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Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Paying exorbitant sums for the outdated closer and passing on a slugger.

While the top free agent slugger Edwin Encarnacion, who averaged 38.5 home runs over the last five years, waits for a team to make him an offer he can't refuse, people are falling over each other pointing out that three very recent free agent signings have pay that exceeds that of Mariano Rivera, the sainted greatest relief pitcher of all time. For his last six seasons Rivera was paid:

200838New York Yankees$15,000,000?
200939New York Yankees$15,000,000?
201040New York Yankees$15,000,00014.105
201141New York Yankees$14,911,70015.105
201242New York Yankees$15,000,00016.105contracts
201343New York Yankees$10,000,00017.105contracts
Career to date (may be incomplete)$169,441,825
Here are his innings pitched in those seasons rounded: 71, 66, 60, 61, 8 (injured), 64.

Not much. Certainly fewer than if he simply pitched one inning every other game, which would yield 81 innings. The original Radical Baseball document written in 2006 had a section titled "Start the Closer". In addition to the 81 innings point it also emphasized that the best relief pitcher should be used when he can have the biggest impact. Failing that, simply have him pitch the first inning, which ensures his pitching to the top of the order and, based on the number of pitches thrown, may enable him to pitch more than one inning.

That had increasingly become accepted by more people in recent years. Why then are they so positive about the absurd contracts given to:

Mark Melancon
Aroldis Chapman
Kenley Jansen

Each of those three free agent closers now have contracts with annual pay that exceeds Rivera's. Rivera was paid almost a quarter of a million dollars per inning pitched.

The justification is a silliness that is easily refuted:

One inning wonders do not pitch every day. Sunday, December 7, 2014

Am I the only who thinks the current conventional wisdom of shortening games through dominant one inning relief pitchers is silly? ...

In 1996 John Wetteland led the league in saves with 46 but pitched only 62.66 innings. Mariano Rivera did the heavy lifting with those 107 innings. At the time it was said that they reduced it to a seven inning game. In 2014 it's been said that some teams, most notably the Kansas City Royals, have reduced it to a six inning game...

... now three one inning relief specialists are the new model. Let's look at those Kansas City Royals...

... their innings in the regular season were: 62, 72, 70: 204 total innings, two fewer than Mike Marshall had all by himself in 1974 for the Dodgers in 106 games. In fact the number of games for the three KC triplets was 206 but, of course, many of those games overlapped with two or all three appearing in the same games...

The three headed monster accounted for only 612 (204 * 3) outs, which is 14%.

However, if they accounted for the final three innings in all their team's games that would be 33%. So the threesome, no matter how effective, can impact less than half the games...

The bottom line is that people who say that games can be reduced to six innings because a team has three lock down relief pitchers are mistaken. Those pitchers are part time players. It doesn't matter whether the model is the Lone Ranger Mariano Rivera or Betances/Robertson or Herrera/Davis/Holland...

This is yet another chink in the armor of the one inning wonders who pitch less than every other game.


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