Teams are always looking to put themselves in the best position to win, and the field manager (AKA the in-game decision makers) are constantly evaluating and predicting outcomes as well as trying to be a step ahead of his opponent in the other dugout. When it comes to late in the game when we get into the “higher leverage” situations, you need a strategy as to whom you want to use when. Unfortunately, a lot of coaches decide there is a set 7th inning, 8th inning, and 9th inning guy, which is completely ridiculous considering you may face the biggest threat to your winning in the 8th inning while the Brandon Crawfords of the world are the next 3 due up in the 9th. This is not a matter of using your best pitcher on the staff, but rather using the best reliever you have waiting to be used, assuming they are available for the game. Since this is a Giants blog and a set of stats comparing relievers would be fairly predictable, I decided I would throw you off by including two sets of relievers for you to be the judge of. On these two teams, which reliever would you rather have in a higher leverage situation? Each of these pitchers is either a set-up man, or a closer for their respective organization and is not strictly a platoon guy. All numbers are their stats for 2012, and yes I know, SSS, so maybe this whole article’s just a trap:
For a reliever used late in the game, their velocity on fastballs is at least in the low-90’s to triple digits sometimes, so I didn’t include that because it’s not like they’re throwing Jamie Moyer stuff while scoring that high a K/9. The numbers that I feel matter most are the ones shown above.
I’m really biased towards strikeouts because if my guy on the mound has the tendency to avoid a ball put in play altogether, give me that guy, as long as he’s also not walking the park (a la Jonathan Sanchez). For Team A’s RP, I look at that FIP and tERA and see they’re mostly similar, with the SIERA and the K/9 really giving RP B the edge. A lower rate of line drives and an unusual amount of infield fly balls that is well higher than his career IFFB rate is pretty interesting and bound to come down. That ground ball rate may raise that BABIP later on, but I give the slight edge to reliever B. Let’s make this interactive and see who you’d choose though:
Taking a look at the two relievers from Team B, it’s pretty obvious to me who should be the pick, but the line drive percentage is a little higher than reliever B, but that’s just one number in favor for reliever B against the many others for reliever A. Maybe I’m crazy and I don’t see something though. Greater number of K’s, about the same number of BB’s, less HR allowed, great defensive independent stats for reliever A.
As for who these mystery men are, I give to you the following links for your viewing pleasure:
Hats off to you if you knew who all four of these guys were without cheating.