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Thread: Accounting for the bullpen

  1. #1
    Member RedsBrick's Avatar
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    Accounting for the bullpen

    This season has been a bit bizarre so far. So many extra inning games, near the top in runs scored, key injuries early, the big boppers aren't really bopping yet and the bullpen....well, let's just say it's off track.

    Of the 9 guys who've accumulated stats this year coming out of the bullpen, 5 have ERAs over 4 and 3 are north of 7! On the flip-side of that coin every starter has an ERA under 4 (the worst being Leake at 3.81). Those guys are getting it done!

    So what's the problem? Is the 'pen awful or are the numbers an anomaly?

    Of the 21 games played to date the starters have been involved in the decision in only 8.

    Despite being near the top in runs scored, is the offense getting it done? Probably a yes and no answer would work. They're scoring but doing it late in the game.

    Of the 113 runs the Reds have scored this year, 43% (49) have come during the 7th inning or later (including extras), often times after the starter's work is done. That puts a lot of pressure on the BP, as does all the extras they've played.

    I like the fact that the team can - and does - score late, meaning there's always a chance to pull out the win, but it would also be nice to get more of those runs earlier in the game and let the bullpen work as it was designed, Marshall, Brox, Chappy. After all, Chap does have only 3 saves.

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    Re: Accounting for the bullpen

    How does scoring late put more pressure on the bullpen? I would think it was the opposite.

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    Re: Accounting for the bullpen

    Quote Originally Posted by PuffyPig View Post
    How does scoring late put more pressure on the bullpen? I would think it was the opposite.
    Not scoring until late puts pressure on all the pitchers.
    What if this is as good as it gets?

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    Waitin til next year bucksfan2's Avatar
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    Re: Accounting for the bullpen

    If you take out 5 offensive explosion games of 15,13,11,11,10 and you have a team that is averaging 3.3 runs per game. All stats are skewed early in the season and I think a handful of offensive outbursts skew the numbers even further.

    Over the course of a season everything will balance itself out. I have faith that the pen will be a strong suit as the season progresses.

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    Re: Accounting for the bullpen

    By not scoring runs early, it puts a lot more pressure on our starters. You shouldn't have to feel like you need to pitch a shutout every time you take the hill. It seems so far our offense doesn't start picking up until after our starter exits the game. It would be nice to score some runs early for a change.
    "I talked to an advance scout that told me if Joey Votto and Albert Pujols were on the same team he'd advise his team to do the unthinkable...pitch around Votto to get to Pujols." - Buster Olney, ESPN

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    Re: Accounting for the bullpen

    Quote Originally Posted by bucksfan2 View Post
    If you take out 5 offensive explosion games of 15,13,11,11,10 and you have a team that is averaging 3.3 runs per game. All stats are skewed early in the season and I think a handful of offensive outbursts skew the numbers even further.

    Over the course of a season everything will balance itself out. I have faith that the pen will be a strong suit as the season progresses.
    While it's fair to point out that outliers have an abnormally strong effect in small samples, we should be careful about taking that too far. 5 games is 25% of the season so far. If we were to take out the top 25% of games in a full season, we'd probably see a similar impact on the average runs per game.

    Perhaps this top 25% is especially high, but taking the best things away and lamenting the rest can be a silly game to play if you read too much in to it.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Waitin til next year bucksfan2's Avatar
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    Re: Accounting for the bullpen

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    While it's fair to point out that outliers have an abnormally strong effect in small samples, we should be careful about taking that too far. 5 games is 25% of the season so far. If we were to take out the top 25% of games in a full season, we'd probably see a similar impact on the average runs per game.

    Perhaps this top 25% is especially high, but taking the best things away and lamenting the rest can be a silly game to play if you read too much in to it.
    If you want to find out how good or how bad an offense is, you need to take into consideration outliers. Every team in baseball is going to have games where they bust out offensively. Every team with professional ball players is going to find themselves in a game where everyone his hitting. When the opposing team goes from trying to win the game to trying to end the game as soon as possible.

    The question becomes if the Reds are struggling to score runs are 5 games of an offensive explosion more indicative of their performance that 16 games of ineptitude?

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    Re: Accounting for the bullpen

    Quote Originally Posted by bucksfan2 View Post
    The question becomes if the Reds are struggling to score runs are 5 games of an offensive explosion more indicative of their performance that 16 games of ineptitude?
    We saw it in a nutshell when the Reds scored 9 runs in the top of the 9th at STL, then was held to one run over the next 20 innings (or something crazy like that). Which is the more likely indicator of their real offense?
    "I talked to an advance scout that told me if Joey Votto and Albert Pujols were on the same team he'd advise his team to do the unthinkable...pitch around Votto to get to Pujols." - Buster Olney, ESPN

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    Re: Accounting for the bullpen

    Quote Originally Posted by bucksfan2 View Post
    If you want to find out how good or how bad an offense is, you need to take into consideration outliers. Every team in baseball is going to have games where they bust out offensively. Every team with professional ball players is going to find themselves in a game where everyone his hitting. When the opposing team goes from trying to win the game to trying to end the game as soon as possible.

    The question becomes if the Reds are struggling to score runs are 5 games of an offensive explosion more indicative of their performance that 16 games of ineptitude?
    First, let me concede something. Given a certain level of overall run production, a team is better off scoring it's average number of runs each day than having the occasional huge day and a lot of below average days.

    Here's where I think you're misguided. You're essentially suggesting that those high scoring games are a fluke. That a team's having a handful of huge scoring games create an artificially high perception of the team's actual, predictable ability to score runs.

    Put another way, you're saying that there is no relationship between having big spikes in run scoring and being a good run scoring team the rest of the time.

    So, a few thoughts

    1. There is a lower bound of run scoring -- zero. There is no upper bound. Every single team in MLB will have an average R/G that is higher than their median R/G. Put differently, every team will have more than half of their games include a run scoring total that is below their average.

    2. Teams that are generally better at scoring runs are more likely to have games where they score a ton of 'em.

    3. Therefore, teams with generally strong offenses will have a higher percentage of their games in which their run total is below average.

    It's sort of like the runners left on base "problem". Guess which teams lead MLB every year with runners left on base? It's the ones that score the most runs. It seems counter-intuitive, because we want to imagine a scenario where they convert more of those LOB guys to runs, but that's not how it works in practice. The more runs you score, the less efficiently you tend to do it.

    So, I'd suggest that if you aren't comfortable with using the average R/G to judge the Reds offensive, look at run scoring this way: How often do the Reds score at least X runs per game compared to the average team? (or use X runs or fewer if you prefer) Use whatever number you want for X, but you have to do the same for whomever you want to compare the Reds to. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

    While I do think your basic instinct is correct in terms of big nights inflating the average, a few things:

    - What you're seeing with the Reds is not a function of something special with the Reds offense -- it's something that happens to good offenses, period. Teams that score 4 runs or 5 runs more than other teams are the same ones that score 10 runs more than other teams.

    - Those 10 run nights aren't coming at the expense of 2 and 3 run nights. Rather, they are a result of an offense than turns 2 run nights in to 3 run nights, 3 run nights in to 5 run nights, and 5 run nights in to 10 run nights. In other words, you're thinking about those nights backwards.

    - So instead of thinking, "If only the Reds could take some of those runs and use them on lower scoring nights" think "those big nights are a sign of an offense that turns close wins in to blowouts and which turns close losses in to close wins"

    - Having an offense that DOESN'T have big scoring nights isn't a sign of an efficient offense; it's a sign of a poor one.

    - And of course, small sample size. Our run scoring distribution in a subset of our games is less predictive our ability to score runs in all of our games.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Re: Accounting for the bullpen

    Yesterday's game was a perfect example. Great pitching by Latos to get the win. However, clinging to a 1 - zip lead in the 8th (a run generated by Frazier's long ball in the 6th - late), the first two get on. ONE mistake pitch and the Reds are behind and Latos' efforts are again shot to heck!

    Fantastic pitching from Broxton and an incredible play by Cozart preserved the victory.

    I do give credit to the Cubs' starters in that series...I thought they pitched well. Having said that...the Reds should have pushed at least one run across in the third. Mes and Latos each get base knocks. So, two on, no outs with the top of the order coming up. The result? Three Ks from Choo, Cozart and Votto....two of them looking.

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    Re: Accounting for the bullpen

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    1. There is a lower bound of run scoring -- zero. There is no upper bound. Every single team in MLB will have an average R/G that is higher than their median R/G. Put differently, every team will have more than half of their games include a run scoring total that is below their average.
    Its kinda like the adage, there are a finite amount of outs but an infinite amount of runs. Its true but in the modern era of baseball I have yet to see a game called because a team couldn't record 27 outs. You can score as many runs a game as possible, but the reality is they are difficult to come by. There are a lot of theories in baseball that are true but at the same time really aren't applicable.



    2. Teams that are generally better at scoring runs are more likely to have games where they score a ton of 'em.

    3. Therefore, teams with generally strong offenses will have a higher percentage of their games in which their run total is below average.
    The Houston Astros, arguably one of the worst teams in baseball history has games this season already where they have scored 8, 8, 16 and 10 runs. One less offensive outburst than the Reds. I would contend that outlier offensive games are common for every team in baseball. The Reds, a team with WS hopes and the Astros, a team with #1 draft pick hopes are separated by a couple of runs when it comes to offensive outburst games.

    There are a number of reasons as to why teams score a bunch of runs in a game. One could be good hitting, one could be awful pitching, and another could be awful defense. Someone brought up the 9 run 9th in St. Louis a few weeks ago. Those 9 runs were a combination of good offensive, poor pitching, inept defense, and a team that just wanted to get the game over with. Are we going to say that those 9 runs in one inning are more indicative than the next 2 games where they struggled to score? When you go back and look each game there is a pretty good reason why a bunch or runs are scored. If you look at it over an aggregate you lose what happened in each individual game.

    It's sort of like the runners left on base "problem". Guess which teams lead MLB every year with runners left on base? It's the ones that score the most runs. It seems counter-intuitive, because we want to imagine a scenario where they convert more of those LOB guys to runs, but that's not how it works in practice. The more runs you score, the less efficiently you tend to do it.
    Runners left on base are frustrating to watch for sure. But you are correct, when you look at a good team they are getting a lot of runners on base and eventually those runners are going to score. In yesterday's broadcast someone mentioned that eventually with Choo getting on base over 50% of the time they will knock him in.

    I guess my theory is that outlier offensive games aren't special to a good offensive team, they are common throughout baseball. If there is something unusual about a teams offensive output then it raises some alarms. If your leaving runners on base at an abnormally high level that raises an alarm. Baseball is a game of failure, but when you are failing at an abnormally high rate then you should have some concerns.

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    Re: Accounting for the bullpen

    Quote Originally Posted by bucksfan2 View Post
    The Houston Astros, arguably one of the worst teams in baseball history has games this season already where they have scored 8, 8, 16 and 10 runs. One less offensive outburst than the Reds. I would contend that outlier offensive games are common for every team in baseball. The Reds, a team with WS hopes and the Astros, a team with #1 draft pick hopes are separated by a couple of runs when it comes to offensive outburst games....

    I guess my theory is that outlier offensive games aren't special to a good offensive team, they are common throughout baseball. If there is something unusual about a teams offensive output then it raises some alarms. If your leaving runners on base at an abnormally high level that raises an alarm. Baseball is a game of failure, but when you are failing at an abnormally high rate then you should have some concerns.
    I would argue that, 20 games in to the season, any explanation other than "Small Sample Size" is grossly premature. As you point out, in a tiny handful of games, things like individual horrible pitches have a significant influence. You should consider looking at a full season's worth of data across all teams in MLB to see how this plays out over time.

    I'm actually pulling data together and will take a look at this myself. So, we'll see.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Re: Accounting for the bullpen

    Ok:

    Bucksfan's assertion is that there isn't really much of a correlation between scoring a lot of runs in a given game and having a good offense overall.

    I contend that there is. Here's some data.



    What does this mean?

    Firstly, we can see a pretty clear general trend from the top left to the bottom right. The left to right part is definitional -- every team scores at least 0 runs 100% and scores at least the next amount of runs a bit less frequently.

    Within any given level of run scoring, teams that score the most runs on average are most likely to score that level of runs or higher.

    For example, looking at 10+ runs, the Brewers, Cards and Rockies (top 3 average R/G) did it 6%, 10% and 8% of the time respectively. The bottom 3 teams in overall run scoring scored 10+ runs 4%, 2% and 2% of the time. Put differently, scoring about 1 more run per game correlates to scoring 10 or more runs 3x as often.

    And as you can see from the correlations, it's generally all quite strongly correlated. There are points at which the randomness takes over, but that's only at the very extremes -- shutouts (really bad day) and crazy explosions of 14 or more runs (really, really good days). The way to read that is, the more the number, the more that teams that do the thing in the row (e.g. score 5+ runs) are the same teams that do the thing in the column (score 15+ runs).

    In conclusion: At least in 2012, there did not appear to be any team where the average number of runs per game hid the fact that they were particularly prone to extreme run outputs -- high or low. Put differently, teams that score more runs on average tend to have their entire run scoring distribution shifted higher, particularly in the 3 to 8 run range.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Re: Accounting for the bullpen

    Wrong thread


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