Friday, August 08, 2008

Making up Ground Late

Over at Patton & Company, NSH wonders how quickly a team can make up ground in saves:
Has anyone done the math on the probability of a team (or teams) with 2 closers making up an 8 save difference with a team with 1 closer? Asking, realizing answer may be no, variability of saves is too much to do so, because have a number of offers for Papelbon that would bring back a good starter.
My A.L. non-expert league used to use TQ Stats before it bit the dust. TQ had a projection feature that would show you how the standings would look at the end of the year based on your current roster composition. There were a few flaws with this tool, most notably that the projected stats were based on pre-season projections, so a player like David Murphy or Paul Konerko would have prorated stats that weren't accurate at all. On the whole, though, the projection tool was an entertaining thing to have.

This year, I started doing something similar for my own league. Instead of taking the projected stats and prorating them for the remainder of the season, I've been taking the stats of each player year-to-date and blowing them out for a full season. Again, this isn't a perfect exercise, but it gives me a rough idea of how each team is going to fare from this point forward.

Getting back to your question, one particularly ambitious owner in my league decided that he didn't want to tank saves and decided to aggressively go after closers. On June 30, he grabbed Mariano Rivera and Joe Borowski (oops). Then, on July 28, he picked up Joakim Soria and Troy Percival.

Keep in mind that this isn't an owner who had a closer earlier in the year and traded him, or lost a closer to injury. He had one save (Keith Foulke) prior to acquiring all of these closers. And, prior to grabbing Soria/Percival, he had five saves (Rivera only picked up four in a four week span).

I don't know if my league mate ran the same projection I did, but it turned out that picking up three closers was a winner for him. Coming into this week, he had only 11 saves. But if Soria, Rivera, and Percival maintained their current saves pace, he would finish with another 38 saves (about 13 per closer), or 49 on the season.

That would be good for a five and a half point jump after another owner flipped Huston Street the following week. There's obviously still a lot of variability - witness Mariano's awful one save per week pace in July. But if things held steady, this owner made the right move grabbing the three closers, even though it was extremely late in the game to do so.

Generally, saves is a category I recommend chucking mid-year if you're dead in the water. FAAB guys like Fernando Rodney and Joel Hanrahan but don't trade important pieces of your puzzle to chase saves. However, this owner saw an opportunity and acted. The result is going to be a significant point gain while losing only 1-2 steals points (he traded Jacoby Ellsbury, Ian Kinsler, and Delmon Young, but had built up a fat lead in steals with those three).

To get back to NSH's question, eight saves is nothing. Or it's insurmountable. On average, though, a 25-30 save closer is good for about 10-12 more saves on average from this point out. In theory, two closers should make up the eight save gap you're looking at. However, as we all know, the categories are far more temperamental than that. You might win saves in a walk, you might also lose the category by one mere save.

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