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Moriffic (Most of the Time)
2008-07-03 06:25
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Pete Abe had an interesting bit yesterday about Mariano Rivera's numbers in save situations and non-save situations.

Last night, I got a note from my pal Rich Lederer...

"I noticed where Mo lost his third game of the year despite putting together an ERA less than 1.00. How unusual is that combination? Well, here is a list of all the pitchers who have lost more than one game while posting an ERA under 1.00."

LOSSES                        YEAR      L       ERA    
1    Tim Keefe                1880        6     0.86   
2    Ferdie Schupp            1916        3     0.90   
T3   Chris Hammond            2002        2     0.95   
T3   Jonathan Papelbon        2006        2     0.92   
T3   Dennis Eckersley         1990        2     0.61

Comments
2008-07-03 06:46:59
1.   Sliced Bread
Before there was Moriffic, there was Schupptastic.

Ferdie's ERA of .90 in 1916 was over 140 innings.

The following year he threw 272 innings, with a 1.95 ERA and went 21-7.

I love Baseballreference.com.

Ferdinand Maurice Schupp is a some baseball name.

2008-07-03 06:58:12
2.   monkeypants
In a way, I am not surprised that there are not more. The way relievers are currently used, an elite closer is likely to have a very low ERA. Plus, a blown save is not unlikely to result in a loss, even if only 2 runs are allowed. Then a gain, a 1.00 ERA is awfully low, and even a few runs here or there could have a drastic impact on the overall ERA. Hmmm...
2008-07-03 07:08:36
3.   JL25and3
Of course, Mo almost certainly won't finish the season with and ERA under 1.00.
2008-07-03 07:10:31
4.   JL25and3
That's "an ERA."
2008-07-03 07:11:28
5.   RIYank
His (Mo's) numbers in non-save situations are a lot worse than in save situations, that was the gist of the Pete Abe entry. In non-saves he's still very good, but in save situations he's been, well, everyone here knows. Just incredible.

This makes me wonder whether Girardi might be right to keep Mo on the shelf in a tie game in the eighth, or whatever -- those situations where it seems like we want our best pitcher in the game, but it's not 'traditional' to bring him in. Probably he's wrong, but it does make me wonder.

Finally, Red Sox Nation sounds a lot like us these days when it comes to bullpen. They're saying Papelbon is the only guy they trust. It's the RANG principle again! (For those who don't own my Greatest Hits album, that's Relievers Are Not Good.)

2008-07-03 07:19:57
6.   Rich Lederer
It remains to be seen as to whether Rivera can maintain a sub-1.00 ERA over the full season but, if he does, he is guaranteed to have as many losses as any pitcher in modern baseball history with such an ERA.
2008-07-03 07:23:41
7.   jonnystrongleg
5 you can stop wondering. this is mariano frickin' rivera. he's going to have same approach and effort in any close game - be it tied, trailing or ahead.

the fact that there is some discrepency in results is just due to small # of innings being considered.

2008-07-03 07:43:19
8.   Alex Belth
I just don't see him keeping the ERA under 1.00 over a full season.
2008-07-03 08:18:08
9.   monkeypants
5 The thing is that even his worse numbers in non-save situations are better than the other relievers' numbers:

"Mariano Rivera in non-save situations: 13 games, 14 innings, 12 hits, 4 earned runs, 1 walk, 15 strikeouts, 2.57 ERA, 2-3 record."

I'll take my chances with that most any tie game.

2008-07-03 08:30:11
10.   jonnystrongleg
8 Will be tough, but fun to watch him go for it, no?

Why do you think he's been more effective this year than normal? His control seems (even) better - he hits the glove almost every pitch. When he got Trot Nixon looking to end that Mets game, it was one of the most perfect pitches I've ever seen.

2008-07-03 08:33:40
11.   dianagramr
But we all know reliever ERAs are pretty bogus, unless they are entering the game with no runners on base.
2008-07-03 08:35:01
12.   mehmattski
When folks like Abraham cite this stat-split, they either imply or explicitly state that maybe the Yankees shouldn't be trotting out Rivera in non-save situations. Now, while I would support the end of the "just getting him some work in a blowout" outings, this doesn't make any sense. Would folks prefer if, in a tie game the Yankees brought in Kyle Farnsworth or LaTroy Hawkins? How does that help the team win?

The inability of professional, otherwise intelligent persons to understand the concept of sample size will be forever baffling.

2008-07-03 08:46:22
13.   JL25and3
12 I'll take it a step further. Yes, the implication is that the Yankees shouldn't be trotting out Mo in non-save situations - but also that that's acceptable. In other words, it's okay if Rivera can only pitch to peak effectiveness when his individual stats are on the line.

If it were true that he can't pitch as well in non-save situations, that would be a serious knock on him. His job is to pitch as well as possible when he's asked to. Fortunately, I'm with mehmattski in seeing this as an artifact of small sample size.

2008-07-03 09:07:16
14.   RIYank
but also that that's acceptable. In other words, it's okay if Rivera can only pitch to peak effectiveness when his individual stats are on the line

Hm, I don't see that. His personal stats are on the line when it isn't a save situation, too -- in a tie game (as we recently saw) he's in much greater danger of getting the loss, for example, and of course his ERA is always on the line.
Sure, you could say it's a knock against him that he doesn't pitch as well in non-save situations. On the other hand, it would mean in save situations he pitches even better than we thought.

I agree, anyway, that it's very likely an artifact of a small sample.

2008-07-03 09:31:26
15.   JL25and3
14 I meant that as a corollary of how writers and broadcasters present the situation, not as something I believe. Of course, they say, everyone knows closers have trouble when it isn't a save situation. I say that's absurd - and if it weren't, then yeah, I'd have a problem with it.
2008-07-03 09:49:34
16.   RIYank
15 Ah, got it.

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