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.
TEAM | PLAYER |PLAYER SV.|% of TEAM SV.|Player IP | SIP | NOTES 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!