Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Best And Worst Of Cordero

Following up on my best and worst offensive plays of the season as measured by win probability, I was going to do one on the best and worst pitches. The catch, I discovered, is that it's dominated by relievers -- either Cordero nailing down a save, Rauch yacking one, or Billy Traber giving up big homer after big homer to lefties (I blacked those out!)

Relievers don't pitch much, but because they pitch late in close games, their performance can have a pretty substantial impact on the team's bottom line.

So here are the top and bottom outings by some of our favorites.

  • Chad Cordero
    Best:8/28, +28.6% -- Against the Dodgers in LA, his two scoreless innings in the 10th and 11th innings kept the game alive long enough for Saul to blow.

    7 times: +21% -- 7 times Cordero blew through the opposing batting order on the road with a 1-run lead, a situation that even the best closers will screw up about a quarter of the time.

    Worst: 6/23 -71.2% -- Against the Indians, Cordero turned a 2-run lead into a 1-run deficit thanks to a long 3-run homer by Victor Martinez, the single biggest play of the season.

    Amazingly, his 8/24 outing against the Rockies where he helped to blow a 5-1 9th-inning lead isn't the worst, 'just' a negative 48%. When Acta yanked him, it was 5-3; Rauch blew the rest of it. When Cordero entered the game, the Nats had a 98% chance of winning. When Cordero left, it was down to 55%. D'Angelo Jiminez' error was the final nail, taking the last 32% chance the Nats had.

  • Jon Rauch

    Best: 6/14, +38.1%. Against the Orioles in Baltimore, he cleaned up Billy Traber's 8th-inning mess. After Billy put the first two on in a one-run game. But two strikeouts and a flyout ended the threat. The Nats would tack on another run for an easy win.

    Worst: 5/21, -66% -- The Nats led the Reds 7-5 when Rauch took the mound in the bottom of the 9th. A single and double put a run on the board and the tying run in scoring position. Javier Valentin pinch hit and dropped a bomb into right-field and putting the Nats down by a run with just 3 outs to left. Rauch bore down to get the final two outs on strikeouts, but the damage was done.

    He blew a similar 2-run lead in an August game with the Phillies, but because the Nats were home (and had 6 more outs to play with instead of 3), it had much less of a 'cost', "just " -54.5%. Russel Branyan, whom the Phillies had just acquired, played the role of Valentin. This one was helped along, too, by one of Zimmerman's throwing errors.

  • Saul Rivera

    Best: 7/25, +42.9% -- Saul had one of the best outings by a Nats reliever in a July game with the Phillies. With the team deep in extras, he gave them 3 scoreless innings in the 11th, 12th, and 13th innings before yielding to Chris Booker.

    Worst: Two outings, -35.7% -- In both games, he took the loss in extra innings, once to the Dodgers and once to the Marlins.

  • Other Notables

    Chris Booker's game-losing tater toss to Ryan Howard cost the Nats 35.7%

    Billy Traber's 8th inning solo homer allowed to lefty Adam LaRoche knocked 26.6% off that game.

    Ray King couldn't get anybody out against the Giants, loading the bases and losing the game, but his 7th-inning Houdini outing against the Phillies -- with back-to-back strikeouts -- helps ease the pain.

    Somewhere in an alternate universe, Jesus Colome is still giving up runs to the Braves. But his three scoreless innings against Florida in extras helped the Nats nail one down early.

    Luis Ayala wasn't much of a relief to Shawn Hill in a game the Nats had sewn up early against the Dodgers in August.

    Luis Ayala put Arnie Munoz in a tough spot, which Munoz made even worse in September against the Phillies.

    If you can remember Winston Abreu, you've got a better memory than me.

    Cubs fans certainly remember Ryan Wagner.

  • Overall

    Every pen has bad games. Ask Mariano Rivera about Marco Scutaro or David Ortiz. But overall, the pen was a strength. You can sum up each player's daily WPA to get a season stat that sorta tells you how 'clutch' they were and how many games they 'won' or 'lost' for you compared to a neutral performance in the same situations.

    Here are the Nats' relievers:
    Cordero, 1.75
    Rauch, 1.51
    Rivera, 1.42
    Colome, 1.07
    King, .48
    Bacsik, .22
    Bowie, .19
    Albaladejo, .17
    Schroder, .01
    Detwiler, .00
    Speigner, .00
    Hanrahan, -.01
    Ayala, -.03
    Munoz, -.13
    Abreu, -.22
    Traber, -.24
    Booker, -.34
    Wagner, -.51

    Total: 5.34

    Your first instinct is to probably wonder how someone mediocre like Speigner could've had a value of zero. Shouldn't he have cost the Nats some games?

    The answer to that is one of the things that Manny did so well. Mediocrities like him only came in in situations where the game wasn't in doubt. Speigner's relief outings mostly came in blowouts, in situations where no matter how well (or poorly, even) he did, the chances of the Nats winning the game weren't going to be affected. He was a mopup man.

    Conversely, you see that Cordero, Rauch ans Rivera were all roughly of similar value. When the game was close, he rode those three hard and their mostly effective performances kept the Nats in a lot of games (and closed a lot of wins out).

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