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Days of Old: The Fireman and the Save

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  • Days of Old: The Fireman and the Save

    Time to get some input from BBF. I'm eager to hear what we have to say
    "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article

  • #2
    I like the concept of a "game saver" who comes into close games on the line. A lot of how you use pitchers is going to be psychological-can they adopt a role and a routine. However, having shorter inning finishers has almost certainly reduced offense overall. Let's compare a 70 inning closer with a 240 ERA+ and a 140 inning fireman with a 150 ERA+. For the 70 inning closer to get from 70 innings at 240 to 140 at 150 ERA+ he would only have to pitch an additional 70 innings at about a 110 ERA+ which in a relief role would translate to more runs allowed than average for those extra 70 innings.

    It comes down to a combination of a) leverage; b) physical ability to throw hard and c) psychological factors. More short saves probably equals higher leverage, and higher ability to throw hard. Two average throwing pitchers both pitching 70 innings a year throwing all out probably come close to the runs saved performance of one 140 inning fireman from the 70s or 80s, probably about a 120 ERA+ or so.

    I would be interested in knowing if longer save relievers came into higher leverage situations with tie games etc.

    Rollie Fingers averaged a 1.9 "beginning" relative game leverage
    Gossage 1.8
    Rivera: 1.8
    Hoffman 1.9

    But that is the leverage upon entering a game and if a player is "good" that number should go down the more someone pitches, so perhaps they put pitchers in at the right time, but left them in too long in the 70s and 80s. Maybe they put a pitcher in, ahead by 1 with a runners on first and second an no outs in the 8th. He gets out of the 8th, maybe they should have put in an average guy in the 9th ahead by 1 with the leverage down and used their top guy more often.


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