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  1. “The big difference between being a middle reliever and a closer isn’t the mentality or the preparation, but instead, the distribution of batters faced.”

    Every mainstream journalist who writes about Major League Baseball should memorize that sentence.

    Comment by Mike G. — February 24, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

  2. No Tanner Scheppers mention? Given that the Rangers aren’t opposed to handing late-inning reliever roles to guys with very few innings under their belt, I see Scheppers as a very realistic possibility.

    Comment by Matt — February 24, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

  3. As a Scheppers owner in a keeper league, I hope you are right.

    Comment by suicide squeeze — February 24, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

  4. doesn’t Tanner Scheppers at least deserve a mention as a possibility?

    Comment by d_i — February 24, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

  5. From my understanding of the situation (and as reported by guys like Evan Grant here), Scheppers would only be in the mix for a setup role if Ogando or Lowe ended up getting the closer’s job. Otherwise, he’s being groomed as a starter. I haven’t seen any mention of him as a serious candidate for the closer’s role.

    Comment by Dave Cameron — February 24, 2011 @ 12:46 pm

  6. Of course Washington prefers Feliz in the 9th inning role. From a job security standpoint, there is no downside to keeping Feliz where he is, as no one is going to think to blame the Rangers’ lack of open-mindedness if their 5th starter craps the bed.

    Comment by Oakland Dan — February 24, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

  7. FWIW, Ogando looked pretty nasty in the postseason last year.

    58 PA is a pretty small sample size, no?

    Comment by Scout Finch — February 24, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

  8. In the long run, sure. But right now? No. I don’t see the Rangers installing Scheppers as a closer right away. Scheppers may reach Arlington this year, but likely in the same role that Feliz had in 2009, pitching 1-2 innings in the 6th-7th and occasionally the 8th.

    Comment by t ball — February 24, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

  9. I would love Washington to do as you suggest, and choose that day’s closer based on the situation, but I’d be shocked as hell to actually see him do it.

    Comment by t ball — February 24, 2011 @ 1:45 pm

  10. That idea sounds better in theory than it would play out in reality

    Comment by mister_rob — February 24, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

  11. Sir, you did not mention Darren O’ Day, one of the best relief pitchers in baseball!

    Comment by Bravesfan — February 24, 2011 @ 2:27 pm

  12. A lot of teams would fare better if they did that. At least that’s what the numbers tell me.

    Comment by adohaj — February 24, 2011 @ 2:28 pm

  13. Who cares who “closes”? A starter is far more valuable.

    Comment by GiantHusker — February 24, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

  14. Alexi Ogando’s fantasy owners, that’s who. Sheesh.

    Comment by Pierre — February 24, 2011 @ 2:51 pm

  15. A Dave Cameron article using single-season splits as definitive evidence of a platoon split? Haven’t you written the exact same article saying that single-season splits for relievers are literally meaningless? The biggest sample among those stats has got to be, what, 35 IP?

    Comment by Oscar — February 24, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

  16. Not when you’re comparing these 4 relievers in a vacuum, like he is here.

    Comment by Matt — February 24, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

  17. I’m in an AL only 4X4 12 team keeper league! 2 closers wins you the category, and I have the chance to trade for Scheppers. So I care! Go read up on Nick Blackburn!

    Comment by SKob — February 24, 2011 @ 3:22 pm

  18. Kinda makes trading Frankie Francisco look a lot more questionable.

    Comment by Jesse — February 24, 2011 @ 3:57 pm

  19. I have no idea how “comparing them in a vacuum” justifies anything at all. Judging things on small sample sizes still results in (nearly) meaningless conclusions.

    Comment by hunterfan — February 24, 2011 @ 4:14 pm

  20. You neglect to mention one other guy the Rangers have on their staff: Darren O’Day.

    Not sure where to find the splits for FIP, xFIP, and the counting stats per nine, but I wouldn’t be suprised if his were just as good if not better than Oliver’s. Anybody know where to find them?

    Comment by hunterfan — February 24, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

  21. so sample size doesn’t mater so long as you compare sets of data that have similarly small sample sizes?

    Pretty sure that’s not how statistics works.

    Or to take it to an extreme… if you compared platoon splits of 4 relievers based on their work in September, it’d be OK so long as each of them had pitched similar innings?

    Dave should have regressed this… kind of painful and a chore, but the conclusion may have been different. He could have at least looked at career #’s or a 3 year sample size for the pitchers who had them, unless he felt they had changed their pitching style in the last year.

    Career FIP splits (same hand/opposite hand)
    Darren Oliver 3.90 / 4.39
    Arthur Rhodes: 2.62 / 3.61 (still significant but not as dramatic)
    Mark Lowe: 2.90 / 5.52 (though xFIP’s are within a run)
    Ogando… is only that one year sample size

    And these are non-regressed #’s….

    Comment by joe — February 24, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

  22. Precisely. Lots of downside if you try something new and fail (he ruined his arm! Our bullpen is a mess!) but you can (and most managers do, for job security purposes) always play it safe, risk-averse and do what everyone else does (keep the ‘established’ closer and try a mishmash of stuff in the 5th starter slot to see what works).

    Comment by Jason B — February 24, 2011 @ 4:45 pm

  23. Too lazy to pull it all, but here’s FIP and xFIP

    O’Day vs. Righties 2010: 3.62 FIP, 3.73 xFIP
    O’Day vs. Righties Career: 3.14 FIP, 4.02 xFIP

    O’Day vs. Lefties 2010: 3.19 FIP, 4.86 xFIP
    O’Day vs. Lefties Career: 3.80 FIP 4.12 xFIP

    All this data was found on the splits tab of Darren O’Day’s page on this wonderful secret baseball site called fangraphs.com.

    Comment by Kevin — February 24, 2011 @ 6:34 pm

  24. Aww hell, here’s his career rate stats:

    Versus lefties: 6.87 K/9 2.72 BB/9 0.80 HR/9
    Versus righties: 7.27 K/9 2.26 BB/9 0.42 HR/9

    Comment by Kevin — February 24, 2011 @ 6:37 pm

  25. Radical? Or impractical? Do you want to explain the logistics of how this would work? Do you save all 4 for the ninth, or just 2? And if you’re saving these guys for the ninth, you’ll be exposing other relievers to poor matchups in the 7th and 8th.

    Comment by huh? — February 24, 2011 @ 7:23 pm

  26. Well if Feliz starts, wouldn’t that push Holland out of a rotation spot most likely? He has closer stuff in short stints. Maybe even Kirkman?

    Scheppers has the arm to do it.

    Comment by johan — February 25, 2011 @ 2:01 am

  27. Dave makes a key assumption — that middle relievers with platoon splits are used in a way to minimize the number of opposite-handed hitters.

    But at least in the case of Darren Oliver in 2010, that assumption is false.

    Here’s a breakdown in 2010 of the handedness of the batters faced by Feliz and Oliver:

    Feliz (R) 131 TBF v. L 138 TBF v R
    Oliver (L) 113 TBF v L 131 TBF v R

    So Feliz faced opposite-handed batters 49% of the time in 2010 while Oliver faced opposite-handed batters 54% of the time.

    And despite facing a greater percentage of opposite-handed hitters, Oliver was more effective overall, at least if xFIP is the measure, with a 2.86 xFIP compared to Feliz’s 3.68 xFIP.

    To understand why, there is another split at play and one that may be just as important as handedness for a pitcher who earns half his pay in the hitters paradise of Arlington: home/away splits.

    Feliz was strong on the road but was mortal at home, posting an xFIP of 3.03 in away games and a 4.13 xFIP at The Ballpark. By contrast, Oliver posted a nearly identical road record — a 3.09 xFIP — but was even better at home with a 2.62 xFIP. A look at his numbers shows why: A remarkable ability to adjust. Oliver’s k-rate dropped at home from 10.4 to 8.5 but his walk rate shriveled, from 3.09 to 1.21.

    It seems to me the ability to adapt to a tough home park is as critical to a closer as the ability to overcome the natural platoon splits, and if that is true, then Oliver showed a great deal of promise in 2010.

    Comment by rotofan — February 25, 2011 @ 6:35 am

  28. Didn’t they trade a decent closer to Toronto to pick up Nap?

    Seems like poor planing on the Rangers part, first in telling Young we need you at 1B/DH…then get another platoon guy that bats from the same side that is 1B/C/DH…then don’t unload the Young (contract), all along while not exactly knowing on what they are doing with the Feliz?

    Too many chiefs, not enough indians?

    Comment by CS Yankee — February 25, 2011 @ 9:25 am

  29. yes, but then dave’s argument doesn’t work, so we’re pretending the sample is sufficient.

    Comment by this guy — March 26, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

  30. Internet Sabermetrics = Sample bias for the sake of generating hits on a blog.

    Comment by this guy — March 26, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

  31. This response destroys Dave’s articles for so many reasons.

    Comment by this guy — March 26, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

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