# Thread: Closer success rate above average.

1. ## Closer success rate above average.

Has anyone run the numbers to see what the chances are of the “AVERAGE” ML pitcher being able to save a game if he’s put in a save situation? It seems to me that even the average pitcher will get the save the majority of the time, so the measurement of a closer should really be how much more success he’ll have over and above the average.

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Originally Posted by scorekeeper
Has anyone run the numbers to see what the chances are of the “AVERAGE” ML pitcher being able to save a game if he’s put in a save situation? It seems to me that even the average pitcher will get the save the majority of the time, so the measurement of a closer should really be how much more success he’ll have over and above the average.
For a league averaging 4.5 runs per game, tangotiger and baseball prospectus have the following:

Runs TT%. BP%
0. 73.26. 72
1. 14.30. 15
2. 6.65. 7.1
3 3.09. 3.3

(Sorry for the terrible layout: Tiger found a 73.26% probability that no runs would be scored in an inning, while Baseball Prospectus found a 72% probability etc.)

Tiger's were derived from a distribution of his own invention, while BP's were based on empirical observation.

Google run distribution inning and you'll get these and others. You can see how a 4.00 runs-against pitcher would fare on the average, etc.
Last edited by Jackaroo Dave; 02-29-2012 at 04:18 AM. Reason: clarify table

3. Jacaroo Dave,

Thanx for the numbers. From them I think its safe to say that no matter which pitcher a manager calls in, chances are the other team isn’t gonna score. I didn’t check, but I know not every save opportunity was only a 1 run difference, and I also know not every blown save was a loss, so to me it looks as though benefit of one closer over another is extremely small.

But the thing is, in a sport where the outcome of one game can and often does hold sway of many millions of \$\$\$\$, its worth spending the effort to find the better closer, even though he may only help put up 1 more “W” than another.

4. In order for this new stat to be fair, it should distinguish between 1-run leads and 2-3 run leads. Also between 3 out saves and 4+ out saves.

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Originally Posted by scorekeeper
Has anyone run the numbers to see what the chances are of the “AVERAGE” ML pitcher being able to save a game if he’s put in a save situation? It seems to me that even the average pitcher will get the save the majority of the time, so the measurement of a closer should really be how much more success he’ll have over and above the average.
Save's have many conditions and there is no "generic" save situation.

According to the MLB rules, for example, if a pitcher enters a game with his team leading by 20 runs and pitches effectively for at least 3 innings, and is the finishing pitcher (and not the winner) for his team without relinquishing the lead, he gets a save.

On the other hand, if a pitcher enters a game with a 3-0 count on the batter in the 9th inning, the bases loaded and no outs with a 1-run lead, and ends the game with the other team not scoring, he gets a save.

MLB RULES Saves:
Rule 10.20 in the Official Rule Book states:
Credit a pitcher with a save when he meets all three of the following conditions:
(1) He is the finishing pitcher in a game won by his club; and
(2) He is not the winning pitcher; and
(3) He qualifies under one of the following conditions:
- (a) He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning; or
- (b) He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, or at bat, or on deck (that is, the potential tying run is either already on base or is one of the first two batsmen he faces; or
- (c) He pitches effectively for at least three innings. No more than one save may be credited in each game.

Clearly, some saves are easier to get than others and the save stat is dependent upon both how and when the pitcher is used PLUS his abilities.

The average ML pitcher will blow saves in the second situation over 50% of the time, I'm fairly sure, while getting saves almost 100% of the time in the first case.
Last edited by drstrangelove; 03-05-2012 at 02:32 PM.

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Originally Posted by scorekeeper
Has anyone run the numbers to see what the chances are of the “AVERAGE” ML pitcher being able to save a game if he’s put in a save situation? It seems to me that even the average pitcher will get the save the majority of the time, so the measurement of a closer should really be how much more success he’ll have over and above the average.
Not withstanding my post above:

If one were to define specific 'save' conditions, it would be possible to determine a statistical probability of a save for an 'average' pitcher, but it would have some practical limitations if one didn't assume the batters and fielders were equally average.

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Don't the save opportunities and different types of saves equal out over time? someone in another thread argued that assists would be a good metric for evaluating a SS over his career because the chances will equal out over the year.

couldn't that mean that in the long run the save percentage still says a lot about the quality of the pitcher?

8. Originally Posted by dominik
Don't the save opportunities and different types of saves equal out over time? someone in another thread argued that assists would be a good metric for evaluating a SS over his career because the chances will equal out over the year.

couldn't that mean that in the long run the save percentage still says a lot about the quality of the pitcher?
There are so many other variables to consider.

Let's say Pitcher A pitches for the Padres and Pitcher B pitches for the Red Sox. Is it easier to hold a 1 run lead in Petco Park against NL West oponents or in Fenway Park against AL East opponents?

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