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KU Baseball Update - Bullpen

As a unit the bullpen performed admirably during the last three weeks. Esquibel and Marciel both pitched extremely effectively as long men and Paul Smyth helped the team in seven of his nine appearances. Fans might want to pay attention to a few records which Smyth might challenge this year. His 27 appearances already rank his year eighth in school history in terms of games pitched. It is unlikely that he will reach either the all time record (37 by Don Czyz last year) or even repeat the 36 appearances he made last year (second most in school history) but a deep run into the tournament might bring this record into play. Smyth's six saves this year also puts him in elite company, tying him for 6th place all time in single season totals. Those still above him:

1. Don Czyz (2006) - 18
2. Jimmy Walker (1993) - 11
3. Don Czyz (2005) - 10
4. Casey Barrett (1996) - 8
5. Brandon Johnson (2003) - 7
6. Josh Wingerd (1997) - 6
6. Robert Keens (1995) - 6
6. Paul Smyth (2007) - 6

As I have all year I brokedown the relief pitching performance based on "relief points." If you need to refresh your memory on this system here is an explanation.

The whole purpose of the relief points system is to determine how well a relief pitcher is doing in terms of the only two factors that really impact wins and losses - how well is he preventing both his own runners, and those he inherits from scoring.

Each run that scores counts ten points off a pitchers point total. These ten points might be divided between the relief pitcher and the pitcher who he inherited the runner from, or if the runner was one he allowed to reach base originally, they will be his sole responsibility. For every out the pitcher records and for every runner the pitcher inherits and prevents from scoring he is awarded positive points. The system is complicated, but the bottom line is beautifully simple. A relief pitcher with a positive total of relief points is helping the team - a negative total means the opposite. Every multiple of 10 positive points roughly equals one run that pitcher prevented from scoring who would have come home given dead average relief work. Every negative multiple of ten points equals one additional run scored on this pitcher than would have against the mythical "dead average" reliever.

To take this system one step further, into Sabermatic-lite territory, every multiple of 35-40 positive points accumulated by a relief pitcher roughly equals one additional win the team has recorded due to his above average work. Those who study baseball statistics more closely than I concluded years ago that a swing of roughly 10 runs in a 162 game baseball season equals one decision turned. Since the NCAA season is only about one-third as long as the MLB season, that number can be reduced to roughly three or four runs in an college season. So, if a reliever prevents about three or four less than average runs from scoring, he has in the grand scheme of things helped his team win one more game that year than they woud have if he had pitched at league norm level. Or course, the opposite is also true.

If you are a believer in statistics, the bottom line to this whole relief points exercise is that the surprisingly good bullpen work that the Jayhawks have received this year (211 positive points overall in 48 games) has allowed them to win about six more games than they would have if the pen had been of average NCAA quality. That is pretty significant. Paul Smyth alone has probably increased the KU win total by three.

It is not a perfect statitical tool by any means, but I think it is useful in reducing a rather complicated matter down to simple terms. At least I know of no other system that does the job better. Simple ERA does not factor in inherited runners. Saves are only collected by closers. Holds only factor into games in which the team is ahead. etc. So, what do you think? Is this system useful or does it need adjustment?

Relief Pitching

Pitcher ERA Appearances
last 15 games
Smyth 1.47 9 54 27 139
Garcia 5.04 7 -12 18 38
Marciel 4.31 3 33 9 38
Ellenbecker 0.00 1 12 3 24
Marcin 3.38 1 -19 10 12
Lane 3.86 2 -6 11 11
Marks 6.15 1 8
Hayakawa 6.50 3 5 13 -6
Ashwood 5.88 2 -8
Esquibel 5.02 6 33 16 -33
Team 4.65 32 100 110 211