Yesterday David introduced a couple of new stats, Shutdowns and Meltdowns, to the site. It’s fashioned after saves/blown saves but is vastly superior, because it’s a metric that uses WPA as a substitute of the brainless, archaic save stat and the rules that guide it.
A team essentially has something like a 98% likelihood of winning the game with a three-run lead with no outs, yet a manager will trot out his ace reliever in that situation about 98% of the time for the sake of save. But when the game is on the line and it’s non-save situation, we often see managers make some of the most bizarre choices in their bullpen usage.
Take for instance Tuesday night’s Phillies–Cardinals game that ended in the 10th on a walk-off homer by Carlos Ruiz. While there’s no real “ace” in the Cardinal bullpen, the inexperienced Blake Hawksworth isn’t the guy you normally would want on the mound against the Phillies in such a high leverage situation, but it appears Tony La Russa held back his closer because it wasn’t a save situation.
Anyway, with any luck this catches on. Just to recap:
A Shutdown is when a reliever accumulates greater than or equal to 0.06 WPA in any individual game.
A Meltdown is when a reliever’s WPA is less than or equal to -0.06 in any individual game.
What I thought would be interesting is to look at the “Meltdowniest” pitchers of the past three seasons, as well as the ones who we could say have ice water in their veins. The pitchers with the most meltdowns are usually the ones fans want to ride out of town on a rail, along with their manager, while the pitchers with the smallest meltdown rate we tend to feel pretty comfortable with, even in the highest leverage situations.
These are the pitchers with the highest percentage of relief appearances that resulted in a Meltdown:
Aaron Heilman is our King of Catastrophe. Cub fans are glad to see him take his act elsewhere. That four-year, $19 million deal given to Scott Linebrink was given by the White Sox is looking like one the more awful contracts given to a middle reliever in recent memory.
So what pitchers have ice water in their veins, or in other words, the pitchers who have experienced the fewest rate of blowups per appearance? I excluded anyone who didn’t average at least an average pLI of 1.2.
No major surprises here, especially the from the top four.
What about the highest Meltdown % by pitchers with 30 or more saves the past three seasons?
The unpopular trio of Chad Qualls, Kevin Gregg and David “Stormy” Weathers lead the list. We also see the Phillies favorite bipolar pitcher, Brad Lidge make this list. Interestingly enough, Brian Wilson had the highest percentage of his outings end in either a Shutdown or a Meltdown of any reliever.
Again, I hope this catches on. Shutdowns and Meltdowns are a more practical and intuitive way at evaluating reliever performance, and I think a more fun one, too.