I’m thinking out loud here, so I welcome your feedback on this one. I doubt I’m the first to think of this, but a Google search along these lines has turned up nothing.
Let’s start with the seventh inning of last night’s game. Jamie Moyer left the game with the bases loaded, no outs. Geoff Geary came in and let Moyer’s three runners score, along with another runner of his own. He left with the bases loaded and one out. Mike Zagurski relieved Geary, allowing two of Geary’s runners to score. He ended the inning leaving both of his own runners on base.
Now, according to traditional ERA calculation, Moyer gets credited with 3 runs in 0 innings because the three guys he put on base scored, even if after he left the game; Geary gets credited with 3 runs in 1/3 of an inning, because he got one out but one runner of his scored when he was in the game and two runners scored after he left; and Zagurski gets credited with 0 runs in 2/3 of an inning, even though he let up two runs, because both runners who scored on his watch were Geary’s.
But why calculate ERA this way? Why not split up the allocation of runs based on how many bases each pitcher is responsible for?
gives up 3 of 4 bases required to score a run and keeps his perfect era AND can use the starter's litter on the bases to GET outs...outs that might not otherwise be available at 1st base, PLUS mutiple outs on one play..
ie the reliever's Outs are easier
always wondered about this, but guess when they voted on it, relievers outnumbered starters..
I can see the problem. While it doesn't seem that the starter should take 100% of the blame when a reliever lets all his baserunners score, it also doesn't seem that a reliever should be penalized for letting up a couple RBI hits when he wasn't the one who let on the runners who scored. After all, a starter can let a couple baserunners get on to lead off the inning and not get penalized as long as he gets out of it, so why shouldn't a reliever be allowed the same cushion?
What it comes down to, in my opinion, is that ERA just isn't that great a statistic for judging the effectiveness of relievers. Starters (rightfully) have the luxury of getting into jams as long as they can get out of them. If they let allow two baserunners an inning for six innings without allowing a run, then more power to them - they've done their job. The ERA would be 0.00, and at the end of the day, that's really what matters. (Of course, the odds aren't too high that a starter would continue to put up a low ERA when he's allowing two baserunners an inning, but that's another story.)
With a reliever, on the other hand, the ERA doesn't really show much of the picture. The fact of the matter is that the reliever's job just isn't the same as the starter's job. Sure, there are times when a reliever will come in to open the inning and simply finish it cleanly himself. However, there are also plenty of times when he comes in to bail out a starter or another reliever. For the reasons that this article pointed out, ERA isn't going to be too reflective of the reliever's effectiveness. WHIP, on the other hand, is a lot more useful. The main reason why that's the case is that when a reliever comes in with runners on base, his job is to prevent any more runners from reaching base. If he lets up two hits and allows two runs to score, then even if he walks away from the inning without any damage to his ERA, he hasn't done his job.
There are other factors to take into account also. It's important for a reliever not to allow hits with runners on base, but it's also better to let up a single than a home run. So stats like HR Allowed, SLG against, etc. are also useful. If there were a version of WHIP that were weighted to assign more weight to extra-base hits, then that would be that stat I'd use to evaluate relievers.
Of course, all of this doesn't change the point that it's not really fair to the starter when a reliever allows all of a starter's runs to score. Even if we were to judge relievers by WHIP rather than ERA (meaning that the fact that the reliever's ERA comes away clean doesn't seem quite so unfair, since that's not what people would be judging him by anyway), that doesn't change the fact that the starter got screwed. However, if you calculated the league average percentage of inherited runners scored, then you could create a version of ERA that assumes that the league average percentage of inherited runners scored. It would be a little complicated, since the percentage would be different depending on the exact number of baserunners and outs that the reliever inherited, but it seems like it should be pretty do-able. It still wouldn't be perfect, since it wouldn't take into account things like the ability of the hitters that the reliever had to face (although I suppose that the average OPS of opposing hitters could be factored in there also).
Anyway, that would be my solution. I'd use a version of ERA that assumes the league average percentage of inherited runners scored to evaluate starters, and I'd use a version of WHIP that assigns more weight to more powerful hits to evaluate relievers.
Because the starting pitcher had 3 open bases to use to get out of previous innings before an earned run. So should the reliever.
yeah, but the starter always comes into the inning with 0 outs. is it really fair to let a reliever come in with men on and 2 outs, and allow a couple base hits before getting the out and not taking a hit to their era?
maybe it doesn't matter anyways, because comparing starter/reliever era's is comparing apples to oranges in the first place.
to be perfectly equitable, can't just divy the earned run by the number of bases allowed as the article suggests.
say, the reliever comes in after the starter gives up a single, run scores.. applying to the reliever 3/4 of the run and the starter 1/4 wouldn't be fair.
while the reliever can use the runner to make any additional outs easier (double play, force at second when no out available at 1st,etc) fact is the HARDEST base to get on the way to 4, and the run, IS the 1st base.
To get the 1st base earned against a pitcher - the pitcher has absolutely got to do something that is clearly a negative by the pitcher...allow a hit, walk a batter, hit a batter, throw a wild pitch for a 3rd strike, etc.
Rest of the bases can be attained when the pitcher actually does his job (get outs) through base advancement on ground balls to left of shortstop, sac bunts, fly balls, weak arm of catcher on stolen bases.. Additionally a single is often worth not 1 but 2 bases when a runner goes 1st to 3rd, 2nd to home,a double worth not 2 but 3, when runner goes 1st to home, hit and runs figure in also.
Easier outs don't balance out this HUGE disadvantage on pitcher negatives that the reliever is faced with.
But they should get SOMETHING counted against their ERA.