Monday, June 26, 2006

IBBullpen

Barry Svrluga's Notebook takes the bullpen to task for, among other things, too many walks. Let's take a closer look at the numbers though. The ones Barry passes along are correct, but they might not tell the full story.

  • Entering play yesterday, Majewski had walked 24 hitters in 47 1/3 innings of work, the second most of any reliever in baseball.

    Yep, Majewski's right here, second on the leaderboard. But take a look at the IP column, and the values of those surrounding him. No one is close to Majewski's 47.1 IP. In fact, that's also second in the league. Yeah, he's walking more batters than he should, but he's also pitching more than he should. Besides, what's distressing about Majewski is his inability to strike anyone out, despite his 95-mph fastball. (He's only 23rd in the league in relief Ks, despite the IP advantage, and he's tied with Chad Cordero, despite throwing 12 more innings of relief)

  • Lefties Joey Eischen and Mike Stanton each have 19 walks -- tied for sixth in the National League despite the fact that Eischen has been on the disabled list since May 31

    There's no denying that the Gruesome Twosome have been terrible. 19 walks!!? But there's one stat missing from Barry's note: They're 1/2 in INTENTIONAL walks. Eischen only IBBd 5, but of Mike Stanton's 19 walks, ELEVEN of them have been intentional. Take away just half of them, and Stanton drops out of the Top-40.

    Besides, aren't the least of Stanton and Eischen's problems their walk rate?

  • right-hander Jon Rauch has 17, tied for 12th in the NL.
    Rauch has intentionally walked 3 batters. Take away those three, and he drops from 12th, all the way to a tie for 29th. Rauch, too, has pitched a ton of innings. He's third in the league with 45.1, and his walk rate doesn't look out of place with his arm-slagged compatriots.

    Besides, shouldn't they be focusing on how dominant he is, with 42 strikeouts, good for 6th in the league? Doesn't a 42/17 K/BB ratio look damn good? By golly, that puts him in a group with great bullpen pitchers like Dan Wheeler, Billy Wagner, and Aaron Heilman. (Note Cordero's presence several rankings below). Talk about missing the forest for the trees!

  • This year, with the team on pace for an astonishing 265 walks out of the bullpen -- an average of 1.6 per game -- the relievers' ERA is nearly a run worse at 4.52.
    The Nats are second in the league in bullpen walks. If you drop out the bullpen's league leading 28 intentional walks (as well as that of every other team in baseball), the Nationals drop to 5th. Not great, but not the complete disaster that it seems like.

    Sure, the reliever's ERA stinks, but you'd think, given the horrors that Barry presents, that they're worst, right? Nope. They're 10th, and as close to 6th as they are to last.

    Just for the hell of it, if the CIA were able to disappear Joey Eischen from the recordbooks, the Nats bullpen ERA drops to 4.26 (9th place). Throw Felix Rodriguez onto the disappeared pile and the bullpen ERA drops to 3.86, which would be 4th in the league.

    Obviously all teams could play that sort of game with their toastier relievers, but the larger point is that Chad Cordero, Gary Majewski and Jon Rauch HAVE pitched well. It's the dregs of the pen: Stanton, Eischen, FRodo that have created many of these crappy numbers (and Frank's reliance on the four-fingered waggle as a defensive strategy).

    No, it's not humming along like it did last year, but it's important to not let your cherrypicked memories forget that the damn thing didn't hum much after July either. When you have three relievers who are as effective overall as Cordero, Majewski and Rauch, you're close to a Championship-quality bullpen. If Bill Bray can continue to make strides, that gives the Nats four excellent arms, which is more than most teams have.

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