Data Dump the Second: Relievers

During the holiday dead zone (the space between Christmas and New Years aka Taint Week) Getting Blanked rolled out a post graphing starting pitchers by a version of their FIP components. Certain clumps emerged, demonstrating the skills and abilities separating aces from middle rotation guys and inning-eating scum from barely employable dirt bags.

The post generated a fair amount of discussion, which is always a good thing. So why not dump some more data: this time with relief pitchers!

This charts all relievers with 150 IP over the past three seasons, which is a much lower threshold than starters. Relievers are erratic and there is a great crop of young guys who wouldn’t qualify if we raised the experience bar too high.

As before, the x-axis is strikeout differential (K%-BB%) and the y-axis is home run per ball in play. Might relievers feature a different skill spread than their starting compatriots?

First thing to notice: the averages shifted slightly for relievers. The average K-BB% rises to 12.88% from 10.5% and the home run per ball in play average down to just over 3%. Whether this speaks to the greater impact of suppressed 2011 run environment weighing more heavily in a smaller sample size or the relative quality of relievers good enough to pitch 100 innings, I can’t say. Just keep it in mind.

There seems to be a great cluster of pitches in the “good” quadrant for relievers rather than starters, speaking to the nature of their job and the selection bias inherent in relief pitchers. Entering games during high-leverage jams, throwing max effort innings in which strikeouts are key – situations which allow for the type of wiggle room “pitch to contact” players require.

One note on the gigantic point without a name: this pitcher actually just missed the innings cutoff, with only 97.2 innings over the past two years. The dominant nature of his performance demanded his inclusion though I excluded his name. First person to guess in the comments wins a (probably terrible) prize. Here’s a hint: it is incredibly obvious!

If you have any questions about your favorite relief ace’s placement: let me know. We had a good time sifting through the results the last time, let’s do it again!

Stats courtesy of Fangraphs, without whom I’m nothing.

Comments (34)

  1. lol mariano rivera?

  2. lol could it be mariano rivera?

  3. This article taught me nothing about Holds.

  4. Rivera’s in there, isn’t he? Between Broxton and Thornton?

    Could it possibly be new Jays closer Sergio Santos, who isn’t on that graph?

  5. Where’s Jason Motte?

  6. Kimbrel.


  7. It has to be Jon Rauch.

  8. Boom! Chris nails it.

  9. Craig Kimbrel! Maybe “incredibly obvious” is a little bit of a stretch.

  10. Where’s Santos? I’m guessing somewhere in the bottom left quadrant.

    • I’m seeing 18.8/2.80 for Santos. But he’s got a smaller sample of data to draw that from.

      Regardless, that puts him south of Soriano which is a nice sign of possible things to come.

  11. @DaveC: My guess is that Sergio Santos is the dot directly above Joel Hanrahan, but Mr. Fairservice will have to confirm that. If so, that places him in very good company and hopefully bodes well for the coming years. Would love to know where the Jays big 4 (Santos, Oliver, Janssen, and Frasor) stack up in this graph of awesomeness. Thanks Drew.

    • I’ll have to check later for the others (I’m on the train) but Frasor is 14.2/2.94 which puts him right beside League.

    • @Tom: Yeah, it was mostly a guess based on the “incredibly obvious” line of thinking.

      Enjoy your work, Drew, keep it up.

    • Because I’m feeling super nerdy tonight, though I’m wondering if I’m missing part of my numbers, I seem to be close enough with Drew’s numbers.

      Drew already gave us Frasor at 14.2/2.94
      Santos (missing a year compared to the rest since he’s new) 18.8/2.80
      Oliver: 17.3/2.37
      Janssen: 14.8/2.66

  12. Uhh, guys, Craig Kimbrel was really awesome last year.

  13. Whither David Robertson?

  14. There may not be enough innings, but… Jon Rauch?

  15. Not sure if anybody other than me cares but Marc Rzepczynski sits at 14.5/1.81 in the past two seasons which isn’t quite Jonny Venters but it is close enough to make me go squeeeeee

  16. Good work again! Who’s the one next to Cormier? And also the one between Mujica & Street?

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