Elbo: Once in the morning, and once at night...

Thanks to Steve Shelby, I saw this item on ESPN.com regarding the Giants' bullpen in 2004:

Most pressure in 2004: Robb Nen. Giants don't have Tim Worrell as a safety net. ... Felix Rodriguez's career numbers: 10 saves, 20 blown saves.

Why do sportswriters do this? This would be a perfect example of misusing statistics in a way that obfuscates the truth. Of course Felix Rodriguez has blown more saves than he's earned -- it's because he WASN'T A CLOSER for most of his career.

When Felix comes into close games to protect a lead in the seventh or eighth inning, which he's done well over a hundred times, he's technically in a save situation, although no one expects him to actually earn a save. If he blows that lead, he's blown a save. So while he's spent most of his career protecting leads and occasionally blowing saves, it's not fair to compare the saves he's blown with the ones he's earned.

A better way to measure Felix's efficiency is to add his 10 saves to his 108 holds, and compare that with his 20 blown saves. He was successful in whatever role he was asked to perform 118 times, and blew the lead 20 times. That's an 85.5% success rate.

Robb Nen himself has garnered 314 saves and one hold, while blowing 54 saves. That means he has an 85.4% success rate.

A few others who have split their careers between setup and closer roles:
Tim Worrell 83.0%
Keith Foulke 89.0%
Arthur Rhodes 84.2%
Braden Looper 83.2%

I admit that grouping holds and saves together isn't perfect. If you're a setup man who's in the process of failing to hold a lead, the closer might come in and save your butt. Closers, on the other hand, are expected to finish games -- most managers leave them in until they either succeed or fail completely. But this simple metric is far more accurate than comparing Felix's saves to blown saves, which doesn't really illuminate any aspect of his ability to protect a lead.

Anyway I don't know if that metric is normally calculated, but any discussion of blown saves has to include holds.


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