Comments on: Eric Gagne http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/1662 This and that about baseball stats. Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:01:55 +0000 hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6 By: Andy http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/1662/comment-page-1#comment-6834 Thu, 28 May 2009 15:10:33 +0000 http://www.baseball-reference.com/sotd/?p=1662#comment-6834 This is a tough argument to decide without looking at the actual data in detail. Keep in mind that closers (when in save situations) never face really weak hitters, such as pitchers...those guys would always be pinch-hit for in the 9th inning. But closers also get who they get...sometimes they don't need to face the 3-4-5 hitters. Guys brought in during the 7th or 8th often (but certainly not always) are coming in to face the best hitter on the opposing team--but sometimes they also get to face very weak hitters. Who knows how it all averages out?

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By: spycake http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/1662/comment-page-1#comment-6833 Thu, 28 May 2009 15:07:38 +0000 http://www.baseball-reference.com/sotd/?p=1662#comment-6833 "as a non-closer, he is LESS likely to be brought in to face a batter who mashes his out pitch on a regular basis."

Is he really, though? Closers (the good ones, anyway) are generally thought of as the best relievers on their staffs -- I doubt Eric Gagne in his prime had ANY batter "mash his out pitch on a regular basis." Good closers are always seen as "above the fray" and not really subject to manager's bullpen manipulation. A clear example of this is that closers finish most of their games -- they don't get pulled from a game unless it goes to extra innings and they reach their workload limit, and even then they almost always finish their own innings. If they were subject to a manager's manipulation, I suspect we would see more closers pulled before the conclusion of a game or inning.

It seems more likely that a good closer would be brought in to non-save situations either (1) to match up against the other team's best hitters, or (2) simply to "get his work in" if he hasn't appeared in a game recently. Maybe those two types of non-save situations cancel each other out in regards to hitter talent, but it would be interesting to see some data on the cumulative opposing hitter talent in save vs. non-save situations.

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By: tomepp http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/1662/comment-page-1#comment-6826 Wed, 27 May 2009 15:00:07 +0000 http://www.baseball-reference.com/sotd/?p=1662#comment-6826 I agree with JohnnyTwisto's observation about pitchers only being used as the closer when they're at the top of their game, and thus their non-save stats are inflated by work in less-effective years. I disagree with Spycake's match-up arguement, however. Generally, the manager will manipulate the bullpen to the relief pitcher's *advantage* - leftie vs. leftie, slider pitcher vs. batters who struggle with the slider, etc. On the other hand, the closer is brought in to face *any* hitter, whether or not they're good at hitting the closer's out pitch. While it is true the closer will equally likely face the 7-8-9 as the 3-4-5 hitters, as a non-closer, he is LESS likely to be brought in to face a batter who mashes his out pitch on a regular basis.

It would be curious to see collective split data from all primary closers during their prime (closer status) years, to see what the general trend is. Then we could look at indivisual pitchers to see whether they have a larger or samller than normal differrential.

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By: JohnnyTwisto http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/1662/comment-page-1#comment-6824 Wed, 27 May 2009 05:31:54 +0000 http://www.baseball-reference.com/sotd/?p=1662#comment-6824 Frank Francisco is facing Teixeira, Rodriguez, and Cano in a NON-SAVE situation right now!!!

/HUGE sample size

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By: spycake http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/1662/comment-page-1#comment-6822 Tue, 26 May 2009 22:23:11 +0000 http://www.baseball-reference.com/sotd/?p=1662#comment-6822 You are right -- the "quality of the hitters" argument works both ways, so it might cancel out.

I think every pitcher "pitches to the score" a little bit, or at least they should. No sense pushing your arm to make the perfect pitch when you've got a generous margin for error. The difference in approach may be even more significant for closers and other short relievers than starters, as relievers generally don't have to pace themselves for short appearances.

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By: JohnnyTwisto http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/1662/comment-page-1#comment-6816 Tue, 26 May 2009 19:42:12 +0000 http://www.baseball-reference.com/sotd/?p=1662#comment-6816 That's an interesting thought Spycake. It's my sense that closer use in non-save situations is more often based on the other circumstances (extra innings, needs the work) than on the actual batters coming up, but you may be right.

All that said, there probably is something to the thought that a closer will not focus as much when up by 4 runs in the 9th as if up by only 1. Intuitively it makes some sense. I'm not aware of any rigorous studies to try proving it, however.

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By: spycake http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/1662/comment-page-1#comment-6814 Tue, 26 May 2009 19:08:32 +0000 http://www.baseball-reference.com/sotd/?p=1662#comment-6814 Also, shouldn't we compare the types of hitters the pitcher was facing in each situation? Probable match-ups could be very different in save vs. non-save situations.

A closer is generally brought in to pitch the final inning, regardless of who is batting, so they are just as likely to face the 7-8-9 hitters as the 3-4-5 hitters. When they break from that role and they are being brought into a non-save situation (tie, trailing, extra innings, etc.), it's more likely that the closer is being brought in specifically to match up against tougher hitters.

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By: JohnnyTwisto http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/1662/comment-page-1#comment-6813 Tue, 26 May 2009 15:35:50 +0000 http://www.baseball-reference.com/sotd/?p=1662#comment-6813 It's partly selective sampling. Typically the best reliever is the closer. When these guys were at their best, they were closing. Gagne has not been a regular closer the last few seasons because he's obviously not the pitcher he once was. Therefore he now puts up his worse numbers in more non-save situtations. It might be more interesting to look at his splits only in those seasons when he was a top closer (although then of course you have a much smaller sample).

From '02 to '04, Gagne had a 1.70 ERA and 0.766 WHIP in save situations, 1.98 and 0.944 in non-saves. Still a gap (and it's probably enough innings to be statistically significant, though I'll let any statisticians correct me on that), but narrower.

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