2010 projected leaders: Saves & Relief ERA

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Over the next several days, I’ll be dipping into my 2010 projections and presenting some leaderboards.
Saves
1. Mariano Rivera – 40
1. Francisco Rodriguez – 40
3. Joe Nathan – 38
3. Jonathan Papelbon – 38
5. Jonathan Broxton – 37
5. Brian Wilson – 37
7. Heath Bell – 36
7. Huston Street – 36
9. Francisco Cordero – 35
9. Trevor Hoffman – 35
11. David Aardsma – 34
11. Andrew Bailey – 34
11. Joakim Soria – 34
11. Jose Valverde – 34
11. Billy Wagner – 34
– Save projections don’t tend to make for very interesting lists. One or two pitchers from the group above will likely end up with 45-50 saves, but it’s hard to project anyone to finish with that kind of total. Rivera finished with 44 last year, but that was his first season over 40 since 2005. Nathan had 47, but that was after three years of 36, 37, and 39.
– If he were guaranteed to remain in San Diego all season long, I might have pushed Bell over 40. Teams that play low scoring games tend to rack up the most saves, and the Padres should play about as many as any team. Bell, though, is a possibility to be dealt in July, perhaps even to a team that would return him to a setup role.
– Seattle is another team that I could see generating 50 save chances. Aardsma, though, won’t necessarily remain their best reliever. Mark Lowe, Brandon League and Shawn Kelley will all be candidates to overtake him if he stumbles.


Relief ERA (minimum 50 IP)
1. Mariano Rivera – 2.18
2. Joe Nathan – 2.41
3. Jonathan Broxton – 2.54
4. Joakim Soria – 2.64
5. Jonathan Papelbon – 2.73
6. Billy Wagner – 2.77
7. Phil Hughes – 2.79
8. Carlos Marmol – 2.88
9. Heath Bell – 3.01
10. Luke Gregerson – 3.07
11. Mike Adams – 3.09
12. Takashi Saito – 3.10
13. Andrew Bailey – 3.11
14. Francisco Rodriguez – 3.12
15. Francisco Cordero – 3.14
16. Brian Wilson – 3.18
17. Joe Thatcher – 3.19
18. Sergio Romo – 3.21
19. Ramon Troncoso – 3.22
20. Rafael Soriano – 3.25
– I don’t suppose I really had to use the minimum 50 IP. The only pitcher disqualified from the top 20 as a result was Hong-Chih Kuo. I have the injury-prone left-hander at 2.61 in 41 1/3 innings.
– Four Padres make the list. It’s partly a testament to Petco Park, but San Diego has one of the game’s very best bullpens. Adams allowed just one earned run in 15 1/3 innings on the road last season. Bell had a 3.08 ERA and Thatcher came in at 3.26. Only Gregerson struggled, finishing with a 6.48 ERA in 33 1/3 innings, but he still struck out 40 and allowed just three homers in 33 1/3 innings away from Petco.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: