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Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Wade Davis, anchor of Kansas City Royals’ championship bullpen, retires from baseball

“Wade will forever be remembered by our fans, his teammates and our organization as an elite competitor and a very classy person,” Royals president of baseball operations Dayton Moore said in a statement. “He helped anchor one of the very best bullpens in Royals history which was a major factor in our world championship in 2015. I’m forever thankful for the way he represented our great city and for the committed husband he is to Katelyn and the special father he is to Sully and Ty.”

Davis came to the Royals in the 2012 offseason as a 27-year-old starting pitcher, acquired with James Shields in a blockbuster trade that sent Wil Myers, Mike Montgomery, Jake Odorizzi and Patrick Leonard to the Tampa Bay Rays. But while he arrived in Kansas City as a starter, he retires after developing into one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. He made 24 starts in 2013 and then moved to the bullpen full-time. For the ensuing three-year stretch, there was nobody better.

In 2014-16, Davis posted a 1.18 ERA while allowing just three homers in 182 2/3 innings pitched, striking out 234.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 24, 2021 at 06:09 PM | 13 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: wade davis

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   1. CFBF is Obsessed with Art Deco Posted: November 24, 2021 at 08:42 PM (#6054553)
Davis was basically a cyborg death machine for the Royals during their World Series runs. Gave up all of two runs in those two postseasons.
   2. Hombre Brotani Posted: November 24, 2021 at 10:15 PM (#6054576)
What I remember most about Davis (other than him being just scary good in 14-15) was how the Royals tried to make him a starter after his one good year in relief and NOPE! Back to the 'pen, where he had that remarkable 4-year run with the Royals.
   3. SoSH U at work Posted: November 25, 2021 at 10:53 AM (#6054611)

What I remember most about Davis (other than him being just scary good in 14-15) was how the Royals tried to make him a starter after his one good year in relief and NOPE! Back to the 'pen, where he had that remarkable 4-year run with the Royals.

The difference between his results as a starter and reliever were truly staggering. In that first year with the Royals, he had a 5.67 ERA through the end of August. They moved him to the pen and he threw 10 innings the rest of the way, allowing three hits and one ER.
   4. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 25, 2021 at 12:16 PM (#6054619)
IIRc, his fastball velo bumped up 5 mph in the pen. Nasty cutter and a good curve to boot. At his peak, he was unhittable.
   5. Paul d mobile Posted: November 26, 2021 at 09:39 AM (#6054657)
What I remember is that I really hoped he wouldn't come back after the rain delay in game 6....
   6. Nasty Nate Posted: November 26, 2021 at 10:00 AM (#6054658)
He was the Wade Boggs of Mark Davises
   7. Rough Carrigan Posted: November 26, 2021 at 12:38 PM (#6054669)
It's funny how great a reliever he became after looking like such a hopeless, awkward doofus when the Rays were having him start.
   8. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 26, 2021 at 12:49 PM (#6054671)
His 2013 rWAR of -1.9 was the 11th-worst by a starter with 125+ IP in the Wild Card era. The very next year he posted 3.8 rWAR, the 24th-best season by any reliever with 50 games in the Wild Card era.
   9. Adam Starblind Posted: November 26, 2021 at 12:53 PM (#6054672)
Do other relievers enter the picture if you remove the 50 game threshold? Because it would only get more impressive.
   10. McCoy Posted: November 26, 2021 at 01:38 PM (#6054673)
My memory of Wade was that he wasn't very good for them but looking it up he was pretty darn good just not KC awesome. Perhaps it was the playoffs that made me think he wasn't very good.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: November 26, 2021 at 06:23 PM (#6054702)
I assume the "them" in #10 is the Cubs. Which gets me thinking about FIP, BABIP and relievers. Has anybody really looked at it? (Surely somebody has)

In 2017, Davis did have a 192 ERA+, 2.30 ERA for the Cubs (and just 1 UER) ... but a 3.38 FIP. I assume that's mostly the difference between a league average BABIP and his 264. But in his full relief season in TB, he gave up just 6.1 H/9; in KC just 5.1; in Chi 6.0 and in his first year in Col 5.9. That's still just 370 IP but it's consistent. For his career, the BABIP was 289 (avg 297), 305 as a SP, 267 as a RP (he still ended up with more career IP as a SP).

At the aggregate level in 2021 there was really no difference -- 293/290 SP/RP. But what if we looked just at the leveraged guys? (Warning: selection bias ahead!)

First try: 100% relief (will miss openers), >=40 GR, IP<=1.1*GR ... 114 pitchers, median BABIP 290-291 right where it should be.

Second try: 100% relief, >=40 GR, aLI>1.25 (picked it out of a hat) ... 74 pitchers, median BABIP 280-281. Maybe something there but probably mostly/entirely selection bias.

Third try: 2019-21, 100% relief, >=80 GR, aLI>1.25 ... 60 pitchers, median BABIP 287-88. Drop the aLI to 1 and it's 89 pitchers with the same median.

Again, it's not clear that shows anything other than that guys who are a bit lucky on BABIP are more likely to hold onto their leveraged relief slot.

I did come across Joely Rodriguez 2021 as putting up a very odd slash line for 2021 baseball. He had a 294/359/389 line on a 366 BABIP with roughly league-average K and BB rates. Giving up a 294 BA in today's game is "terrible" but giving up just a 389 SLG is pretty good. He gave up a ton of singles but kept the ball in the ballpark pretty well. Roughly speaking, he turned the average hitter into Juan Pierre who would be one of the most atypical players of 2021. For the MLB hitters of 2021 with at least a 278 BA (37 players qualified), only Nicky Lopez failed to reach at least a 400 SLG with a line of 300/365/378 ... next similar guy is Merrifield at 277/317/395.

Maybe if there were more pitchers like Rodriguez you guys would have the return of 1980s baseball you crave.
   12. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 26, 2021 at 07:10 PM (#6054708)

My memory of Wade was that he wasn't very good for them but looking it up he was pretty darn good just not KC awesome.

In his last year in KC he experienced forearm tightness and everyone thought TJ surgery was around the corner. He never had it, but you're right he wasn't quite the same after that, although still pretty good in Chicago.

In Colorado he led the league in saves his first year, but with a 4.15 ERA, then he gave up 52 runs in 47 IP in the final two seasons of a three year, $52M deal.
   13. The Honorable Ardo Posted: November 27, 2021 at 01:28 AM (#6054748)
The condensed-milk version of Dennis Eckersley. An average starter (33-33 record), then a wipeout reliever (2014-18 compares well to Eck's 1988-1992), then lost it altogether from 2019 onwards.

Eyeballing it, I have Davis with an 87 ERA+ as a starting pitcher and a 133 ERA+ as a relief pitcher. Other notables: Eckersley was 111-136, Tom Gordon 106-138, Eric Gagne 90-161, and John Smoltz 122-162.

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