Monday, May 19, 2008

High Leverage, Flat Brim

FanGraphs has a nice little post about George Sherrill:
"With the new design of the home page up and running I recently noticed that Orioles closer George Sherrill not only has the oldest-sounding name in baseball but also leads all relievers with a 2.03 WPA. Sherrill, part of the Erik Bedard trade, has 17 saves out of the Orioles 23 wins; his saves:team wins percentage of 73.9 leads all closers as well.

Something interesting about his success—other than the fact that five of his saves have come against his former employer Seattle—is his higher than expected 3.43 ERA. Granted, ERA is not too useful of a barometer when analyzing the efforts of a closer, but his high saves total and high WPA led me to believe he has been shutting down opponents with the greatest of ease.

A closer look at his game logs shows that, of his 8 earned runs allowed, three have come in non-save situations and another two in his blown saves. In all successfully converted saves, Sherrill has allowed just three earned runs. Despite this relative success, there are four other closers who have been performing extremely well while surrendering next to nothing, regardless of whether or not their appearances coincide with blown saves or non-save situations.

Billy Wagner: 16 GP, 17 IP, 9 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 19 K
Brad Lidge: 19 GP, 19 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 8 BB, 21 K
BJ Ryan: 14 GP, 14 IP, 11 H, 1 ER, 6 BB, 17 K
Mariano Rivera: 16 GP, 17 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 14 K

Here are the averages of these four stacked up next to Sherrill:

Sherrill: 21 GP, 21 IP, 13 H, 8 ER, 10 BB, 16 K
Others: 16 GP, 17 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 17 K

Another interesting area to look at is the situation in which the closer entered. Coming into a bases loaded, no out situation with a one-run lead is much different than entering into a nobody on, one out situation with a two-run lead. The statistic gmLI measures the difficulty level when the pitcher entered the game. Here are the average gmLIs of these five closers:

Wagner: 1.34
Lidge: 1.83
Ryan: 2.10
Rivera: 1.65
Sherrill: 2.21

Generally speaking, the average LI, or neutral event, is 1.00; 10% of all events will be over 2.00.

Sherrill has the highest average gmLI of the five while Wagner has the lowest. While it is definitely remarkable that Wagner is yet to surrender an earned run—he has given up 4 unearned runs—it looks as though Sherrill has been less successful in preventing runs due to pitching in much tougher situations.

These other four may have better peripherals, but do not let Sherrill’s ERA fool you: In just 21 innings pitched he has contributed two wins while pitching in tough situations."
I'm glad I picked Ol' Flat-Brim up in three of my fantasy leagues. He has the worst control of the group, and the lowest strike-out rate, so I don't think his success will continue at quite this level. Still, when they do decide to trade him (and they will, even if it isn't this year) he should bring back a couple of decent prospects. It's always nice to see the O's getting some positive attention from non-Baltimore sources.

No comments: