Thursday, May 31, 2012

"The hardest three outs"

Take note Bizarro Royals, the Seattle Mariners might have found their new closer.

Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images
Last night, with the game in the balance, M's skipper Eric Wedge turned to Hisashi Iwakuma to slam the door and secure a series win against division rival Texas.  Despite giving up three runs, Iwakuma rose to the occasion and recorded the save.  Not only did he record "the hardest three outs," (not really) but he also recorded six others.  That's right, Hisashi Iwakuma earned a save in the Mariner's nail-biting 21-8 win over the Texas Rangers.  Check out the must-see highlights of his dominating performance here

That's why closers are so important, because they get the hardest three (or nine, or one, or what have you) outs--even if the leverage index of those outs are microscopic.  That's why saves are worth 8 points in the PFBL.  That's why saves are the one way to subvert the IP maximum in the PFBL.  That's why every MLB closer must be owned in the PFBL.

That makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?


  1. I find it hard to believe that the same old (crap) arguments haven't yet been trotted out to rebut this post.

  2. This exception to the rule (the rule, meaning the way that closers and relief pitchers are typically used in MLB) has more to do with the broad definition of a save, rather than any kind of scoring discrepancy in the PFBL. This is the same reason that middle relievers have so little upside in our league, as they are more subject to BSVs just by definition. It should be pointed out that not only is Iwakuma not Seattle's closer, but he is also not owned in the PFBL, and rightly so. Finally, while I appreciate your inclusion of the Leverage Index, I find Posnanski's article riddled with circular logic. He should take a look at the leverage index himself.

    1. So, because this was such a ridiculous example, it cannot be used to show that saves are ridiculous statistics? That doesn't make sense.

  3. I'm saying this example is an aberration, and not in line with how relief pitchers are typically used in this era.

    Is saves a flawed statistic? Certainly. The definition is far to broad, and it, too, was created before LaRussa gave us the now common, 7th inning reliever, 8th inning set up man, and 9th inning closer. The category of saves was defined long before that practice became the order of the day.

    Is saves a fantasy category that is given too much credence? Absolutely. But aside from limiting its impact, as we have taken measures to do in the PFBL, I'm not really sure what can be done about it. Saves are going to be a stat category, like it or not. And since there is only one player on the field who can earn one per game, they are going to be uniquily prized.
    I'm not saying that saves are the most important category in baseball. By no means. Like you I feel that they are overvalued and, by definition, flawed.

    I do feel that the final three outs of a game are the most stressful, and most taxing of the game, when it's a save situation. The Posnanki article gives us stats for all 9th innings. He allots that when the home team is winning, they do not bat, and so 9th inning stats are hard to compare with those from other innings. But even then, they must be pared down to when the game is 3 runs or less. 2 runs or less. 1 run. The stress on those outs is magnified the closer you are to even. Throw in a baserunner—say, a leadoff walk, for example (Oh God no!!!)—and the stress is amplified even more. This is difficult to quantify, even the Leverage Index cannot accurately measure it. I think it is better demonstrated by the volatile nature of a closer's job security and their overall short shelf life.

    PS - Iwakuma now is the Mariners closer. Apparently, he did enough during his recent 3 inning save to win the job. I believe he's available in the PFBL...