## are closers used wrong?

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JTWood wrote:
Red Stripe wrote:
BobbyRoberto wrote:These numbers tell me that a closer is important in a 1-run game, but once you push the lead up to 2 or 3 runs, the importance is lessened. The crucial inning in a game could easily be the 7th or 8th.

The reason those 2 and 3 run lead percentages of winning are so low might actually be because of the closers not the teams hitting...

You beat me to it. You're looking at stats that have been affected by the presence of the closer. I would think that renders your logic fallable.

The save is fallable logic to begin with. It was invented by a writer and popularized by agents. Here is a good article on the subject:

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/artic ... 1109622246
looptid
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Red Stripe wrote:
BobbyRoberto wrote:I like the way relievers were used in the 70's. Rollie Fingers, Mike Marshall, Goose Gossage (early in his career). Those guys were used for multiple innings in crucial situations and contributed more to their team winning than a "closer" who comes into the game to get 3 outs in the 9th with a 3-run lead.

Baseball Prospectus has the numbers, based on 2005:

When the visiting team has been down by 1 run, top of the 9th, nobody out/nobody on, they've won 12% of their games.

When the visiting team has been down by 2 runs, top of the 9th, nobody out/nobody on, they've won 2% of their games.

When the visiting team has been down by 3 runs, top of the 9th, nobody out/nobody on, they've won 2.4% of their games.

When the home team has been down by 1 run, bottom of the 9th, nobody out/nobody on, they've won 17.2% of their games.

When the home team has been down by 2 runs, bottom of the 9th, nobody out/nobody on, they've won 7.1% of their games.

When the home team has been down by 3 runs, bottom of the 9th, nobody out/nobody on, they've won 2.7% of their games.

These numbers tell me that a closer is important in a 1-run game, but once you push the lead up to 2 or 3 runs, the importance is lessened. The crucial inning in a game could easily be the 7th or 8th.

The reason those 2 and 3 run lead percentages of winning are so low might actually be because of the closers not the teams hitting, you put one of the crappier MR guys in to do the work with a 2 or 3 run lead the chances of winning the game are going to be a lot higher than by putting in your top fireballing closer. Im sure those stats would change if they switched up how the closer role works, these numbers are so low because the closers on most teams are so good in closing the door on the game. Some MR's aren't closers because they don't have that mentality we always talk about when it comes to closing a game. Lots of guys could blow 2 or 3 run games pretty easily if they don't have that mentality.

The mentality arugement is the worst one of all.

1. If a pitcher cannot perform under pressure, how did he survive through high school, possibly college, and the minor leagues, and pitch well enough to become one of 750 people on Earth good enough to have a major league roster spot?

2. The mentality to pitch in the ninth inning, if such a thing exists, isn't inherent. It's not a skill some possess and some don't. It is an artificial construction that some might be foolish enough to buy into, but it's hardly a strength.
looptid
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How do the 9th inning percentage numbers compare with the probability that a team will blow similar leads in every other inning?

If they are similar, it supports the contention that the idea of the closer is overrated. If they are not similar, and a 6th inning lead is far more likely to be erased in that inning than a 9th inning lead, then it supports the current usage of the closer.
Dice
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Dice wrote:How do the 9th inning percentage numbers compare with the probability that a team will blow similar leads in every other inning?

If they are similar, it supports the contention that the idea of the closer is overrated. If they are not similar, and a 6th inning lead is far more likely to be erased in that inning than a 9th inning lead, then it supports the current usage of the closer.

You're focusing on the wrong aspect. The margin a team leads by is more important than the inning. If you read the article linked above, the best situations to use a reliver (that increase a team's chances of winning the most) are:

Home Team
1. Top of 9th, lead by 1.
2. Top of 9th, tied.
3. Top of 8th, lead by 1.
4. Top of 8th, tied.
5. Top of 7th, lead by 1.
6. Top of 7th, tied.
7. Top of 9th, lead by 2.

Sense a pattern?

Visiting Team
1. Bottom of 9th, lead by 1.
2. Bottom of 8th, lead by 1.
3. Bottom of 9th, tied.
4. Bottom of 8th, tied.
5. Bottom of 9th, lead by 2.
6. Bottom of 7th, lead by 1.
7. Bottom of 8th, lead by 2.

We don't see three run saves factor into the top seven situations for either the home or away team. And the 8th inning is more important than the current useage gives it credit for.

The major points of the study showed that:

1. A closer has more impact for his team when they’re on the road than when they’re at home. With just one exception, every situation in which the closer’s team has the lead has a higher impact for the visiting team than the home team.

2. While a closer has the greatest potential impact with a one-run lead in every inning, a tie-game situation is not far behind. In particular, closers have almost as much impact in tie games as they do with one-run leads when at home. Remember the expression, "play for a tie at home, play for a win on the road? " In this case, it’s true. If a closer is used to keep the game tied for the home team, the strategy will pay off more often than not.

3. And most important of all: the practice of using a closer to protect a three-run lead in the ninth inning is absurd, even in today’s high-offense environment. The impact that a closer has in that situation is less than the impact he would have protecting a three-run lead in the sixth inning! Almost every situation in which the closer’s team is tied or has the lead is more important than the simple task of the three-run ninth-inning lead, save or no save. In fact, for the home team, the impact of protecting a three-run lead in the 9th (.038) is less than the impact of throwing a scoreless top of the first inning (.046).
looptid
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3. And most important of all: the practice of using a closer to protect a three-run lead in the ninth inning is absurd, even in today’s high-offense environment. The impact that a closer has in that situation is less than the impact he would have protecting a three-run lead in the sixth inning! Almost every situation in which the closer’s team is tied or has the lead is more important than the simple task of the three-run ninth-inning lead, save or no save. In fact, for the home team, the impact of protecting a three-run lead in the 9th (.038) is less than the impact of throwing a scoreless top of the first inning (.046).

I agree and yet I've seen managers use closers to protect 4-run leads this season. The save is a bad statistic. One big problem with the save it that it seems to guide a manager's decisions. Managers shouldn't make their decisions based on getting a pitcher a save.
Roger Angell: I was talking with Bob Gibson and I said: 'Are you always this competitive?' He said: 'Oh, I think so. I got a three-year old daughter, and I've played about 500 games of tic-tac-toe with her and she hasn't beat me yet.'
BobbyRoberto
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BobbyRoberto wrote:
3. And most important of all: the practice of using a closer to protect a three-run lead in the ninth inning is absurd, even in today’s high-offense environment. The impact that a closer has in that situation is less than the impact he would have protecting a three-run lead in the sixth inning! Almost every situation in which the closer’s team is tied or has the lead is more important than the simple task of the three-run ninth-inning lead, save or no save. In fact, for the home team, the impact of protecting a three-run lead in the 9th (.038) is less than the impact of throwing a scoreless top of the first inning (.046).

I agree and yet I've seen managers use closers to protect 4-run leads this season. The save is a bad statistic. One big problem with the save it that it seems to guide a manager's decisions. Managers shouldn't make their decisions based on getting a pitcher a save.

I agree. Of course, managers also often make decisions based on getting their starting pitcher a win. This is understandable to the extent that there is enormous pressure on managers to do just this sort of thing - even if that is in conflict with the pressure to get a win!

It's a funny thing about baseball. Many of the popular offensive stats are formulated to minimize conflict between individual and team success (e.g., sac fly with a man on 3rd doesn't count as an AB). That is less so the case with pitching categories - especially saves and wins.
"The game has a cleanness. If you do a good job, the numbers say so. You don't have to ask anyone or play politics. You don't have to wait for the reviews." - Sandy Koufax
ramble2
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I was going to chime in on this thread, however when I saw HOOTIE, BobbyRoberto, Tavish, looptid and Ramble had already posted....I knew they had said everything I was going to say.
RynMan
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