FanDuel - WFBC

August 08, 2011

SportsFilter: The Monday Huddle:

A place to discuss the sports stories that aren't making news, share links that aren't quite front-page material, and diagram plays on your hand. Remember to count to five Mississippi before commenting in anger.

posted by huddle to general at 06:00 AM - 32 comments

@stats-master-grum So the Red Sox pull off another 9th inning caper against Mariano Rivera. My sense is that the Sox are Rivera's kryptonite - he doesn't seem to be the shut-em-down closer against the Sox that he is against most teams. Is this true? And, following on from that, which teams are the kryptonite to the top 10 closers?

posted by kokaku at 08:10 AM on August 08

First off, teamwork!
(large animated .gif)

posted by grum@work at 08:25 AM on August 08

Loved the big "screw you" from Steve Williams to Tiger : (paraphrased) : "I've been a caddie for 33 years. This was the best week, the best win, of my career."

posted by littleLebowski at 08:38 AM on August 08

Top Five AL Teams (in terms of ERA) vs Mariano Rivera (career, regular season):

Angels - 3.36 (59.0 IP) - including 1 start
Orioles -3.13 (126.2 IP)
Red Sox - 2.84 (114.0 IP)
Indians - 2.83 (57.1 IP) - including 2 starts
Mariners - 2.77 (74.2 IP) - including 1 start

Career - 2.11 (1192.1 IP) - including 10 starts

I guess you could say the Red Sox do better than average against him, but it's really all relative to the awesomeness that is Rivera. Back in 2007, the Red Sox scored 7 runs in 9IP against him.
Then again, every team that he's pitched at least 10 innings against has hit at least one home run off him. Of course, every team that he's pitched at least 10 innings against has an OPS lower than .650 against him.

Papelbon:
White Sox - 4.97 (12.2 IP)
Athletics - 4.64 (21.2 IP)
Yankees - 4.23 (44.2 IP)
Tigers - 3.33 (24.1 IP) - including 1 start
Twins - 2.53 (21.1 IP) - including 1 start

Career - 2.34 (410.2 IP) - including 3 starts

I don't have time right now to skim through other notable relievers, but it's safe to assume that recent good teams (Red Sox, Yankees, Cardinals, Phillies, Braves, etc) are going to be better against closers than most.

posted by grum@work at 08:52 AM on August 08

Here are Rivera's career splits against all teams. It's a rough metric, but the Red Sox don't particularly stand out.

posted by yerfatma at 08:52 AM on August 08

Loved the big "screw you" from Steve Williams to Tiger : (paraphrased) : "I've been a caddie for 33 years. This was the best week, the best win, of my career."

It's pretty hard to make Tiger Woods look like the better man, but Williams is doing a pretty good job.

posted by grum@work at 08:53 AM on August 08

Yeah, Tiger's never going to get any sympathy from me , but Williams gets only a miniscule amount. Tiger's dismissal seemed dick-ish, but Williams made a great life though him and some humility and "moving on" is maybe the best medicine. If this is the last we hear about it (from Williams' mouth), then he gets a chuckle outta me for this interview. Otherwise, if he keeps chatting, then he loses any good-will.

posted by littleLebowski at 09:17 AM on August 08

I don't know how the ref didn't fall for this one.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 09:42 AM on August 08

It's pretty hard to make Tiger Woods look like the better man, but Williams is doing a pretty good job.

My thoughts exactly. How long is this guy going to play the jilted ex?

posted by rcade at 10:03 AM on August 08

It is quite a change for Tiger. A couple of years ago nobody got away with crossing Tiger, now caddies are doing it.

I agree with the sentiment that Williams has had his say, and he now needs to shut up and step back into the shadow of the player that he is working for.

posted by dviking at 10:23 AM on August 08

I don't know how the ref didn't fall for this one.

That was a pre-season dive that should have been kept for the pre-season.

posted by etagloh at 10:35 AM on August 08

Maybe FIFA could end the shennanigans by giving a free kick to the body of the faker while he squirmed on the ground.

posted by kokaku at 11:04 AM on August 08

My thoughts exactly. How long is this guy going to play the jilted ex?

The worst part about it is that he is overshadowing Scott's win with this nonsense. If you check google news for Adam Scott today, the headlines are mainly about Williams and Tiger. That is just wrong.

posted by bperk at 11:04 AM on August 08

But Williams has "won" 145 times around the world. Despite the fact that he's never hit a shot in a professional event in his life. Some achievement. He'll be banging on the door of the Hall of Fame any day now.

grum gets the last word on this though - if you're making Tiger look like he's holding the moral high ground, you're doing it wrong.

Hats off to Scotty for a great win. Some of the big guns (the real ones, I mean, as in the ones actually playing good golf at the moment, not the ones carrying bags or injuries) played some tasty stuff in Akron, so let's hope they can carry that over to this week in the PGA. My money's on Westwood completing the Chubby Slam.

posted by JJ at 11:13 AM on August 08

Loved the big "screw you" from Steve Williams to Tiger : (paraphrased) : "I've been a caddie for 33 years. This was the best week, the best win, of my career."

Hmmm, I sure could've sworn that Adam Scott was the one who won? Sure fooled me.

By the way, is this Williams way of saying to Tiger, 'Who's you [C]addy?'

posted by BornIcon at 11:26 AM on August 08

Also a bit of a coup for Bridgestone that their tournament rates higher than any of the 13 majors he "won".

posted by JJ at 12:24 PM on August 08

Yep - the devil on my shoulder (who dislikes Tiger) sadly allowed part of me to get a kick out of his comment. But overall, I feel for Scott. It's too bad that Williams was even faced with a decision by having a mike thrust at him (this isn't hyperbole, I've never seen a caddy interviewed at that moment of a tournament/victory - maybe after the Bruce Edwards [Tom Watson] cancer story broke?). It's moreover too bad that he couldn't have swallowed or delayed his comments and reacted with only ""hey, I'm an effing caddy. Adam won this tournament - he's your story and is where your cameras and microphones should be." Plus, whatever chuckle I got was snuffed by the repetition of "I'm a front-runner on the racetrack AND the course." The idea that Williams was insufferable just because that's what Tiger paid him to be is in doubt.

posted by littleLebowski at 12:58 PM on August 08

So how long does this continue before Adam Scott feels it is too much of a distraction and sends Stevie packing? My guess would be that he suggests that Sunday ends the drama.

posted by tahoemoj at 02:07 PM on August 08

It's pretty hard to make Tiger Woods look like the better man, but Williams is doing a pretty good job.

This is one used Caddy that isn't running too well. Maybe needs a tune up?

posted by Howard_T at 02:13 PM on August 08

Here are Rivera's career splits against all teams. It's a rough metric, but the Red Sox don't particularly stand out.

With all the columns and information, you would think they would include SVO (save opportunities) somewhere. Rather than just ERA or batting average or some other stat, it seems like the most important for a closer is the number of blown saves against teams; i.e., SVO - SV. While other stats are important, they can be impacted by just a few bad outings, taking one for the team, or pitching in non-save situations for some reason (getting your work in, extra innings, resting the other pitchers, etc.).

posted by graymatters at 05:02 PM on August 08

it seems like the most important for a closer is the number of blown saves against teams;

No.

A thousand times, no.

The "save" (or "blown save") is the most artificial of statistics, just ahead of "wins".

Two situations:

A pitcher who comes in to start the 9th inning with his team up by 3 runs and goes:

solo home run
long fly out
solo home run
single
long fly out
single
walk
long fly out

"earns" a "save".

A pitcher who comes in the middle of the 9th inning with the bases loaded and no one out and his team only ahead by one run goes:

strike out
strike out
strike out (passed ball, runner scored from third)

is saddled with a "blown save".

I'll stick to judging pitchers based on stats that measure, not judge (ERA, WHIP, OPS, K/9, K/BB).

posted by grum@work at 05:24 PM on August 08

Just so we understand how stupid the save stat is, here is my favourite game result where a pitcher "earned" a "save".

Dave Goltz:
3 innings pitched
13 hits
8 runs
8 earned runs
0 walks
2 strike outs
4 home runs
save

And in case you think that is rare, there are 113 cases where a pitcher has thrown 3 or more innings and given up at least as many runs as innings pitched and earned a save.

posted by grum@work at 05:32 PM on August 08

The "save" (or "blown save") is the most artificial of statistics

which undoubtedly explains why they are in such demand, considered so important by teams, and in many cases (especially Rivera) paid so much. Clearly, based on the stats that matter, Rivera should be put in the starting rotation because he is being wasted in the role the Yankees have put him in. And I hope that no one considers his almost 600 artificial saves when he is voted into the Hall of Fame. There may be problems with the definition of a save (especially the three-inning rule), but I don't think a few examples (like the Goltz save and other unusual situations such as Joaquin Benoit's 7-inning save in relief of another relief pitcher) renders a closer's role meaningless or artificial.

posted by graymatters at 06:10 PM on August 08

renders a closer's role meaningless or artificial.

Nobody said that. The stat is what's artificial. That's why Grum used other, better, stats to explain his point.

posted by tron7 at 06:19 PM on August 08

Rivera's brilliance is perhaps reflected in "saves", but it doesn't really explain it. The other stats are simple better metrics of a pitcher's performance - starter or bullpen.

That and Rivera may be the exception to ever other relief pitcher in history.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:24 PM on August 08

Mariano Rivera:
1193.1 regular season innings pitched
205 ERA+

The next best pitcher with over 1000 innings pitched?
Pedro Martinez
154 ERA+ (2827.1 IP)

The next best pitcher with over 500 innings pitched?
Billy Wagner
187 ERA+ (903.0 IP)

The next best pitcher with over 250 innings pitched?
Takashi Saito
197 ERA+ (311.2 IP)

And that doesn't take in the fact that against the best teams in the highest pressure situations (the playoffs), he's even better:
0.71 ERA in 139.1 IP

When you look at WHIP, the only pitchers ahead of him with over 1000 IP are guys who played in the dead ball era (first decade of the 1900s).

There is no need to use saves to describe the greatness of Mariano Rivera.
In fact, it's actually a strike AGAINST him, as Trevor Hoffman has more than him, in less opportunities, in less innings pitched.

The only relief pitcher that I feel that could be considered "better" than Rivera is Hoyt Wilhelm (and that's if you value quantity).

posted by grum@work at 08:43 PM on August 08

Diving should be a red card offence IMO.

posted by Drood at 03:06 AM on August 09

which undoubtedly explains why they are in such demand, considered so important by teams, and in many cases (especially Rivera) paid so much. Clearly, based on the stats that matter, Rivera should be put in the starting rotation

Don't be obtuse. First off, how managers use pitchers isn't necessarily an indication of the Platonic Ideal of How Pitchers Should Be Used (unless you see men like Grady Little as inheritors of the Socratic tradition in the modern age). Up until the last 5 years or so, closers tended to be failed starters-- if you have a pitcher who can start, it makes little sense to pitch him 75 innings a year instead of 200. Closers tend to be guys with one or two great pitches but lacking a large enough repertoire to go through the lineup three or four times in a game. You do see people coming up from college now as closers, but I'm hard-pressed to name you one who has seen success yet. The only one I can think of was the Red Sox' Craig Hansen and he was a bust.

No one is arguing closers are not valuable. There has been a lot of recent number-crunching devoted to the concept of "leverage", i.e., the most important situations in a game and if that should change how managers use closers or who they call their closer. As an example, while Papelbon has returned to form this year and has had a very good season, you could easily make a case their most important bullpen pitcher is Daniel Bard. He also happens to be their lowest-paid pitcher, so I wouldn't suggest using salary as an indicator of talent given sports salaries tend to reflect past performance, not current ability.

posted by yerfatma at 08:31 AM on August 09

There is no need to use saves to describe the greatness of Mariano Rivera. In fact, it's actually a strike AGAINST him, as Trevor Hoffman has more than him, in less opportunities, in less innings pitched.

A closer's job is to close out the game, which is currently measured in saves whether one likes it or not. But statistics are so much better than facts.

posted by graymatters at 11:34 AM on August 09

As opposed to opinion. Explain to me why a save, as currently defined, is so damned meaningful.

posted by yerfatma at 11:49 AM on August 09

A closer's job is to close out the game, which is currently measured in saves whether one likes it or not.

MLB used to track a statistic called "Game Winning RBI".
(from wikipedia)
The game-winning RBI was credited to the batter whose at-bat was responsible for bringing his team ahead for the final time in the game. For example, if a batter on the winning team brought his team ahead 3-2 from a 2-2 tie at some point during the game, his team later led 5-2 as a result of other batters, and then the opposing team scored two more runs before the final score was 5-4, the batter on the winning team who batted in the third run would be credited with the game-winning RBI, even though the losing team scored four runs.

This was tracked from 1980 to 1988.

They abandoned it because it was a stupid artificial statistic, and didn't really measure anything meaningful.

Just because some people want to measure a pitcher by a stupid artificial statistic, doesn't mean that it's the best way to measure a pitcher.

Because that's what a "closer" is, a subset of "pitcher".
Since starters can't earn "saves", I don't think using them as a measurement of "pitchers" is a very good idea.

posted by grum@work at 01:40 PM on August 09

A closer's job is to close out the game, which is currently measured in saves whether one likes it or not. But statistics are so much better than facts.

That last sentence makes my brain hurt a little. Do you think that real baseball fans have a difficult time processing how dominant Mariano Rivera is without listing his save totals?

Put another way, Francisco Cordero has had more saves over the last two seasons (2009-10) than Mariano Rivera. Do you think that's a good metric for who the more effective closer is?

posted by dfleming at 02:54 PM on August 09

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