Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chris Perez & Closers

Chris Perez future closer or a set-up man on a hot streak?  Can Cleveland Indian fans feel confident that Chris Perez is their closer in 2011? 

No matter how we as fans try to determine the effectiveness and/or value of a closer, someone will always finding the exception(s) to the rule.   One instance of this is the fact that regardless of a teams overall win-loss record, approximately 90% of the time that a team is leading after 8 innings that team goes on to win the game.  For example, the 2010 Washington Nationals have an overall record of 61-84 but have a record of 54-1 when leading after 8 innings.  We could look at ERA and say that is a good barometer of a closer, but we can point to Joe Borowski who lead the American League in saves in 2007 with an ERA of 5.07.  We could also temper a bad ERA by suggesting that the reliever got hit hard in one or two appearances.  I've even had an individual suggest that the body of work means very little until that closer is closing games that are "important".  What an important game is could lead to another round of arguments and exceptions.

So, is Chris Perez an effective closer?  Is it fair to have optimism toward 2011 or is the fact that he isn't pitching in "important games" working against him?  I've compiled statistics for 14 American League relievers who met the following criteria: 90% of appearances are in relief, a minimum number of 25 innings pitched, and a minimum of 15 saves credited.   Chris Perez rankings out of the 14 relievers and the standard stats are presented in the tables below.  It should be noted that Perez did compile some of his statistics in the set-up role.

 Using the traditional statistics presented in Table 1, it would seem as if Chris Perez is a below average closer.  He ranks 9th or lower in Wins, Saves, K/9, WHiP, and K/BB.  He fares slightly better ranking 4th in BB/9 and ERA and ranks 5th in IP.   Table 3 will include some of the less traditional statistics, such as inherited runners (IR), inerited runners scored (IS), inherited runners scored percent (IS%), #R is the number of apperances the pitcher gave up at least one run and #ER is the number of appearances the pitcher gave up at least one earned run.  From the #R and #ER data I compiled a list of the percetage of appearances where the pitcher gave up an earned run and the percentage of scoreless appearances.

Table 1: Chris Perez Rankings

Table 2: 2010 AL Statistics through September 14, 2010

Table 3: AL Statistics through September 14, 2010

From examining Table 3, we can see that Perez has the most inherited runners with 30, which is due to the fact that he spent time in the set-up role for part of 2010.  Perez only allowed 7 of the 30 inherited runners to score (23%) which may be a sign that he is able to pitch effectively in high leverage situations.  Out of Chris Perez' 59 appearances, he only allowed an earned run in 6 of those appearances (~10%) which is good for second on the list.  Chris Perez has held the opposition scoreless 88% of his 59 appearances which puts him 2nd on the list. 

One may reach the conclusion that based on the fact that Perez has been effective when entering games with men on base (23% IR) and the amount of scoreless appearances by Chris Perez (88% [52 out of 59 appearances]) that Perez is ready to pitch in "important" games but to be considered a dominant closer as soon as the Indians middle relief begins to get the ball to him to shut the door.

You'll notices the last column on Table 3 showing a thread of numbers 4,4,3,3,2,... this represents the number of earned runs given up >1 run. 

Although this data is presented highlighting Chris Perez, I have provided the following link to allow anyone to manipulate the data.


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