Tuesday, January 22, 2008

NL West - Best bullpens

Note: Updated 2/7/08
Time to take a break from our divisional ranking series and take a look at which bullpen in the NL West is the strongest. Once again the simulator comes in handy at this task. The method I will use to rank NL West bullpens is to give each team the same batting lineup and to start each simulated game in the top of the 7th inning with the score tied and the starting pitcher about to be relieved for each team in their opponents half of the 7th inning. This way the only difference between the two teams will be the bullpens. 2000 games are simulated home and away with each team facing each other. Winning percentages are added and then averaged. All games are played in a neutral park environment and of course 2008 ZIPS projections are being used. See the table below for results.

Note: The simulation may output slightly different results if I start in the 6th inning or 8th inning as opposed to the 7th inning. Bullpen depth charts from Rototimes and Yahoo were used in determining bullpen depth chart listings.

Rank Team Total
1 SD .5405
2 SF .5111
3 LAD .4947
4 COL .4797
5 ARI .4739

Skinny: No surprise here with the Padres coming out on top. Surprisingly, the Giants come out a strong 2nd with the Dodgers a solid 3rd. The Rockies and Diamondbacks who have very similar bullpens on paper come out in a statistical tie for 4th/5th place. The Diamondbacks, while one of the strongest teams in the NL West, didn't fair too well.

Bullpen Configurations used:
Closer Hoffman Wilson Saito Corpas Lyon
#1 Setup Bell Hennessey Broxton Fuentes Pena
#2 Setup Meridith Kline Proctor Vizcaino Qualls
Middle Hampton Messenger Beimel Speier Slaten
Middle Cameron Taschner Brazoban Herges Cruz
Long Ledezma Correia Guo Capellan Petit

How can the Diamondbacks possibly rank at the bottom in this study, you ask?

Well, let's start off by taking a look at the top three pitchers in each bullpen in the following table (Yes, I like tables).

SD 229 15 216 196 51 .590 .633 1.166
SF 197 17 191 127 85 .777 .213 1.401
LAD 255 28 222 279 85 .988 .761 1.204
ARI 233 22 225 165 70 .850 .408 1.266
COL 213 21 191 173 79 .887 .441 1.268
Note: All stats adjusted to nuetral park.

How about a look at just the top two relievers from each team.

SD 138 8 124 130 36 .522 .681 1.159
SF 146 12 139 98 60 .671 .260 1.363
LAD 162 12 131 195 46 .605 .920 1.093
ARI 149 12 125 98 44 .725 .362 1.134
COL 142 15 124 118 45 .951 .514 1.190
Note: All stats adjusted to nuetral park.

Team Analysis:

Padres: The Padres top half of the bullpen is by far the strongest of any NL West team. They are stingy giving up the long ball and any hits at all. Only the Dodgers fair better in the strikeout and walk ratio category.

Giants: Steve Kline is listed at #3 in their bullpen depth chart and he brings down the Giants numbers in the strikeout and walk ratio and WHIP categories. The Giants top two relievers do a good job of supressing the homerun. It's very interesting that the Giants come out in second place in this analysis when on paper they look like they should come in anywhere from 3rd to 5th.

Dodgers: The Dodgers have an excellent 1-2 punch in Saito and Broxton, then a large drop off to Proctor. The Dodgers will suffer greatly if either Saito or Broxton gets hurt. The Dodgers are the only 1-2-3 bullpen to average over a K per inning (9.847). Scott Proctor drags the Dodgers down quite a bit in the HR/9 category. The Dodgers would benefit greatly from having a more effective pitcher pitch in high leverage innings than Proctor.

Rockies: The Rockies are hurt mainly by their tendancy to give up the long ball, otherwise they are a middle of the road bullpen. They could also use another hard throwing strike out pitcher in their bullpen and perhaps a little bit more control wouldn't hurt.

Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks bullpen takes a huge hit in the loss/trade of closer Jose Valverde (K/9: 10.91, K-BB/IP: .808). The Diamondbacks bullpen on paper looks very similar to the Rockies bullpen. The Diamondbacks lack an effective southpaw in their bullpen that most of the other teams seem to have. They may suffer in some late game situations if this problem is not remedied. Brandon Lyon, the Diamondbacks new closer does not tend to give up too many homeruns, but he also does not strikeout too many batters either.