Baseball Toaster Mike's Baseball Rants
This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
Frozen Toast
Google Search
Mike's Baseball Rants


10  09  07 
06  05  04  03 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
06  05  04  03  02  01 

12  11  10  09  08  07 
Links to MBBR
“Hall’s of Relief”—Final Analysis (Really), Pt. IV
2004-02-20 01:34
by Mike Carminati

Previous entries:

The 1870s, '80s, and '90s
The 1900s and '10s
The 1920s, '30s, and '40s
The 1950s
The 1960s
The 1970s
The 1980s
The 1990s and 2000s
2003 Notes: Part I & II
Final Analysis: I, II, III, and IV.

Pens Envy: Baseball's Best Bullpens

Now let's use our new toy, Relief Wins, to determine the best (or at least most valuable) bullpen. Here are the teams with 10+ RWins:

Los Angeles Dodgers200317.53
Atlanta Braves200216.90
Oakland Athletics199015.21
Cleveland Indians199514.16
Boston Red Sox198213.22
Cincinnati Reds199912.66
Houston Astros200312.55
Anaheim Angels200312.22
Anaheim Angels200212.20
Colorado Rockies199811.92
St. Louis Cardinals199511.49
Colorado Rockies200011.33
Boston Red Sox200011.20
Baltimore Orioles199710.91
Cleveland Indians199610.80
Cleveland Indians200110.72
San Francisco Giants199810.70
New York Yankees199710.69
New York Yankees198510.66
Anaheim Angels200110.62
Seattle Mariners200110.59
Cincinnati Reds198710.55
Texas Rangers197910.46
New York Yankees199110.45
Oakland Athletics200110.43
St. Louis Cardinals199610.29
Montreal Expos198710.29
Milwaukee Brewers199710.23

You'll note that the vast majority of these teams are from the last ten years. That's because use of middle relievers over that time has skyrocketed. More innings mean more value.

The 2003 Dodgers (Gagne, Quantrill, Mota, Shuey, and Martin) come out on top. I still prefer the 1990 A's pen. I had compared them to the "Nasty Boys", the 1990 Reds pen, in the Nineties section and came down in favor of the A's. This method supports that opinion as the Reds rank 59th at 8.62 RWins.

Now here are the worst pens:

Detroit Tigers1953-16.83
San Diego Padres1997-15.65
San Diego Padres1974-14.75
Philadelphia Phillies1930-13.96
Brooklyn Dodgers1944-13.52
Philadelphia Phillies1938-12.97
Detroit Tigers1996-12.83
San Francisco Giants1995-12.55
Washington Senators1949-12.48
Kansas City Athletics1955-12.40
St. Louis Cardinals1954-12.04
Cleveland Indians1922-12.03
Chicago Cubs1975-12.01
Philadelphia Athletics1936-11.97
New York Mets1962-11.77
Houston Astros1967-11.58
Seattle Mariners1997-11.55
Philadelphia Athletics1950-11.50
Chicago Cubs2002-11.13
Boston Braves1928-10.98
Boston Bees1940-10.83
St. Louis Browns1936-10.82
Philadelphia Phillies1929-10.80
Philadelphia Phillies1928-10.77
Florida Marlins1999-10.69
San Diego Padres1969-10.69
Washington Senators1946-10.53
Kansas City Athletics1962-10.48
Washington Senators1935-10.39
Chicago Cubs2000-10.37
Pittsburgh Pirates2003-10.32
Kansas City Royals1999-10.19
Houston Astros1996-10.19
Philadelphia Phillies1926-10.05

That's all good and well, but are the bullpens today overrated because of the extra innings? What if we divide the Relief Wins by innings pitched? Let's see (min. 50 IP):

TeamYrRWinIPRWin per IP
Los Angeles Dodgers200317.53451.600.0388
Oakland Athletics199015.21401.880.0378
Cleveland Indians199514.16388.890.0364
Atlanta Braves200216.90501.930.0337
Texas Rangers197910.46368.500.0284
Baltimore Orioles19798.80321.270.0274
Anaheim Angels200212.20447.840.0272
St. Louis Cardinals199511.49422.570.0272
Colorado Rockies199811.92441.160.0270
Philadelphia Athletics19268.02305.330.0263
Anaheim Angels200312.22469.400.0260
Boston Red Sox198213.22508.030.0260
New York Yankees199710.69411.900.0259
New York Yankees19816.80264.510.0257
Anaheim Angels200110.62423.520.0251
Cincinnati Reds199912.66505.820.0250

So the 2003 Dodgers still end up on top. The '90s A's move up to second, and a Connie Mack team moves into the top 10. Now the worst:

TeamYrRWinIPRWin per IP
Cleveland Spiders1899-3.5652.73-0.0675
Philadelphia Phillies1895-5.3487.13-0.0613
St. Louis Browns1897-5.2788.34-0.0596
Washington Statesmen1891-3.8469.34-0.0554
Louisville Colonels1895-5.72105.76-0.0541
Pittsburgh Alleghenys1883-3.4163.61-0.0537
Pittsburgh Pirates1896-3.6775.76-0.0485
Philadelphia Phillies1938-12.97267.59-0.0485
Washington Senators1899-3.6976.50-0.0483
Detroit Tigers1953-16.83350.67-0.0480
Philadelphia Athletics1936-11.97251.92-0.0475
Columbus Solons1889-2.9362.38-0.0469
Philadelphia Athletics1950-11.50255.50-0.0450
Boston Bees1940-10.83244.64-0.0443
Cleveland Indians1922-12.03272.53-0.0441
Chicago Cubs1920-8.12188.68-0.0430
Philadelphia Athletics1916-7.79183.70-0.0424
St. Louis Browns1892-3.7388.97-0.0420
Cincinnati Reds1901-3.1977.57-0.0412
Philadelphia Phillies1927-9.41229.77-0.0410
Chicago White Sox1921-8.55209.75-0.0408
Philadelphia Phillies1919-5.16126.56-0.0407
Washington Senators1946-10.53261.24-0.0403

Again pens have improved over time as teams devote better talent to the role. This is a good argument against the accepted position that pitching has become too diluted in baseball today, but that's the subject of another study.

Finally, here are the best and worst bullpens by decade:

1870s1872Boston Red Stockings0.781874Chicago White Stockings-2.12
1880s1889Pittsburgh Alleghenys0.911887Indianapolis Hoosiers-5.01
1890s1891St. Louis Browns2.051895Louisville Colonels-5.725
1900s1909Chicago Cubs3.131909St. Louis Cardinals-6.73
1910s1913New York Giants2.691917St. Louis Browns-9.74
1920s1926Philadelphia Athletics8.021922Cleveland Indians-12.03
1930s1938Chicago Cubs3.311930Philadelphia Phillies-13.96
1940s1949Cleveland Indians6.431944Brooklyn Dodgers-13.52
1950s1954New York Giants7.811953Detroit Tigers-16.83
1960s1962Pittsburgh Pirates9.261962New York Mets-11.77
1970s1979Texas Rangers10.461974San Diego Padres-14.75
1980s1982Boston Red Sox13.221986Minnesota Twins-9.85
1990s1990Oakland Athletics15.211997San Diego Padres-15.65
2000s2003Los Angeles Dodgers17.532002Chicago Cubs-11.13

Here is a statistical breakdown for the best pens:

2003 Los Angeles Dodgers:

Guillermo Mota105.076118637826991.971.97
Eric Gagne82.37755672337201371.201.31
Paul Quantrill77.389121256115441.752.09
Paul Shuey69.062018645033603.003.13
Tom Martin51.080013123624513.533.71
Steve Colyer19.7130300229162.752.75
Troy Brohawn11.7120520104133.864.63
Wilson Alvarez10.6912109392.372.56
Rodney Myers9.04030010456.007.00
Andy Ashby8.29050110255.185.18
Victor Alvarez5.75030196312.7112.71
Edwin Jackson1.2100001112.452.45
Masao Kida0.9101001013.003.75

1990 Oakland Athletics:

Gene Nelson74.751517335517381.571.69
Dennis Eckersley73.363486142414730.611.10
Todd Burns63.74139226326352.973.20
Rick Honeycutt63.363713224622382.703.27
Joe Klink39.740119003418192.042.04
Reggie Harris31.31509101916233.483.48
Mike Norris27.0140910249163.003.33
Steve Chitren17.78041074191.021.02
Curt Young5.9500006234.855.07
Joe Bitker3.0101001120.000.00
Dave Otto2.3202003327.7111.57

1995 Cleveland Indians:

Julian Tavarez85.0570151027621682.443.81
Eric Plunk64.056222624827712.672.67
Jose Mesa64.0624657304917581.121.27
Jim Poole50.34209334017413.753.93
Paul Assenmacher38.347012623212402.823.05
Alan Embree24.72318322316235.115.84
Jason Grimsley18.71312002018146.096.35
Dennis Cook12.71101001610136.396.39
Chad Ogea8.0603107243.053.22
Paul Shuey6.3703025554.265.68
Albie Lopez6.3400005263.133.13
John Farrell4.7100007043.867.71
Gregg Olson2.73020052013.5013.50
Ken Hill1.3100001113.984.34
Mark Clark1.1100001015.275.56
Bud Black0.9100001016.857.99

2002 Atlanta Braves:

John Smoltz80.3755568325924853.253.36
Chris Hammond76.06306725331630.951.78
Mike Remlinger68.07307734828691.992.25
Kerry Ligtenberg66.752025345233512.973.11
Darren Holmes54.755110224112471.811.98
Kevin Gryboski51.757010215037333.483.48
Tim Spooneybarger51.351114103826332.632.81
Albie Lopez29.42601412359214.374.69
Trey Hodges11.74002016265.405.40
John Foster5.05001066610.8010.80
Damian Moss4.1402003233.424.02
Andy Pratt1.3100001416.756.75
Kevin Millwood1.1100001013.243.44
Aaron Small0.31010022127.0027.00
Joey Dawley0.3101000010.000.00

1979 Texas Rangers:

Jim Kern143.071295713599621361.572.20
Sparky Lyle95.0671353587828483.133.51
Dave Rajsich35.82408123712213.524.19
Danny Darwin28.71404111811214.044.15
Ed Farmer17.5905101610134.365.73
Doc Medich17.310011118674.174.71
John Henry Johnson7.8501017344.925.47
Doyle Alexander7.4503007434.455.16
Bob Babcock5.34010077610.1211.81
Brian Allard5.3301006224.324.59
Jerry Don Gleaton2.6301004116.526.52
Larry McCall1.7101001112.162.16
Dock Ellis1.3100002005.986.56

1979 Baltimore Orioles:

Sammy Stewart82.328110636750503.523.59
Tippy Martinez78.0393231035931612.883.35
Don Stanhouse72.7522146734951342.852.97
Tim Stoddard58.029315314419471.711.86
Dave Ford14.07251011332.102.10
Scott McGregor7.3403107133.353.61
John Flinn2.7404002100.000.00
Dennis Martinez1.9100002013.663.97
Jim Palmer1.7101002013.303.82
Mike Flanagan1.7100002013.083.62
Jeff Rineer1.0100000000.000.00

2002 Anaheim Angels:

Ben Weber78.063716727022432.542.88
Alan Levine63.752521446134404.244.95
Troy Percival56.3584050413825681.921.92
Lou Pote50.331013023326323.223.58
Brendan Donnelly49.746111113219542.172.36
Scot Shields40.528013422617252.202.39
Scott Schoeneweis36.33914323715204.885.19
Dennis Cook24.03705112110133.383.38
Donne Wall21.0170800177136.436.43
Mark Lukasiewicz14.0170420179153.863.86
Matt Wise8.3706007163.243.24
Francisco Rodriguez5.75040032130.000.00

1995 St. Louis Cardinals:

Jeff Parrett76.759017477128713.643.87
Rich DeLucia74.75508765733693.394.15
Tom Henke54.3523647114218481.821.82
Rene Arocha49.741013355518253.994.35
John Habyan40.73109323215352.883.98
Tony Fossas36.758020302810401.471.47
T.J. Mathews29.723212112111281.522.12
Vicente Palacios14.1150311177125.806.47
Tom Urbani10.911020113373.704.35
John Frascatore10.110030012564.415.23
Doug Creek6.76010023100.000.00
Mark Petkovsek5.6501006134.004.65
Brian Barber5.4502006355.225.22
Cory Bailey3.7300002257.367.36
Allen Watson2.1201002114.965.35
Rich Rodriguez1.7100000000.000.00

1998 Colorado Rockies:

Dave Veres76.363826316727742.833.07
Curt Leskanic75.766220647540554.404.40
Jerry Dipoto71.3681951346125493.533.91
Chuck McElroy68.378227646824612.903.03
Mike DeJean67.85829317122253.033.51
Mike Munoz41.340313225316245.666.97
Bobby Jones16.7150111188135.225.54
Dave Wainhouse11.010031015534.914.91
Fred Rath5.3201006221.691.69
Jim Stoops4.0300105302.252.25
Darryl Kile1.2101001015.205.51
Pedro Astacio1.1100001016.236.88
Lariel Gonzalez1.0101000000.000.00

1926 Philadelphia Athletics:

Joe Pate97.345634809444212.713.03
Dolly Gray35.32007333812193.644.84
Rube Walberg35.22128323914172.803.99
Lefty Willis24.8121400249101.392.51
Fred Heimach24.312071021462.843.98
Lefty Grove23.5126911219182.513.38
Eddie Rommel22.811071123653.083.74
Jack Quinn19.010161122473.414.07
Stan Baumgartner15.99031120704.034.03
Howard Ehmke4.4202004122.813.30
Slim Harriss3.0202003114.115.37

2003 Anaheim Angels:

Francisco Rodriguez86.059223835035953.033.14
Ben Weber80.362020518422462.692.91
Brendan Donnelly74.063315225524791.581.70
Troy Percival49.3523349053323483.474.01
Scot Shields44.93115224211342.853.40
Scott Schoeneweis38.739012113710293.964.42
Greg Jones27.71807002914284.884.88
Gary Glover27.0180710348145.005.00
Derrick Turnbow15.311072073150.590.59
Mickey Callaway14.213080121686.817.51
Rich Rodriguez3.7302004132.452.45
Chris Bootcheck3.6302006229.5811.32
Kevin Gregg2.7200002123.283.28
Bart Miadich2.01000051318.0018.00

1982 Boston Red Sox:

Bob Stanley168.348143312716150833.103.21
Mark Clear105.055144414992611093.003.34
Tom Burgmeier102.340217709822442.292.64
Luis Aponte85.040328227825443.183.28
Bruce Hurst13.19030118465.776.69
Bob Ojeda10.38061113475.636.09
Steve Crawford9.05041014022.003.00
Mike Brown6.0303107140.000.00
John Tudor3.4201004133.634.14
Oil Can Boyd2.9200004115.405.40
Chuck Rainey2.7200003115.025.23

1997 New York Yankees:

Jeff Nelson78.777222375337812.863.66
Mariano Rivera71.7664356646520681.882.13
Mike Stanton66.764315615034702.562.57
Graeme Lloyd49.046117115520263.314.41
Brian Boehringer48.034011323932532.623.00
Jim Mecir33.725011043610255.886.15
Ramiro Mendoza29.5242921356184.244.51
Kenny Rogers9.89040011455.656.21
Dave Weathers9.0100301157410.0010.00
Willie Banks5.8401104231.931.93
Hideki Irabu3.9400005147.097.93
Danny Rios2.32000092119.2919.29
Joe Borowski2.0101012429.009.00
Wade Boggs1.0101000110.000.00
Dwight Gooden1.0100001014.915.16

1981 New York Yankees:

Ron Davis73.043622454725832.712.71
Rich Gossage46.7322030322214480.771.16
Dave LaRoche40.225014313214212.493.06
George Frazier27.71639012611171.632.28
Doug Bird23.1130320257122.703.21
Bill Castro19.011061126543.796.16
Rudy May7.5511017244.144.33
Andy McGaffigan7.0200005322.573.86
Dave Wehrmeister7.0502006775.145.14
Mike Griffin4.3201005042.082.08
Tom Underwood3.4301003134.414.68
Ron Guidry2.8201002122.762.91
Rick Reuschel1.5101002002.673.06
Gene Nelson1.3100001114.815.49

2001 Anaheim Angels:

Lou Pote76.643215207828584.154.26
Alan Levine69.563221796526372.382.97
Ben Weber68.356019626631403.423.69
Troy Percival57.7573950423918712.652.97
Shigetoshi Hasegawa55.746010565220414.044.53
Mike Holtz37.063011124015384.865.84
Mark Lukasiewicz22.32401102219256.046.85
Scot Shields11.0806008770.000.82
Bart Miadich10.011040068114.504.50
Brian Cooper7.0605015242.633.29
Toby Borland3.32010181010.8013.50
Pat Rapp3.2301003124.765.08
Matt Wise1.9202002124.384.93

1999 Cincinnati Reds:

Scott Sullivan113.779316548847783.013.25
Danny Graves111.0752756879049693.083.41
Scott Williamson93.362194012754431072.412.80
Gabe White61.050018126814614.434.57
Dennys Reyes56.664212224936663.794.38
Stan Belinda42.729212314218405.275.48
Brett Tomko7.8701008364.925.39
Ron Villone7.5722006454.234.42
Rick Greene5.7100007134.766.35
B.J. Ryan2.0100004114.504.50
Jason Bere1.5200002116.857.68
Steve Parris1.1100001013.504.13
Denny Neagle1.0100001014.274.35
John Hudek1.02000143027.0027.00

Now the worst:

1899 Cleveland Spiders (Surprise):

Bill Hill2.6101003116.978.34
Charlie Knepper3.1101004115.787.78
Crazy Schmit2.6101004105.868.98
Frank Bates2.9101005207.2410.65
Harry Colliflower5.7202019208.1711.20
Harry Lochhead3.71010042004.91
Harry Maupin4.920201111112.612.96
Jack Stivetts8.23010110515.689.24
Jim Hughey6.0202019215.417.76
Kid Carsey3.1101004105.687.65
Sport McAllister6.82020012419.5612.38
Willie Sudhoff3.1101005106.988.86

Pen Notes, Future Studies, And Other Bull

2003 NL Cy Young Revisited:

Let's take one last look at the past season's Cy Young candidates based on the wins above average calculations from this section. Here are the candidates with at least 5 RWins or SWins:

Eric Gagne5.91
Guillermo Mota5.34
Jason Schmidt5.26
Billy Wagner5.25
Mark Prior5.05

Now you can view this either a validation of Gagne's Cy Young worthiness or an indictment of the system I've laid out. As for me, I might be ready to say, "Uncle," and acknowledge Gagne was the best candidate. Almost.


I've already made these recommendations within this tome, but I just wanted to collect them at the end:

1) Change the Save rule:

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.

One thing is clear to me after doing this study: The save stat is probably the most meaningless one that can be dreamt up. Bobby Thigpen's record-setting 1990 season (57 saves) was nowhere near the top reliever seasons (126th with 4.33 Rwins as a Robb Nen-type reliever). One could use that as an argument against this study, but I think most learned fans will agree that Thigpen's 1990 season, aside from the save record, wasn't all that spectacular. It was a very good season to be sure but not among the best for a reliever. Randy Myers 38-save 1992 season results in negative Relief Wins (-1.35). A 4.23 ERA (17% worse that the league average) will do that. Myers' 38-save, 3.88-ERA 1995 season wasn't much better (0.24 Rwin for an adjusted ERA 5% better than the league average). Jeff Reardon's career save totals are not taken that seriously because of season like his 35-save 1986 campaign: -0.57 RWin because of a 3.94 ERA, 6% worse than the park-adjusted league average).

You get the point. An interesting study may be to determine if saves correlate to any tool like RWin that measures relief pitcher effectiveness. I didn’t run it here because I think I know what the results would be. It's clear to me that saves are the result of pitcher usage more than performance.

The rule can be improved to measure results better. First, either get rid of or segment off the three-inning automatic save. It does measure endurance but does not necessarily capture the same idea as the rest of the save rule. Next, get rid of the one-inning, three-run-lead save.

I propose that the save rule be changed so that the pitcher either enters the game at the start of a half inning with a one-run lead or enters a game mid-innings with the tying run either on base or at bat to earn a save. That's it. It's a rule informed by Bill James' research. And the historical stats should be changed retroactively.

There is a precedent. The rule was tweaked before the 1973, 74, and 75 seasons. When the rule was established in 1969, a reliever was credited if his team maintained a lead while he was pitching. In 1973, the rule was changed so that the pitcher was "protect" the lead, i.e., that it didn't change hands. In 1974, the three-inning rule was put into effect. Also, for the first time a pitcher would receive a save only if the score was "close" when he entered. In '74 that meant that the tying run was either on base or at the plate in mid-inning appearances. (I have to dig through my pre-'74 Encyclopedias to determine when the three-run lead rule—10.20.3a above—came into affect). In 1975 the rule was enlarged to include the tying run on deck for mid-inning appearances.

Anyway, the rule is an anachronism and will become more so as teams average four or five pitchers per game. We now have 30+ years of real historical data with the save rule. It's clearly a failure. Baseball should fix it now to revitalize the stat. The only argument I see against this position is Bobby Thigpen's hurt feelings.

2) Establish an Official Historic Hold Rule: It's time for MLB to add an official stat to help evaluate the myriad non-closer relievers on the planet. It should be added retroactively to the statistical record.

Credit a pitcher with a hold when he enters a game in which his team leads by one run or the score is tied at the beginning of a half-inning or when the tying run is at the plate in a mid-inning appearance and he a) records an out and b) maintains the lead/tied status. A pitcher should not get a hold for walking the bases full with a one-run lead and then being saved by a reliever that replaces him. Also, it should not be credited unless any runners he allows are taken into account. Let's say pitcher A enters with a runner on first, one out, and a one-run lead. He strikes out the first batter and then allows a walk to the second. He is taken out and the new pitcher (B) gives up a home run. Pitcher A should not get a hold because his runner was the go-ahead run. Let's say B strikes out the last batter to save A's bacon, I'm on the fence as to whether A should get a hold or not. B should, but without the effort from B, A would have blown the lead. But then again the lead didn't actually change hands and A did have something to do with that (the strikeout).

These are the sorts of things that need to be figured out, but an official stat that is clearly thought-out is a must.

3) Record historic relief statistics officially: All of the calculations throughout this section have been based on prorating the relief stats for those pitchers that started and relieved games (more than 50% of all pitcher seasons). Baseball has chosen to lump all pitcher stats together. This is fine when a pitcher is a pure starter or pure reliever, but not for swingmen.

Baseball should go back through the historical record and either separate pitching stats by starting and relieving or create a separate set of statistics for each role while still keeping all pitching statistics lumped together. I'm sure this is high on Bud's to-do list.

4) Investigate Middle Relievers More Fully: Middle reliever seasons comprise about 75% of all reliever seasons. I have used Bill James' reliever archetypes for this study and those archetypes are based solely on relief aces or closers. There were no middle relief archetypes. Therefore, I created one based on a combination of the starter and the Client Brown-type reliever archetypes.

I feel that the results for middle relievers (e.g., Paul Quantrill and Mark Eichhorn) overvalued their appearances. This may not be an issue for middle relievers from over 20 years ago, given that they were a sub-par crew for the most part. But as teams assigned better and better pitchers to this role, the stats started to look more inflated. Further studies and possibly an explicit middle reliever archetype is needed to determine if this is indeed the case.


Data: Sean Lahman's 2003 and 2004 MS Access baseball databases, (I don't recommend doing any real database querying with Access. I prefer the dead/moribund FoxPro and Paradox dbs, but these are the conditions that prevail. It’s Microsoft's planet; we're just living on it.)
Game Logs: (historical), (2003).

The End?

—Last frame of The Blob (Not to be confused with Terry Forster, "The Big Tub of Goo").

Let the end try the man.

—"Hammerin'"Henry IV by William "Author" Shakespeare

Not every end is a goal. The end of a melody is not its goal: but nonetheless, had the melody not reached its end it would not have reached its goal either. A parable.

—Friedrich "Fat Freddie" Nietzsche

Comment status: comments have been closed. Baseball Toaster is now out of business.