Going Deep: We’re Drafting Saves Wrong

It’s no secret reliever usage is undergoing a bit of a renaissance.

The modern game seems to be doing away with the “proven closer”  much to the delight of Keith Law and Brian Kenny  opting instead for a bullpen full of filthy arms ready to pick up a save or serve as an “opener.” Whether this is good or bad for the sport is a question for a different article, but the reality is that bullpen utilization seems to be changing  and any fantasy owner drafting like it isn’t could be left in the dust.

Before we can adjust, I think it’s best for us to understand the crux of the issue. Is saying more relievers are getting more saves simply conjecture, or is there data to bear out the claim? Much to the chagrin of my wife, I spent my entire President’s Day weekend figuring out just that.

The point of this article is to answer four questions:

  1. Are more relievers getting more saves?
  2. Is this happening across the league or on an organization-by-organization basis?
  3. If this is organizational, which relievers are most and least affected?
  4. How do I adapt my draft strategy to get the most value out of a reliever?

This is going to be fun.

 

Gathering the Data

 

In order to best answer these questions, I gathered a lot of data.

A lot.

I went to FanGraphs and downloaded the data for every reliever who got a save between 2008 and 2018. Each CSV was put into its own tab in a Google sheet separated by year. I downloaded all of the saves data for all 30 organizations in that same time period and added the appropriate information to each tab. In order to make sure that all saves were properly accounted for, I broke down the saves relievers earned on two teams. For example, at first glance, the data details that Roberto Osuna recorded 21 saves in 2018. For the purposes of this data set, I made sure to break down those 21 saves into nine for the Blue Jays and 12 saves for the Astros, marking whether a reliever recorded a save on the team he was traded from or to.

Next, I tallied the number of organizations with relievers earning three, five, or 10 saves as well as what portion of an organization’s relievers got 40% to 90% of a teams saves by year.  

After cleaning and parsing the data and creating a few “totals” tabs, I was left with this monster that I’d love to share with you all for your own personal use. It may be nothing more than candy, but it took me quite some time to create. I hope you enjoy it: Pitcher List Save Data Sheet. Feel free to select File > Make a copy to sort and use for research.

Now that you know how it was gathered, let’s take an actual look at it.

 

Reading the Data

 

 

The line chart above shows the number of relievers who got at least one save by year. Let’s introduce some more specific numbers :

 

Year

No. of RPs w/ one save
(by organization)

Total No. of RPs w/ one save

2018 176 165
2017 173 163
2016 158 148
2015 154 145
2014 137 134
2013 131 130
2012 143 141
2011 127 125
2010 130 125
2009 128 124
2008 142 139

 

Let me clarify what may be a little confusing about the above chart: In 2018, 176 relievers got at least one save for an organization while 165 total relievers got one save. That essentially means that some relievers are being double counted, and for good reason. For example, Zack Britton earned at least one save for the Orioles and the Yankees, and so did Jeurys Familia between the Mets and Athletics. If we’re trying to see if saves are being dispersed throughout teams, it would seem wrong to just include Britton’s seven saves in 2018 as he is going to be utilized differently in different organizations. In addition, keeping this structure will help illuminate how different organizations utilize their pens.

For what it’s worth, below is a line chart showing the exact same info as above but using the total number of relievers featured in the far right column as the Y-axis:

 

 

The results are virtually the same and prove our overall point: 2018 saw more relievers get at least one save than at any other point in the history of the sport (or at least since the save has been introduced).

A valid first thought may be that this is some aberration. Maybe a perfect storm of injuries and ineffectiveness led to more one-off save opportunities in this past season. So let’s remove all relievers who just recorded one save for an organization and take a look at the percentage of relievers who earned more than three, five or ten saves.

 

 

Ninety percent of relievers who had at least one save with an organization recorded at least three in 2018. Seventy-three percent earned at least five. Both of those are highs in the past 10 years. While the 40% of relievers who earned 10 or more saves is actually the second-highest since 2016, this proves an interesting trend that we’ll touch upon later: The renaissance didn’t start this past year  it’s been burgeoning for years.  In theory, you could make the argument that because more relievers are getting saves, that the threshold of getting 10 saves for a team isn’t what it used to be, which is a great point. So let’s continue to break the data down even further.

 

 

This is a big chart, and there’s a lot to break down. What we’re looking at is the percentage of relievers who got at least one save on an organization, accounting for more than a certain percent of saves for that organization. For example, in 2018, Arodys Vizcaino had 16 saves for the Atlanta Braves, who had 40 saves overall, meaning he recorded 40% of his team’s saves. Now that that’s  hopefully  a bit clearer, let’s see what the data says.

The amount of relievers who recorded more than 90% of their teams’ saves has declined from 5.6% in 2008 to 1.7% in 2018 with the lowest being 0.6% in 2017. The number of relievers recording 80% has also declined by about 5% across 10 years, as has the number of relievers getting more than 40%. This all supports the claim that saves are being more evenly dispersed throughout the bullpen and answers our first question   Are more relievers getting more saves?  with a resounding YES.

OK, that’s out of the way, but there’s a lot more to talk about.

Not only have we now proven that saves are being more evenly distributed than ever, we’ve also shown that this is no one-year deal. This past season was the third consecutive year the league has spread out its saves, and while the record set of 167 different relievers recording a save may not be broken this year, I doubt the end number will be that much lower.

If the league is changing how relief pitchers are utilized, then shouldn’t fantasy owners? On the macro level, it proves that we shouldn’t be chasing saves, and if the one thing you take from this article is that you should wait a bit more on relievers, then I’m happy. However, I think, by answering Question No. 2, we can begin to isolate which relievers are most affected.

 

Question No. 2: Is This Happening Across the League, or Is It Organization-Specific?

 

To do so, let’s further isolate the data to identify any potential organizational trends:

 

 

Team Grand Total Grand Total < 3 Grand Total < 5 Grand Total < 10 Over 40 Over 50 Over 60 Over 70 Over 80 Over 90
Angels 57 28 22 13 9 7 6 5 5 3
Astros 54 26 19 18 10 9 7 4 2 1
Athletics 60 30 19 15 12 11 9 4 2 0
Blue Jays 64 26 20 12 10 9 6 6 4 0
Braves 53 24 19 15 11 10 7 6 5 3
Brewers 52 21 18 17 10 10 9 7 4 3
Cardinals 61 29 21 14 11 9 7 6 5 1
Cubs 52 25 17 14 12 9 8 7 4 1
Diamondbacks 53 26 19 14 10 9 8 5 4 2
Dodgers 55 24 19 14 12 11 8 6 4 2
Giants 52 28 17 15 11 8 6 6 5 4
Indians 54 21 17 12 11 10 10 6 6 2
Mariners 56 22 19 16 10 9 7 6 5 3
Marlins 46 23 19 15 10 10 7 7 5 4
Mets 64 27 21 13 11 10 7 3 3 1
Nationals 62 28 20 13 10 9 9 5 2 1
Orioles 44 23 18 15 11 9 8 5 5 1
Padres 38 19 18 15 12 9 7 6 6 5
Phillies 52 22 18 14 11 9 9 7 5 3
Pirates 53 20 17 15 11 11 9 5 5 4
Rangers 60 21 18 16 10 9 7 5 4 1
Rays 64 26 20 14 11 9 7 6 5 1
Red Sox 48 21 16 11 11 11 11 9 5 2
Reds 41 17 15 11 11 11 11 8 8 5
Rockies 50 23 18 14 12 10 8 7 5 1
Royals 49 22 16 15 12 10 8 6 5 3
Tigers 50 19 16 12 11 10 9 7 7 2
Twins 45 21 19 15 13 9 8 5 4 3
White Sox 51 26 18 11 10 9 8 7 5 2
Yankees 59 24 17 13 11 10 10 8 7 2

 

This data set is really noisy, and there is a significant amount of room for error in terms of interpretation and minimal room for nuance. For example, by looking at this chart, you can’t really tell that in the past three years, the Angels haven’t had a single reliever record more than 50% of the team’s saves. Nor can you tell that Fernando Rodney is responsible for the lone 90%+ the Rays have. There are still some very fascinating takeaways:

  • In 2016 we see only three organizations  the Dodgers (Kenley Jansen), the Tigers (Francisco Rodriguez), and the Mets (Familia)  with relievers who had more than 90% of their teams saves. This is the first time this number dips below five.
  • In 2018, seven organizations didn’t have a reliever with more than 40% of their teams saves: the Astros, Blue Jays, Brewers, Giants, Marlins, Orioles and Phillies.
  • Before 2012, all 30 organizations had a reliever get 40% or more of their team’s saves.
  • In 2018, six organizations had a reliever with more than 80% of the teams saves: Athletics, Diamondbacks, Mariners, Pirates, Rockies, and Tigers. Of those six, only three had a reliever with more than 90% of the saves: the Mariners, Pirates and Red Sox

Some more interesting takeaways from the table:

  • The Blue Jays and Athletics are the only two organizations to have never had a reliever record 90% or more of their team saves in the past 10 years.
  • Despite Mariano Rivero being the most dominant closer in baseball, in his last six years as a closer, he only recorded 90% or more of the teams saves twice (if we round up 2013, it was actually three times).
  • In the past 10 seasons, there have only been five relievers who have recorded 100% of their teams saves: Kenley Jansen (2016, Dodgers), Addison Reed (2013, White Sox), Jason Motte (2012, Cardinals), Brian Wilson (2008, Giants), Trevor Hoffman (2008, Padres), Francisco Cordero (2008, Reds).

As we’ve seen above, the reliever utilization paradigm shift seems to have begun in 2016. If we’re trying to determine organizational mentalities, then it may be better to sort the data from 2016-2018 to get a better sense of which organizations are buying in and which may be more reticent.

Team Total Saves >3SV >5SV >10SV >40 by % >50 by % >60 by % >70 by % >80 by % >90 by %
Angels 57 49.10% 38.60% 22.80% 3.50% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Astros 54 48.10% 35.20% 33.30% 1.90% 1.90% 1.90% 1.90% 0.00% 0.00%
Athletics 60 50.00% 31.70% 25.00% 6.70% 5.00% 5.00% 3.30% 1.70% 0.00%
Blue Jays 64 40.60% 31.30% 18.80% 3.10% 3.10% 3.10% 3.10% 3.10% 0.00%
Braves 53 45.30% 35.80% 28.30% 5.70% 3.80% 1.90% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Brewers 52 40.40% 34.60% 32.70% 3.80% 3.80% 1.90% 1.90% 0.00% 0.00%
Cardinals 61 47.50% 34.40% 23.00% 4.90% 3.30% 1.60% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Cubs 52 48.10% 32.70% 26.90% 7.70% 1.90% 1.90% 1.90% 1.90% 0.00%
Diamondbacks 53 49.10% 35.80% 26.40% 5.70% 5.70% 3.80% 3.80% 3.80% 1.90%
Dodgers 55 43.60% 34.50% 25.50% 5.50% 5.50% 5.50% 5.50% 3.60% 1.80%
Giants 52 53.80% 32.70% 28.80% 3.80% 1.90% 1.90% 1.90% 0.00% 0.00%
Indians 54 38.90% 31.50% 22.20% 5.60% 5.60% 5.60% 3.70% 3.70% 0.00%
Mariners 56 39.30% 33.90% 28.60% 5.40% 5.40% 3.60% 3.60% 3.60% 1.80%
Marlins 46 50.00% 41.30% 32.60% 4.30% 4.30% 2.20% 2.20% 0.00% 0.00%
Mets 64 42.20% 32.80% 20.30% 4.70% 3.10% 1.60% 1.60% 1.60% 1.60%
Nationals 62 45.20% 32.30% 21.00% 3.20% 1.60% 1.60% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Orioles 44 52.30% 40.90% 34.10% 6.80% 4.50% 2.30% 2.30% 2.30% 0.00%
Padres 38 50.00% 47.40% 39.50% 10.50% 2.60% 2.60% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Phillies 52 42.30% 34.60% 26.90% 3.80% 3.80% 3.80% 3.80% 1.90% 0.00%
Pirates 53 37.70% 32.10% 28.30% 5.70% 5.70% 1.90% 1.90% 1.90% 1.90%
Rangers 60 35.00% 30.00% 26.70% 3.30% 1.70% 1.70% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Rays 64 40.60% 31.30% 21.90% 4.70% 3.10% 3.10% 3.10% 3.10% 0.00%
Red Sox 48 43.80% 33.30% 22.90% 6.30% 6.30% 6.30% 6.30% 2.10% 2.10%
Reds 41 41.50% 36.60% 26.80% 7.30% 7.30% 7.30% 2.40% 2.40% 0.00%
Rockies 50 46.00% 36.00% 28.00% 6.00% 4.00% 4.00% 4.00% 4.00% 0.00%
Royals 49 44.90% 32.70% 30.60% 8.20% 4.10% 4.10% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Tigers 50 38.00% 32.00% 24.00% 6.00% 4.00% 4.00% 4.00% 4.00% 2.00%
Twins 45 46.70% 42.20% 33.30% 6.70% 6.70% 6.70% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
White Sox 51 51.00% 35.30% 21.60% 5.90% 3.90% 2.00% 2.00% 2.00% 0.00%
Yankees 59 40.70% 28.80% 22.00% 5.10% 3.40% 3.40% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%

 

One of the biggest takeaways I find from this data set is that only seven organizations have had a reliever get more than 90% of their team saves in the past three years: the Red Sox, Tigers, Diamondbacks, Pirates, Dodgers, Mariners, Mets, and Angels. We can tell from the above data sets that a reliever getting more than 90% of a team’s saves is rare, so let’s lower the threshold to 80%. After all, before 2016, this was much more common.

Across the past three years, there have been 13 organizations that have not had a reliever get 80% or more of a team’s saves. To me, this wraps up Question No. 2  Is this happening across the league or on an organization-by-organization basis? with the answer: NO. This isn’t a case where a handful of organizations are doing this with the rest sitting out. This is the entire league moving in this direction.

Once again, there is a lot to unpack in this data (and a reiteration to use the link above for easier viewing and more customization). As before, there are plenty of arguments you can make against this data set and its lack of nuance: Of course the Mariners had Edwin Diaz get more than 90% of their team saves in 2018; he was one of if not the best reliever in the game. My counter to that is then why didn’t Blake Treinen get more than 90%? Why did Josh Hader get 24.5%? If only the most dominant relievers get all the saves, why did Shane Greene get the fourth-highest percentage of team saves in 2018? Why is Raisel Iglesias not even in the top 12?

 

Question No. 3: Which Relievers Are Most and Least Affected?

 

In order to start to answer Question No. 3, I’m going to put the name of the reliever slated to get a majority of the closes next to the organization, along with that relievers NFBC ADP among all players and other pitchers (Jan 1 – Feb 19; Draft Champions):

 

Team Reliever ADP ADP (P)
Yankees Aroldis Chapman 78 29
Astros Roberto Osuna 82 31
Nationals Sean Doolittle 98 38
Brewers  Knebel | Jeffress | Hader  137 | 305 | 105  51 | 124 | 39
Rangers Jose Leclerc 112 41
Padres Kirby Yates 116 43
Angels Cody Allen 180 67
Braves Arodys Vizcaino | AJ Minter 189 | 254 73
Cardinals Jordan Hicks 209 81
Marlins Steckenrider | Romo | Conley 228 | 555 | 523 91 | 231 | 213
Twins Blake Parker | Trevor May 360 | 238 141 | 94
Royals Boxberger | Peralta 511 | 301 208 | 119
Giants Will Smith | Mark Melancon 788 | 424 70 | 174

 

Let’s all take a step back and appreciate that even Roster Resource (the source for Column No. 2) is acknowledging that almost half these teams don’t have set “closers.” Also, if you look at this data and think, “Well now that the X organization has Y closer, they’ll DEFINITELY have a reliever in the top 80%,” I hear you, but I think you’re ignoring the 2,000 words and countless pieces of data that came before this.

Of the 21 pitchers listed above, 13 are going among the top 100 pitchers off the board. By taking Corey Knebel at pick 137, you’re overlooking productive players such as David Peralta (138) or Billy Hamilton (150), who won’t lose homers and steals to other players on their team. Instead, you could wait for Jeremy Jeffress nearly 200 picks later, who could theoretically give you more saves than Hader and Knebel. Knowing the above, why would you waste a top-80 pick on Aroldis Chapman? Especially when you consider that he’s never gotten more than 80% of the Yankees’ saves. Now Adam OttavinoZack Britton, and Dellin Betances are there, wouldn’t manager Aaron Boone want to play matchups or be worried about Chapman’s command? Are you sure that because Osuna is an Astro from the beginning of the year that for the first time in what will be the past four years, the Astros are going to give him more than 80% of the opportunities? In that case, Hector Rondon would like a word with you.

There are other relievers not listed above whoI think could be impacted by the way the league is heading:

  • Treinen, pick 64: To reiterate, Treinen didn’t get more than 90% of the Athletics’ saves last year. Now Rodney, Joakim Soria, and Lou Trivino (who recorded 9.1% of Oakland’s saves himself this past year) are behind him and can all get saves. Does Treinen have the best stuff of those three? Far and away. Would I be surprised if he lost five to seven saves to those guys over the course of the year? Not at all.
  • Brad Hand, pick 84: Cody Allen was the set closer in Cleveland for 4.5 years. In that time, he never recorded more than 90% of the Indians’ saves. Granted, the Indians bullpen isn’t loaded like other teams’ are, but if I still think Hand can lose some saves.
  • Iglesias. Pair the fact that he only recorded 63% of the Reds’ saves opportunities with the fact that the organization plans on using him when necessary and you get someone who shouldn’t be going in the top 100 like he is now.

On the other hand, there seemingly are organizations that are either willing to continue ascribing to the “proven closer” mentality or just don’t want to hear it from their fanbase when the guy they traded for isn’t getting opportunities. Guys such as:

  • Diaz. While Familia, Robert GsellmanSeth Lugo, and Justin Wilson all have saves under their belt, I don’t see the Mets sending anyone out there but Diaz unless it’s because he’s pitched on consecutive days or has become ineffective.
  • Felipe Vazquez. The Pirates have proved reticent to adapt to the new way of thinking. With that said, Richard Rodriguez and his dope fastball are waiting in the wings, as is Keona Kela.

Personally, I don’t know if I’m a believer in either of those guys when it comes to repeating their 2018 seasons, but for those who do believe, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that I think their value shouldn’t be as affected by the above.

We now come to Question No. 4: How do I adapt my draft strategy? Before that, let me clear the air a bit about the things I am not saying in this article. I’m not saying Hader should go undrafted. If your strategy is to load up on relievers to keep your ratios down, then the above doesn’t disprove that as a valid strategy. I’m not saying don’t draft these guys; if they fall to the right value, then you should by all means take them. My point is essentially the answer to Question No. 4: Saves are likely going to be in abundance more so than ever before, and you should adapt in one of two ways:

  1. Wait on saves.
  2. Change to a saves plus holds league.

To simply say “X player is a great reliever on a fantastic offense that’ll give him a lot save opportunities” is the old way of thinking. It’s taking the four questions we just answered, the piles of data, and ignoring them.

It’s 2019. Major League Baseball is adapting. It’s time we do the same.

Alex Fast

Alex Fast is Head of Operations at Pitcher List. Co-host of On The Corner, and host of the weekend edition of First Pitch, Alex received his masters in interactive telecommunications from NYU's ITP. He dedicated his time there on bringing new, interactive tech to the game of baseball and created a thesis about how the sport is under-utilizing data visualization. All opinions are Alex's and Alex's alone. A die-hard Orioles fan, Alex is well versed in futility and broken pitching prospects.

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Comments


Pat

This article was eye-opening because when you roster a closer, you aren’t necessarily paying attention to the save opportunities they miss. 2 questions: 1) How would you apply this to Dynasty leagues? 2) Would you recommend shopping guys like Osuna and Iglesias for other positions and then patch together saves?

Alex Fast

Thanks for reading and the kind words! The Dynasty leagues question man…that is such an interesting one. RP’s are so volatile already over the long run so I’d probably be focusing less on them and more on sure-fire things and getting my RP’s in trades/supplemental drafts if possible. That or just hold on to the studs that I have. To your second point, the Reds saying they’ll be using Iglesias more in leverage situations makes me think you should shop him unless it’s a SV+H league.

jim

Great article. I’m in a dynasty league, it’s a SV+H league, today traded away Jansen in a deal with Archer to get Clevinger. For the same reasons in this article, in a SV+H league, closers are losing value because there are typically more hold opportunities in games and high leverage arms are trending to those opportunities. Your data would be interesting to see how combining holds data with saves data shows how valuable some of the most valuable relievers are for SV+H leagues. If Hader received 24.5% of save opportunities, what percent of hold opportunities as well?

Alex Fast

First and foremost, I dig that trade. Love me some Clevinger. Secondly, yea incorporating the rise of holds would be a great next step.

Kris

Great article Alex! Our league rolls with SV and HLD categories with 5SP and 5RP positions, so while there is a premium on the top tier closer like Kimbrel, Diaz, and Jansen, guys like Pressly, Betances, Hader, Archie Bradley, etc… are super valuable for contributing in nearly all 7 categories we play with the exception of QS obviously.
Which brings up another somewhat relevant article for another day, does the inclusion of ‘The Opener’ really make you spend more of your draft $ on top tier SP’s to get those QS stats knowing you can grab some of those low ADP RP’s hoping they get SV’s or HLD’s? Probably, and hopefully that made sense.
The game is changing that’s for sure! Thanks for getting us thinking of ways to adapt!

Alex Fast

Thanks a lot for reading! Good point about the opener! Luckily, it seems confined to just a few organizations that are trying it and as of now they aren’t blocking too much. Meaning taking Ryan Yarbrough off the SP market isn’t a huge loss. With that said, knowing I can get low-hanging RP’s later does make me more willing to go that extra dollar in drafts on studs I want.

RotoPope

Nice writeup, Alex! Appreciate you making that data available, too! I recognize finding and integrating this data would be a chore, but I think another interesting “slice” could be to assess by manager.

For example, the Angels were managed by Mike Scioscia all those seasons assessed here. Now with Brad Ausmus, I’m curious if that was an “organizational” approach or a managerial one. When Ausmus was the manager for the Tigers from 2014-2017, his closer usage looked a bit different:

2014 – Joe Nathan, 85% of saves
2015 – Joakim Soria, 66%
2016 – K-Rod, 94%
2017 – Justin Wilson, 41% (Shane Greene 28%, K-Rod 21%)

On the whole, *seems* like when he liked someone, he was relatively willing to let that guy accumulate the majority of saves — at least moreso than the Angels in years past. If assessing the Angels situation, I think that’s going to be more relevant than looking at how they’ve managed their bullpen in the past under Scioscia.

Alex Fast

Hey! Thanks for reading. Yes, I totally agree that trying to set this up by manager would reveal a lot of super interesting details. Dave Cherman very aptly brought this up as well. When I think about it though, introducing manager also introduces other variables with it: GM’s and FO Mindsets. Like does Boone want Chapman getting a majority of the saves or is Cashman saying utilize the full pen? Also, does the league moving in a direction begin to force a FO’s hand which then forces the managers hand? End of the day, I agree with you though: it could use an even deeper dive.

Luke Bailey

Great article, especially relevant since my league has made RP’s more valuable over recent years. We added holds and recently upped saves to 10 points and holds to 5. This makes RP strategy imperative to our league and this article provides a ton of insight into that. I personally, have Kenley Jansen as a keeper, and will be looking to supplement that with his backups and the Jeffress/Barnes types of the world. Very insightful stuff here.

Andrew

My league made the decision to go to a Saves x 2 + holds league in 2020. I’ve been pushing for this for awhile. Great article, I’m going going to share with my league (after the draft)

Matt

How would you apply this to points leagues? I’ve always been one to wait on RP but I’m considering not rostering even one and just stocking up on SP. Thanks!

Alex Fast

Great question. For my particular points league, saves and holds have a good amount of points associated with them. If saves/holds aren’t that valuable, I would just spend a buck or two on relievers (or wait till later rounds for them). If they do have a bit of value to them, I’d wait a while and see if any guys follow way past their ADP.

Josh

This is some of my favorite analysis I’ve read anywhere for draft prep. Really great job digging into the information, quantifying it, and identifying a trend that we can take advantage of in drafts. Awesome, awesome work.

Steve

Great article Alex. I play in a points league with daily moves. In our league, we have to stay on top of our closer situations. You pointed out that Treinen didn’t get 90% of the saves last year (only 86%). But if you’re paying attention to his workload, you could’ve easily had Trivino in the lineup for 2 or 3 of those missed saves. Do that, and you would’ve got 90% of OAK’s saves.
Also worth investigating is how many 3+ inning saves there was in 2018, vs years past. Are they trending higher/lower? The Yankees had 3, 3+ saves in 2018. The Rays had a 5 2/3 inning save in 2018.

Alex Fast

Really great points all around here! FWIW, if there was theoretically an increase in 3+IP saves (not sure if there was) it would only serve to help the claim that the RP renaissance is occurring, just in more ways than we originally thought.

Mike

This is pure gold!!! Awesome stuff. Thanks for the help!!! We all send your wife an appreciative golf clap for being a team player, hahaha.

Andrew Goldhor

Our league has changed to Sv+Hlds for this season. How does that impact how you draft RP? I’m thinking elite closers are still worth spending a top 150 pick on. Is Hader a top 5 RP now? Betances, Pressly, Barnes, Ottavino, Jeffress all top 20? Would you be wait even harder on values?

Alex Fast

I think it widens the pool a bit so that makes me a bit more reticent to reach for a top guy. I’d always rather have the more valuable bat or SP. Because it’s a SV+H, guys like Hader may go way earlier than their ADP which I think is crazy. If SV are up that likely means H opportunities are up with it. If waiting on Hader means landing yourself Zack Wheeler and Jeffress instead, that’s great.

Ben Kremen

This seems to indicate that there are a smaller group of RPs that you can rely on for saves, and if a team doesn’t have one of those top tier RPs, then they go more and more closer by committee.
Wouldn’t this suggest that you should adopt one of two strategies:
– Go for 2 or 3 of those top 10-15 RPs that can be “relied upon” to get saves.
If you don’t get those guys then:
– Wait for the end of the draft and get high up-side arms.

However, you may need 4-5 RPs (or more) to compete with the teams that have 2 of those marquee RPs that will rack up 30-40 saves per year, which take up valuable roster spots.

This tells me that the premium RP arms and Saves from a single roster spot are at a greater premium than ever before, and to go for top RPs early in the draft.

Thanks for the great article!

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