The save stat and perverse incentives

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Ted Berg flagged something pretty darn illuminating this morning.  The quotes of the principles in yesterday’s Yankees game, happy that they failed on offense so that Mariano Rivera could get his 602nd save:

“I couldn’t believe they were cheering me for hitting into a double play,” Swisher said. “I said: ‘Whoa, what’s this? And then I looked at the bullpen and saw Mo coming out and I said: ‘Now I get it!’ This was the greatest double play of my life.”

“Runners at first and second…it was unbelievable,” Rivera said. “I don’t ever want my teammates to do bad so I can pitch, but this time I was happy for the opportunity. I’m listening to the fans and I said: ‘Wow, these guys are into it!’”

The most common critique of stats and stat-oriented analysis is that it allegedly elevates that which isn’t truly important over on-the-field baseball.  Yet there is nothing in baseball that does that more than the save stat, which non-stats oriented analysts love about a zillion times more than the SABR-nerds.

Hunter Strickland breaks hand punching door after poor performance

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Giants closer Hunter Strickland had an ugly top of the ninth inning Monday night against the Marlins. He allowed three runs, serving up a walk, a double, another walk, and two singles. The Marlins overcome a 4-2 deficit and went on to win 5-4.

Unhappy with his performance, Strickland punched a door and fractured his pitching hand. He will undergo surgery and will miss six to eight weeks, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports.

That’s a huge loss for the Giants, as Strickland has been terrific, Monday’s start notwithstanding. He carries a 2.84 ERA with 13 saves and a 29/13 K/BB ratio in 31 2/3 innings. Manager Bruce Bochy said Tony Watson or Sam Dyson will fill in at closer while Strickland is out, per Pavlovic.

Bochy said that he is “disappointed” and “crushed” about Strickland’s injury, noting that the right-hander had grown a lot as a pitcher and as a person, Pavlovic adds.

Strickland has a problem with anger, it appears. He exacted revenge on Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper last year, throwing a 98 MPH fastball at him, then punched him in the head when the two brawled. Strickland wanted revenge because, in the 2014 playoffs, Harper stared at a home run he hit off of Strickland.

Update: Strickland posted this on his Instagram:

Life has an interesting and sometimes disappointing way of opening up our eyes. Words cannot describe the amount of regret and sorrow I have for my actions. I have let down the ones that care and mean the most, as well as the ones that count on me day in and day out. To my family, my teammates, my coaches, this organization, and our fan base, I am truly sorry that one split second, stupid decision has caused so much harm and now set me back from being out there with my team to pursue our goal. As well as providing for my family. I own all responsibilities and consequences because these were no ones actions but myself. I will work hard to get back with the guys and help contribute to some more wins. This is our life, and we take pride in what we do, so when we fail it hurts. But that is by no means an excuse because every action has a reaction- which is what I’m seeing now. I’ve made a mistake and regret it, but I will not give up and will learn from this! I completely understand how this portrays my character, which I will humbly work on areas in my life that need refinement. I sincerely didn’t do this out of selfishness, but simply because I let down the ones that count on me most and my emotions got the best of me in that moment. So again, I’m sorry, and now I have to move forward.

A post shared by Hunter Strickland (@hunter_strickland60) on