The Mop Up Award Goes To…

Over the last few days we have had plenty of time to consider which relievers for our respective teams are true mop up men. First, I asked you to help me out by identifying which relievers fit the bill, before testing those results against a neat little formula devised by TangoTiger. The formula multiplied the number of games pitched by the quotient of leverage index divided by innings pitched. The smaller the number, the more mop-uppy the pitcher. This formula produced an interesting list of pitchers that included many of the same relievers initially identified by the readers.

There were also a bunch of pitchers on the list that, according to the commenters, did not belong. It seems that many teams did not have a true mop up man, persay, but rather a few pitchers who, individually, failed to meet the 40-IP qualifier. That being said, 16 relievers still remained after removing those who did not belong: Darren O’Day, Seth McClung, Josh Rupe, Aquilino Lopez, Boof Bonser, Gary Majewski, Clay Condrey, Joel Peralta, Jon Lieber, Lance Cormier, Jason Hammel, Franquelis Osoria, Luis Vizcaino, Buddy Carlyle, Brian Tallet, and Mike Timlin.

With the list narrowed down, the next step involved determining which of these mop up men performed at the highest level in 2008, thereby earning the Fangraphs Mop Up Man of the Year Award. If this award were designated for hitters, then WPA/LI would be a very appropriate evaluative metric. Unfortunately, pitchers create their own situations, and relievers enter into previously designed situations, meaning WPA, which factors in the crucial natures of certain situations, is a much better tool. For measure, though, I also included the WPA/LI, because the true winner of this award should post good marks in both categories:

Darren O'Day      (LAA) -0.35 WPA   -0.24 WPA/LI
Seth McClung      (Mil)  0.11 WPA    0.38 WPA/LI
Josh Rupe         (Tex)  0.87 WPA    0.71 WPA/LI
Aquilino Lopez    (Det) -0.09 WPA   -0.54 WPA/LI
Boof Bonser       (Min) -0.63 WPA   -0.67 WPA/LI
Gary Majewski     (Cin) -0.19 WPA   -1.15 WPA/LI
Clay Condrey      (Phi) -0.20 WPA   -0.31 WPA/LI
Joel Peralta      (KC)  -0.93 WPA   -1.42 WPA/LI
Jon Lieber        (CHC)  0.00 WPA    0.02 WPA/LI
Lance Cormier     (Bal)  0.12 WPA    0.10 WPA/LI
Jason Hammel      (TB)   0.63 WPA   -0.41 WPA/LI
Franquelis Osoria (Pit) -1.07 WPA   -0.99 WPA/LI
Luis Vizcaino     (Col) -0.73 WPA   -0.76 WPA/LI
Buddy Carlyle     (Atl)  1.14 WPA    0.99 WPA/LI
Brian Tallet      (Tor) -0.34 WPA    0.64 WPA/LI
Mike Timlin       (Bos) -1.12 WPA   -1.08 WPA/LI

Four pitchers stand out, in particular: McClung, Rupe, Hammel, and Carlyle. Let’s take a closer look at these four:

          WPA   WPA/LI     ERA    FIP   WHIP                    
Carlyle: 1.14     0.99    3.59   3.58   1.24  59 K/26 BB in 62.2 IP
Rupe:    0.87     0.71    5.14   4.99   1.56  53 K/46 BB in 89.1 IP
Hammel:  0.63    -0.41    4.44   5.46   1.52  29 K/23 BB in 50.2 IP
McClung: 0.11     0.38    3.67   3.92   1.46  37 K/26 BB in 41.2 IP

Honestly, this isn’t even a contest, as Buddy Carlyle is, far and away, more deserving of the honor than anyone else on this list. Because of this, Buddy Carlyle of the Atlanta Braves—do a drumroll in your head—is the recipient of the 2008 Fangraphs Mop Up Man of the Year Award. Congrats, Buddy: you may not have worked out as a starting pitcher, but nobody can clean up messes or preserve the lead/deficit the way you did this past year.

Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

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