Jeff’s post last week about how bad the Diamondbacks have been with runners in scoring position got me thinking. He explained that there is no such thing as clutch hitting. I wholeheartedly agree. I wondered if good relievers could make a team’s pitching more clutch. My idea was that better relievers would hunker down, especially in close games, and it would be reflected in a team’s record in one-run games.
This idea is especially important for the D-backs, as their bullpen has been and continues to be, in a state of flux. Just last year the main guys were supposed to be J.J. Putz, David Hernandez, and Heath Bell. (I think I speak for D-backs fans when I say I do not miss the ‘experience’ that was Heath Bell.) None of these three men is currently part of the bullpen. Bell was traded away due to his ineffectiveness. Putz is losing a battle against Father Time, who is undefeated, and was DFA’d. Hernandez tore his UCL and should resurface in 2015. Now, the top three relievers are Addison Reed, Brad Ziegler, and Evan Marshall. More change is on the horizon as Matt Stites has been called up and he and Jake Barrett are expected to be integral parts of the bullpen in the future.
Assuming the bullpen improves, does this mean the D-backs will perform better in close games? Dave Studeman compiled much of the data on this topic, but the gist of it is that for the most part, teams’ W-L record in close games tracks a team’s overall record. However, teams can outperform their talent level in one-run games with small ball and good pitching.
It’s hard to say how much good pitching can actually help, but there is a positive correlation between Holds-Saves Percentage (holds plus saves divided by holds plus saves plus blown saves) and a team’s record in one-run games.
Let’s use the D-backs last few years as an example. In 2012, they were 15-27 in one-run games, and 81-81 overall. Their Holds-Save Percentage was 84.25, which was below the average of 87% that year. Only six teams were worse. The poor record in close games seems to be in line with the poor performances from the bullpen. In 2013, they were 34-21 in one-run games. Despite the stellar record, the hold-save percentage was a miserable 77.8. The league average was 86%, and only the lowly Astros were as bad as the D-backs’ bullpen. The wide discrepancy is confusing, but the team’s insane 17-8 record in extra-inning games helps explain it. The offense bailed out the bullpen. This year, they have gone 12-11, with a HS% of 85.29, which is right in line with the league-average of 86.15%.
Each pitcher’s success in high-leverage situations also seems instructive in W-L record in close games. Addison Reed has been quite bad in high-leverage situations this season, with batters putting up a .387 wOBA (his wOBA against in high leverage situations last year was .193). Ziegler has been relatively bad in these situations; batters have a wOBA of .332. They’re under .300 in other situations. Marshall has been superb in high leverage situations, holding batters to an OPS of .643, versus .833 and .831 in medium and low leverage situations. All of these numbers come from small sample sizes, though.
I do want to point out that the D-backs combined record in one-run games since 2012 is 61-59. In 2012 and 2013 they finished .500. So again, the real thing driving one-run record is probably the overall runs scored and runs allowed. But, as the D-backs bullpen begins to change shape and improve, look for a slightly better record in one-run games — and a slightly better record overall.
Powered by: Web Designers
- Best part of Peralta’s 108 mph fliner over the fence, IMHO: that he got that much leverage despite scooping it out… https://t.co/ivBrl76adF, Apr 08
- RT @OutfieldGrass24: If you're bored of watching Patrick Corbin get dudes out, you can check out my latest for @TheAthleticAZ. https://t.co/k1DymgY7zO, Apr 04
- Of course, they may have overtaken the league lead for outs on the bases just now, also... But in 2017, Arizona ha… https://t.co/38MBrr2D4b, Apr 04
- Prior to the games today, there had only been 5 steals of 3rd this season (and no CS) in the National League. The… https://t.co/gVVL84vPQ5, Apr 04
- RT @OutfieldGrass24: Patrick Corbin has a WPA of .318 and it's only the fifth inning., Apr 04
Powered by: Web Designers
- Every once in a while you get a beer that's just a little off... Usually happens to me at airports., 5 hours ago
- If Pollock doesn’t sign with a team that wears red uniforms I’m going to be really disappointed. Working theory: Se… https://t.co/zHn9DqzEiD, 7 hours ago
- The work here by @Britt_Ghiroli is splendid https://t.co/c8tSq0vw3T, 7 hours ago
- RT @TheAthleticAZ: Plenty of #Dbacks fans gave it some time - and they still don't like the idea. The "why" from @ZHBuchanan https://t.co/9oDlvue3fV, 16 hours ago
- RT @CardsNation247: Episode 30 of the Cardinals Nation 24/7 Podcast, Hosts @ToR_Ron75 & @JMRedwine welcome @buffa82 of @KSDKSports &… https://t.co/7dbIEzcahN, 11 hours ago