One of the best baseball analysts on the planet, Tom Tango, happened to stumble upon my latest article about Chris Perez, and as he pointed out – very politely, I may add – that I was in fact wrong. And, of course, plenty of embarrassment ensued and he nicely pointed me in the right direction, fielded an email from me, and here we are.
In my previous post, I stated that even though I’m not a fan of Cleveland’s closer – again, because he’s been declining for years, the team failed to sell high, and there are better options – manager Manny Acta was dispatching his relievers correctly by having Vinnie Pestano, not Chris Perez, pitch in more important situations. I was wrong.
Instead of using Win Expectancy, I should have been using Leverage Index, or LI. As Mr. Tango pointed out, I should be focusing on “POTENTIAL CHANGE in win expectancy, and not the CURRENT win expectancy.” He then pointed me in the direction of three articles he wrote further describing it.
Admittedly, I had to read, reread, and re-read them to fully understand everything, particularly the math.
So here we go: I’m still not a big fan of Chris Perez, and the Indians – to their detriment – are using him in the incorrect situations. Let me clarify that: they intend to use him in the correct situations, but he’s not the pitcher they should be using.
The below chart is the LIs for the eighth and ninth innings provided by the Tangotiger himself. Again, the column numbers (-4, -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4) represent the run differential for the home team.
Basically, in a nutshell, the higher the number the more pressure packed the situation. And the more pressure packed the situation the better it is to have the team’s best relief pitcher pitching. Also, the coloring represents the “types” of leverage situations: clear, or no coloring, is low-leverage; gray is medium leverage, blue is high-leverage, and red is very high-leverage.
And while most of the LIs between the eighth and ninth innings are fairly close, it’s evident that more higher-leverage situations occur in the ninth, where you want your best reliever pitching, in this case it should be Pestano. There are some instances where it’s slightly beneficial by pitching Pestano in the eighth, particularly if the team is down by one run to start the inning, but it’s still pretty clear-cut that the better pitcher should be throwing the ninth when the team is reasonably close to winning/losing the game.
So to recap, Chris Perez has been declining and but is still being used as the team’s best reliever, which is clearly not the case. And, of course, I’m still not a fan.
Thanks again to Tom Tango for helping me out.
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