August 17, 2006
LET THE MAN ROLL THROUGH:
Lies, Damned Lies: The Origins of the Closer (Nate Silver, 8/16/06, Baseball Prospectus)
Before we proceed, letâ€™s concoct a quick-and-dirty way to evaluate a closerâ€™s effectiveness. We can define a Closer Efficiency Index (CEI) asâ€¦Posted by Orrin Judd at August 17, 2006 2:35 PM
CEI = RA+ x (Saves x 2 â€“ SvOpp) x (162 / TeamG)
â€¦where RA+ is a pitcherâ€™s run average relative to his league and park average, and TeamG is the number of games that the pitcherâ€™s team plays during the regular season (this term is intended to put pitchers from strike-shortened seasons on equal footing).
CEI is not intended to replace something like WXRL, which is a far more informative metric, but it should do well for our purposes. John Smoltz in 2004, had an RA+ of 1.66 (his RA was 66% better than league average), and 44 saves in 49 opportunities; this produces a CEI of 64.8. This is an outstanding score--anything over 50 might be considered a great season, while anything over 100 is a Hall of Fame type season. The highest CEIâ€™s of all time are as follows:
Jose Mesa 1995 183.7
Dennis Eckersley 1990 178.3
Eric Gagne 2003 171.1
Rollie Fingers 1981 163.5
Mike Jackson 1998 155.9
Jon Papelbon is within striking distance of this group; his CEI is 165 as of this writing.