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KNIP: The New Saves PDF Print E-mail
Organized Chaos
Written by Todd Zola   
Friday, 18 May 2012 00:46

OK, so this is rather embarrassing. I set up this whole “homework assignment” and it turns out I messed up the data a little. If you have not seen it, I posted a series of five pitcher rankings based on last season’s final stats and asked for opinions as to which list was favored with respect to how pitchers should be ranked for fantasy purposes. I have fixed the list, so if you took the time to go through them, I apologize. Everyone, please take a moment to look at the corrected lists, with the second series of names being the one that is changed. Of note is where relievers now fall, please click HERE.

For those that picked the second, do you still feel that way?

Here’s the deal. We all know how wacky this season has been with respect to closers. Even before this season. many leagues have addressed the issue by incorporating holds in different machinations. Three of these are included on the list, and for the record, I play in a league that uses each one.

But I have an issue with that. I think holds are every bit as suspect as a stat as saves, perhaps even more so. It is still up to a manager’s whim and is just an artificial means of attempting to reduce the randomness relievers are awarded the closer role. Now, that same randomness extends to the set up guys.

Perhaps the main reason I don’t like using both saves and holds is they violate what I feel is a basic tenet of the way fantasy baseball should be played. It is my opinion that the game should consist of the following:

 

1. Project a reasonable level of performance for each player
2. Convert this performance to a relative fantasy value
3. Assemble a roster with the potential to score as many points as possible
4. Manage the roster in-season to maximize the number of points scored

 

The use of saves and holds violates the top line. Projecting saves and holds is a complete crapshoot. I hate to sound cliché, but there is no skill to assigning saves and holds. Granted, one can argue there is some degree of logic, but even that is more common sense and not based on anything analytical, derived from projection theory.

And to anticipate those that (correctly) point out that there is a degree of this logic and common sense outside of projection theory when it comes to projecting wins, RBI and runs, you are right. That said, to me anyway, saves and holds are at another level of being whimsical. Better pitchers with better offenses and good bullpens should get more wins. Players hitting first and second should score more runs while those hitting after should get more RBI. Yes, these are all team-dependent, but they are less subject to the manager’s mood than setup men and closers. Lineups are designed based on the skills of the hitters. Rotations are constructed based on skills of the pitchers. Bullpens, however, are not always organized based on skills.

You know the expression “don’t come to me with a problem unless you have a solution?” Well, here’s the solution.

What skill is the most important for a pitcher? Shouldn’t this be what we use as a fantasy category? In my not so humble opinion, this skill is K/9. I know that no single skill is the be all end all, but if you had to use one skill as an initial filter and you were not allowed to use multiple, my choice would be K/9. Therefore, my ideal scoring system uses K/9.

I realize an argument can be made that K/BB is arguably better and maybe it is. But from a fantasy baseball perspective, walks are already accounted for in WHIP, so having K/9 replace saves is my first suggestion.

Uh oh, now we have K/9 and K’s as categories, we can’t have that. So here is what we do. Replace strikeouts with innings pitched. Think about it, this is representative of a pitcher’s skill, or at minimum, reflective of the pitcher’s contribution to his MLB team. Pitchers should be rewarded for the simple fact they threw an inning. Yeah, I know, batters don’t get credit for every at-bat, but in general, they don’t get pulled from the game if they are struggling either.

This makes my ideal 5x5 scoring system W, IP, ERA, WHIP, K/9. OK, maybe this is not ideal as there are still some issues with W and even ERA, but we are having a hard enough of a time getting leagues to recognize on-base percentage is superior than batting average, how the heck can we get them to use QS and xFIP in roto-scoring? Let’s crawl before we walk.

For those that doubt I can get the fantasy community to listen, guess who used what is now called the KDS draft spot designation process five years before the National Fantasy Baseball Championships revolutionized draft slot assignment? I’ll give you a hint; he’s the same guy that pestered the Tout Wars LLC for five years before they finally agreed to convert an outfielder spot to a swing position, capable of being filled by a pitcher or hitter – that’s right, THIS GUY.

Let’s reveal the scoring systems used for the five sets of rankings and I again apologize for botching them.

 

COLUMN 1: Saves + Holds/2
COLUMN 2: K/9+IP
COLUMN 3: Saves + Holds – Blown saves
COLUMN 4: Saves + Holds
COLUMN 5: standard 5x5

As alluded to in the beginning, the telltale aspect of the K/9+IP list is the absence of a reliever until Craig Kimbrel at #36. Even more relevant is the subsequent order of relievers, which is a far better measure of the player’s skills and contributions. Here is just the reliever ranking within each list. Do you feel the relative rank is more representative than in standard scoring?

 

SV + H/2 K/9+IP SV+H-BS SV+H STD 5x5
Craig Kimbrel Craig Kimbrel Tyler Clippard Tyler Clippard Craig Kimbrel
Tyler Clippard Tyler Clippard Jonny Venters Craig Kimbrel Drew Storen
Drew Storen David Robertson Mike Adams Jonny Venters John Axford
Mike Adams Jonny Venters Craig Kimbrel Mike Adams Mariano Rivera
Jonny Venters Mike Adams David Robertson David Robertson Jose Valverde
John Axford Koji Uehara Drew Storen Drew Storen J.J. Putz
Mariano Rivera Alfredo Aceves John Axford Sean Marshall Joel Hanrahan
Fernando Salas Greg Holland Sean Marshall Alfredo Aceves Fernando Salas
J.J. Putz Sergio Romo Jose Valverde John Axford Francisco Cordero
Jose Valverde Fernando Salas Eric O'Flaherty Eric O'Flaherty Jonathan Papelbon
Alfredo Aceves Jonathan Papelbon Alfredo Aceves Fernando Salas Tyler Clippard
Joel Hanrahan Sean Marshall Mariano Rivera Mariano Rivera Alfredo Aceves
David Robertson Kenley Jansen J.J. Putz J.J. Putz Mike Adams
Francisco Cordero John Axford Fernando Salas Jose Valverde Jonny Venters
Jonathan Papelbon Eric O'Flaherty Joel Hanrahan Joel Hanrahan Ryan Madson
Sean Marshall Antonio Bastardo Koji Uehara Jason Motte Kyle Farnsworth
Eric O'Flaherty Drew Storen Greg Holland Francisco Cordero Sergio Santos
Francisco Rodriguez Vinnie Pestano Jason Motte Koji Uehara Mark Melancon
Jason Motte Jeff Samardzija Jonathan Papelbon Greg Holland Jordan Walden
Ryan Madson Jason Motte Francisco Cordero Francisco Rodriguez Francisco Rodriguez
Greg Holland Sergio Santos Francisco Rodriguez Jonathan Papelbon David Robertson
Kyle Farnsworth Edward Mujica Sergio Romo Sergio Romo Jason Motte
Koji Uehara Al Alburquerque Antonio Bastardo Scott Downs Sean Marshall
Mark Melancon Jesse Crain Scott Downs Antonio Bastardo Greg Holland
Antonio Bastardo Rafael Betancourt Ryan Madson Edward Mujica Antonio Bastardo
Sergio Santos Francisco Rodriguez Edward Mujica Grant Balfour Eric O'Flaherty
Sergio Romo Mark Melancon Daniel Bard Ryan Madson Koji Uehara
Edward Mujica Mariano Rivera Rafael Betancourt Rafael Betancourt Edward Mujica
Jordan Walden J.J. Putz David Hernandez Daniel Bard Sergio Romo
Scott Downs Grant Balfour Grant Balfour Jesse Crain Carlos Marmol
Rafael Betancourt David Hernandez Joel Peralta Kyle Farnsworth Rafael Betancourt
Grant Balfour Daniel Bard Jesse Crain Mark Melancon Scott Downs
David Hernandez Kyle Farnsworth Mark Melancon David Hernandez Joel Peralta
Jesse Crain Joel Hanrahan Kyle Farnsworth Joel Peralta David Hernandez
Joel Peralta Casey Janssen Joaquin Benoit Joaquin Benoit Jeff Samardzija
Daniel Bard Joel Peralta Sergio Santos Sergio Santos Jesse Crain
Jeff Samardzija Jose Valverde Tony Sipp Vinnie Pestano Grant Balfour
Vinnie Pestano Ryan Madson Vinnie Pestano Jordan Walden Casey Janssen
Joaquin Benoit Joaquin Benoit Jeff Samardzija Jeff Samardzija Kenley Jansen
Tony Sipp Octavio Dotel Jordan Walden Tony Sipp Vinnie Pestano
Carlos Marmol Scott Downs Joe Smith Joe Smith Matt Belisle
Matt Belisle Glen Perkins Glen Perkins Matt Belisle Al Alburquerque
Joe Smith Matt Belisle Kenley Jansen Glen Perkins Joe Smith
Casey Janssen Ramon Ramirez Ramon Ramirez Casey Janssen Ramon Ramirez
Kenley Jansen Jordan Walden Casey Janssen Darren Oliver Joaquin Benoit
Ramon Ramirez Tony Sipp Darren Oliver Kenley Jansen Daniel Bard
Glen Perkins Carlos Marmol Matt Belisle Ramon Ramirez Tony Sipp
Al Alburquerque Francisco Cordero Al Alburquerque Al Alburquerque Octavio Dotel
Darren Oliver Aroldis Chapman Octavio Dotel Carlos Marmol Glen Perkins
Octavio Dotel Ernesto Frieri Carlos Marmol Octavio Dotel Darren Oliver
Aroldis Chapman Joe Smith Aroldis Chapman Aroldis Chapman Aroldis Chapman
Ernesto Frieri Mike Dunn Ernesto Frieri Ernesto Frieri Ernesto Frieri
Mike Dunn Darren Oliver Mike Dunn Mike Dunn Mike Dunn
Aaron Crow Aaron Crow Aaron Crow Aaron Crow Aaron Crow
Tom Gorzelanny Tom Gorzelanny Tom Gorzelanny Tom Gorzelanny Tom Gorzelanny

The 400-pound gorilla of this idea is Mariano Rivera. He checks in at #28 among relievers. Is Al Alburquerque really a better pitcher than Mo? But you can’t have it both ways. Either saves are meaningful or they are not. Well, that’s not exactly true. Maybe this is just a jumping off point and the wins category is altered to include saves.

After all, there is a reason they call this fantasy baseball.


 

 

Last Updated on Friday, 18 May 2012 06:38
 

Comments  

 
# deansdaddy 2012-05-18 09:07
Well - looks like we need to have a laboratory league with these stats for next year and take it out for a test spin. I'm in as I do like using K/9 percentage as a way to find a way to correctly value high leverage MR. I do think you have to find a way to factor in saves (and maybe holds as well) because those two stats are so ingrained in players minds and there should be some kind of reward for pitching in those situations out of the pen. I think finding some kind of formula with W's could work. But a test league would seem in order for next season - No?
 
 
# Todd Zola 2012-05-18 09:21
Only if you're willing to let me make copies of your draft lists last second
 
 
# deansdaddy 2012-05-18 09:34
OMG - that was pretty funny.
 
 
# Todd Zola 2012-05-18 09:40
hey, I'm not above making a joke that hundreds read but only one person understands -- you know what they say, if you make one person laugh a day, you've accomplished more than Howie Mandel.
 
 
# aburt19 2012-05-18 09:48
Between saves and holds as a category, count me as favoring saves. Unless they have changed to rules on holds, it's possible for a relief pitcher to come into a game with a 4 run lead, give up two runs, leave with the bases loaded without recording an out and get a hold. In order to get a save you at least have to record an out.

I don't like IP as a category. It gives value that is not earned to #5 starters who manage to stay in the rotation on a last place team in spite of a 6.00 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP.
 
 
# Todd Zola 2012-05-18 10:02
Quoting aburt19:
I don't like IP as a category. It gives value that is not earned to #5 starters who manage to stay in the rotation on a last place team in spite of a 6.00 ERA and a 1.70 WHIP.


How is this different from a guy going 5 innings, giving up 5 runs and getting the win because he is Ivan Nova or Clay Buchholz?

The 6.70 ERA guy may "get more value", but not enough to make him draft-worthy.

Does
 
 
# viper 2012-05-18 14:53
I am in four "only" leagues. All four use saves. One uses Ks, two use K/9 and the fourth uses IP. All have an 1100 IP minimum to avoid the all-RP way of playing. My issue with IP is that it puts and extreme emphasis on SPs and all but makes MRs meaningless.

You would have a very hard time eliminating Saves in any league but if you do, you need some reason to draft non-SPs.
 
 
# Todd Zola 2012-05-18 15:43
Quoting viper:
You would have a very hard time eliminating Saves in any league but if you do, you need some reason to draft non-SPs.


Is having 32 of the top 108 pitchers be relievers good enough? That is 2.7 per team in a 12-team league.

How about a 15-team league -- 49 of the top 135 are relievers or 3.3 per team.

There's your reason.

It comes down to a question of HOW and WHO. How valuable are they relative to starters and WHO are the actual relievers, those that get saves/holds or those that demonstrate a high skill like K/9?
 
 
# da_big_kid_94 2012-05-28 07:54
Went on vacation when the revised list was published an could not get back to it. To me, holds are the new GWRBI - arbitrary and worthless. I would change my view to group 5 as posted here and the group 2 - but I'd have to go back and check the entire lists all over again.

As for drafting non SP, give me guys like Romo for 2 bucks any day over guys like Charlie Morton (and my father OWNS Charlie Morton). We use a modified Shandler system for our pitchers - we add 3 more criteria - 125+ IP, ratio under 1.3 and and ERA under 3.75 - so the best any pitcher can score is 6 - but 5 is the tops for a short reliever. Those short relievers with 5's are godsends for ERA and WHIP.
 

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