FanPost

A New and Improved Way to Measure Closers

In the Rockpile earlier today SDcat09 and Hizilla made comments comparing Brian Fuentes's and Huston Street's save totals.  This inspired me to create a new statistic.  OK not really but I haven't seen it on any baseball site so I thought I would share in my first FanPost.  

The Issue:  Saves are often used to determine a closer's effectiveness.  Unfortunately measuring a closer by the number of saves he racks up during the course of a season is asinine.  This is because not every closer receives the same number of save opportunities.  Some teams like the Angels hand out save opportunities to their closer like its candy on Halloween, while others like the Nationals may provide a save opportunity once every time the moon cycles. 

A Potential Solution:  For me a closer's job is to convert save opportunities into wins.  That's it, plain and simple.  It doesn't matter if a he gets 60 save opportunities or six; the closer's job is to convert them into wins.  So instead of just looking at how many games each closer saved, let's look at the percentage of save opportunities the top 25 closers (according to save totals) converted into wins during 2009. 

First a look at the top 25 closers by saves this year.

Player

Team

Saves

1)

Top of Form

Brian Fuentes

Bottom of Form

Angels

48

2)

Joe Nathan

Twins

47

3)

Mariano Rivera

Yankees

44

4)

Heath Bell

Padres

42

5)

Francisco Cordero

Reds

39

6)

Jonathan Papelbon

Red Sox

38

7)

Ryan Franklin

Cardinals

38

8)

David Aardsma

Mariners

38

9)

Brian Wilson

Giants

38

10)

Trevor Hoffman

Brewers

37

11)

Fernando Rodney

Tigers

37

12)

Jonathan Broxton

Dodgers

36

13)

Huston Street

Rockies

35

14)

Francisco Rodriguez

Mets

35

15)

Brad Lidge

Phillies

31

16)

Joakim Soria

Royals

30

17)

Bobby Jenks

White Sox

29

18)

Rafael Soriano

Braves

27

19)

Matt Capps

Pirates

27

20)

Andrew Bailey

Athletics

26

21)

Leo Nunez

Marlins

26

22)

Jose Valverde

Astros

25

23)

Frank Francisco

Rangers

25

24)

Chad Qualls

D'backs

24

25)

Kevin Gregg

Cubs

23

Now if we take those same 25 players and look at their percentage of save opportunities converted into wins, it looks like this.

Player

Team

Saves

Percentage of Save Opportunities Converted

1)

Top of Form

Brian Fuentes

Bottom of Form

Angels

48

87.2

2)

Joe Nathan

Twins

47

90.4

3)

Mariano Rivera

Yankees

44

95.7

4)

Heath Bell

Padres

42

87.5

5)

Francisco Cordero

Reds

39

90.7

6)

Jonathan Papelbon

Red Sox

38

92.7

7)

Ryan Franklin

Cardinals

38

88.4

8)

David Aardsma

Mariners

38

90.5

9)

Brian Wilson

Giants

38

84.4

10)

Trevor Hoffman

Brewers

37

90.2

11)

Fernando Rodney

Tigers

37

97.4

12)

Jonathan Broxton

Dodgers

36

85.7

13)

Huston Street

Rockies

35

94.6

14)

Francisco Rodriguez

Mets

35

83.3

15)

Brad Lidge

Phillies

31

73.8

16)

Joakim Soria

Royals

30

90.9

17)

Bobby Jenks

White Sox

29

82.9

18)

Rafael Soriano

Braves

27

87.1

19)

Matt Capps

Pirates

27

84.4

20)

Andrew Bailey

Athletics

26

86.7

21)

Leo Nunez

Marlins

26

78.8

22)

Jose Valverde

Astros

25

86.2

23)

Frank Francisco

Rangers

25

86.2

24)

Chad Qualls

D'backs

24

82.8

25)

Kevin Gregg

Cubs

23

76.7

Now let's rank them in order by percentage of save opportunities converted into wins.

Player

Team

Percentage of Save Opportunities Converted

1)

Fernando Rodney

Tigers

97.4

2)

Mariano Rivera

Yankees

95.7

3)

Huston Street

Rockies

94.6

4)

Jonathan Papelbon

Red Sox

92.7

5)

Joakim Soria

Royals

90.9

Top of Form

6)

Francisco Cordero

Reds

90.7

7)

David Aardsma

Mariners

90.5

8)

Joe Nathan

Twins

90.4

9)

Trevor Hoffman

Brewers

90.2

10)

Ryan Franklin

Cardinals

88.4

11)

Heath Bell

Padres

87.5

12)

Brian Fuentes

Angels

87.2

13)

Rafael Soriano

Braves

87.1

14)

Andrew Bailey

Athletics

86.7

15)

Jose Valverde

Astros

86.2

16)

Frank Francisco

Rangers

86.2

17)

Jonathan Broxton

Dodgers

85.7

18)

Brian Wilson

Giants

84.4

19)

Matt Capps

Pirates

84.4

20)

Francisco Rodriguez

Mets

83.3

21)

Bobby Jenks

White Sox

82.9

22)

Chad Qualls

D'backs

82.8

23)

Leo Nunez

Marlins

78.8

24)

Kevin Gregg

Cubs

76.7

25)

Brad Lidge

Phillies

73.8

Bottom of Form

I was disappointed to see that Fernando Rodney was ranked as the best closer using this method because I think we all know better.  (The justification for this is Rodney had a 1.91 ERA in saves and a 6.08 ERA in non save games.  Apparently he just turned it on when it was needed.)   However there were some things that I did like including Huston Street moving up 10 spots, Joakim Soria moving up 11, and Brian Fuentes falling all the way to 12th.  Even Poseidon's guy Andrew Bailey moved up 6 spots.   I realize this can still be improved by doing something like weighing one run saves more than three run saves and penalizing closers more for blowing multi run leads but it's still an improvement over what currently exists.         

I'm sure someone has done this before but I have never seen it.  Anyway I think it's a more accurate way to rank closers than just looking at save totals.

Eat. Drink. Be Merry. But the above FanPost does not necessarily reflect the attitudes, opinions, or views of Purple Row's staff (unless, of course, it's written by the staff [and even then, it still might not]).

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