Saturday, October 04, 2008


Every now and then here at "Bitterness" we like to rage against the machine! The "Machine" says use Times Roman as your preferred font, we mix up and come at you in Verdana! The "Machine" says Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez is the cats pajamas out of the bullpen because he set a single season saves record! We say he is no Bob Thigpen! His name should barely garner any attention on the American League MVP or Cy Young ballots. Let me break it down for ya, with a little help from CNNSI's Joe Posnaski. You see, for some time I have been arguing that no one has bothered to really dig deep and look inside K-Rod's numbers. But "Pos" did just that. I mean, let's face it, saves in general are a somewhat overrated stat, as stats go. I mean Joe Blow Closer can come in to protect a three-run lead, give up several hits or walks, whichever, and 2 runs and still gets a save. His ERA is now 18.00, with a WHIP of say 5.00. In theory he could do that 10-20 times, and have 20 saves, but be a not so great pitcher. Plus, like in K-Rod's case, someone could have more opportunities, in which to set the record. Really any stat that hsa to do with totals and not crazy averages or percentages, is suspect in my book (Bitterness is a Fish Can Catch: The Novelization due in bookstores, shortly after you see the swarm of locusts). You see the halos neither scored, nor gave a up a bunch of runs, giving Francis plenty more opportunities than a lot of other closers. But this is just the tip of the iceberg, my friends!

So lets breakdown this supposed "savemaster". First off, K-rod threw 66 innnings, not once pitching more than an inning to garner a save. Mariano Rivera had eight! Eight! Jonathan Papelbon had 13 saves which required him to get more than three outs. Thirteen! For those of you scoring at home, that's thirteen more than K-rod. That seems like a pretty glaring statistic, but not the most glaring. Oh no, no, no.

Not only did K-rod not ever pitch more than an inning in an outing, eight times he needed less than 3 outs to record a save. Now, as Posnaski points out Joe Nathan had zero save opportunities that lasted less than an inning. Joakim Soria who finished a modest 20 or so saves behind K-Rod, only had three save opportunities that lasted less than an inning, two of those were blown saves on the road, meaning he didn't pitch the full inning because his opponent ended the game by beating him. But wait, there's more!

K-Rod blew 9 saves on the season. Soria, blew three. Rivera blew one. Papelbon, five. But, of course that could also be attributed to having more save opportunities, I guess. But look at the percentages, Soria blew about 7% of his save chances, Rivera 3%, Papelbon 11%, K-Rod blew about 13%! Almost twice as high as Soria's percentage!

K-Rod's ERA was 2.31, which is by no means eye popping, but by comparison (Soria sported a 1.60 ERA, Rivera's was 1.40, Joe Nathan's was 1.33) it is gaudy.

But by far my favorite stat "Pos" brings to light, backing up something I've been saying all year, has to do with what I like to call the "anxiety factor". This has to do with making it look easy. You know breezing through a save with a 1-2-3 inning, rather than making your team's fans anxious, hence "anxiety factor". Here is an excerpt from the column:

Also, an Angels' fan mentioned that K-Rod's saves have been much more of a thrill ride than the others'. For fun, I did a quick countdown of easy saves -- those would-be saves where the pitcher went 1-2-3 without allowing walk or hit. Obviously easy saves are worth exactly the same as difficult ones, but I think it does tell you who are the most dominant closers around.

Rivera: 20 easy saves out of 38 (52.6 percent).

Soria: 21 easy saves out of 41 (51.2 percent).

Nathan: 16 easy saves out of 38 (42.1 percent).

K-Rod: 19 easy saves out of 61 (31.1 percent).

I mean, good golly! Is that the mark of the top closer in the league? That's a rhetorical question folks.

K-rod's "dominance" was pulled into the spotlight for all to see on Friday night, when, in an inning and a third (his first outing all season in which he had to retire more than three batters) he allowed four hits and two runs to take the loss and send the Angels to Boston, down 2 games to none in the Best-of-Five series. Impressive indeed.

One last thing here. It bares mentioning that Francis has a fairly steady defense behind him. I mention this, because K-Rod has come up in a lot of discussions lately, as far as where he will go and how much he will make next year. But before anyone gets set to pony up the big bucks Francis demands, they might want to take a deeper look into his numbers.

The Angels have dominated this season (or so it would seem. But that's another post for another time), but the guy a lot people consider to be the team's MVP, may be their biggest postseason liability. Something to think about.

This rant has been brought to you by Boku.*

*- Boku, not only did not have anything to do with this, but may not even still exist.

No comments:

Post a Comment