Posts tagged ‘closers’

Monday: 08.5.2013

Jim Johnson’s “Regression” Is 5 Bad Innings

When Jim Johnson had his dream season in 2012 – complete with an MLB-best 51 saves – many in the fantasy community screamed “REGRESSION!!” at the top of their lungs. The biggest hurdle for most (I believe) was getting their heads around a low-strikeout reliever being a dominant closer. Johnson’s next 20 percent strikeout rate will be his first and that’s not even special for a reliever let alone a primetime closer. Relievers have averaged a 22 percent rate in each of the last two seasons with the best sitting in the 30s (well the absolute best like Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman post absurd 45-50% rates).

What didn’t make sense about the cries for regression was the seemingly forgotten or overlooked fact that Johnson threw 91 innings at his 2012 levels the year before with all of his key indicators being nearly equal:

jjohnson1112

Now his ERA indicators were calling for a jump with FIPs of 3.22 and 3.25, but that is hardly egregious. In short, this GB-heavy approach wasn’t a fluke.

Essentially two-thirds through the 2013 season has yielded some interesting results for Johnson as those thinking it couldn’t last might feel justified by his 3.26 ERA and 1.25 WHIP. But are the Johnson naysayers really “right” if the entire “regression” came in about a two-week, five-inning stretch from mid-to-late May? While Johnson’s ERA is more than three-quarters of a run higher than in 2012, you can make a case that he’s actually been better save a 10 percent portion of his season. To wit:

 jjohnsongoodbad

I realize this is some gaming with selective endpoints, but when four of the nine outings during which he allowed earned runs are clustered in about a two-week sample, I don’t think it’s egregious to show the before and after on each side. At its core, this is less about Johnson and more about just how skewed reliever numbers can be given their relatively small innings totals.

If you just lifted those five innings from Johnson’s totals, his numbers are through-the-roof brilliant. We can’t do that, but look at those numbers since he emerged out of his funk; they are quite excellent, too. In that particular sample, his groundball rate is at 66 percent – even better than the astronomical 62 percent rates from the last two years. By the way, he is once again leading baseball in saves with 38 and he’s actually outpacing his 2012 total. His pace of 55 would tie him for the third-most in baseball ever and the most since Eric Gagne hit the mark in 2003.

Always dig into a reliever’s numbers as the front page of their Baseball-Reference profile will often mislead you.

Advertisements
Tuesday: 03.5.2013

They Could Also Trade Miguel Cabrera for Nick Punto…

A tidbit out this morning from MLB Trade Rumors talks about how the Tigers are now looking for a closer via the trade market because SURPRISE SURPRISE their entirely unproven rookie who spent 32 seconds at Triple-A and has all of his pitches guided by Apple Maps (I’ve used this joke ~718 times now) isn’t panning out. Who could’ve possibly guessed that this wouldn’t work?! I personally feel they have several worthy options in-house already including Octavio Dotel, Joaquin Benoit, and the best of the bunch in my opinion Al Alburquerque, but manager Jim Leyland seems to favor Phil Coke over all of them and now going outside is an option. I’m not one of those guys who thinks I could be an elite GM off of the street tomorrow and I love Dave Dombrowski, but I don’t understand the thinking there. How was there no contingency for Bruce Rondon and why are none of these hard-throwing studs the team already has an option? You were OK going with someone whose never been in the majors, but Al-Al can’t get a look? His stuff is straight up NSFW!

This part of the news item from MLBTR especially killed me:

closertrade

Don’t you dare trade a high upside 24 year old potential stud for a freaking closer. Yeah I’m sure teams would line up around the corner to get Porcello for a closer. The Dodgers would also move Nick Punto for Miguel Cabrera! Andrew Bailey. GTFOHWTS. To be fair, he didn’t say Bailey for Porcello, but just GTFOH with Bailey no matter what. He pitches 30 innings a year.

You better get a helluva lot more than that back if Porcello is the centerpiece of a trade. Honestly, this situation sets up perfectly to go by committee, but Leyland is a bit more old school about the closer’s role so he’d probably just want one guy. Coke could be nasty against teams like the Royals and Indians, both of whom have several lefties. Like I said, I trust DD to make the right move. I would definitely be interested in any of the Nationals guys or I guess I should either because they aren’t trading Rafael Soriano five minutes after signing him. So Tyler Clippard or Drew Storen would look great in the 9th inning for the Tigers, but if the price is too high just stay in-house. And for the love of beagles, do not sign Jose Valverde.