Author Topic: Are Saves a Useful Stat? Do they Distort the Game?  (Read 682 times)

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Offline welch

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Quote

The Power and the Questioned Glory of Baseball’s Save Stat


by James Wagner

Addison Reed is the Mets’ setup man, the reliever who pitches the penultimate inning of the game based on the modern construction of baseball bullpens. All innings count the same, yet closers, who handle the game’s final inning, get much of the fame and the financial rewards that come with it.

Closers get to pump their fists, untuck their jerseys or mime shooting arrows into the sky when the victory is secured. Even the name of the statistic that defines their success has a tinge of the dramatic: save.

The reliever who tosses at least the final inning of a victory of three runs or fewer, or finishes the game with the potential tying run on base, at the plate or on deck, is rewarded with a save in the box score. The qualifications are a mouthful — and arbitrary — but the statistic is ubiquitous.

“People like the saves,” Reed said.

Reed was once a closer himself. From 2012 to 2014, he averaged 34 saves a season for the Chicago White Sox and the Arizona Diamondbacks. After some struggles, a demotion to the minor leagues and a trade to the Mets in August 2015, he blossomed into one of baseball’s best setup men. Still, saves are rewarded in baseball’s salary-arbitration system, so the saves Reed racked up earlier in his career contributed to his sizable $7.75 million salary for the 2017 season.

But even he has a problem with the statistic that has so helped his bottom line. “I’m thankful for the saves stat the previous few years,” Reed said. But even so, he added, “the save stat is overhyped.”

It indeed may be, but the way bullpens are structured nowadays, the closer and the save garner the most attention. All-Star rosters are stuffed with closers, not middle relievers or setup men. And which factoid can fans recall more: that Jeurys Familia had a 2.55 E.R.A. in 2016, or that he led the major leagues with 51 saves for the Mets?

“A save — it is an arbitrary number,” Los Angeles Angels Manager Mike Scioscia said over the winter. “But at least it’s a guideline that gives you a little base line of a player’s performance.”

Full story at:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/30/sports/baseball/the-power-and-the-dubious-glory-of-baseballs-save-stat.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fsports&action=click&contentCollection=sports&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront&_r=0

Offline imref

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they are a better stat than wins.

Offline mitlen

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they are a better stat than wins.

Over the years, it's evolved to that.    As an old guy, I like wins but man ya gotta have a guy (closer or setup) who can close the door.   In the end, it's a measure for agents to get more money.      :couch:

Offline imref

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I think there's some level of importance in measuring how effective a pitcher is at coming in and closing out a game in the 9th inning.  I'd argue that the stat needs some tweaking to eliminate the 6 out 2 inning save as that's not as reflective of the capabilities of a closer as one who comes in simply to shut down the opposing team in the ninth inning.

Offline mitlen

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I think there's some level of importance in measuring how effective a pitcher is at coming in and closing out a game in the 9th inning.  I'd argue that the stat needs some tweaking to eliminate the 6 out 2 inning save as that's not as reflective of the capabilities of a closer as one who comes in simply to shut down the opposing team in the ninth inning.

I'd like to see a comparison of the personal/mental attributes of a closer and a special operator.    Not sayin' they do even close to the same thing (or the same consequences) but it'd be interesting to see   ....  focusing skills, intensity, mental activity, calmness/effectiveness under pressure, etc.

Offline Count Walewski

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Theoretically the save should not matter. Practically, I think we are all familiar with relief pitchers who pitch great in the 7th or 8th inning and then melt down in the 9th when they're promoted to closer.

Clearly the save has become "a thing" that now impacts players psychologically.

Online dracnal

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I think there's some level of importance in measuring how effective a pitcher is at coming in and closing out a game in the 9th inning.  I'd argue that the stat needs some tweaking to eliminate the 6 out 2 inning save as that's not as reflective of the capabilities of a closer as one who comes in simply to shut down the opposing team in the ninth inning.

Pretty sure it's 9 out, 3 innnig but I get your point.

Offline welch

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I have never much liked the 7th inning / setup-man / closer, not since I saw the Joe Torre Yankees use Nelson, Stanton, Rivera. When the Nats' bullpen comes in with the bases loaded, one out, a run behind in the 5th, it's a critical part of the game. Put out the fire or pour gas on it. I like the "fireman" approach.

Offline vernon337

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Thought this was a very interesting story that reflects my feelings about relief pitching.  I wonder if MLB will at some point go back to the multi-inning high-leverage reliever as the key part of the bullpen.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/goose-egg-new-save-stat-relief-pitchers/

We could use a Mike Marshall (except for the asshat personality):
http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/m/marshmi01.shtml


Offline Mathguy

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Saves (and Holds) are probably better stats for relievers than ERA, which can blow up due to the short number of innings relievers pitch.

Offline JCA-CrystalCity

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if this were a soccer / hockey / lacrosse thread, then I'd say yes.