by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
For the first time ever I am debuting my own statistic that we will utilize moving forward (I’ll be posting the latest stats every Monday morning). It is a work in process, so I’ll be tweaking the formula a bit as we move forward, but the purpose is to rank relievers and their reliability to produce, whether it’s as a closer or just in general, based on their underlying skills and not their actual results. Let’s call it the “Reliever Reliability Quotient”, which I’ll refer to as RRQ moving forward. I’d love to hear your feedback of our first run, and your thoughts in general, so please share them in the comments!
Among the stats that are taken into account in calculating the number are:
- Line Drive Rate
- Groundball Rate
- Fly Ball Rate
- Popup Rate
- Strikeout Rate
- Walk Rate
Each skill is weighted differently, for how important I view it towards the makeup of an elite reliever. Just because you walk a few batters or are currently carrying an elevated line drive rate doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, so we have to adjust accordingly.
The baseline is a score of “0”, with the potential for pitchers to be both positive and negative. Even with a high score (or a low score) there is no certainty in a player’s production. The stat is meant as a way to try and help us identify those who are truly at risk of losing their job, to identify those who we’d expect to rebound (assuming they continue to get an opportunity to produce) or to find the most likely to succeed if given a chance.
Let’s take a look at how I would look at the scores:
|10-29||Solid (though worth monitoring)|
|<0||High Risk For Struggles|
Now a few notes on who’s included in this first run (which is just the current MLB closers):
- Any reliever with at least 20 IP were included
- Aroldis Chapman doesn’t have enough innings pitched, and was therefore left off the rankings
- Given the state of the bullpens in Washington and San Francisco, neither have a representative
- I included both Andrew Miller & Cody Allen
- I included Bud Norris, who should be the answer in Los Angeles once he’s healthy
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the rankings of the current closers:
|Seung Hwan Oh||-38.55|
- Iglesias ranked #18? While he looks like he has elite stuff, he has had some control issues. He also got hurt by a pedestrian O-Swing% (30.90%, where the average for a reliever was 30.77%) and a lack of popups (3.30%, compared to the average of 9.98%). It’s the popups that have the biggest impact on dragging him down the rankings (and his mark is actually the third lowest of any pitcher included on the above chart).
- Surprised to see Osuna ranked among the elite in the game? His score is the second highest, even when we look at setup men, and it’s hard to argue. He doesn’t walk people, he has been fooling them at a high level (48.20% O-Swing%) and he strikes out a ton of batters (37.00% K%). Almost everything about him screams elite.
- Then you move down one line and see Felipe Rivero?! He’s getting a lot of swinging strikes (15.50%) and avoiding walks, but that’s not all. He’s a groundball (58.3%) and popup (13.3%) machine, and that means there’s little risk of home runs. Maybe the numbers regress, but with the way he’s throwing right now he’s clearly elite.
- The other big surprise is likely Colome being ranked so low. Basically, in the stats that we looked at to form our score he’s relatively average, or below average, across the board and we’ve seen things start to catch up to him of late. That’s not to say that he won’t rebound, but there’s risk that he continues to struggle. While we wouldn’t push the panic button, it’s definitely something to monitor.
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com
Make sure to check out all of our updated rankings:
|First Base||June 3|
|Second Base||June 5|