True, you never know when the highest leverage situation will arise, but you also don't know in advance when you are going to have a one or two run lead in the 9th inning either. You may save your best reliever for a save situation that never arises because an inferior reliever blew the game in a critical situation earlier in the game that your "closer" could have extinguished.
It seems to me that the Closer is the pitcher that is used with the least regularity. Sometimes he pitches two, three, four days in a row. Other times he goes a week without being used.
If your ace reliever takes a long time to warm up or can't handle irregular use, then put him in the rotation where he gets all the time he needs to warm up and prepare and he always knows days in advance when he will be pitching.
I'm of the opinion, especially after last year, that Lincecum is a bigger weapon out of the pen because of his ability to be ready at a moments notice as well as his ability to throw several innings if needed. They don't call him "The Freak" for nothing though. That's a rare thing.
Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.
All the dishes rattle in the cupboards when the elephants arrive
I agree wholeheartedly that a run in the 8th is equal to the same amount as a run in the 1st. However I think runs later in the game can be much more difficult to come by. What gets lost in the entire argument is pressure and the sense of finality that teams face. If you have what is percieved as a lock down closer it makes a manager force the issue in the 6th, 7th and 8th innings. You are forced to take more chances in a close game because you "think" the realities of scoring off an "elite" closer is difficult. Go look at game threads when its a tight ball game and see all the nerves pouring themselves over the posts. Humans playing the game feel those nerves too.
In reality until a manager decides to buck the trend, we will not have any "proof" that closers don't matter. Until we have a manager who decides to go closer by committee we won't know if that way works better than what has become standard over the past decades.
...the 2-2 to Woodsen and here it comes...and it is swung on and missed! And Tom Browning has pitched a perfect game! Twenty-seven outs in a row, and he is being mobbed by his teammates, just to the thirdbase side of the mound.
This seems soooooo simple and people are over complicating the issue.
A reliever on average pitches 55-80 innings.
A healthy starter on average pitches 150-200 innings.
Let's assume that Chapman is effective in both roles. A starter is double the value by having almost twice the innings logged. It's simple.
The closer role has the perception of higher importance but statistically doesn't. 3 outs in the 4th are just as important as 3 outs in the 9th. Also the closer gets the glory of the victory for throwing 10-25 pitches while the starter that threw 100+ is in dugout wearing a jacket. I think fans "feel" closer are more important than than truly are.
The problem I have with this analysis is that the answer to whether a closer matters would likely get buried in the noise of what is apparent anytime you do analysis like this... pretty much every single factor, and every single player, has less of an impact on who wins and loses games than any of use realize.
It's the same reason we saw last year when Votto got injured. When he went down, statistically we started understanding that we were projected to win about 59% of our games instead of 60 (estimating here). Does that mean there is no point in having Votto if he only makes 1% of a difference? Obviously not.
I think baseball teams really do aim for that .01 improvement in their chance of winning. Maybe even .001.
As a slight tangent, I think odds are less important for this particular team over the long haul. It's a playoff team. Once we get there, the title will come down to 1 or 2 situations that decide if we go home or we go on. Not a sample size of 500,000... just a couple situations. In those situations, I don't care about numbers anymore. I want a guy on my roster that I believe will come through in that moment. If that moment is the 6th, 7th, 8th, or 9th inning, I really don't care.
I'm just glad I'm not a manager and I get to throw pot shots from the peanut gallery.
Pay attention to the open sky
Cueto faced 529 batters in a game within one run. Champman 124. Just depends on ones definition of high leverage.
Granted, someone like Cueto or Arroyo is going to see more of those situations over the course of a season, but someone like Logan Ondrusek or Sean Marshall was in that situation more frequently albeit at a lesser amount of innings.
Last edited by bigredmechanism; 03-15-2013 at 12:09 PM.
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My philosophy is the best pitcher should pitch the most innings. I believe the closer role is overvalued. It has a perception and feeling of being more important where objectively it is not. A game feels more important in the 7-9th than the 3-6, even though they have the same value of needing 3 outs. A game can be lost in any inning but with the sense of urgency of "time running out", closers are overvalued in their role of winning a game.
Last edited by Trajinous; 03-15-2013 at 12:32 PM.