saying he had stretches as good.

even if you can't understand why it's not, you should understand that it's a settled matter that cherrypicking is not a good way to reach conclusions.


Once more: the cherrypicking _is_ the purpose. "Here. I can show you other pitchers who pitched this well over that same IP span."
   232. GuyM Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:02 PM (#4384183)
If you're unable to comprehend why cherrypicking isn't a valid analytical technique, I don't think I can help you, and I have to conclude that you're either willfully obtuse or just dishonest.

While this is often/usually true, the difference here is that the size of the sample itself is important. The fact that Mo's entire career fits within those other pitchers' peaks (in terms of innings pitched), makes Mo's performance less impressive. Walt was simply citing some examples to illustrate that point.

Maddux and Koufax have the same ERA+. Are they equally great pitchers? Of course not. To illustrate that, isn't it legitimate for me to point out that Maddux's best 12-season peak (equal to Koufax's whole career) exceeded Koufax's career? Yes, I'm comparing peak to career, but in this case the peak is as long as the career.

   233. Nasty Nate Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:07 PM (#4384188)
The fact that Mo's entire career fits within those other pitchers' peaks (in terms of innings pitched), makes Mo's performance less impressive. Walt was simply citing some examples to illustrate that point.


No, Walt was disputing that "Rivera has been the best pitcher of all time at preventing the other team from scoring on a rate basis vs average" and that was certainly not an appropriate use of cherry-picking.
   234. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:11 PM (#4384191)
It is factual to say over their careers Rivera was better at throwing a baseball past hitters on average than Pedro. If you think that is a laughable standard to define who has been the best pitcher I'm just going to laugh back at you as that is the only response that is deserving. Yes you do need a playing time cut off point or the question becomes meaningless but if you think the entirety of Rivera's career is just junk that needs to be filtered out when parsing who is the "best pitcher ever" I do sincerely think you are doing things incorrectly.
   235. GuyM Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:17 PM (#4384199)
No, Walt was disputing that "Rivera has been the best pitcher of all time at preventing the other team from scoring on a rate basis vs average" and that was certainly not an appropriate use of cherry-picking.

It was a good set of examples (except Clemens) to illustrate the point being made. You're really badly tangled up with this "cherry-picking" thing here. You're making Ray look good, which can't be a good thing. :)
   236. Nasty Nate Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:18 PM (#4384200)
You're mixing me up with Spectral!

The examples were good at illustrating the point that other guys could fit Rivera's career (in innings and excellence) within their peak. It was also interesting that it seemed like the only ones who did that were the utmost elite SPs.

But the examples were useless at trying to disprove the claim "Rivera has been the best pitcher of all time at preventing the other team from scoring on a rate basis vs average," which is explicitly what Walt's post #174 was about.
   237. JRVJ Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:20 PM (#4384203)
So the argument is that he could have succeeded in a much more difficult role (starting) that he had already failed at, and he could have succeeded using a different style -- including actually learning another pitch. I find that wildly absurd to believe.


209, No Ray, I am not making that argument. I AM making the argument that Mariano pre-cutter is a different animal than Mariano post-cutter. Would he have been an elite starter? Who knows. But the fact of the matter is that the post-Cutter Mariano never got a chance to start, so we simply don't know what the results would have been.

We DO know that he pitched for 15+ years at an elite level after learning the cutter, and even the most anti-Mariano types would agree that Mariano's learning the cutter was crucial for his (Mariano's) career.
   238. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:21 PM (#4384208)
It is factual to say over their careers Rivera was better at throwing a baseball past hitters on average than Pedro.

No, it's not.

Rivera got to pitch in the most favorable circumstances. Most often one IP at a time, and only 60-70 IP per season.

That's like saying someone who ran a 9 sec 100M dash on flat ground is faster than a guy who ran a 12 sec 100M up a 30 degree slope.
   239. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:22 PM (#4384209)
Maddux and Koufax have the same ERA+. Are they equally great pitchers? Of course not. To illustrate that, isn't it legitimate for me to point out that Maddux's best 12-season peak (equal to Koufax's whole career) exceeded Koufax's career?
That his entire career works as someone else's peak... Yeah, I'm going to say I think the opposite. If your whole career including pre-prime and decline is at the same performance level as someone else's "peak" then you were a "better" pitcher. More valuable? Probably not. Better? Yeah.
   240. Nasty Nate Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:26 PM (#4384215)
That's like saying someone who ran a 9 sec 100M dash on flat ground is faster than a guy who ran a 12 sec 100M up a 30 degree slope.


It is a fact that the runner on flat ground ran faster.
   241. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:27 PM (#4384218)
No, it's not.

Rivera got to pitch in the most favorable circumstances. Most often one IP at a time, and only 60-70 IP per season.

That's like saying someone who ran a 9 sec 100M dash on flat ground is faster than a guy who ran a 12 sec 100M up a 30 degree slope.

As I have pointed out repeatedly reliever advantage is not some unfathomable mystery. You are surely aware of the studies, why are you simply ignoring their conclusions to make statements like the above that directly contradict them? You believe they are flawed in some way? Not based on enough data perhaps?
   242. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:29 PM (#4384221)

As I have pointed out repeatedly reliever advantage is not some unfathomable mystery. You are surely aware of the studies, why are you simply ignoring their conclusions to make statements like the above that directly contradict them? You believe they are flawed in some way? Not based on enough data perhaps?


They're flawed b/c there have been almost no conversions of elite SP to closer. Smoltz is the only one I can think of.

My point is any elite SP would be an excellent closer. The role is easy in its very nature.
   243. Spectral Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:32 PM (#4384225)
It was a good set of examples (except Clemens) to illustrate the point being made.


Sure, it's a good set of examples to illustrate something that's kind of cute and interesting, which is that Rivera's career is basically of equal quality and size to the absolute top pitching peaks that the best pitchers ever have performed at. That's a fun thing to know, and puts both Rivera and the great starters into perspective. In terms of analyzing their abilities over the course of their careers? Essentially useless.

You're really badly tangled up with this "cherry-picking" thing here. You're making Ray look good, which can't be a good thing. :)


I disagree that someone standing by their use of a formal logical fallacy to make a point looks good.
   244. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:34 PM (#4384231)
My point is any elite SP would be an excellent closer.

Why? Care to respond to my points about Pedro's usage pattern in post 200?
   245. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:36 PM (#4384237)
Why? Care to respond to my points about Pedro's usage pattern in post 200.

Ok, how do you know Pedro couldn't have handled being a closer? That's pure speculation.

Can you name a really good starting pitcher who failed as a closer?
   246. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:46 PM (#4384252)
Yes, pure speculation, just like your conclusion that Rivera or elite SPs would defy the standard reliever advantage, which appears to be the entire basis of what you are saying. Thing is that is not the basis of what I am saying, but rather a response to an argument against what I am saying in kind.
   247. GuyM Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:46 PM (#4384253)
That his entire career works as someone else's peak... Yeah, I'm going to say I think the opposite. If your whole career including pre-prime and decline is at the same performance level as someone else's "peak" then you were a "better" pitcher.

Maddux thru age 30: 139 ERA+, 2365 IP
Koufax thru age 30 (or age 70): 131 ERA+, 2324 IP

Maddux was a better pitcher for a period as long as Koufax's entire career. But in your view they were equally effective at preventing runs, because Maddux's ability to pitch for another 11 seasons reduced his career rate to match Koufax? Seriously?
   248. Spectral Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:51 PM (#4384256)
The Maddux/Koufax comparison is quite different, because it's explicitly not cherrypicked. You're comparing the same chunk of Maddux's career against Koufax's. Maddux then went to on to tack on a bunch of very effective work.

It's using selective endpoints that are selected specifically for peak that I object to. Using end points that make sense isn't a problem.
   249. GuyM Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:51 PM (#4384257)
Yes, pure speculation, just like your conclusion that Rivera or elite SPs would defy the standard reliever advantage,

What do you mean by "standard" advantage? The general estimate is that a reliever's ERA would rise by about 1 run as a starter. That would make Rivera's ERA+ 142 -- still excellent but below Pedro. But that's an estimate for all relievers. My guess is that Rivera's ERA would have been much more than +1.00. But who knows? All you can really do is rate Rivera against other relievers, and replacement level at his "position."
   250. GuyM Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:56 PM (#4384264)
It's using selective endpoints that are selected specifically for peak that I object to. Using end points that make sense isn't a problem.

OK, good so far. But can I also point out that from age 25-36, another 12-season stretch, Maddux put up an ERA+ of around 170? That is, would it be OK to mention in a discussion of these pitchers that for a period as long as Koufax's entire career, Maddux was MUCH better? Or must I then be shunned as methodologically impure?

   251. Nasty Nate Posted: March 08, 2013 at 03:58 PM (#4384266)
shunned
   252. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:02 PM (#4384275)
Maddux was a better pitcher for a period as long as Koufax's entire career. But in your view they were equally effective at preventing runs, because Maddux's ability to pitch for another 11 seasons reduced his career rate to match Koufax? Seriously?

I was not really intending to go into that specific example as it does not match what I said well I guess but I do stand by the response in general, for cases where it does. If your peak was on a performance level equal to another person's entire career including pre-prime and decline then they performed better than you, in general, on average.
   253. Spectral Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:03 PM (#4384277)
OK, good so far. But can I also point out that from age 25-36, another 12-season stretch, Maddux put up an ERA+ of around 170? That is, would it be OK to mention in a discussion of these pitchers that for a period as long as Koufax's entire career, Maddux was MUCH better? Or must I then be shunned as methodologically impure?

I don't think it's very useful. It's interesting, but I'm skeptical of what the point is. If we're talking about value or some handwavey "greatness", it's worth looking at various peak stretches. This is basically just taking the absolute worst peak of any length (which happens to be his best 12 year peak) for Koufax and comparing it to Maddux's best 12-year peak; it's fine as far as it goes, but it's probably not really a great argument for many purposes.

The point is that comparing one player's entire career to another player's peak is just not really that sensible, unless we believe a 12-year peak is a good measurement to judge things by.

I feel like this is getting a bit esoteric though. Traditionally, players are typically compared by either total career numbers or shorter defined peaks. Why not stick to that?
   254. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:11 PM (#4384290)
What do you mean by "standard" advantage? The general estimate is that a reliever's ERA would rise by about 1 run as a starter.

I looked at James and Tango on the subject. Tango came up with .60, James much less, but I forget specifically. What are you looking at?
   255. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:15 PM (#4384294)
All you can really do is rate Rivera against other relievers, and replacement level at his "position."

Right. But what is replacement level for a closer?

The bullpen is tricky b/c of leverage, and the ability of the manager to allocate the best pitchers to the high leverage IP.
   256. GuyM Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:23 PM (#4384300)
jyjjy: Tango's estimate of reliever advantage is 1.00 (unless he's changed it recently).

Snapper: I agree it's tricky. A replacement reliever is probably about league-average ERA, give-or-take. For the closer you need to use chaining to set an even higher replacement level, but then he gets credit for the leverage of his innings.
   257. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:24 PM (#4384302)
I feel like this is getting a bit esoteric though. Traditionally, players are typically compared by either total career numbers or shorter defined peaks. Why not stick to that?


Because we're discussing starters vs. relievers, and so when people drool over Rivera's 200 ERA+ in 1200 IP, a performance everyone agrees is great, it absolutely must be analyzed just _how_ great that performance is, and whether the performance was so unique and off the charts that other pitchers weren't able to accomplish it. Clearly others were, and that is absolutely relevant, even if you don't understand the concept of cherrypicking and when that is flawed - and when it is not.
   258. jacksone (AKA It's OK...) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:27 PM (#4384307)
The Maddux/Koufax comparison is quite different, because it's explicitly not cherrypicked. You're comparing the same chunk of Maddux's career against Koufax's. Maddux then went to on to tack on a bunch of very effective work.


But Rivera's career cannot be viewed the same as Pedro's. He has been able to stay as good as he is because he only pitches 70 innings a year. If Pedro went balls out for eight games and never coasted his ERA+ would be a lot higher. If Rivera is used like a starting pitcher he would have a similar slow start and tail end to his career.
   259. BDC Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:34 PM (#4384314)
Seasons with 50 or more Games Finished and ERA+ of 200 or better:

Mariano Rivera, 10
Joe Nathan, 5
Billy Wagner, 4
Robb Nen, 3
John Wetteland, 3
five tied with 2
53 tied with 1

It's a fair point that there are currently 3 or 4 seasons like that every year, and it's been like that since the late '90s. But for quite a stretch, that meant Rivera every year plus 2-3 other guys, and for a few years, Rivera + Nathan + 1 or 2 other guys.

Hey. I'm a skeptic on the value of closers and their roles, myself. And it's also fair to point out that Rivera (like Nathan, Nen, and many others) was a washout as a starter, and likely wouldn't have had a good career as a starter. It's fair to point out that a lot of starters could be good relief pitchers, and that starters are generally much more valuable. It's fair to point out that earlier-model relievers like Face, Wilhelm, Abernathy, Lyle, Marshall, Gossage, and company had different roles and were darn good at them, too.

It's also fairly clear that Rivera as a closer has been a uniquely optimal match of ability to role.
   260. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:34 PM (#4384315)

That his entire career works as someone else's peak... Yeah, I'm going to say I think the opposite. If your whole career including pre-prime and decline is at the same performance level as someone else's "peak" then you were a "better" pitcher.

Not if your whole career also equals the same *quantity* as someone else's peak.

Ray is right about the quantity and situational issues that are inherent in evaluating any reliever, not just Rivera. He's wrong about other things, like the postseason, of course.
   261. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:39 PM (#4384322)
He has been able to stay as good as he is because he only pitches 70 innings a year

Since when do relievers have no decline phase?
   262. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:41 PM (#4384325)
Not if your whole career also equals the same *quantity* as someone else's peak.

Why? That was specifically what I meant. You played less but you were better on average. That is my whole point.
   263. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:54 PM (#4384335)
Snapper: I agree it's tricky. A replacement reliever is probably about league-average ERA, give-or-take. For the closer you need to use chaining to set an even higher replacement level, but then he gets credit for the leverage of his innings.

Replacement level for Rivera and other 9th inning "closers" is the next best reliever.

The tOPS+ of the American League in 2012 improved by 3 from the 8th inning to the 9th -- 86 to 83. Not much.

Put the 30 designated "closers" in a spaceship on April 1 and blast the spaceship to Jupiter for the season. Managers have to pick a "closer" and use him the same way. The impact is then the true value over replacement the closers generate. How many additional saves do we think would be blown? One per team is 30. I'll take the under.
   264. Nasty Nate Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:56 PM (#4384337)
How many additional saves do we think would be blown? One per team is 30. I'll take the under.


Do you mean blown by the closer, or the blown save stat which can be accumulated by guys in the 7th and 8th innings?

Because if it's only blown saves by the new anointed closer, then for "aces" you would have to compare them to the new "ace" that would be bumped up from #2 in a similar spaceship scenario involving the 30 opening day starters, and not to starting pitchers in general.
   265. SG Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:56 PM (#4384339)
He has been able to stay as good as he is because he only pitches 70 innings a year.


Why hasn't any other reliever been able to do it then?
   266. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: March 08, 2013 at 04:57 PM (#4384341)
Blown by the closer in the 9th inning.
   267. Graham Posted: March 08, 2013 at 05:10 PM (#4384352)
"If your peak was on a performance level equal to another person's entire career including pre-prime and decline then they performed better than you, in general, on average."

I must be misunderstanding something here. Koufax's numbers look so great precisely because he had no decline phase. He got hurt in his prime and then never pitched another game again. In order for the comparison to be fair to Maddux, it's only fair to cut off Maddux's post-age 30 seasons. Of course, it doesn't really matter as Maddux mops the floor with Koufax regardless. Maddux had a better ERA+ (132) than Koufax (131) although the former threw almost 2700 additional innings. If you just mirrored Koufax's career where his age-31 season looked like his age-30 season, his age-32 like his age-29, and so on so that his age-42 season mirrored his age-19 season, you would still have a pitcher that was inferior to Maddux on a rate basis (albeit only just) and still 350 innings behind Maddux. The difference would be someone with a career like Brian Wilson's (320 IP @ 129 ERA+).
   268. Graham Posted: March 08, 2013 at 05:12 PM (#4384355)
Duplicate post. My apologies.
   269. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 05:18 PM (#4384360)
What this boils down to is: Rivera isn't in a class with the elite pitchers.

People know this, intuitively, even if they don't know that they know it. When making a list of the greatest pitchers ever people talk about WJohnson and Clemens and Maddux and Pedro, etc. Rivera's name never comes up.
   270. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 05:18 PM (#4384361)
I'd take over but the meaninglessness of the save stat of course makes the whole question a bit silly.
   271. Nasty Nate Posted: March 08, 2013 at 05:21 PM (#4384364)
Replacement level for Rivera and other 9th inning "closers" is the next best reliever.


Then replacement level for "clean-up hitters" is the next best hitter in the lineup, and for "aces" is all of the #2 guys in rotations.
   272. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 05:25 PM (#4384368)
I must be misunderstanding something here. Koufax's numbers look so great precisely because he had no decline phase. He got hurt in his prime and then never pitched another game again. In order for the comparison to be fair to Maddux, it's only fair to cut off Maddux's post-age 30 seasons. Of course, it doesn't really matter as Maddux mops the floor with Koufax regardless. Maddux had a better ERA+ (132) than Koufax (131) although the former threw almost 2700 additional innings. If you just mirrored Koufax's career where his age-31 season looked like his age-30 season, his age-32 like his age-29, and so on so that his age-42 season mirrored his age-19 season, you would still have a pitcher that was inferior to Maddux on a rate basis (albeit only just) and still 350 innings behind Maddux. The difference would be someone with a career like Brian Wilson's (320 IP @ 129 ERA+).

First off why would you write all that in response to the sentence after I admit Maddux/Koufax is not an example that fits what I was getting at? Second, Koufax got hurt years before he retired, which he did at the end of a season, not all of a sudden and then he never pitched again.
   273. Graham Posted: March 08, 2013 at 05:33 PM (#4384379)
I must have misread your #239 as you said: "If your whole career including pre-prime and decline is at the same performance level as someone else's "peak" then you were a "better" pitcher. More valuable? Probably not. Better? Yeah." I think I see what you were saying now.

Right, I should have worded that part better. I'm aware that Koufax was injured previously and battled arthritis during his last few years in the big leagues. My point was that Koufax abruptly quit due to an injury rather than take time off and attempt a comeback. I should have made it clear that I meant his retirement was abrupt and final in his prime. Koufax obviously faced a series of lingering injuries that made continued pitching impossible or dangerous. Regardless, he still retired before his decline phase, which was my point.
   274. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 05:52 PM (#4384406)
No you read that one right... but you quoted when I restated, which happened right after admitting those two pitchers are not actually an example of what I mean.
   275. Steve Treder Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:01 PM (#4384422)
Koufax obviously faced a series of lingering injuries that made continued pitching impossible or dangerous. Regardless, he still retired before his decline phase

He did, but one of the interesting things to ponder about Koufax is to what degree the chronic pain and ghastly swelling he endured through his last few seasons inhibited his performance. Obviously it's unknowable, but it would be ludicrous to imagine that his physical agony was helping his performance, and, ya know, he went 97-27 with an ERA+ of 170-something from 1963-66. A healthy Koufax is kind of scary to contemplate.
   276. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:12 PM (#4384439)
I am fine with calling Rivera the greatest closer in history, and arguably the greatest reliever in history (I'd have to look again at Wilhelm), and a certain Hall of Famer (by the standards set by the voters).

That really should satisfy the pro-Rivera contingent in this thread.

Anything beyond that, which includes starting pitchers, and I absolutely want to stop and examine just what the claim being made is.
   277. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:15 PM (#4384443)
I am fine with calling Rivera the greatest closer in history, and arguably the greatest reliever in history (I'd have to look again at Wilhelm), and a certain Hall of Famer (by the standards set by the voters).

I don't disagree with any of that.

Edit: though I'm pretty sure I'd say Wilhelm was the greatest RP.
   278. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:18 PM (#4384451)
jyjjy: Tango's estimate of reliever advantage is 1.00 (unless he's changed it recently).

You are right that I was looking at an outdated number from him but here is the latest I can find on the subject from tango;

http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/rule_of_17/

17% rather than the .6 runs just makes my case stronger.
   279. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:22 PM (#4384459)
17% rather than the .6 runs just makes my case stronger.

Do you really believe Rivera's RA/9 would only have increased by 17% if he started?

Because, if that's true, the Yankees made the worst player personnel decision since the Babe Ruth trade with him .
   280. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:25 PM (#4384466)
That really should satisfy the pro-Rivera contingent in this thread.

Best pitcher ever on a rate basis or bust yo. It simply is what all the math says, or our current understanding of maths at least, if you will.
   281. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:28 PM (#4384479)
Do you really believe Rivera's RA/9 would only have increased by 17% if he started?

I do not believe I nor you could ever know that so I'm sticking with actual statistical analysis of the subject. If you want to go off the reservation on this one feel free but recognize it is what you are doing.
   282. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:32 PM (#4384490)
Best pitcher ever on a rate basis or bust yo.


That would be the guy who faced one batter in his career and struck him out, which is probably Wade Boggs or someone.
   283. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:33 PM (#4384492)
I do not believe I nor you could ever know that so I'm sticking with actual statistical analysis of the subject. If you want to go off the reservation on this one feel free but recognize it is what you are doing.

I think I'm the one firmly on the reservation. The statistical analysis is biased b/c only RP who teams think have a good shot at being good get to start. The fact that the Yankees never considered it should be taking as evidence.

If Rivera could have put up a 2.50 ERA as a SP in his era, he would have been the best SP ever. Even Pedro gave up a 2.93 ERA. How likely is that?
   284. Nasty Nate Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:40 PM (#4384509)
Best pitcher ever on a rate basis or bust yo.




That would be the guy who faced one batter in his career and struck him out, which is probably Wade Boggs or someone.


Absolutely true, and if we raise the innings threshold a little, it is Kimbrel, and if we raise it further it is Rivera, and if we raise it higher it becomes Pedro, and then Lefty Grove, and then Walter Johnson, and then Cy Young.
   285. GuyM Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:41 PM (#4384512)
17% rather than the .6 runs just makes my case stronger.

No, 17% makes it larger (.17 * 4.6 R/G = .8 runs). Read the thread at your link: Tango still has replacement level for relievers at 1.0 run better (lower) than for starters.

And if you believe Rivera could have posted a 2.60 ERA as a starter, well, I don't even know what to say.....

Best pitcher ever on a rate basis or bust yo. It simply is what all the math says, or our current understanding of maths at least, if you will.

No, best reliever ever on a rate basis (and perhaps career basis). We can all agree on that I hope.
   286. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:45 PM (#4384520)
Absolutely true, and if we raise the innings threshold a little, it is Kimbrel, and if we raise it further it is Rivera, and if we raise it higher it becomes Pedro, and then Lefty Grove, and then Walter Johnson, and then Cy Young.


Which only proves my point. There's no reason to set the threshold at exactly the point where Rivera is the beneficiary.

Sean could have gone with 1300 innings rather than 1000, which would have left Rivera out in the cold. No, wait, Rivera has 140 postseason innings - surely Sean includes those? Alas, no. Sean does not include innings pitched in exhibition games. So Rivera would still be out in the cold.
   287. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:49 PM (#4384525)
And if my complaint about lack of similar opportunities for others to pile up innings in the postseason is invalid, why doesn't Sean include postseason innings in the seasonal and career totals?
   288. GuyM Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:55 PM (#4384537)
Surely we can agree that B-Ref's criteria for listing players is irrelevant. If we use that, we have to say that Jason Bay is the 7th greatest base stealer of all time on a rate basis. Who wants to sign up for that?

And honestly, I can't believe that even Mariano fans would have said (before this discussion) their minimum IP to be considered in a "greatest pitcher" category is just 1200 IP. I would say something like 2,000. And that's even before worrying about the reliever advantage (which is a huge additional complication).

I didn't bring him into the discussion for this reason, but Koufax (50) and Mo (53) are actually about the same in career rWAR. That sounds about right. 1200 IP @ 206 = 2300 IP @ 131. I think rWAR uses the same replacement level for starters and relievers -- is that right? -- in which case I'd bring Mo down to maybe 46 WAR. But they are in the same ballpark.
   289. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:56 PM (#4384538)
I think I'm the one firmly on the reservation. The statistical analysis is biased b/c only RP who teams think have a good shot at being good get to start. The fact that the Yankees never considered it should be taking as evidence.

If Rivera could have put up a 2.50 ERA as a SP in his era, he would have been the best SP ever. Even Pedro gave up a 2.93 ERA. How likely is that?

You clearly didn't take the Yankees paying big money for Soriano as proof of the worth of a closer and are often roundly critical of their choices(usually correctly) but all of a sudden management's decisions with regard to Rivera is proof of something? Sorry but hypocritical is the word here.

Again, I really really really do not particularly care if Rivera would have made a good starter. He was and is a pitcher. Anyone summarily dismissing a whole class of pitchers from the start when asking the question who was/is the best pitcher is... simply answering a different question. Innings add value surely and it would be idiotic to ignore that when figuring out who was the most valuable pitcher. In the end what I'm saying is most valuable and best are really not interchangeable. To reverse my previous example if a rookie next year hit a home run in every at bat then retired, best hitter ever or not? This is what the debate has turned into as I pointed out earlier, semantics, not statistics and I do believe I'm on the correct side from either angle. There is no math indicating Rivera's performance advantage should be dismissed because he was a reliever unless you simply throw out all relievers and I'm even more certain my interpretation of "best" is a much more common usage. Again we can divorce those from baseball. Band with 3 amazing albums vs one with 7 that while very good are notably inferior. I'll say the one that amazes me is better every time.
   290. Nasty Nate Posted: March 08, 2013 at 06:57 PM (#4384539)
Which only proves my point. There's no reason to set the threshold at exactly the point where Rivera is the beneficiary.


"Exactly the point"? Rivera is number one from 160 innings to 1200 innings - that might be the largest spread of any of the names I listed. But yes, it is an arbitrary threshold, and the leader's accomplishment becomes more impressive at each higher level.

And if my complaint about lack of similar opportunities for others to pile up innings in the postseason is invalid, why doesn't Sean include postseason innings in the seasonal and career totals?


He doesn't want to taint the inferior regular season numbers! ha!
   291. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 07:04 PM (#4384545)
"Exactly the point"? Rivera is number one from 160 innings to 1200 innings - that might be the largest spread of any of the names I listed.


And what number is he from 1400 innings to 5000 innings?
   292. Nasty Nate Posted: March 08, 2013 at 07:09 PM (#4384547)
And what number is he from 1400 innings to 5000 innings?


same place Pedro is for 3000 to 5000, or Lefty Grove is 4000 to 5000, or Walter Johnson is 6000 to 7000.
   293. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 07:21 PM (#4384556)
No, 17% makes it larger (.17 * 4.6 R/G = .8 runs). Read the thread at your link: Tango still has replacement level for relievers at 1.0 run better (lower) than for starters.

Just reread it, dunno what you are referring to. He says;

This becomes very useful for when we do research into comparing year-to-year changes in performance, and we see that pitchers move between roles. So, to be able to put everyone on the same scale, you can take a reliever’s RA9 and divide it by 0.83 (that is, 1 minus 17%), and that puts it onto the starter’s scale.

Seems pretty straightforward.
   294. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 07:47 PM (#4384580)
I probably need to check out til tomorrow but I'll leave with one point to put things in perspective. The gap between Rivera's ERA+ and the next player is coincidentally exactly the difference between that player and an average one(of course ignoring the preposterous postseason resume.) You need a better reason to dismiss such a thing than saying, "but he was a reliever!" Seriously. If you are really all about quantity over quality then well, meh, we will never agree about what is "best" because you ignore the best if there isn't enough of it to the point that a player can pitch until they are 43 at an established position for pitchers and it's not enough even for "best on a rate basis." I find your standards unreasonable and that is all there is to it.
   295. Ray (RDP) Posted: March 08, 2013 at 07:52 PM (#4384582)
You need a better reason to dismiss such a thing than saying, "but he was a reliever!"


The problem with your argument is that that is a damned good reason.

Seriously. If you are really all about quantity over quality


It's not quantity over quality but a mix of the two and not just that but the fact that relieving is so very obviously a hell of a lot easier.

Hell, even compared to other relievers Rivera has it easy: he starts a fresh inning with the bases empty the vast majority of the time. And mostly pitches in 1 inning bursts. And typically gets to work with a lead and thus margin for error. It's bizarre the trouble people have seeing this.
   296. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 08:01 PM (#4384586)
The math has shown you are wrong. You are just saying things you want to believe at this point. Your estimation of the relative difficulty of starting vs relieving is invented and your cut off line arbitrary. The latter is arbitrary by nature of course but that you set it to exclude relievers inherently means you are denying the question itself has meaning when applied to relievers rather than attempting to make any sort of qualitative comparison. You shouldn't even be involved in a discussion of the topic IMO.
   297. GuyM Posted: March 08, 2013 at 08:02 PM (#4384587)
jyjjy/293: You need to work a little harder at this. Tango says: "if you set the replacement level for a starting pitcher at say 130% of league average, then the replacement level for a relief pitcher is 83% of that, or 108% of league average." So if you have 4.5 R/G:
Starter RL = 1.3 * 4.5 = 5.85
Reliever RL = 1.08 * 4.5 = 4.86
5.85 - 4.86 = .99 runs. I hope my rounding that off to "1" is acceptable.
   298. jyjjy Posted: March 08, 2013 at 08:40 PM (#4384615)
That was in the comments which I did not get to as the main text seemed pretty clear. In terms of ERA+, the stat we have been using, the baseline is the earned run average average of all pitchers, not RA/9. Seems silly to be figuring out replacement level for a different stat in this context. I don't feel like looking it up so let's just say on average a starter goes 6 innings with the other three for the pen. If it is 17% harder in general to be a starter as Tango says I believe that means to even things out you would compare a starters ERA+ to 90 and a relievers to 105. Rejiggering things so would bring Pedro up to 171and bring Rivera down to 196. Yes I know, the 17% may not strictly apply to ERA specifically and 6/3 is off some so... yeah, but the result isn't close.
   299. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: March 08, 2013 at 08:55 PM (#4384623)
The gap between Rivera's ERA+ and the next player is coincidentally exactly the difference between that player and an average one

You can't subtract points of ERA+ that way. Mariano's ERA is 48.5% of league average; Pedro's is 64.9%. The distance from Mo to Pedro is less than half the distance from Pedro to average. (Not that it isn't still impressive.)

WRT postseason stats giving some players more opportunities than others - you could correct for this pretty easily if you want to. Give players credit for only their regular season playing time, but include their postseason numbers when calculating their rate stats. Doesn't make a huge difference for most people - for instance, Pedro pitched about 3% of his career innings in the postseason. But for Rivera, who's pitched over 10% of his innings in the postseason (at an unbelievable level), it drops his ERA by 7%.
   300. GuyM Posted: March 08, 2013 at 09:00 PM (#4384625)
jyjjy: Look, if you are determined to compare relievers against starters in terms of total value (both quality and quantity), what matters is the baseline we are measuring these guys against. For Rivera, it's approximately 1.00 R/G lower (better) than for a starting pitcher. You should read up on this -- a lot of work has been done on it, which you don't appear to be familiar with.

The point of Tango's formula is not to predict what Rivera, or any other specific pitcher, would do if he changed roles. And you certainly can't use the 17% rule, derived from players who could perform in both roles, to project the starter performance of guys who were only relievers. Our assumption has to be that such relievers (Wagner, Rivera, Hoffman)were selected precisely because they were much better suited to relieving, and would likely have a much larger reliever/starter spread if forced to start. And honestly I doubt that the reliever advantage is proportional to runs allowed, which would suggest that lousy starters would reap huge dividends while good starters benefit far less (and also that great relievers would pay a very small price for starting). Maybe Tango has research to support that, but I doubt it.
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