Mets bullpen: Analyzing NL LOOGY performance | Mets360

Mets bullpen: Analyzing NL LOOGY performance

March 20, 2011
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Following up on yesterday’s piece asking if the Mets need a LOOGY, I decided that we needed to see what these lefty relievers contributed, both overall and then broken down versus LHB and RHB, to determine what others have gotten from these guys.

The first thing I did was do a Play Index search at Baseball-Reference, where I selected all lefties in the National League last year who made 80% of their appearances as relievers and who pitched in 40 games, sorted by ascending order of innings pitched.

Rk Player IP R ER BB SO ERA HR BF AB 2B 3B HBP SF BA OBP SLG OPS
1 Randy Flores 27.1 10 9 13 18 2.96 4 115 98 7 0 1 0 .224 .321 .418 .740
2 Dan Runzler 32.2 12 11 20 37 3.03 1 144 119 5 1 1 0 .244 .357 .328 .685
3 Zach Braddock 33.2 11 11 19 41 2.94 1 151 127 9 0 2 2 .228 .333 .323 .656
4 Joe Thatcher 35.0 5 5 7 45 1.29 1 137 124 3 0 1 2 .185 .231 .234 .465
5 Trever Miller 36.0 17 16 16 22 4.00 2 151 129 3 1 2 2 .233 .322 .318 .640
6 George Sherrill 36.1 28 27 24 25 6.69 4 180 148 12 2 1 2 .311 .406 .500 .906
7 J.C. Romero 36.2 17 15 29 28 3.68 3 171 135 3 0 5 0 .222 .379 .311 .690
8 Dennys Reyes 38.0 15 15 21 25 3.55 2 163 137 6 0 2 1 .248 .354 .336 .690
9 Gustavo Chacin 38.1 22 20 20 31 4.70 3 186 162 9 0 0 1 .315 .388 .426 .814
10 Tim Byrdak 38.2 15 15 20 29 3.49 4 170 147 9 2 0 3 .272 .353 .442 .795
11 Doug Slaten 40.2 18 14 19 36 3.10 2 174 151 5 0 4 0 .225 .328 .298 .626
12 Eric O’Flaherty 44.0 14 12 18 36 2.45 2 181 161 9 1 1 0 .230 .311 .335 .647
13 Joe Beimel 45.0 18 17 15 21 3.40 5 188 171 9 1 0 1 .269 .326 .421 .747
14 James Russell 49.0 37 27 11 42 4.96 11 219 197 8 1 4 4 .279 .324 .497 .822
15 Jeremy Affeldt 50.0 25 23 24 44 4.14 4 228 193 11 1 3 1 .290 .376 .420 .795
16 Arthur Rhodes 55.0 14 14 18 50 2.29 4 217 194 10 0 1 2 .196 .265 .309 .574
17 Javier Lopez 57.2 17 15 20 38 2.34 2 235 210 11 1 2 2 .238 .308 .329 .636
18 Hong-Chih Kuo 60.0 8 8 18 73 1.20 1 229 208 6 1 1 1 .139 .211 .192 .403
19 Pedro Feliciano 62.2 24 23 30 56 3.30 1 280 242 12 0 6 0 .273 .367 .335 .702
20 Sean Burnett 63.0 17 15 20 62 2.14 3 261 236 9 0 1 0 .220 .284 .297 .581
21 Billy Wagner 69.1 14 11 22 104 1.43 5 268 239 6 1 3 1 .159 .238 .255 .493
22 Sean Marshall 74.2 25 22 25 90 2.65 3 307 276 11 1 2 2 .210 .279 .290 .569
23 Jonny Venters 83.0 30 18 39 93 1.95 1 350 299 8 0 8 1 .204 .311 .241 .552
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/20/2011.

Clearly, not all of these guys are LOOGYs but where do you draw the line? Wagner certainly isn’t one but after that it gets tricky. Kuo and Venters probably aren’t specialists, either. Ultimately, I decided to just leave everyone in and include the data, so if you really object to Wagner and others being included, you can do the calculations without them to check the numbers that you get.

With everyone included, I came up with a .235/.317/.334 average pitching line overall for our lefties. Since this was inspired by Byrdak, we should point out that he had a .272/.353/.442 line last year. While the average lefty had a .651 OPS, Byrdak had a .795 OPS.

Now let’s see how they did versus LHB and RHB. Unfortunately, the Play Index does not let you sort this way. So, I went through each of our 23 pitchers and copied down their splits by hand, resulting in the following numbers:

BA v L OBP v L SLG v L BA v R OBP v R SLG v R
Flores .295 .380 .508 .246 .328 .474
Runzler .260 .339 .360 .232 .369 .304
Braddock .151 .270 .170 .284 .379 .432
Thatcher .197 .239 .288 .172 .222 .172
Miller .203 .294 .257 .273 .359 .400
Sherrill .192 .286 .288 .427 .516 .707
Romero .217 .323 .277 .231 .452 .365
Reyes .307 .409 .453 .177 .288 .194
Chacin .323 .403 .387 .310 .384 .450
Byrdak .213 .271 .373 .333 .435 .514
Slaten .151 .235 .151 .295 .409 .436
O’Flaherty .231 .277 .321 .229 .340 .349
Beimel .221 .275 .379 .329 .388 .474
Russell .238 .276 .450 .308 .357 .530
Affeldt .290 .395 .420 .290 .364 .419
Rhodes .214 .230 .393 .182 .289 .245
Lopez .162 .250 .242 .306 .361 .405
Kuo .095 .159 .111 .159 .233 .228
Feliciano .211 .297 .276 .336 .436 .395
Burnett .273 .327 .384 .182 .253 .234
Wagner .071 .175 .071 .186 .257 .311
Marshall .196 .255 .284 .218 .292 .293
Venters .198 .310 .260 .207 .312 .232

This was a lot of work by itself, so I did not expand to include the numbers necessary to figure out averages of the sample for our slash line numbers. Instead, let’s use the median, which is the middle number for each category in our sample. Since we have 23 players, whichever one is 12th in our sorted list would be the median, meaning 11 pitchers finished with a number better and 11 pitchers finished with a worse number.

The median slash line for our lefties works out to:

vs. LHB — .213/.277/.288
vs. RHB — .246/.359/.395

Byrdak was almost perfectly in the middle of our sample versus lefties in AVG (.213) and OBP (.271). But he was significantly worse in SLG (.373). Versus righties he was significantly worse across the board (.333/.435/.514).

There’s a reason he was available on a minor league deal prior to this season.

Now, let’s see how some Mets relievers fared last year in the same left/right splits that we used for our lefty relievers:

BA v L OBP v L SLG v L BA v R OBP v R SLG v R
Manny Acosta .163 .217 .256 .245 .345 .362
Taylor Buchholz .250 .250 .500 .227 .393 .455
D.J. Carrasco .260 .333 .375 .227 .324 .337
Bobby Parnell .327 .364 .442 .276 .315 .299

We know that Byrdak faced just as many RHB as LHB last year. Given that the differences in batters faced by left/right split for most LOOGYs is a similar rate, how many of the above pitchers would you prefer to see over Byrdak? I would suggest all of them, especially when you consider how high Parnell’s BABIP (.374) was last year.

Managers today do everything to minimize criticism. That means setting up roles for everyone and then no one can blame the manager when something goes awry. So, if a LHB, let’s call him Chase Utley, has no discernible split between LHP and RHP, you still bring in your LOOGY and if Utley gets a hit, it’s certainly not the manager’s fault.

Having a LOOGY on the staff is convention, it makes certain decisions automatic and it shields managers from criticism. No wonder every team has one. And it’s one thing if your LOOGY is really good. But when you have Byrdak, who by his slash lines was below-average for LOOGYs versus lefties and horrible versus righties last year and is now age 37, does it make sense to carry him over a better righty?

There was much made over the new Mets front office and how they were going to do things in a smart way. If Byrdak is kept over one of the four relievers listed above, I think it is right to question the decision and all people who had a hand in it.

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