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Thread: Joe Posnanski with more data showing that closers simply don't matter

  1. #31
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    Re: Joe Posnanski with more data showing that closers simply don't matter

    Quote Originally Posted by bigredmechanism View Post
    I don't think it's fair to cherry pick individual seasons to support that argument. Using 31.67 games (average of the three) is an incredibly small sample size. Looking at those numbers, one could assume that Weathers was equal to Rivera, and we all know that is not the case.
    I simply picked the last full season Rivera had, then the only seasons that Weathers and Chapman had closed, since the OP brought up Chapman and Weathers specifically.

    For as incredibly as Chapman was overall, from the closers role, while it looked more dominant, he wasn't actually any more effective in his role than other guys were in "close games".

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    Re: Joe Posnanski with more data showing that closers simply don't matter

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    I simply picked the last full season Rivera had, then the only seasons that Weathers and Chapman had closed, since the OP brought up Chapman and Weathers specifically.

    For as incredibly as Chapman was overall, from the closers role, while it looked more dominant, he wasn't actually any more effective in his role than other guys were in "close games".
    Fair enough.

    How many less wins do you think we would have had if we left Marshall in the closer role, or put someone like Ondrusek in there?

    I don't think our win total would have been drastically lower, but I do think it would have been less than 97.
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    Re: Joe Posnanski with more data showing that closers simply don't matter

    Quote Originally Posted by bigredmechanism View Post
    Fair enough.

    How many less wins do you think we would have had if we left Marshall in the closer role, or put someone like Ondrusek in there?

    I don't think our win total would have been drastically lower, but I do think it would have been less than 97.
    I think Marshall would have wound up with 97 as well. He is an incredibly good pitcher.

    Ondrusek, 95 or 96.

    But really, we are just making guesses at this point. The stats show that historically, no matter how pitchers have been used for the last 60 years, games have been "saved" at the exact same rates. It shows that in all games, 3 run games, 2 run games and 1 run games. Heck, Frank Francisco had an ERA over 5.50 and converted the same rate of saves as Aroldis Chapman who had an ERA 4 runs lower.

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    Re: Joe Posnanski with more data showing that closers simply don't matter

    This debate falls into the "Wins are overrated" category for me. Obviously wins don't tell the whole story but they are still important. I think teams overpay for closers and it can be an overrated position at times. That said, I still believe though that only certain people can do it. It takes a certain mentality to close. As someone said here earlier, not all innings are created equal. A strong minded (if you want to call it that) might have better results than someone who can't handle pressure. Having a person who can handle heavy pressure might only yield winning results on par with what was that of the 1960's in one run games, but it might be a better situation than putting a normal reliever in. I've seen from personal experience that a in-flux closing situation can hurt your team on an aggregate towards the end of the season.
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    Re: Joe Posnanski with more data showing that closers simply don't matter

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeThierry View Post
    This debate falls into the "Wins are overrated" category for me. Obviously wins don't tell the whole story but they are still important. I think teams overpay for closers and it can be an overrated position at times. That said, I still believe though that only certain people can do it. It takes a certain mentality to close. As someone said here earlier, not all innings are created equal. A strong minded (if you want to call it that) might have better results than someone who can't handle pressure. Having a person who can handle heavy pressure might only yield winning results on par with what was that of the 1960's in one run games, but it might be a better situation than putting a normal reliever in. I've seen from personal experience that a in-flux closing situation can hurt your team on an aggregate towards the end of the season.
    I am more of the belief that it takes a certain kind of person to be UNABLE to close, assuming they are actually a good pitcher. In my mind, 9 out of 10 good relievers could close just as well as current closers. It is that one guy that can't handle the pressure. These guys are professional athletes. They are always dealing with pressure. You think coming in during the 8th inning with runners on isn't a lot of pressure? Of course it is. If they can handle that, they can handle coming in to start the 9th inning.

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    Re: Joe Posnanski with more data showing that closers simply don't matter

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    I am more of the belief that it takes a certain kind of person to be UNABLE to close, assuming they are actually a good pitcher. In my mind, 9 out of 10 good relievers could close just as well as current closers. It is that one guy that can't handle the pressure. These guys are professional athletes. They are always dealing with pressure. You think coming in during the 8th inning with runners on isn't a lot of pressure? Of course it is. If they can handle that, they can handle coming in to start the 9th inning.
    I completely disagree with that notion, because as I've said, I've seen it first hand in St. Louis during the Ryan Franklin/random other closer years. Granted, Ryan Franklin wasn't a good reliever however they tried guys like Mitchell Boggs and other pitchers there. Mitchell Boggs was one of the best setup guys last year in baseball but put him in the closing role, he folds like a cheap suit.

    I also do not think coming into the 8th inning is the same sort of high pressure leverage as coming into the 9th. The mentality of such is completely different. A famous manager that's hated here once said "These are men, not machines". Yes they're professional athletes but every professional athlete has a different mental make up.
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    Re: Joe Posnanski with more data showing that closers simply don't matter

    Also, the Boston Red Sox tried the Bill James approach to closing and it was an epic failure. That isn't to say that if another team tried the same approach, it wouldn't work. However with the short sample size of teams that have tried that, it doesn't have a great track record.
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    Re: Joe Posnanski with more data showing that closers simply don't matter

    If big time closers were easy to come by, if "anyone that can pitch" could do it, there would be more of them and they wouldn't be so on/off from year to year. Closing on a consistent basis is hugely mental.

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    Re: Joe Posnanski with more data showing that closers simply don't matter

    Pretty decent article on the subject just posted.

    http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/sprin...ittee-work-mlb


    Here is a quote from the article. I agree with this:

    On paper, closer by committee sounds like a simple idea: just pitch when you're told to pitch and get outs. But it's not that simple. Like closing, getting a group of late-inning pitchers to buy into the plan isn't easy, and it takes a special group.

    Pitchers (particularly relievers) are creatures of habit, and one of the most difficult parts of being a reliever is that when you get into a poorly managed bullpen you're never quite sure when you are going to pitch. The best bullpen manager I ever had was Trent Jewett, whom I played for in 2005-06 at Triple-A Indianapolis (Pirates). He was great about talking to all the pitchers during stretching to get a sense of who could give him what he needed that night. I pitched in 57 games of relief that season and warmed up only three times without going into a game.

    On the flip side, after failing as a starter I was moved into the Tigers' bullpen two months into the 2000 season. The rest of that year I was called on to get "hot" more than 100 times -- I made just 56 relief appearances. It was a challenge and was particularly frustrating because it's not easy on your arm. This is the worst part of being a reliever: You get your adrenaline up to go into a game, and if it's a false alarm your adrenaline drops. Running a bullpen is the most difficult part of managing a baseball team, and some are just better than others at it.

    And yet closers are mostly immune to this. The modern-day system positions them with the greatest opportunity to succeed. Teams rarely give the closer-by-committee approach a chance to succeed in part because of the problems I mentioned, but the Tigers have no other options right now and might be the one team that could pull this off at a championship level.
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    Re: Joe Posnanski with more data showing that closers simply don't matter

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeThierry View Post
    I completely disagree with that notion, because as I've said, I've seen it first hand in St. Louis during the Ryan Franklin/random other closer years. Granted, Ryan Franklin wasn't a good reliever however they tried guys like Mitchell Boggs and other pitchers there. Mitchell Boggs was one of the best setup guys last year in baseball but put him in the closing role, he folds like a cheap suit.

    I also do not think coming into the 8th inning is the same sort of high pressure leverage as coming into the 9th. The mentality of such is completely different. A famous manager that's hated here once said "These are men, not machines". Yes they're professional athletes but every professional athlete has a different mental make up.
    How many chances did those guys get? It was talked about that Marshall couldn't handle closing and he had the job taken away from him. Yet we can see that he was 8 out of 9 in save chances as the closer last season. Now, I don't believe it was a mental reason they didn't believe he couldn't do it, but the point is, they didn't believe he could, so they didn't give him much of a chance either. If a guy goes out and closes and hasn't before, then has a poor game early on, he may not get many other chances and you can use the "he can't handle it" line. And maybe he can't. But we probably don't know if that is true or not based on a 5 game sample either.

    FTR, Mitchell Boggs had 5 save chances in 2011. He saved 4 and blew one game. I just can't believe that somewhere in those 5 games, 4 of which he did his job in, you identified that he folds like a cheap suit.

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    Re: Joe Posnanski with more data showing that closers simply don't matter

    Quote Originally Posted by TSJ55 View Post
    If big time closers were easy to come by, if "anyone that can pitch" could do it, there would be more of them and they wouldn't be so on/off from year to year. Closing on a consistent basis is hugely mental.
    What do you mean "there would be more of them"? I am not sure what you are trying to say. There are only 30 closer spots available, so at most, there are only 30 "available". And there are probably plenty of guys who could do better if given the chance, than some of the 30 guys who are "closers", but they are working as 7th and 8th inning guys in deep bullpens.

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    Re: Joe Posnanski with more data showing that closers simply don't matter

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    What do you mean "there would be more of them"? I am not sure what you are trying to say. There are only 30 closer spots available, so at most, there are only 30 "available". And there are probably plenty of guys who could do better if given the chance, than some of the 30 guys who are "closers", but they are working as 7th and 8th inning guys in deep bullpens.
    More "big time closers". Hell, even "closer" in general. Just because you're used in the closing role doesn't make you a closer. You have to do the job. Speaking of folding like a cheap suit, H. Bell signed a big contract as a "closer" last year didn't he? Why didn't that work out? He's done it before and all you have to do is be a decent pitcher.
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    Re: Joe Posnanski with more data showing that closers simply don't matter

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    http://joeposnanski.blogspot.com/201...r-you-get.html

    There is a lot in the article, but here is the real good stuff:

    Winning percentages when team leads by three runs going into the ninth inning:

    1960s: .974
    1970s: .977
    1980s: .975
    1990s: .963
    2000s: .976

    Winning percentages when team leads by two runs going into the ninth inning:

    1960s: .930
    1970s: .925
    1980s: .941
    1990s: .936
    2000s: .931

    WInning percentages when team leads by one run going into the ninth inning:

    1960s: .844
    1970s: .850
    1980s: .852
    1990s: .846
    2000s: .848
    I was getting ready to write a post about how these numbers only tell us that winning percentages overtime in these situations have not fluctuated much and that this article doesn't actually do anything to prove or disprove whether or not closers have had an impact. And then I figured first I should read the whole article and make sure Posnanski didn't cover additional analytics...

    And sure enough he doesn't, but he actually points out how ridiculous his argument is. A direct quote

    "Sure, yes, there are many variables here, and if you wanted to do an in-depth study of comebacks you would, as Tom Tango points out, take into consideration the run scoring environment. You would also consider ballparks and many other things. But I wasn't really interested in that. I was really interested in knowing if closers have made it more likely that teams will win games they lead going into the ninth. And the answer, I believe, is no."

    He ignores all other variables! Being an analytic for a living this absolutely destroys my insides.

    In the 60's runs per game were pretty low, and bullpens were rare. You have bad offense which is less likely to score runs to come back. Meaning the success rate of closing out a game is high.

    In the 70's the same argument holds true. Runs were increasing from the lows of the 60's but still well behind current day levels. Success rate remains high.

    In the 80's scoring starts to pick up, yet success rate of closing out games remains about the same, this is about the time when closers and bullpens really start to be used. Could this cancel out the increased scoring and level out the success rate?

    In the 90's offense booms and every team has bonafide roided up closes to face those roided up sluggers. Perhaps the closers cancelled out the boom in offense and leveled out the success rate?

    Run scoring in the 2000's slightly dropped and closer use is as prevalent as ever, and the results remain about the same.

    But then one might add, "but also in the 60s pitchers went deep and finished a lot of games, likely being tired and uneffective at the end of games, leading to more runs." Which is a valid point as well, we just don't know based on this set of information.


    So what does this information tell us? Nothing more than the probabilities of winning in certain scenarios has remained relatively unchanged. Much better and deep analysis needs to be done to prove anything regarding closers.

    I also wonder how the following chart linked below would compare decade by decade. It does a good job of giving some theories on the ups and downs as well, but it does not have data to back it up. I am just adding it for some additional thought.

    http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/201...ries-by-inning
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    Re: Joe Posnanski with more data showing that closers simply don't matter

    Quote Originally Posted by TSJ55 View Post
    More "big time closers". Hell, even "closer" in general. Just because you're used in the closing role doesn't make you a closer. You have to do the job. Speaking of folding like a cheap suit, H. Bell signed a big contract as a "closer" last year didn't he? Why didn't that work out? He's done it before and all you have to do is be a decent pitcher.
    Heath Bell didn't work out because he wasn't a decent pitcher last year. His control took a turn for the worst and he paid the price for walking a ton of guys.

    I still don't get what you mean when you say big time closers, or even closer. What defines them, in stats? X% of saves converted? XYZ ERA as a "saves" pitcher? What makes someone fit your definition of either of those things?

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    Re: Joe Posnanski with more data showing that closers simply don't matter

    I think some of you guys are confusing closer with simply good pitching. Of course a team with a good reliever is better than a team with a bad reliever. Yet this points out how the 1 inning closer vs. the old days where that never existed is simply of no benefit. Yet if you have a better closer than another team, sure, you will win more. The same thing is true if you have a much better setup man, or a much better 5th starter, or a much better 6th batter in the lineup. Better players means wins, be it a pitcher in the 8th, or 9th, or 1st inning.

    So yes, if you have a better bullpen than another team you will win more games (all else being equal). Yet making one of your guys a 1 inning closer is of no benefit.

    I have been saying this for years. The 9th inning in a close game is of no more importance than the 7th or 8th inning in a close game. Why wait to send out one of your best pitchers in the hopes you still have the lead come the 9th inning? Let him come in earlier and hold the lead. If your lead gets extended, bring in another guy. If the lead stays the same, let him go for more than 1 innning. That way you maximize the usage of your best pitchers in close ballgames instead of wasting him on a 3 run game in the 9th inning while you end up losing 1 run games in the 7th and 8th.
    Last edited by scott91575; 03-13-2013 at 08:11 PM.


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