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Saturday, July 02, 2005  
I know we've all been frustrated with Keith Foulke lately, but has he really been that bad? In a fit of extreme boredom, I set out to look at all the closers in baseball so far this year and see how they stacked up.

Three teams don't designate an official closer on their rosters-- Oakland, Milwaukee, and Cincy. For these teams I just picked the guy with the most saves on his record so far and used their numbers. In Oakland it was a tie between Street and Duscherer or however the fuck you spell it, but I like Street better, so. For the Brewers it ended up being Derrick Turnbow, he of the infamously bad roster photo, and for Cincy it ended up being David Weathers, although it's a sad state of affairs in the Cincy bullpen and they all seem to be equally ineffective.

And no, I'm not looking at wins or saves. I don't like them, I don't think they're terribly indicative of how the pitcher is doing. They're just dependent on way too many other things. Of course, there are probably other stats that are more indicative of how well a pitcher is pitching, but quite frankly there's only so much calculation and stat hunting I'm willing to do in one day.



Best: 0.87, Chad Cordero, Nats. Closely followed by the Fruitbat at 0.91.
Worst: 6.23, Brian Bruney, Dbacks
Foulke: 6.03. That's good for second worst in baseball, there's no one between him and Bruney, and there's a huge dropoff (dropup?) after Foulke... the third worst is Tyler Walker at 4.37.

K:BB ratio
I just divided number of strikes by number of walks to make it neater; the closer this number is to 1, the worse it is.

Best: 6.22, BJ Ryan, Orioles. By far. Followed by Trevor Hoffman at 4.80.
Worst: 1.18, Braden Looper, Mets. Danys Baez is close on his heels at 1.35.
Foulke: 2.00. The league average is 2.62, so I guess this isn't the most vile it could be. It's not great, though.

HR allowed

Best: 0, Huston Street, A's. If you only want to look at 'official' closers, the best HR allowed number is 1, in a 5-way tie between Chris Reitsma (Braves), Jason Isringhausen (Cards), Todd Jones (Marlins), Dustin Hermanson (ChiSux), and The Fruitbat (Yanks).
Worst: 8, Keith Foulke, Red Sox
Foulke: Yeah, 8. The next worst is Braden Looper with 5. That's horrendous.

Strikeouts per innings pitched

Best: 1.576, Brad Lidge, Astros. I admit I was surprised. He's closely followed by BJ Ryan at 1.547 and K-Rod at 1.429.
Worst: .447, Braden Looper, Mets. No one's even close.
Foulke: .755. League average .922, so Foulke is on the very low end of mediocre, sliding towards plain old bad.

Walks per innings pitched

Best: .185, Trevor Hoffman, Pods
Worst: .575, Jason Isringhausen, Cards
Foulke: .377. League average .390. Walks are not Foulke's issue.

Hits allowed per innings pitched

Best: .548, Mariano Rivera, Yanks. Above and away the best, the next closest is, weirdly, Huston Street, at .595.
Worst: 1.168, Braden Looper, Mets
Foulke: 1.105. Second only to Looper. Really, anything over 1 for this is pretty bad. One hit per inning pitched for a closer? Brutal. Just brutal.

The best closers in baseball? The Fruitbat is way, way up there, as usual, despite his much-documented struggles with Boston. Francisco Rodriguez has been very good and his K:BB rate bears out his nickname of K-Rod. Brian Fuentes has been great, and has been playing in Colorado, of all godforsaken places, so his numbers really kind of boggle the mind. Huston Street is making Oakland look like geniuses, even while the rest of the team tries their darndest to make them look like morons. BJ Ryan has been dominant, which somehow surprised me, even though it shouldn't have since, hello, the Red Sox play the Orioles all the bloody time. Brad Lidge has been very good, not that it matters with the Astros offense.

Curiosities? Dustin Hermanson has been doing quite well for himself, despite having a horrible strikeout rate. Jason Isringhausen has been doing OK despite walking a ton of guys, which must make him nerve-wracking to watch.

And I can't work out why Mike MacDougal is the closer in Kansas City. Why not give Andy Sisco a shot at it? He walks more guys, but he also strikes guys out at a marginally higher rate, he's allowed less hits over more innings, and his ERA's better. Seems like it wouldn't hurt to try, at least.

So has Foulke being doing as poorly as we all seem to see in the games? Too right he has been. He's one of the very worst closers in baseball this year, possibly the worst, depending on how you feel about Braden Looper (not good, if you're a Mets fan, I reckon). Love what he did for us last year or not, we simply cannot hope to scrape by with arguably the worst closer in baseball in our bullpen.

It's starting to look like Philly was awfully smart in snatching up Ugueth Urbina when they did, for as little as they did (a second baseman they wanted to clear out to make room for Chase Utley anyways). The market for relievers by the trading deadline this year is going to be nasty.

edit: Lest you all think I'm getting too serious here, have some of the fun facts I ran across while doing this. Fun with Closers!

-Two closers named Cordero, Chad for the Nats and Francisco for the Rangers. Awesome. Also two Franciscos (Rodriguez and Cordero), two Brians (Bruney and Fuentes), and three guys with two first names (BJ Ryan, Troy Percival, and Joe Nathan).

-Derrick Turnbow's real name is Thomas. Derrick is his middle name. He is hideous.

-K-Rod has 13 siblings.

-Brad Lidge went to Notre Dame. Fuck you, Brad Lidge. Huston Street is a Longhorn. Fuck you and your Rose Bowl, Street.

-Huston Street's favorite invention is the feather bed. I don't want to know.

-Miguel Batista has written and published a book of poetry. It's called 'Sentimientos en Blanco y Negro', which is 'Feelings in Black and White'. I don't know where you can buy it-- I couldn't find it in a cursory search on Amazon.

-Yhency Brazoban is married to a woman named Yoneidi and they have a daughter named Yelaini. Y, Yhency, y?

-Todd Jones is a walrus.

-BJ Ryan's full name is Robert Victor Ryan. Where the fuck did the 'J' come from?

-Jose Mesa has 6 brothers. He also has 6 children of his own.

You didn't think it was all just about the stats, now did you?

2:24 PM

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