Dennis Eckersley

Closers do nothing to help teams hold ninth inning leads


Some pretty startling stuff from Joe Posnanski today, who was snooping around in the stats, looking at what percentage of games teams win when they have ninth inning leads. He figured — as I would have — that due to bullpen specialization and the advent of the fireballing closer, teams held on to such leads far more often now than they used to. Nope:

The truth is that all the bullpen advances have had ABSOLUTELY ZERO EFFECT on how much more often teams win games they’re leading in the ninth inning. Zero. Nada. Zilch. The ol’ bagel.

Teams won 95.5% of their ninth-inning leads in 2010. Teams won 95.5% of their ninth-inning leads in 1952.

Pretty astonishing. That stat has rarely changed. What’s more, Posnanski finds that even having Marinao Rivera or Dennis Eckersley doesn’t change the equation that much.

Which isn’t to say that a team could just chuck their closers right now and be done with it. The entire pitching staff has been bent over time in order to make room for one inning specialists. Teams couldn’t simply go back to 1952-style pitcher usage, because they don’t have 1952-style pitchers. And it’s possible — though I’m not sure how one would research it — that the change in pitcher usage has led to fewer pitcher injuries because more guys are carrying the load. I’m not sure that’s even knowable, actually, because of the way we classified injuries 40 and 50 years ago compared to the way we do today. Guys who just pitched poorly back then may be on the DL today because we realize, hey, torn labrum.

But this data certainly suggests that closers have accomplished basically one thing since their creation: they’ve managed to get teams to pay closers a lot of money.

Jason Kipnis plans to play through a disgusting-looking ankle sprain

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 14:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians fields the ball against the Toronto Blue Jays during game one of the American League Championship Series at Progressive Field on October 14, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Jason Kipnis sprained his ankle while celebrating the Indians ALCS win over the Blue Jays. In the runup to tonight’s game, Terry Francona has said that Kipnis would be fine, that he’s a gamer, etc., etc. You know, the usual “when the bell rings, all of the aches and pains go away” kind of thing.

Today, however, we see that this sprained ankle is maybe not your run-of-the-mill late season bump or bruise:


Um, yikes.

Indians beat writer jumps in Lake Erie to settle a bet

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Back in September Cleveland Plain Dealer beat writer Paul Hoynes ruffled a lot of feathers when he declared the Indians DOA. His rationale: too many injuries to Indians starters weakened the club too greatly. Even if they did make the playoffs, Hoynes argued, they wouldn’t go far.

A reader made a bet with him at the time: if the Indians didn’t make the World Series, he’d jump in Lake Erie. If they did, Hoynes would.

Today Hoynes made good on his bet. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen a baseball writer drop trou, by the way: