Sunday, December 11, 2011

Shutdowns, Meltdowns and John Axford

Continuing with the Shutdown and Meltdown theme, I'll take a look at the National League relievers today.  Remember that a pitcher gets credit for a shutdown (SD) whenever he substantially enhances his teams chance of winning a game (sum of Win Probability Added for the game is 6% or better).  He is charged with a Meltdown (MD) if he significantly hampers his team's chance of winning  (sum of Win Probaility Added for the game is less than -6%).

Using traditional methods, many recognized Brewers reliever John Axford as the best reliever in the National League.  After all, he tied for the league lead in saves (46) and led in Save Percentage (95.8%).  We know that Saves are not always the best measure of reliever effectiveness.  How does Axford rate in terms of Shutdowns and Meltdowns?

Table 1 below shows that Axford had 43 Shutdowns in 74 games for a 58.1 SD%.  The top SD% went to Phillies right-hander Ryan Madson (58.3%).  Madson failed to make the NL top ten in saves (he had 32) because he did not start the season as the Phillies closer and later missed time with a hand injury.

Table 1: NL Shutdown Percentage Leaders


Player
Team
G
SD
SD%
J.J. Putz
ARI
60
35
58.3
John Axford
MIL
74
43
58.1
Ryan Madson
PHI
62
35
56.5
Tyler Clippard
WSN
72
40
55.6
Jonny Venters
ATL
85
47
55.3
Drew Storen
WSN
73
40
54.8
Francisco Rodriguez
NL
73
37
50.7
Antonio Bastardo
PHI
64
32
50.0
Joel Hanrahan
PIT
70
35
50.0
Francisco Cordero
CIN
68
34
50.0
Brian Wilson
SFG
57
28
49.1
Leo Nunez
FLA
68
33
48.5
Heath Bell
SDP
64
31
48.4
David Hernandez
ARI
74
35
47.3
Eric O'Flaherty
ATL
78
36
46.2


Along with his excellent SD%. Axford was also very good at avoiding MDs.  Table 2 tells us that the Brewers closer had 3 MDs in 74 games for a league lowest 4.1% MD%. The biggest surprise on this list might be James Russell of the Cubs.  The Chicago left-hander had just 3 MDs in 59 games for a MD% of 5.1%.  It's surprising because Russell's more traditional numbers - 4.12 ERA and 1.33 WHIP - were relatively modest.  Part of the reason may be that he was not generally used in high-leverage situations.

Table 2: NL Meltdown Percentage Leaders


Player
Team
G
MD
MD%
John Axford
MIL
74
3
4.1
James Russell
CHC
59
3
5.1
Kenley Jansen
LAD
51
3
5.9
Ryan Madson
PHI
62
4
6.5
Jonny Venters
ATL
85
6
7.1
Josh Spence
SDP
40
3
7.5
LaTroy Hawkins
MIL
52
4
7.7
Joe Paterson
ARI
62
5
8.1
Javy Guerra
LAD
47
4
8.5
Mike MacDougal
LAD
69
6
8.7
Francisco Cordero
CIN
68
6
8.8
Eric O'Flaherty
ATL
78
7
9.0
Ramon Ramirez
SFG
66
6
9.1
Sergio Romo
SFG
65
6
9.2
Enerio Del Rosario
HOU
54
5
9.3


Finally, Table 3 combines SD's and MD's to give us SD/MD Ratio.  Axford led the National League with a 14.3 (43/3) SD/MD Ratio.  So, the sabermetric metrics are in agreement with the traditional statistics that Axford was the league's top reliever.  One thing SD/MD Ratio does is the recognize some of the league's most effective non-closers.  For examplw, Kenley Jansen of the Dodgers, Eric O'Flaherty of the Braves and Latroy Hawkins of the Brewers all finished in the top ten despite having five saves between them.

Table 3: NL Shutdown/Meldown Ratio Leaders 


Player
Team
G
SD
MD
SD/MD
John Axford
MIL
74
43
3
14.3
Ryan Madson
PHI
62
35
4
8.8
Jonny Venters
ATL
85
47
6
7.8
Kenley Jansen
LAD
51
17
3
5.7
Francisco Cordero
CIN
68
34
6
5.7
Eric O'Flaherty
ATL
78
36
7
5.1
Javy Guerra
LAD
47
20
4
5.0
J.J. Putz
ARI
60
35
7
5.0
LaTroy Hawkins
MIL
52
19
4
4.8
Francisco Rodriguez
NL
73
37
8
4.6
David Hernandez
ARI
74
35
8
4.4
Joel Hanrahan
PIT
70
35
8
4.4
Leo Nunez
FLA
68
33
8
4.1
Antonio Bastardo
PHI
64
32
8
4.0
Drew Storen
WSN
73
40
10
4.0
  


 

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