09 September 2007

Why bring in Broxton with runners on? Or why not?

By Griffster

I felt bad when Broxton was brought in to pitch, because I carry this perception that Broxton falls to pieces when he pitches with runners on. But is that just a perception, or does it have some basis in facts, cold hard stats?

Over his career, Broxton's inherited 50 runners, of which he's let 15 score. That's only 30% of inherited runners he's let score. This year ( given that recent results are freshest in one's memory ) he has inherited 21 runners, and he's let seven score. Well, that's 33%, which is around the same percentage.

Now the question is, how is he doing compared to others? Grabbing stats from a few of our other relievers:

Hendrickson has 22 career inherited runners, of which he's let 11 score. ( Of course, he's mostly been a starter! ) So, how about this year with LA, in relief? Well, he's had 10 inherited runners. He let three score. That is 30 percent again, in a small sample size. His stat is skewed by his rookie year, in which he let 6 of nine inherited runners score. So that 30 percent sounds about right for him where he's at currently.

Seanez has 247 careeer inherited runners. He let 98 score. That's about a 40% career rate. Ouch! What about this year with the Dodgers? 'cause remember, we're trying to pin down the perception of whether Broxton lets too many score. Seanez inherited 35 and let 16 score. That's 45%. So he's worse than career! To be expected at the end of a career.

What about Proctor? 149 career, 41 allowed to score. 27% career! With the Dodgers? 6 inherited, one scored. Small sample size. On the year he has had 37 inherited, 10 scored. 27% again. So, he's OK, slightly better than Broxton.

Hernandez' career: 401 inherited, 135 scored. 37%. This year: 6 of 19, 31%.

Beimel career: 196 inherited, 58 scored. 30%. This year: 10 of 47, 21%.

Saito MLB career: 38 inherited, 13 scored. 34%. This year: 4 of 11, 36%.

Looks like Broxton's 30% is around normal. Even somebody like Hernandez or Hendrickson who makes everybody cry "Game over!" has been pulling around 30% or slightly above for this year. Seanez is nasty bad.

Proctor and Beimel's been good - Beimel especially has been good about keeping those inherited runners away from home plate. So perhaps he would have been a good choice today. Who knows?

So, what's the bottom line? Broxton is not better than most other Dodger relievers at keeping runners from scoring, and he's certainly not the worst, either. He's about average. Why then the perception that he's letting them score? I guess because of high expectations. Broxton is a closer of the future, supposed to be a cut above the rest. Yet, he's just about average. Might as well bring Hernandez or Hendrickson in and leave Broxton to pitch when he's at his most dangerous - with the bases empty.

And maybe that's where my frustration with today's game lies.

It goes deeper than inherited runners, of course. There's also the question of pitching with runners on or none on, and with runners in scoring position or not. Here's the batting averages against for our selection:

Player None on Runners on Runners in scoring postion

Broxton .239 .209 .258
Hendrickson .273 .316 .336
Seanez .228 .279 .271
Hernandez .276 .337 .310
Proctor .279 .197 .173
Beimel .248 .270 .295
Saito .159 .175 .152

Well well. Broxton is one of the better guys in the pen if you look at those globbed together stats. Proctor ( runners on ) and Saito is better overall, Seanez is also better at not letting runners on to start with, and only twelve points worse with them in scoring position.

The bottom line, then, is that it is probably mostly a matter of perspective. We want Saito or Gagne or somebody lights out when Broxton comes up. He's the closer of the future!

But instead, he's just a good reliever. We'd better enjoy the Saito years. It may be that in future we won't have the smooth ride through the ninth we have with Saito and had before with Gagne ( remember Baez, anyone? ).

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