What's buzzing:

Pitching by the Numbers: Predicting saves

Michael Salfino Yahoo Sports

View gallery

Lots of A's wins has meant little for Doolittle.(Getty)

Lots of A's wins has meant little for Doolittle.(Getty)

After tackling wins prior to taking a vacation break last week , let me explain my season-long avoidance of the save category.

Here’s the key takaway/complaint: through Sunday, the 59-win Braves have generated 15 more saves than the 67-win A’s. That’s why for all his WHIP and K/9 brilliance, Sean Doolittle owners are feeling a little ripped off.

Since it’s human nature to think we can predict anything, we tend to seek in drafts and in in-season trades the closers on the teams that are most successful/likely to continue winning.

But clearly win totals don’t correlate that well to save totals.  It’s not just the A’s who are laggards. The 47-win Astros have only 18 saves. That’s 12 less than the Diamondbacks, who have won just two more games.

I’ve charted up team wins per save. The league average is 1.90. But the range is 1.49 to 2.79.

View gallery


A complaint can be that I didn’t include blown saves. But that’s a deceptive stat because non-closers can only blow them and never accrue them.

Some believe that you can predict saves by focusing on the teams who rank better in pitching than in hitting, regardless of win totals. Let’s see how that works by looking at runs scored and runs allowed.

The A’s have the greatest differential, obviously not a recipe for generating saves. But was that projectable? Did people think the A’s run differential would be so good? I did not.

The teams with the narrowest gaps, again through Sunday, are the Rays, Royals, Cardinals, Mets, Braves and Pirates. The Mets and Rays are below average in generating saves, or save efficiency relative to wins, if you prefer. But the other teams are well above.

That’s a pretty good ratio, with 66 percent being better than expected and the Cardinals and Braves are great at it. But again, can we have projected that these teams would have such a narrow gap between runs scored and allowed?

And of course, teams can have a narrow run differential by trading blowouts on the positive side for getting blown out (though that’s unlikely, I stipulate).

What about just the good pitching teams who have bad offenses? That would be the Padres, Cardinals, Braves, Reds, Giants and Mariners. I don’t know what to make of four of these five teams being NL. Now we have all the teams being better than average in generating saves (though some just barely).

That seems like the model. But it’s only five teams. And could we have guessed them going into the season? I would have figured the Cardinals and Reds would be average-to-above-average in scoring runs, but maybe that’s just me.

But if you do want to project save efficiency, meaning more saves per win than the league average, then, yes, pick the low-scoring teams with good pitching — if you can.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • Baseball-Schwarber not cleared for outfield role in Game Three

      Inspirational Chicago Cubs slugger Kyle Schwarber has not been cleared to play in the outfield for Friday's Game Three against the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field, the Major League Baseball team said on Thursday. Schwarber, who has spent much of … More »

      Reuters - 8 minutes ago
    • Redskins CB Norman, TE Reed cleared to travel to London

      Redskins CB Norman, TE Reed cleared to travel to London

      Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman and tight end Jordan Reed were cleared to fly with the team to London for its game against the Cincinnati Bengals after dealing with concussions. Redskins coach Jay Gruden said Thursday it still had not … More »

      AP - Sports - 9 minutes ago
    • 76ers players may respond in wake of national anthem flap

      The Philadelphia 76ers held a team meeting Thursday and may take action in the wake of the organization's decision to cancel the national anthem performance by a singer wearing a ''We Matter'' jersey. Sevyn Streeter said she was told by the team … More »

      AP - Sports - 10 minutes ago
    • Center matchup key in Heat-Hornets game

      Who said the days of significant centers are dead in the NBA? Not the 1-0 Miami Heat or the 1-0 Charlotte Hornets, who meet Friday night at AmericanAirlines Arena. It will be the home opener for the Heat, who remade their team largely around … More »

      AP - Sports - 11 minutes ago
    • Defensive-minded Canucks searching for offence with McDavid, Ovechkin on deck

      After a perfect start to the regular season, a couple of familiar warts are starting to pop up on the Vancouver Canucks. The offensively challenged Canucks were always going to rely on defensive structure and good goaltending to try and grind out … More »

      The Canadian Press - 11 minutes ago