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View Full Version : The Save Rule: Is it Broken?


Mr. White Sox
08-09-2007, 10:32 AM
Baseball Prospectus thinks so: (http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=6567)

I also think the save rule needs to be reinvented, but do you think using a "Win Expectancy Matrix" is too esoteric, and do you guys have other ideas on how to fix this rule? Hopefully we can get back to the idea of the best reliever being used in the toughest game situations, but I don't know if the win expectancy stuff would catch on with the mainstream.

voodoochile
08-09-2007, 10:46 AM
You'll need a better name than Win Expectancy. It will never catch on until you can soundbite it...

itsnotrequired
08-09-2007, 10:46 AM
The save rule isn't "broken" and does not require fixing.

PatK
08-09-2007, 10:46 AM
Good article.

They make a convincing argument that it's broken.

Fenway
08-09-2007, 10:48 AM
While we at it can we throw the Hold stat into the Chicago River? Stupiest stat in sports...

The "Hold":
The hold is not an official statistic, but it was created as a way to credit middle relief pitchers for a job well done. Starting pitchers get wins, and closers -- the relief pitchers who come in at the end of the game -- get saves, but the guys who pitch in between the two rarely get either statistic. So what's the most important thing one of these middle relievers can do? "Hold" a lead. If a reliever comes into a game to protect a lead, gets at least one out and leaves without giving up that lead, he gets a hold. But you can't get a save and a hold at the same time.

itsnotrequired
08-09-2007, 10:49 AM
Good article.

They make a convincing argument that it's broken.

What is broke about it? It is just a stat. How is the save rule changing the game? Teams are putting players out there in special situations just to build up save totals? BS.

spiffie
08-09-2007, 11:19 AM
What is broke about it? It is just a stat. How is the save rule changing the game? Teams are putting players out there in special situations just to build up save totals? BS.
It does seem like the save, and the emphasis on that idea of "the closer" has put managers into something of a box. For instance, if the Sox are up 1, 1 out in the top of the 7th, and the other team has bases loaded, no matter how important it might be to get out of that jam, you will never see Bobby Jenks come in at that point.

I don't think the save stat per se is responsible for that sort of auto-response managing, but I think it magnifies it. Of course, I'm sure the closers and their agents are happy too, since they know 40 saves sounds better than 25 saves and 15 holds.

itsnotrequired
08-09-2007, 11:27 AM
It does seem like the save, and the emphasis on that idea of "the closer" has put managers into something of a box. For instance, if the Sox are up 1, 1 out in the top of the 7th, and the other team has bases loaded, no matter how important it might be to get out of that jam, you will never see Bobby Jenks come in at that point.

"The Closer" is just one simple part of today's highly specialized pitching staffs (starters, closers, long relievers, short relievers, loogy, etc.) This has been a natural progression and has nothing to do with the save rule.

I don't think the save stat per se is responsible for that sort of auto-response managing, but I think it magnifies it. Of course, I'm sure the closers and their agents are happy too, since they know 40 saves sounds better than 25 saves and 15 holds.

No doubt players and agents are happy about it but the article's suggestion that the save stat has changed the game in a negative way is absurd. The rules governing the way saves are recorded could change but Jenks still wont be coming in to pitch the 7th.

TDog
08-09-2007, 11:50 AM
A save is a save. It is what it is. Someone has to close out a close game, whether it is your starter or one of your relievers. I believe bullpens were better in the days before saves were recorded, that the recording of saves has elevated the closer's role to the detriment of other relievers. The attempt to reward middle relievers with holds has been ridiculous.

Since the early days of the official save, people have been complaining that it doesn't mean much, certainly not enough. In 1973, when John Hiller of the Tigers was setting the save record with 38, people wrote letters to The Sporting News claiming that the rule was meaningless. At that time, all a pitcher had to do was finish a win to get a save. In September, he came into a game against the Orioles in the ninth inning, retiring the side without surrendering Detroit's 10-1 lead. That was his 37th save. He had already broken Sparky Lyle's AL record, but this tied him with Clay Carroll for the major league record.

As a remedy to the obvious inequities, save situations were created. I has only become harder to get a save over the last 34 years. If people are still unhappy that saves aren't meaningful enough, they can place less importance in it.

Before saves, some of the the best teams used three or four different pitchers to close out games. One reason teams don't have three or four pitchers closing out games today is that the save rule determines when managers put their best reliever into the game. The game might be decided in the seventh, in a bases-loaded, one-out jam, but you don't want to bring in your best reliever there because he's your closer.

The best thing I can say about the save rule is that Bobby Thigpen holds the single-season record.

soxfanaticpaulie
08-09-2007, 12:28 PM
You'll need a better name than Win Expectancy. It will never catch on until you can soundbite it...

WinEx

:tongue:

PatK
08-09-2007, 01:14 PM
What is broke about it? It is just a stat. How is the save rule changing the game? Teams are putting players out there in special situations just to build up save totals? BS.

I'm not saying it's broken in the sense that it's hurting anything or changing the game, but there are some interesting points that the article mentions.

Like the Alan Embree scenario- had he not pitched the 9th, he wouldn't have gotten the save. Hell, even if he pitched all three outs, but not the 9th, he wouldn't have gotten it.

I think if saves is used as a viable stat, should not the hold as well, in some way, shape, or form?

HawkDJ
08-09-2007, 01:16 PM
It does seem like the save, and the emphasis on that idea of "the closer" has put managers into something of a box. For instance, if the Sox are up 1, 1 out in the top of the 7th, and the other team has bases loaded, no matter how important it might be to get out of that jam, you will never see Bobby Jenks come in at that point.


Yes, and isn't it curious how a 3 run lead in the 9th is just close enough that managers want to put in their "closer" but a 4 run lead is just a bit too big.

HomeFish
08-09-2007, 01:18 PM
But Ed Farmer hates the hold.

(Despite being a relief pitcher himself)

chaerulez
08-09-2007, 01:53 PM
Any stat where you can pitch 1 inning and give up 2 runs and somehow that's still considered a positive is broken. That's why W-L records are pointless in this era. You can still get a loss with 9 IP and 1 ER or a win with 5 IP and 6 ER. Is a 16-8 pitcher better than a 15-10 pitcher? There's no way to tell without other stats or video footage of the two.

oeo
08-09-2007, 01:59 PM
Win Expectancy? :?::o::roflmao:

That might be the dumbest thing I've ever heard. You cannot come up with a Win Probability statistic and not think it's going to get laughed at. That's just stupid.

Huisj
08-09-2007, 02:01 PM
Is a 16-8 pitcher better than a 15-10 pitcher? There's no way to tell without other stats or video footage of the two.

That pretty much been true forever though, not just in the last x number of years. Run support has always had an effect on a starter's winning percentage whether that starter usually goes 9 innings or usually goes 6 innings.

pierzynski07
08-09-2007, 07:23 PM
Any stat where you can pitch 1 inning and give up 2 runs and somehow that's still considered a positive is broken. That's why W-L records are pointless in this era. You can still get a loss with 9 IP and 1 ER or a win with 5 IP and 6 ER. Is a 16-8 pitcher better than a 15-10 pitcher? There's no way to tell without other stats or video footage of the two.
Well then what do you propose? Eliminate wins and losses all together?

Personally, I think there should be an additional "in line to" stat, which indicates whether a pitcher was in line to win or lose a game. So a pitcher who's 7-10 might have a, say, 14-13 record based on when he left the game, assuming 7 victories blown and three potential losses saved by the offense, with six no decisions due to leaving in a tie game.

Daver
08-09-2007, 07:25 PM
The save rule isn't "broken" and does not require fixing.

The save is a stupid, meaningless stat to begin with.

MDF3530
08-09-2007, 07:46 PM
I'd get rid of the BS "long reliever gets a save for pitching three innings in a 12-4 blowout provision".

itsnotrequired
08-10-2007, 07:00 AM
The save is a stupid, meaningless stat to begin with.

I also believe WHIP is broken. Why is it that a pitcher who pitches at a place like McAffee and benefits from all that foul territory gets his WHIP calculated the same as a pitcher pitching in a place with little foul territory? This is unfairly skewing the numbers and allowing Barry Zito to get giant contracts. Maybe this isn't as big a deal as steroids but it is surely impacting the game in a negative way. Perhaps a new stat is needed, something like WHIP-4-real or getting-the-WHIP which addresses this injustice.

Also, pitchers should be awarded additional saves if they have nice hair.

Brian26
08-10-2007, 09:12 AM
What is broke about it? It is just a stat. How is the save rule changing the game? Teams are putting players out there in special situations just to build up save totals? BS.

I don't think its broken, but the meaning behind the stat has been lost. Stats should be a way to accurately define the performance of players. However, the rule was established in an arbitrary way such that in the past 15 years it doesn't seem to hold the same value. Managers use closers differently now than they did 25 years ago.

This was an excellent article by BP. I'm surprised they didn't mention Thigpen when they talked about Eck.

SBSoxFan
08-10-2007, 09:33 AM
As much as people complain about how bullpens are used, how the save stat is misleading or useless, or how it's changed the way bullpens are used, the fact is that there are many pitchers who simply can't close out a game. Cliff Politte, for example, was 12 for 18 in saves for Toronto in 2003.

WhiteSoxJunkie
08-10-2007, 12:06 PM
Also, pitchers should be awarded additional saves if they have nice hair.

:?: But Jenks doesn't have any hair. :D:

itsnotrequired
08-10-2007, 12:31 PM
:?: But Jenks doesn't have any hair. :D:

Then he would only get the standard amount of saves. Cotts' flowing wings are worthy of a save even if he doesn't pitch.

eriqjaffe
08-10-2007, 12:37 PM
the fact is that there are many pitchers who simply can't close out a game.http://mlb.mlb.com/images/players/mugshot/ph_430911.jpg
"Huh?"

:bkoch:
"Dude's got a point, Double-A."