In case you forgot, Saves per Inning Pitched (quick synopsis follows this, the link goes more in depth) measures the true worth of a closer. Is he someone who gets cheap saves? Is he someone only used for closing situations? Or is he someone the team depends on, that is used in close games, tie games, or even situations where there is no save opportunity but there is a save-the-team opportunity. SIP is a way to determine who is a closer and who is a relief ace. Which teams use their closer to get the saves, and which use them to keep the game close, to win against the opposition? Saves per Inning Pitched.
There are two limitations.
Limitation One: Said person that is being measured by SIP needs to have at least 50% of all team saves.
Limitation Two: The next person with the most saves on the team cannot have more than 25% of the total saves. Why is this limitation here? Splitting saves means there was no closer. This would reduce SIP to nothing, for it is measuring a closer. To sound like a broken record, SIP is to find out if full-time closers are closers or relief aces.
Here were the top five “closers” last year, and following that are the top five “relief aces” of last year. The lower the SIP, the more the relief ace. SIP is far, far, far, far from a perfect statistic, but it truly does help you gauge who is what. Even though Jeremy Affeldt qualified to be the best relief ace last year, I am not including him because he started at the beginning of last year and the fact that he still qualified for SIP means the Royals were really pathetic. It is under this theory I am discounting Shingo Takatsu, Latroy Hawkins, and Jorge Julio. The former two did not start closing until later in season, the latter lost his job late in season. Like I said, it really reduces the size of the closers, but … it’s still helpful!

SDN  Hoffman       0.76
TEX  Cordero       0.69
NYY  Rivera        0.68
MIL  Kolb          0.68
FLA  Benitez       0.68

This means that 76% of the time, when Trevor Hoffman pitched, he got a save! Contrast that with the relief aces…

NYM  Looper        0.35
BOS  Foulke        0.39
TBA  Baez          0.44
DET  Urbina        0.50
ATL  Smoltz        0.54

What’s fascinating about this is that in 2003, Smoltz’s SIP was 0.70, and in 2004 it was 0.54. You could tell the Braves were working on giving him a heavier workload with an eye to making him a starter again. As for Foulke, in Oakland his SIP was 0.50 but you can see the Red Sox utilized the Jamesian theory and threw him in non-save situations more.
Below are the 2005 SIPs. And after that, we’ll look at the 2003-2005 SIPs and try to notice any trends or interesting looks. This will be the third year measuring SIP, so after three years we can start getting concrete information down.

ARI  Valverde      15           33         66.1     ---    Does not have 50% team saves
ATL  Reitsma       15           39         73.1     ---    Does not have 50% team saves
BAL  Ryan          36           95         70.1     0.51
BOS  Foulke        15           39         45.2     ---    Does not have 50% team saves
CHC  Dempster      33           85         92.0     0.36   6 GS - SIP as RP: 0.57
CHW  Hermanson     34           63         57.1     0.60
CIN  Weathers      15           48         77.2     ---    Does not have 50% team saves
CLE  Wickman       45           88         62.0     0.73
COL  Fuentes       31           84         74.1     0.49
DET  Urbina         9           24         27.1     ---    Does not have 50% team saves
FLA  Jones         40           95         73.0     0.55   Quite a comeback
HOU  Lidge         42           93         70.2     0.60
KCA  MacDougal     21           84         70.1     0.30
LAA  Rodriguez     45           83         67.1     0.67   3 straight 0.67s for LAA
LAN  Brazoban      21           53         72.2     0.29
MIL  Turnbow       39           85         67.1     0.58
MIN  Nathan        43           98         70.0     0.61   Last year also had 0.61 SIP
NYM  Looper        28           74         59.1     0.47   Last 2 years: 0.35
NYY  Rivera        43           93         78.1     0.55   0.57 to 0.68 to 0.55
OAK  Street        23           61         78.1     0.29
PHI  Wagner        38           95         77.2     0.49
PIT  Mesa          27           77         56.2     0.50
SDN  Hoffman       43           96         57.2     0.75   0.64 to 0.76 to 0.75
SFN  Walker        23           50         61.2     ---    Benitez 41% of team saves
SEA  Guardado      36           92         56.1     0.64
STL  Isringhausen  39           81         59.0     0.66
TBA  Baez          41           95         72.1     0.57   0.33 to 0.44 to 0.57
TEX  Cordero       37           80         69.0     0.69
TOR  Batista       31           89         74.2     0.42
WAS  Cordero       47           92         74.1     0.63

So in order from “closer” to “relief ace”, discounting all the ones who were ineligible and only factoring in Dempster’s RP SIP, we get this order:

SDN  Hoffman       0.75
CLE  Wickman       0.73
TEX  Cordero       0.69
LAA  Rodriguez     0.67
STL  Isringhausen  0.66
SEA  Guardado      0.64
WAS  Cordero       0.63
MIN  Nathan        0.61
CHW  Hermanson     0.60
HOU  Lidge         0.60
MIL  Turnbow       0.58
CHC  Dempster      0.57
TBA  Baez          0.57
FLA  Jones         0.55
NYY  Rivera        0.55
BAL  Ryan          0.51
PIT  Mesa          0.50
COL  Fuentes       0.49
PHI  Wagner        0.49
NYM  Looper        0.47
TOR  Batista       0.42
KCA  MacDougal     0.30
LAN  Brazoban      0.29
OAK  Street        0.29

I found the bottom three to be fascinating. If I recall correctly, they weren’t closers the entire year, so it may be misleading. However, they qualified, and for the first time, only one team had someone with more than 25% saves with someone else already having 50% or more. This shows that teams that had closers were relatively stable with them. It’s interesting that Baez keeps heading up the list and keeps improving. Perhaps as the team uses him in shorter stints, he’s more effective – the more he gets away from his starting days and the more teams use him less, the more effective his pitches become. It’s common knowledge (though I’m not sure it’s true) that you gain more effectiveness on your pitches for you throw harder as a reliever – short stints – as opposed to starting.
Interesting notes now that three years have gone by. The Angels have held steady in three straight years (Percival, Percival, Rodriguez) in SIP – 0.67. It’s been the same manager, but nonetheless, you’d see some percentage variation, but this is dead on each year. I’m going to be curious as to what happens next year. F-Rod really should be near the bottom of the list, not the top.
The John Smoltz one was also interesting and really illustrated how the team was using him more and more with an eye to returning him to starting duties. He succeeded, starting 33 games, going 14-7 with a 3.06 ERA in 229.2 innings – remarkable durability. Bob Wickman is going the other way – he came back from injury last year to post a 0.62 SIP, but that jumped to 0.73 this year, which puts him among the Hoffman-ians of the day. I don’t think Trevor Hoffman should be getting a big-money contract – I think he’s a bust in wating because team’s naturally hover around 50-60% for closers, and Hoffman’s only that high because like Wickman, he’s getting older and had injury problems. Another team would attempt to use him more, and I don’t know if Hoffman could handle that.
After a year in between, Mike MacDougal of the Royals posted a 0.30 SIP – in 2003, his SIP was 0.42. Next year will be the litmus test as to if he can succeed. Billy Wagner posted a 0.51 SIP for Houston in 2003, and 0.49 this year, so he’s been pretty consistent. Guardado in 2003 was 0.63, and 0.64 this year. Jose Mesa went from 0.41 for PHI in 2003 to 0.62 last year for Pittsburgh to 0.50 this year. Maybe he was used more as a relief ace this year, or he, down the stretch, assumed a lesser role than full-time closer (I believe this was the case) – but I’d need a Pirate fan to confirm that.
Jason Isringhausen had a 0.52 SIP in 2003, to 0.63 to 0.66. There’s a trend here that we’re noticing. It’s not universal, but the older a closer gets, not only are they used in more and more save situations, but they have a shorter leash, both during a game and over the course of a season (Mesa).
Well, that’s the 2005 SIPs. There’s food for discussion!