Yesterday, Francisco Rodriguez became the faster pitcher ever to get to 40 saves, doing it on July 20th, in the Angels 98th game of the season. Last year, he didn’t get his 40th save until the Angels’ 162nd and final game of the season. He’s on pace for 66 saves, which would shatter the record of 57 that Bobby Thigpen set in 1990.
Some may guess that K-Rod has just padded his total, racking up cheap saves by coming in with two or three run leads, but it just isn’t true. Rodriguez has a pLI of 2.63, giving him the highest leverage index of any reliever in 2008. A 2.63 pLI is extraordinarily high – the second highest season total in the last 10 years belongs to Troy Percival in 2000, when he had a 2.57 pLI that year. Thigpen had a 2.05 pLI, by the way.
However, despite successfully converting 40 saves with the highest leverage index in the league, K-Rod is still just 3rd among major league relievers in WPA, behind both Joe Nathan and Brad Lidge. Why? Two reasons:
In those two games, Rodriguez racked up a nifty -1.55 WPA. Ouch. That’s rough.
However, two bad games don’t spoil a season, and K-Rod is having one of the best relief seasons in history. At this point, it will be a minor upset if he doesn’t break the all time single season save record, and he’s done it while leading the league in leverage – that’s impressive.
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