We provide agents with statistical analysis and research services for arbitration, free agency, and contract negotiations. Call Steve Fall at 512-852-8193 for more information.

The Relief Index: Putting it all Together

Especially in arbitration, combining different statistics provides powerful support for your case, and is easier to explain than most advanced metrics.

The Sports Resource built an index based on six key relief metrics. Pitchers get a score between 0 and 100 for each category, which then get averaged.

The first statistic, save plus hold percentage, evens the playing field for setup men and closers, showing how well all relievers maintain leads. We also include strikeout rate – a superior metric to strikeouts per nine innings – to show a pitcher’s ability to take control without needing his fielders’ support. ERA, OPS allowed, relief innings pitched, and inherited runners percentage round out the categories. We weight the final category less than the first five.

Here are the top-ranked 2010 pitchers through the All-Star Break, according to the relief index (among relievers with 25 relief innings and 10 combined saves and holds).

Quantity and Quality

With all the great advanced metrics available today, it’s easy to forget the benefit of some core statistics.

Innings pitched often gets overlooked when evaluating relievers. The Rockies’ Matt Belisle had thrown 54.2 innings through July 18, more than any other Major League reliever. And while NL All-Star Hong-Chih Kuo had pitched great, he had just over half as many innings (28.1) as Belisle.

Belisle had pitched two or more shutout innings in nine different games. No other Major League reliever had more than seven such appearances.

Of course, quantity matters much more when combined with strong qualitative stats. Belisle had shined in such categories as well, allowing just a .596 OPS despite pitching in Coors Field. He also had an excellent 92.9 save plus hold percentage, from converting 13 of his 14 opportunities to hold leads.

In fact, Belisle joined Brian Wilson and Sean Marshall as the only pitchers to make the top 30 in all six components of our relief index explained above.

When building player value for free agency and arbitration, The Sports Resource takes all metrics into account. This leaves agents with comprehensive statistical packages that cover all the bases.

Building Value for Role Players

Baseball is a zero sum game. When one player’s performance improves, another loses some effectiveness. Based on their overall statistics and playing time, some players don’t appear to have much impact on their team’s success. And their ranking in metrics like VORP and WAR may support this. But many of these players have tremendous value in certain situations, and that impacts their overall contribution.

Jeff Baker, for example, provides considerable offense against left-handed pitching. His .890 career OPS versus lefties, along with his ability to play second base, make him a major asset. NL second basemen had just a .722 OPS in 2010. Although his overall stats had slipped, Baker continued his strong work against lefties this season. Per 600 career plate appearances against them, he had hit 28.7 home runs and 98.9 RBI.

The Sports Resource Blog and Twitter

The Sports Resource Blog showed how to dig deeper into pitching statistics to predict future performance in a recent post.

For more revealing information and statistics, follow Steve Fall on Twitter at www.twitter.com/StatsMan.

Follow StatsMan on Twitter

See copies of all previous newsletters and more on The Sports Resource website: http://sportsresource.net/

Note: All players used in this newsletter and our sample charts are selected at random, and are not from actual projects. All projects and conversations are confidential.

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