T Nation

MLB 2011 Part Two


Well, we maxed the first one out. Let's keep this fucker rolling!



I was never stating the bullpen facts to say the Padres have the best bullpen in baseball. I don't think they do. I think either the Giants or Braves have the best bullpens. People can argue teams like the Yankees play in a division where it is more hitter friendly.

I think it's more important how close the games are when the relievers are brought in to pitch. Yankees score a lot of runs and sometimes the games aren't very close. Less pressure for their relievers. Giants are always in close games and they can't score runs. More pressure that falls on their bullpen.


Oh and PS IMO the Rangers have the best bullpen now that they've traded for Adams and Uehara. I dunno what's up w/ Feliz this year but they have 3 other guys who would close for some teams.


They are going to have to work on pitcher to catcher chemistry. Adams was already struggling with the catchers signs and gave up a homerun.


C'mon, really? They had an ERA of about 4.50 before they got Adams and Uehara. Adams is a significant upgrade, but Uehara doesn't have much of a track record in the bigs. This is a guy who has never pitched for a team anywhere remotely close to being in contention and only has about 2.5 years of big-league experience. He may turn out to be a great reliever, but at this point it's beyond foolish to think that the addition of him and a great set-up man will suddenly transform what has been, up to this point, the worst bullpen in the majors amongst contending teams into the BEST bullpen in the majors. This just takes them from horrendous to respectable.


Also SCJ, regarding your last post in the first version of this thread, which I cut and pasted below, the Giants' relievers don't really pick up "vulture" wins. They rarely blow leads and when they do, the Giants' offense is so fucking pathetic that they almost never come back and score to retake the lead and give the reliever who initially blew it the win.

They have a high win total because they frequently come into games with a tie score and hold the score. THAT is how they get wins and THAT is why they have the majors' best winning percentage amongst relievers. They give the team a chance to win and they don't blow leads. THAT, combined with their stellar numbers in literally every other statistical category, is why I think they are the best bullpen in the bigs.

I will say this, though. I think the Braves are the SCARIEST bullpen in the bigs because of the STUFF that they collectively have. O'Flaherty, Venters and Kimbrall all have dominant stuff and they are the team I wouldn't want to face in the playoffs because of it. When I look at bullpens, or just staffs in general, I like staffs with really good stuff when it comes to postseason play. Why? Because really good stuff translates into less hard-hit balls put into play and less balls period put into play, which means that many less opportunities for something to go wrong. I have argued with clarity and accuracy that the Giants have the best bullpen in the bigs and I think you agree with me now and just don't want to admit it. But I think the Braves have the bullpen that is most likely to succeed in the playoffs because in general their bullpen has better stuff than the Giants. They also gained valuable postseason experience last year and this should fortify their resolve this year.

edit: forgot to cut and paste. Fuck it, you said it so you know what I'm referring to.


I've noticed some relievers do not pitch well when the game isn't close. If they come into the game with a 4 run lead their more likely to give up a run or 2.


This is why I do not understand it when GMs give relievers long term deals. Relief pitching has to be the most volatile area of baseball when it comes to player performance. Rafael Soriano (to this point), BJ Ryan and Brad Lidge are shining examples of why you should never give a relief pitcher more than a 1 year deal plus an option.

If Papelbon will not take a 1-2 year deal I would honestly let him walk if I were Theo Epstein. It's clear he's on the decline.


I've noticed the same thing, but I've noticed that that is almost entirely exclusive to closers who are in the game to get work. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that they are in the game because they have not gotten work in a while and are rusty as a result. Also, I know from experience that it is tempting to use those situations to work on stuff that you have never been very sharp with anyways. For me, if I ever pitched in a blowout, regardless of which team was getting beaten up, I threw a lot of changeups and cutters, which were my fourth and fifth best pitches. Especially the cutter. I needed to work on a pitch that I could bury on lefties' hands other than a straight four-seamer.

It also has a lot to do with pitchers pitching in situations that are not their role. It's entirely alien for a closer or a really good set-up man to throw in a blowout. Combine that with the fact that the guy probably hasn't thrown in five games, can't really work on stuff that much on the side due to the always-existent possibility that they will have to pitch that night and now he has the opportunity in a game situation to work on stuff (which is really the best time to work on stuff anyways since you need to know how major-league hitters handle that stuff) and you've got a recipe for a pitcher to have a less-than stellar outing.

Sometimes you have a long reliever in during a blowout and his numbers get skewed a little bit as well, but the reason they are a long reliever and not a set-up man or a closer is because they just aren't one of the four or five best relievers on the staff anyways, so there is naturally a greater tendency for bad outings.


Quick note -- while I agree that wins CAN be good in the manner you said, you'd pretty much have to watch 162 games of every team to know whether they are getting more "bad" wins or "good" wins compared to other teams, so that's why I just don't like the stat in general. I can say that it's LIKELY they are doing that... but I can't say that as a fact without watching.

One other thing to consider is whether we should consider bullpen depth, or just the top 3ish guys? There are different ways to define "best". The bottom 2 relievers won't decide many games... their job is to pitch three innings after someone gets rocked and removed in the 4th.

Uehara has 158 innings with a 3.01 ERA (in the AL East), and 167 strikeouts to only 25 walks... anyone striking out 6 more guys than they walk is pretty damn good. 160 innings is a decent sample for a reliever...especially if you're only walking one guy every six innings, that's not an accident. If Feliz can get on track I would definitely give the title to the Rangers, but, he hasn't come close yet. Also Adams is a flyball pitcher so he might give up a couple more jacks in Arlington but he'll still be good.

I love the "don't want to admit it" line... why would I not want the Giants to have the label of best bullpen? It doesn't make a difference to me which bullpen is the best, I have no horse in the race and have nothing against the Giants. I think Romo and Ramirez are very underrated but I think Javy Lopez/Santiago Casilla are going to regress soon (though Mota should improve and Affeldt has been solid).

I guess all of this is a roundabout way of saying there may not be a good way to answer this question. I think you'd be arguing for the Braves if you were a fan of theirs (though outside of Kimbrel their three best guys are lefties in Kimbrel, O'Flaherty and Sherril...they need a better righty than Linebrink).

I also really like the Rockies pen, who have an inflated ERA due to pitching at Coors... but I think the title for best bullpen is up for grabs between SF, ATL and TEX depending on how the year plays out from here.


Not to mention, they took a SP stud prospect who had the potential to pitch 200 innings a year and made him a permanent reliever (who affects about a third as many innings) because of one and a half good seasons in relief. There is a reason starters fetch way more in trades than relievers.


Well, I agree that it's hard to evaluate how a bullpen gets their wins without watching all of their games. However, I HAVE watched about 99% of the Giants' games this year so in this respect my opinion comes from a position of authority.

But again, there is another way to make this determination without watching every game. You look at winning PERCENTAGE. Because a bullpen that frequently blows leads, only to have their team regain the lead the very next inning, is the sign of a bad bullpen, period. If you are giving up runs on a frequent enough basis that you are the beneficiary of a lot of vulture wins, chances are you'll have a high loss total as well, because even the best offensive teams are not going to be able to overcome a deficit or break a tie on a very regular basis when they face the other teams' best relievers.

After all, in a tie game or with a lead that they just gained the previous half inning, a team is pretty much always going to be putting out their best available pitcher at that point, unless it's the 7th or 8th inning and the closer isn't needed yet. Even great offensive teams aren't going to overcome those odds so many times that their relievers will have a great winning PERCENTAGE. They might end up with a lot of wins, but invariably they will end up with a lot of losses as well. AND their ERA is going to be high. A reliever with a low ERA and a lot of wins is the sign of a reliever who has held a tie score in late innings, NOT the sign of a pitcher who is the beneficiary of a great offense.

The comment about "don't want to admit it" was simply me trying to push your buttons. This thread gets boring quick without some good old-fashioned, knock-down, drag-out arguments about baseball! Don't take anything I say too personally here. Even Rajraj knows that as much as I harangue him about his opinions it's just our way of livening this thread up a little bit. I always respect the opinion of a guy who is willing to argue about baseball out of passion for the game or their team, even if I won't directly admit it.


Well, A-Rod's fucked. Apparently the guy is being investigated for illegal gambling in the form of high stakes poker games at some big record exec's home. From what I've read he's been reprimanded by the commish for this shit in the past but he continued to do so anyways. And I've also read that one of the games broke out in violence and that cocaine use was going on as well, although he hasn't been implicated by anyone about that stuff.

Personally, I don't think it's that big a deal, but at the same time I don't blame MLB for investigating this and I won't blame them if he receives a huge suspension either. He was told not to gamble, baseball is naturally going to be sensitive about gambling given what happened in 1919 (even though that was forever ago) and the guy simply seems to not give a fuck about anyone or anything other than himself. As ridiculous as it may seem to outlaw gambling of any type by its players, MLB has made it VERY clear for a VERY long time now that they will NOT tolerate it at all, and he apparently has been doing it anyways. So I say throw the fucking book at him.


It was dumb that he did it given the rules, I'll grant you that... but I can't get over the hypocrisy of MLB's hard line against gambling and total indifference to drunk driving offenses. I mean how many people have died because someone picked up a flush on the river?


I agree about winning percentage but you need a large sample size before it evens out... I don't think you can say anything if a team is 18-12 or 12-18 for example. I understand your point about having watched all the Giants games, my point is that to compare them to the other best bullpens (in terms of how they're getting Wins) you'd have to ALSO watch every Braves game to figure out who's blowing leads more often (because I doubt either is blowing them frequently, it just matters whose worse relative to the other)... that's why I stay away from W-L.

I might soil myself if I had to face Kimbrel or Venters in a playoff game though. If only you'd admit it!


Oh and PS I was a math major and use lots of statistics at my job, so I'll get into stat arguments any time day or night...just ask rajraj from the NBA thread.

I do think there are a LOT that stats don't tell in every sport, I'll be the first one to say that. But if someone brings a stat into any argument I'm going to run with it...I just can't help myself


^^ I agree but I'd say of all the major professional sports, baseball is easily the most stats driven. It's important to know which stats tell what happened vs what will happen.


MLB's job isn't to legislate morality, it's to take care of the game. Is A-Rod going to find himself in so much financial trouble from gambling debts that he'll start trying to throw games? No. But MLB watched the World Series get thrown for similar reasons and they have to go after even the players who are so financially-secure that they'll never be in that much trouble. They can't let some players get away with it and not let others get away with it.

I'm an ardent supporter of MUCH harsher penalties for DUI's, don't get me wrong. But enacting that sort of thing is the responsibility of the legal system and not MLB. How many employers out there can fire you for getting a DUI these days? Not many (assuming you aren't a delivery guy or required to drive in some capacity). Does that make it hypocritical that they can still fire people for insubordination?

Besides, if a ball player DID kill someone while driving drunk you can be sure MLB is going to levy a huge suspension and fine against them.


I batted against CC Sabathia when I was 17. Two 97 mph fastballs right past me (I didn't even see them) then he fucking airmailed one over the catcher by about two feet and then another 97 mph fastball on the inside corner for strike three. Never got the bat off my shoulder. Didn't soil myself either, though.


So did you have a decent chance of ever getting to the Bigs and pissed it away through alcoholism? Or were you just a decent player who made it to a high level?