Baseball Is Finally Realizing That The Save Is Dumb

Baseball’s trade deadline last week provided a referendum on how much value relief pitchers have in today’s game. And the results were fairly clear: Teams just don’t care about saves as much as they used to.This season, we’ve been using our new relief pitching statistic, the goose egg, to track how bullpens are used. And the way relievers are deployed has, in fact, changed. Although it hasn’t been quite as dramatic as, say, the widespread adaptation of the defensive shift in baseball, there’s at least some evidence of teams using their best relief pitchers in smarter ways — using them in the highest-leverage situations, regardless of whether or not a save is on the line. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen, who has been the best relief pitcher in baseball this season, is one prominent example. He often enters games in situations that the goose egg rewards but the save does not — such as when the score is tied, or anytime before the ninth inning.1Yes, a reliever can get a save if he enters the game before the ninth inning and finishes the game. But he doesn’t get any extra credit for pitching extra innings. And he doesn’t get a save if another pitcher closes out the game. (A goose egg is essentially a clutch, scoreless relief inning.)But a series of deadline trades provided evidence on the diminished value that teams place on saves. Plenty of relief pitchers were traded, but teams were seemingly indifferent about whether the pitchers they’d acquired had accumulated high save totals or not. Take the Twins’ Brandon Kintzler, for example, who was picked up by the Washington Nationals for minor-league pitching prospect Tyler Watson and international bonus pool money. Kintzler was second in the American League with 28 saves, and the Nationals have struggled to close out games all season — so you might have expected them to give up a king’s ransom for him. Instead they gave up … Watson, who had been the Nationals’ 27th best prospect before the season and had a 4.35 ERA in Single-A at the time he was dealt.Other pitchers with high save totals, such as the Padres’ Brandon Maurer’ and the Marlins’ A.J. Ramos, didn’t fetch high prices, either. The prospects the Mets gave up for Ramos — pitcher Merandy Gonzalez and outfielder Ricardo Cespedes — were rated No. 14 and No. 23 in their system by Baseball America before the year began. The Mets also traded their own interim closer, Addison Reed, to Boston, nabbing three prospects; but none of them ranked higher than No. 20 in the Red Sox system. It’s not that the teams are giving up nothing for saves, exactly. But we’re a long ways removed from the days of the (infamous) Heathcliff Slocumb trade, when even mediocre closers could bring an elite prospect or two in return.And teams aren’t necessarily privileging the closer’s old role when he switches teams. Kintzler isn’t expected to close many games in Washington; instead, he’s the No. 2 or No. 3 option in the bullpen behind Sean Doolittle, who had just three saves for the A’s at the time he was acquired in July. Maurer will only be the third option in the Royals’ bullpen. Ramos will close out games for the Mets, but only because regular closer Jeurys Familia is hurt and Reed was traded.If teams are looking to goose eggs for guidance instead of saves, the National League leaders are Jansen and the Brewers’ Corey Knebel, who have 33 goose eggs each. Cleveland’s Andrew Miller leads the AL with 31 goose eggs, but he’s now injured, which could allow Tampa Bay’s Alex Colome (30 goose eggs) or Seattle’s Edwin Diaz (29 goose eggs) to pass him.Jansen has been by far the most effective reliever in baseball, as measured by goose wins above replacement (GWAR). He’s maintained a perfect record on the season with no broken eggs,2Jansen did have one rough outing last month, yielding three runs in a game against the Braves, but those didn’t come in a goose situation. our term for when a pitcher has an opportunity for a goose egg but allows an earned run instead, and 33 goose eggs — good for 4.8 GWAR. Miller leads the AL with 3.2 GWAR. A complete rundown of goose statistics follows in the table below. Domingo GermanNYY010-0.4 Arodys VizcainoATL1962+0.6 PITCHER▲▼TEAM▲▼GOOSE EGGS▲▼BROKEN EGGS▲▼MEHS▲▼GWAR▲▼ Cody AllenCLE1863+0.7 Jose TorresSD441-0.9 Jayson AquinoBAL010-0.4 Hector SantiagoMIN010-0.4 Matt BarnesBOS1663+0.4 Daniel StumpfDET214-0.1 Trevor RosenthalSTL2471+0.9 Dan AltavillaSEA331-0.7 Vidal NunoBAL010-0.4 T. J. McFarlandARI621+0.2 Blake TreinenOAK/WAS1061-0.7 Joe KellyBOS724+0.4 Craig KimbrelBOS2340+2.2 Luis GarciaPHI742-0.4 Josh EdginNYM525+0.0 Dan OteroCLE200+0.3 Jeff BeliveauTOR111-0.2 Jake BarrettARI203+0.3 Adam KolarekTB021-0.7 Ryne StanekTB013-0.4 Francisco LirianoHOU020-0.7 Justin GrimmCHC301+0.4 Brett CecilSTL1443+0.6 Wade DavisCHC2011+2.6 Miguel CastroBAL101+0.2 Dellin BetancesNYY1851+1.0 Ryan TeperaTOR2030+2.0 Josh CollmenterATL020-0.7 Danny BarnesTOR742-0.4 George KontosSF863-1.1 Al AlburquerqueKC010-0.4 Mike DunnCOL1002+1.6 Warwick SaupoldDET112-0.2 Rex BrothersATL321-0.3 Yovani GallardoSEA100+0.2 Sergio RomoLAD/TB330-0.7 Brian DuensingCHC300+0.4 Caleb SmithNYY110-0.2 Ian KrolATL623+0.2 Drew StorenCIN323-0.3 Greg HollandCOL2330+2.7 Hunter StricklandSF1741+1.0 Robert GsellmanNYM210-0.1 Joe SmithTOR1611+2.1 Anthony SwarzakCHW/MIL1610+2.0 Brad HandSD2845+2.6 Robert StephensonCIN220-0.4 Hoby MilnerPHI001+0.0 J. C. RamirezLAA020-0.7 Check out our latest MLB predictions. Brent SuterMIL001+0.0 Tommy HunterTB1821+2.0 Ken GilesHOU1233+0.7 Justin WilsonCHC/DET2251+1.5 Corey KnebelMIL3362+2.7 Brad ZieglerMIA512+0.4 Nick VincentSEA2025+2.3 Matt BushTEX1662+0.4 Jordan LylesCOL210+0.0 Brad PeacockHOU101+0.1 Carl EdwardsCHC1563+0.0 Tyler DuffeyMIN1032+0.4 Andrew ChafinARI266-1.9 Jesse ChavezLAA010-0.4 Sean DoolittleOAK/WAS1125+0.9 Joe BiaginiTOR932+0.3 Dominic LeoneTOR426-0.1 Jhan MarinezMIL/PIT320-0.3 Mike MontgomeryCHC1321+1.2 Bryan MitchellNYY010-0.4 Enny RomeroWAS1346+0.4 Adam OttavinoCOL1373-0.4 Bryan MorrisSF300+0.4 Santiago CasillaOAK1672-0.2 Yusmeiro PetitLAA1112+1.3 Doug FisterBOS420-0.1 Wandy PeraltaCIN1131+0.5 Erasmo RamirezTB712+0.7 Tyler WilsonBAL111-0.2 Deolis GuerraLAA720+0.3 Wade LeBlancPIT232-0.8 Sammy SolisWAS120-0.6 Derek LawSF1131+0.5 Ryan GartonTB030-1.1 Tyler PillNYM010-0.4 Brad BoxbergerTB231-0.8 Matt AlbersWAS924+0.6 Seung-hwan OhSTL2154+1.2 Mychal GivensBAL1633+1.4 Michael FelizHOU110-0.2 Jake PetrickaCHW202+0.3 Pedro StropCHC1313+1.5 Paul SewaldNYM642-0.6 Kyle RyanDET210-0.1 Albert SuarezSF310+0.1 Liam HendriksOAK951-0.5 Chad GreenNYY022-0.7 Tony ZychSEA843-0.3 Erik GoeddelNYM110-0.2 Jason GrilliTEX/TOR433-0.5 Koda GloverWAS822+0.4 Taylor RogersMIN1863+0.5 Keone KelaTEX832+0.2 Adam WarrenNYY831+0.2 Frankie MontasOAK110-0.2 Darren O’DayBAL932+0.3 Cory GearrinSF831+0.1 Alec AsherBAL311+0.1 Chris HatcherLAD121-0.6 Dovydas NeverauskasPIT200+0.3 Carlos TorresMIL643-0.6 Sam FreemanATL712+0.7 Phil MatonSD711+0.7 Eric O’FlahertyATL211-0.1 Jose LeclercTEX723+0.4 Mike BolsingerTOR310+0.1 Koji UeharaCHC1553+0.3 Ryan PresslyMIN421-0.1 Edwin DiazSEA2952+2.5 Wily PeraltaMIL120-0.6 Ernesto FrieriTEX010-0.4 Aaron BummerCHW120-0.6 James PazosSEA1034+0.4 Jeurys FamiliaNYM412+0.2 Craig BreslowMIN010-0.4 David HernandezARI/LAA1213+1.4 Dario AlvarezTEX201+0.3 Chad QuallsCOL210+0.0 Kelvin HerreraKC2352+1.8 Shawn KelleyWAS620+0.1 Josh OsichSF325-0.3 Joe JimenezDET010-0.4 Steven OkertSF648-0.6 Matt BelisleMIN1633+1.3 Giovanny GallegosNYY010-0.4 Marc RzepczynskiSEA816+0.8 Craig StammenSD301+0.4 Mark LeiterPHI010-0.4 Ross StriplingLAD641-0.6 Tony SippHOU110-0.2 Grant DaytonLAD112-0.2 Luis AvilanLAD424-0.2 Zach PutnamCHW200+0.3 Pedro BaezLAD1146+0.1 Oliver PerezWAS514+0.4 Travis WoodKC331-0.6 Chris RusinCOL833+0.2 Jacob TurnerWAS520+0.0 Kevin QuackenbushSD120-0.6 Buddy BaumannSD111-0.2 Josh SmithOAK200+0.3 Juan NicasioPIT1068-0.7 Fernando SalasNYM554-1.1 Miguel SocolovichSTL101+0.1 Hansel RoblesNYM742-0.5 Fernando AbadBOS501+0.8 Dan JenningsCHW/TB248-1.2 Chris DevenskiHOU1785-0.5 Jake JunisKC200+0.3 Donnie HartBAL313+0.1 Aroldis ChapmanNYY1312+1.7 Francis MartesHOU110-0.2 Rafael MonteroNYM131-1.0 Oliver DrakeMIL421-0.1 Tony CingraniCIN423-0.1 Daniel CoulombeOAK234-0.8 Kevin SiegristSTL812+0.8 Randall DelgadoARI500+0.8 Chase WhitleyTB641-0.6 Jason MotteATL212-0.1 David RobertsonCHW/NYY1951+1.0 Brandon MaurerKC/SD1870+0.1 Alex ClaudioTEX1535+1.3 Adam MorganPHI200+0.3 Mike MinorKC1743+1.2 Luke JacksonATL100+0.1 Fernando RodneyARI2243+1.9 Ryan MadsonOAK/WAS1831+1.6 Addison ReedBOS/NYM2555+1.8 Matt StrahmKC231-0.8 Sam DysonSF/TEX1982-0.1 Dustin McGowanMIA311+0.1 Nick GoodyCLE001+0.0 Matt GraceWAS112-0.2 Aaron LoupTOR327-0.3 Richard BleierBAL411+0.3 Chris YoungKC100+0.2 Ty BlachSF101+0.1 Evan ScribnerSEA020-0.7 Jumbo DiazTB653-0.9 Andrew KittredgeTB110-0.2 Joe BlantonWAS320-0.3 Ben HellerNYY101+0.2 Jeanmar GomezPHI721+0.3 Sam TuivailalaSTL320-0.3 Ronald HerreraNYY010-0.4 Daniel HudsonPIT644-0.6 Rubby De La RosaARI011-0.4 Bruce RondonDET420-0.1 Tyler ClippardCHW/NYY897-2.0 Drew SteckenriderMIA210-0.1 Alex ColomeTB3063+2.3 Tony BarnetteTEX630-0.1 Hector RondonCHC931+0.2 Jake McGeeCOL1042+0.2 Pat NeshekCOL/PHI1925+2.1 Drew VerHagenDET210-0.1 Goose stats through Aug. 6, 2017 Blaine HardyDET121-0.6 Zach BrittonBAL800+1.2 Justin HaleyMIN110-0.2 Austin BriceCIN300+0.5 Ryan DullOAK523+0.0 Kyle BarracloughMIA1341+0.4 Carlos EstevezCOL100+0.2 Nate JonesCHW410+0.2 Logan VerrettBAL400+0.6 Diego MorenoTB010-0.4 Jacob BarnesMIL2373+0.9 Roberto OsunaTOR2271+0.9 Neftali FelizKC/MIL1050-0.3 Josh FieldsLAD342-1.1 Michael LorenzenCIN2341+2.0 Junichi TazawaMIA530-0.4 Jared HughesMIL941-0.1 Source: Seamheads.com Hector NerisPHI2053+1.1 Alex WoodLAD301+0.4 Jose AlvaradoTB743-0.4 Chris BeckCHW012-0.4 Ryan BuchterKC/SD1463-0.2 David PhelpsMIA/SEA1683-0.6 Matthew BowmanSTL1654+0.5 Stefan ChrichtonBAL010-0.4 Tanner ScheppersTEX101+0.2 Scott AlexanderKC321-0.3 Luke GregersonHOU752-0.8 Mike MorinLAA101+0.2 Jean MachiSEA101+0.2 Brooks PoundersLAA100+0.2 Antonio BastardoPIT010-0.4 AJ RamosMIA1542+0.7 Blake ParkerLAA1531+1.2 Joaquin BenoitPHI/PIT16100-1.3 Casey FienPHI/SEA320-0.3 Kevin McCarthyKC100+0.2 Lucas HarrellTOR001+0.0 Nick WittgrenMIA611+0.5 Heath HembreeBOS945+0.0 Josh SmokerNYM723+0.3 Tom WilhelmsenARI112-0.2 Will HarrisHOU1630+1.3 Robby ScottBOS329-0.2 Joakim SoriaKC2572+1.3 Kenyan MiddletonLAA310+0.1 Ben TaylorBOS101+0.2 Cam BedrosianLAA633-0.2 Mark MelanconSF940-0.2 Jose RamirezATL1442+0.6 Shane GreeneDET1534+1.2 Josh HaderMIL202+0.3 J. P. HowellTOR010-0.4 Brock StewartLAD200+0.3 Blaine BoyerBOS510+0.4 PITCHER▲▼TEAM▲▼GOOSE EGGS▲▼BROKEN EGGS▲▼MEHS▲▼GWAR▲▼ Miguel DiazSD010-0.4 Zach McAllisterCLE111-0.2 Buddy BoshersMIN010-0.4 John AxfordOAK120-0.6 Rob ScahillMIL110-0.2 Boone LoganCLE104+0.2 Kirby YatesLAA/SD831+0.1 Robbie RossBOS100+0.2 Jeremy JeffressTEX131-0.9 Scott ObergCOL623+0.3 Jonathan HolderNYY611+0.6 Trevor HildenbergerMIN310+0.1 Jonathan BroxtonSTL120-0.6 A. J. SchugelPIT100+0.1 Francisco RodriguezDET382-2.5 Parker BridwellLAA001+0.0 John BrebbiaSTL001+0.0 Tony WatsonLAD/PIT2274+0.7 J. J. HooverARI632-0.2 Jarlin GarciaMIA002+0.0 Steve CishekSEA/TB512+0.4 Jim JohnsonATL1983-0.1 Brandon MorrowLAD330-0.7 Greg InfanteCHW011-0.4 Archie BradleyARI2245+1.9 Chasen ShreveNYY623+0.2 Brad BrachBAL2341+2.1 James HoytHOU110-0.2 Casey LawrenceTOR010-0.4 Alex WilsonDET1165-0.5 Felipe RiveroPIT3132+3.5 Tommy KahnleCHW/NYY1471-0.5 Andrew MillerCLE3152+3.2 Chase De JongSEA010-0.4 Kenley JansenLAD3301+4.8 Akeel MorrisATL001+0.0 Xavier CedenoTB013-0.4 Jerry BlevinsNYM1447+0.6 Simon CastroOAK010-0.4 Joely RodriguezPHI524+0.0 Peter MoylanKC803+1.2 Brandon WorkmanBOS410+0.3 Jose AlvarezLAA553-1.1 Bud NorrisLAA1671-0.2 Asher WojciechowskiCIN100+0.2 Johnny BarbatoPIT010-0.4 Emilio PaganSEA120-0.6 Ricardo PintoPHI011-0.4 Austin PruittTB300+0.5 Neil RamirezNYM012-0.4 Tyler LyonsSTL012-0.4 Chad BellDET001+0.0 Raisel IglesiasCIN2410+3.2 Adam ConleyMIA010-0.4 Hector VelazquezBOS400+0.6 Jorge De La RosaARI1151-0.1 Brandon KintzlerMIN2244+1.9 Blake WoodCIN231-0.8 Gabriel YnoaBAL001+0.0 Danny FarquharTB832+0.1 Edubray RamosPHI3110-3.6 Bryan ShawCLE1744+1.3 Jandel GustaveHOU010-0.4

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