Shutdowns, Meltdowns, and Saves

While Shutdowns and Meltdowns are a month away from being one year old, they still feel like relatively new statistics to me. They’ve only recently been added to player pages, and although there have been used in a handful of articles on FanGraphs written over the past year, they still aren’t widely used yet. This seems like a crying shame to me, as Shutdowns and Meltdowns are…well, awesome. For the longest time, saberists would denigrate the Save, commenting about how its rules were convoluted, it didn’t properly value relief pitchers, and it put an undo stress on the ninth inning. And all that is true, but we couldn’t get people to stop and listen as we didn’t have any alternatives to point at. Now, though, those days are past.

There are four main reasons why I like Shutdown and Meltdowns, and why I think everyone should use them more often. Let me explain:

1) Shutdowns and Meltdowns are simple and intuitive. While a statistic doesn’t need to be simple and intuitive to be valuable or important – many of our saber stats are rather unintuitive (xFIP, anyone?) – confusing statistics are simply never going to catch on with the general public. VORP was a great concept in the early 2000s, but it had a funny acronym and a confusing methodology, which made it an easy target for mainstream ridicule. Statistics that look familiar and have an easy-to-explain methodology help bridge the gap between mainstream baseball chatter and sabermetric analysis, and they also won’t make you look like a complete tool if you mention them to your friends.

While there are numerous caveats and intricacies to the rules surrounding Saves, Shutdowns and Meltdowns can be summed up in a simple, important question: did a relief pitcher help or hinder his team’s chances of winning a game? If they improved their team’s chances of winning, they get a Shutdown. If they instead made their team more likely to lose, they get a Meltdown. Intuitive, no?

But how do we determine if a relief pitcher helped or hurt his team? Using Win Probability Added (WPA), it’s very easy to tell exactly how much a specific player contributed to their team on a game-by-game basis. If a player increased his team’s win probability by 6% (0.06 WPA), then they get a Shutdown. If a player made his team 6% more likely to lose (-0.06), they get a Meltdown. These cutoff points put Shutdowns and Meltdowns on a similar scale as Saves and Holds, meaning that 40 shutdowns is roughly as impressive as 40 saves. While the WPA aspect can take a bit to explain to saber newbies, having Shutdowns and Meltdowns on the same scale as Saves makes it much easier for new people to accept and understand.

2) They correlate well with Saves and Holds. I think people would have some serious issues if we tried introducing a new statistic that showed Mariano Rivera to be only a middling relief pitcher, no more valuable than Chad Bradford or someone of that ilk. In the words of Tom Tango (I think), a good statistic shows you what you’d expect 80% of the time and surprises you for the remaining 20%.  Here’s a look at the Top 10 relief pitchers since 1995, according to Shutdowns and Saves:

Pretty similar lists, huh? The only big difference is Arthur Rhodes (34 saves over this time period) showing up on the Shutdown list, which goes to show how dominant he was in middle relief. Over this time period (1995-2011), Shutdowns and Saves have a .80 correlation coefficient, while Blown Saves and Meltdowns have a .86 correlation. Both those are very strong correlations, which I think goes to show that while SDs and MDs may be very different from Saves, generally they’re showing similar things.

3) They conceptually break the idea that only the ninth inning is important. Technically any reliever can accumulate Shutdowns. The definition for Shutdowns and Meltdowns doesn’t specify that a pitcher must finish a game: instead, it measures which relievers most helped or hurt their team’s chance of winning. A pitcher could get a shutdown in the 9th inning, 7th inning, 4th inning….whenever. This statistic doesn’t discriminate.

While closers do dominate the Shutdown leaderboard, that’s simply because if a middle reliever is good at containing the opposition, they’ll normally get made into a closer instead of remaining a set-up man. That said, there are still plenty of pitchers with high shutdown totals and low save numbers:

Last season, Daniel Bard was fourth in the league in shutdowns, but he only had 3 saves to his name. Bard actually had more shutdowns than the Red Sox’s closer, Jonathan Papelbon (35). While I’m sure Red Sox fans would have been able to tell you that Bard was a very valuable member of their bullpen, now we have a stat that helps show us how valuable.

4) They help us locate bad relievers. People love to moan about their bad bullpens, but Blown Saves is a very limited statistic: it only comes into play in very specific situations, and it doesn’t capture when a reliever lets the opponent score, say, three runs and come within one run of tying the game. The traditional statistics aren’t that good at capturing sucky relievers, but Meltdowns does a great job of this. Check out the Top 5 relievers in Meltdowns last season:

To be fair, both Tyler Clippard and Peter Moylan had over 15 shutdowns last season; they just had a high number of blown games as well. This is why I like to look at SD:MD ratio, judging how often a pitcher shuts down the opposing team for every time they blow a game. Here are some 2010 numbers (top 7, bottom 7):

Wow, I knew Soriano was good last season, but that’s darn impressive. Too bad he’s already racked up one meltdown so far this season…

For all these reasons, I think Shutdowns and Meltdowns should get a bit more love. They’re a simpler, better way to discuss relief pitcher performances, and they’re also easy enough to understand that saber newbies should be able to pick up on them easily enough. So the next time you’re looking for a way to talk about an awesome or crappy reliever on your favorite team, don’t forget to take a look in the “Win Probability” tab. These stats are too good to get buried or forgotten.

For more on Shutdowns and Meltdowns, see their new FanGraphs Saber Library page. Also, while you’re in the Library, check out our new Contract Details section, which includes information on player options, waivers, and service time.



Print This Post



Steve is the editor-in-chief of DRaysBay and the keeper of the FanGraphs Library. You can follow him on Twitter at @steveslow.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Garrett Atkins' barber
Guest
Garrett Atkins' barber
5 years 4 months ago

Really excellent stuff here, great article, thanks for an interesting read

Jeff
Guest
5 years 4 months ago

Fantastic breakdown Steve! Great work. I hope this stat helps to open the eyes of the general public.

Odd to see Marmol on the Top 7 list considering he looks like one of the more volatile relievers in the league.

fenwik
Member
fenwik
5 years 4 months ago

Marmol seems volatile, but only because of the walks right? But those walks only come back to hurt a guy if someone can actually get a hit off him, which, it’s unlikely. Watching him pitch, it’s fairly obvious that he doesn’t care if he walks a guy or three because he knows he’ll get people to swing and miss at his slider. Seriously, dude struck out 40% of hitters he faced last year. That’s not volatile, thats dominant.

Okay sorry, Marmol love-fest officially over. I’m a fan, what else can I say?

TribeFanInNC
Guest
TribeFanInNC
5 years 4 months ago

I was pleasantly surprised with how much I agree with the premise of this article. Not sure what it would take to make these go mainsteam.

Thanks for the primer and explanation Steve!

Allan
Guest
Allan
5 years 4 months ago

Fantastic article, great stats too. Would really like to see this take a hold in the mainstream.

Ree
Member
Ree
5 years 4 months ago

I like the statistics, but I’m not sure the names are right. For some reason they don’t…flow as well off the tongue. Unfortunately, people tend to place a value on aesthetics of words, even if they don’t necessarily know it, so I’m not sure this will take off.

Charlotte
Guest
Charlotte
5 years 4 months ago

Agreed. “Leads the league in Shutdowns” not only sounds silly, but it doesn’t sound like baseball. Too bad saves and holds are such ridiculous stats, because those are both really evocative, one-syllable names.

Tangotiger
Editor
Member
5 years 4 months ago

Last year, I was asking people for suggestions for names. You can help the party out and make a suggestion.

Why would you complain about a name, but not offer a helpful alternative?

glassSheets
Guest
glassSheets
5 years 4 months ago

I very much prefer SD and MD to SV. But if I have one quibble it is the reliance on WPA which fluctuates with the run environment. While this is an advantage from a statistical standpoint, it hinders its ability to catch on in mainstream. Depending on when the WPA calculation is updated (retroactive to the year or a running five year average – I’m not really sure when), someone could lose spots on the SD leaderboard. I’m fine with that, but everyone else might not be.

Good article and thanks for the reminder on these two(three with the ratio?) under used stats.

Kevin Watanabe-Smith
Member
Kevin Watanabe-Smith
5 years 4 months ago

I’m glad this article was written as I was recently thinking over SD and MD and came across a potential flaw. What are the endpoints of the WPA change attributed to the reliever? Because if it’s simply WP upon entering and exiting the game it would be very inaccurate for relievers who pitch in two different innings, especially if the offense reeled off 3 or 4 runs. It’s not incredibly frequent in the modern game, but it happens, and would have big implications in historical stats.

Another consideration could also be accounting for fielding errors. While the error stat is flawed in and of itself, a passed ball or missed throw could turn a solid outing into a meltdown by no fault of the reliever. Does WPA account for this?

Detroit Michael
Guest
Detroit Michael
5 years 4 months ago

I’d guess
(1) The pitcher’s WPA change only covers the pitching half of the inning. Increases or decreases in win probability by his team’s offense are not credited to the pitcher.
(2) The pitcher’s WPA change does cover whatever happens while he is pitching, even if it is an error or passed ball. Looking at it from a positive viewpoint, it means that WPA depends on changes in the base/out situation while the guy is on the mound, not on subjective determinations of whether fault ought to be assigned elsehwere.

Tangotiger
Editor
Member
5 years 4 months ago

That’s incorrect. WPA is calculated based on when the reliever is actually pitching. So, that means when he enters the game (or inning) and exits the game (or inning).

As for errors (and great fielding plays): too bad. WPA measures the change in winning while that pitcher was pitching. WPA does NOT say that the pitcher “deserves” those wins, but simply says “he was there”.

As it turns out, great relievers happen “to be there” alot when good things happen.

Detroit Michael
Guest
Detroit Michael
5 years 4 months ago

Sounds to me like I got it right. Maybe the “That’s incorrect” was responding to Kevin?

theperfectgame
Member
theperfectgame
5 years 4 months ago

WPA is calculated on a play-by-play basis. So a reliever’s total WPA for an appearance would be the sum of the WPA’s that resulted from each play that occurred while he was actively on the pitcher’s mound.

Yes, the fielding error flaw exists. If, for instance, a reliever enters a game his team is winning in the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs and runners on 2nd and 3rd, and he induces a sky-high infield popup that a clumsy 2B (say, Luis Castillo) drops, then he would be credited with a Meltdown despite doing exactly what his team needed him to do. It ain’t perfect, but it’s good enough enough of the time (for me at least) that I don’t sweat that stuff too much.

fredsbank
Guest
fredsbank
5 years 4 months ago

one of the best articles i’ve read on this site, stuff like this should be on ESPN and USA today to aid the integration of SABR stats more and more

Tangotiger
Editor
Member
5 years 4 months ago

By the way, Bill James said the 80/20 line. I just repeat it.

neuter_your_dogma
Guest
neuter_your_dogma
5 years 4 months ago

80/20 is what I expected.

Tangotiger
Editor
Member
5 years 4 months ago

The discussion for the name took place here:

http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/goodbye_saves_hello_douses/

If you have a suggestion for a better name, feel free to post here or there.

patmccaw
Member
5 years 4 months ago

The merits of SDs and MDs seems to be a theme of the day (http://bit.ly/foiXLf).

What I’d like to know is why we’re only coming up with stats like this for relief pitchers? Wouldn’t tracing key offensive plays (and seriously non-clutch at-bats) for hitters serve the same function? I know this site keeps a count of net WPA, but it already did for RPs anyway.

Also, isn’t using a results based (as opposed to process based, like FIP) stat to evaluate if a player is a “good” or “bad” pitcher only slightly better that W-L or SV-BS? Not to say the methodology is not much better. It is. I just don’t see it getting us any closer to evaluating true talent levels. I guess that’s just not the intent.

Tangotiger
Editor
Member
5 years 4 months ago

“I guess that’s just not the intent.”

Correct. You can’t blame a stat for not doing what it wasn’t supposed to do. It is simply tracking who was involved in games where lots of good (and bad) things happened.

patmccaw
Member
5 years 4 months ago

I get that. However the above article then goes on the use SDs and MDs to judge the skill of various relievers. Stats like this are useful only as an accurate depiction of what happened in the innings in question. Attaching them to a particular pitcher I think can be misleading to some readers.

Tangotiger
Editor
Member
5 years 4 months ago

I wouldn’t use it to judge skill.

But it does give you a good way to highlight some performances that might otherwise be lost to time. The Arthur Rhodes one was a good example, where he had few saves but lots of shutdowns, showing that he was indeed involved in plenty of high-stakes games, and he got out of those games pretty well.

The stat does what it does.

St. Jimmy
Guest
St. Jimmy
5 years 4 months ago

An issue I just thought of, and why someone like Marmol would make a top-7, is that a pitcher who enters the 9th with a one-run lead and walks the bases loaded then strikes out the side will end up with the same WPA as someone who simply enters and strikes out the side. Is this accounted for in any way?

Tangotiger
Editor
Member
5 years 4 months ago

They get the same WPA, they get the same shutdown. What is it you want to “account for”?

St. Jimmy
Guest
St. Jimmy
5 years 4 months ago

It seems weird to me, because allowing the bases to load in a one-run game isn’t anyone’s idea of a shutdown.

How impressive is a statistic that has Bob Wickman (1.40 career WHIP), Todd Jones (1.41 WHIP), Jose Mesa (1.47) and Roberto Hernandez (1.36) on a 15 year leaderboard?

Longevity I can grant all those guys, but dominance? Shutdown ability? These guys didn’t have that.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
5 years 4 months ago

Precisely – if you get from point A (entering the 9th with a one run lead) to point B (closing it out with the lead intact), it ultimately doesn’t really matter if you take the direct route (Billy Wagner-style, he of the 0.998 career WHIP) or scenic route (Jose Mesa-style, he of the 1.472 career WHIP).

Tangotiger
Editor
Member
5 years 4 months ago

Your suggestion therefore is that even though both relievers got out of the inning with no runs allowed, since one did it by allowing 0 runners to reach base and another did it by allowed 2 runners to reach base, then only the first guy shutdown the game?

Wickman had 335 shutdowns and 134 meltdowns in his career. Troy Percival was 362-99.

Clearly, you can’t look at the shutdowns without also looking at the meltdowns.

patmccaw
Member
5 years 4 months ago

What you’re looking for is not really covered in MDs and SDs. But as Tango is emphasizing is that’s not the intent. These are not an all-in-one way of evaluating a pitcher. The inning you describe will be reflected in his BB/9 and FIP.

A pitcher’s MD and SD count will tell you how well he’s done. If you want to know how reliable he’s likely to be in the future (or how lucky he’s been to have his past results) look at his rate stats.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
5 years 4 months ago

I’m not familiar enough to know precisely how WPA works…but wouldn’t a 1-2-3 ninth in a one run game increase win probabity more than a 1-2-3 7th in the same game? (i.e. Team A has much greater chance of coming from behind when there are 7 or 8 outs left, than if they are down to 1 or 2 outs remaining. Would this affect the relievers WPA, even though they provided literally the same performance? )

Sorry, if this is the dumbest question of the day.

Tangotiger
Editor
Member
5 years 4 months ago

You are correct in your understanding.

If they delivered the same performance, why don’t they bring in Mariano Rivera in the 7th inning?

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
5 years 4 months ago

I’m not sure if that question is rhetorical.

Either way, in all seriousness, I ask this question all the time. If better hitters are coming to bat in 7th or (esp.) 8th, why save your best reliever for the 6-7-8 hitters due up in the 9th?

Wouldn’t the middle reliever sitting down say Fielder-Braun-Hart actually increase win probability a lot more than the closer sitting down the Brewers 7-8-9?

tangotiger
Guest
tangotiger
5 years 4 months ago

My question is not rhetorical. I’m asking how do you want to count a Rivera shutout inning in the bottom of the 9th inning (of a win obviously) against a shutout in the bottom of the 7th inning (with the game still in doubt)?

***

Some stats look at the game context, and some, like FIP, don’t. There’s no reason that we need to impose our will on all stats, do we? So, if you don’t care about the game context at all, use FIP or WHIP. If you care a little, use ERA. If you care alot, use WPA.

You have to decide what you care about first, then use the tool for that.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
5 years 4 months ago

Is the last out of a game really worth more than the first or 20th? Not anymore than a win in April is worth less than a win in September. WPA seems to say they are different.

The only context this stat takes into account are “which outs did a pitcher record”. I’m not sure that’s a meaningful context.

Ultimately I think the SD stat is super useful and telling for middle relievers/setup men. For closers I don’t see it as significantly different than SV.

fang2415
Guest
fang2415
5 years 4 months ago

“Is the last out of a game really worth more than the first or 20th?”

Uh, it is if the bases are loaded with the defense up by 1 run. That’s the point of Win Probability Added — if a pitcher gets that out, the likelihood his team will win jumps from iffy to 100%. For the first out of the game, the chance his team wins goes from about 50-50 to just slightly above 50-50.

tangotiger
Guest
tangotiger
5 years 4 months ago

I simply asked IF you want the Rivera shutout in the 9th inning to count identically to the Rivera shutout in the 7th. I didn’t ask WHY. I just need to understand if you do, or don’t, want to count it the same.

matt w
Guest
matt w
5 years 4 months ago

Wouldn’t the middle reliever sitting down say Fielder-Braun-Hart actually increase win probability a lot more than the closer sitting down the Brewers 7-8-9?

Well, the Win Probability stat that we’re looking at doesn’t measure the quality of the hitters faced — as far as the calculation is concerned, every batter is considered the Average Batter for the run environment. (If I’ve got it right.) So while there might be an advantage to using your best reliever against the opponents’ best hitters, even in a situation that’s lower leverage looking only at the score/bases/outs/inning, WPA won’t capture that. It’d probably be pretty hard to model win probability in a way that takes into account the quality of the specific hitters faced.

WPA isn’t unique here, I don’t think; AFAIK there aren’t really any sabermetric stats that consider the quality of the opponents faced. Striking out Pujols in Busch stadium counts the same as striking out Skip Schumaker there. I find it a little odd that more hasn’t been done to measure and account for opponent quality.

tangotiger
Guest
tangotiger
5 years 4 months ago

Opponent quality: because it’s really hard.

gnomez
Member
gnomez
5 years 4 months ago

“Opponent quality: because it’s really hard.” Not to mention, it’s also circular.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
5 years 4 months ago

Newb question.

How is opponent quality circular?

Omman
Guest
Omman
5 years 4 months ago

This is exactly what I was thinking and I guess I don’t understand Tango’s answer.

I am all for a new statistic that weights relievers appropriately and I am no fan of saves and holds but at least with the present statistics the middle reliever has an equal opportunity to accrue some sort of stat.

In the situation above the 7th inning pitcher would get a hold and the ninth a save but with this new stat potentially the 7th inning pitcher would receive neither a shutdown or (obviously) a meltdown but the 9th inning closer would be more likely to collect a shutdown. That just doesn’t seem useful to me but I’m sure I am misunderstanding something.

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
5 years 4 months ago

Agree. SD and MD are far better than SV and H, but that end of game fetish is still in there. It’s like the difference between the videos Rex Ryan watches for free (SVs) versus the stuff he pays for (SDs)-noticably better, but still a little off

fang2415
Guest
fang2415
5 years 4 months ago

I think the key thing to understand here is Leverage Index: http://www.fangraphs.com/library/index.php/misc/li/

The point of Shutdown and Meltdown is that they measure high-leverage performance no matter where it turns up in a game. You’re right that high leverage situations are more likely to happen in the ninth, which is why these stats still reward good ninth inning performance.

But the nice thing about these guys is they also reward high LI situations that happen in other innings. Getting an out when you’re up by one, bases loaded, two outs in the seventh is a lot more likely to affect the game outcome than getting an out while you’re up by two, bases empty, with two outs in the ninth.

So these stats do favor pitchers who often throw in the ninth and therefore face more crucial situations; but unlike saves, they also matter for pitchers who face crucial situations in other innings.

phoenix2042
Member
Member
phoenix2042
5 years 4 months ago

You know MLB2K11 still uses VORP as one of its “advanced statistics.” They also use stuff like secondary average, marginal lineup value, average game score and other stuff that’s not seen much… anywhere. I bet by the time 2K21 comes out, they will have discovered wOBA and FIP! Don’t hold your breath for xFIP though, and nevermind BABIP…

fredsbank
Guest
fredsbank
5 years 4 months ago

BABIP is sketchy enough even with sabremetric community, a unified stand on it must exist before we try to tell the masses about it

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
5 years 4 months ago

“BABIP is sketchy enough even with sabremetric community”

and WAR! Don’t forget about this two-front WAR we’ve been involved in since 2001 or so.

(Aaaaah, topical humor…)

AustinRHL
Member
AustinRHL
5 years 4 months ago

Steve, I think you’re mistaken when you say, “while closers do dominate the Shutdown leaderboard, that’s simply because if a middle reliever is good at containing the opposition, they’ll normally get made into a closer instead of remaining a set-up man.” That’s part of it, but you really should note somewhere in the article that the high correlation of shutdowns with saves is largely a function of the fact that shutdowns are WPA-based, and WPA is much more volatile in the ninth inning than in, say, the seventh.

nate49
Guest
nate49
5 years 4 months ago

I really like the fact that it doesn’t hurt a guy if he comes in with a 10 run lead (or trailing by 10)and gives up a completely meaningless run. It shows up in the ERA but it had nearly no effect on the outcome of the game. That should be number 5 on the list.

Anthony
Guest
Anthony
5 years 4 months ago

i think to get these stats over we need to get a man on “the inside”. By that I mean ESPN. I think Baseball Tonight needs a segment to introduce sabermetrics. Then after a few rounds of this, start using them more frequently.

Personally, I’m not super into sabermetrics, I respect them, but I just don’t have the time to learn them all. I’m in a 300 level college stats class right now so that’s enough stats for me. I follow the easy ones.

Speaking of stats, why don’t we use variance? If Player A hits .300, and by month goes .290, 315, .300, .285, .310, .300, isn’t he a better player than a guy that goes .250, .550, .250, .250, .250, .250? Same thing with home runs and career stats and ERA and pretty much ever other stat.

Baseball is SOOOOOOO much based on consistency. A 90 win team will only win about 11/20 games. You just have to do that everytime. So why don’t we use more stats that are easy to understand (variance)?

Greg
Guest
Greg
5 years 4 months ago

This is likely a stupid question … but here goes.

How does WPA handle inherited runners?

If Joe RP comes in with a runner on 3rd and less than 2 outs a routine fly turns into a run.

If Joe RP inherits no runners a routine fly (of course reasonably deep) seems to be a good outcome.

I would expect the WPA to change differently between the two.

Overall I like the idea allot. I just don’t now enough about WPA to know if the “importance” or “leverage” of the situation is taken into account and how the bad outcomes are allocated are allocated.

I’ll also agree that the quality of the batters faced would be nice to use as a factor. Surely there is some stat that helps differentiate between Albert and Shumacker? I’m not sure which one might help weight it properly but I’m sure some of you rocket scientist will have an opinion.

Would giving bonus points for retiring “murders row” and subtracting some for NL 7-8-9 hitters be so wrong? Maybe you could earn 1.1 shutdowns or 0.9? Same thing for meltdowns. (BTW the names are just fine … abbreviations can come later). I see this as more like a rate stat and not a counting on. You don’t dole out WAR in increments of 1 … why would not fractions of a MD or SD not be ok?

Tangotiger
Editor
Member
5 years 4 months ago

You look at the win probability before the play, the win probability after the play, and apply the difference to the pitcher involved.

Play around with this:
http://www.tangotiger.net/welist.html

Robbie
Guest
5 years 4 months ago

Back to the naming of the stat…

Why don’t we just keep it simple and use “plus/minus”. A shutdown is a + and a meltdown is a -. This way the media team can easily integrate the stat onto broadcasts without having to use a a silly word. It’s about time we had a mainstream stat that gave real value to all those unknown relievers out there.

For example in 2010 Rafael Soriano had a +/- of 41/4. We could then say “Soriano had a plus-minus of 41 and 4” Or we could say “Soriano was a plus 37”. Whichever you choose. For Randy Flores who had 8 SD’s and 15 MD’s we could say “he is a minus 7” or “his plus-minus is 8 and 15”.

Tangotiger
Editor
Member
5 years 4 months ago

You can’t complain that Shutdown and Meltdown are “silly” names and then use something as neutral as “plus/minus” (which itself is heavily used in hockey).

You could apply plus/minus to just whether the batter reached base or not. Got him out? Plus. Got on base? Minus.

C’mon dude. If you are philosophically opposed to creative names, then just say so. Go out on the ledge a little, and come back with something that is non-generic.

neuter_your_dogma
Guest
neuter_your_dogma
5 years 4 months ago

Looking for names, what about a “lock” and a “botch?” My mind likes monosyllabic words.

RobBob
Guest
RobBob
5 years 4 months ago

If a reliever comes into a tie game in the bottom of the ninth with two out and the bases loaded, and proceeds to give up a polite two-hopper to short that the slips through his teammate’s legs for the winning run, he gets credited with a “meltdown”, right?

Seems harsh.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 4 months ago

If we took that approach, we’d only keep a handful of stats … HR, K, etc.

If the same pitcher comes into the game and gives up a screamer down the line that the 3B stabs, he gets credited with a shutdown. Seem charitable?

Here’s the deal with stats … provided a quality setup, they will with enough of a sample, accurately represent what they are designed to do.

We cannot do away with a stat because of potential unfair example.

The Red Sox got tagged with a loss the other day because of bloop single. That seems harsh. Should we change the loss to a win?

What if a batter hits one to the gap that only Carl Crawford can get to, and unfortunatelyy for a our batter he is batting against the Red Sox … so Crawford does get to it. Do we credit him a double because it would have been a 2-bagger against every other team in baseball?

Nah, we’re good. Shutdowns/meltdowns, over enough time, will give a fair representation of just what they are intended to measure/represent.

FWIW, I like the names. Obvious, descriptive, and gits in well with the US’s affinity for extreme dichotomies.

RobBob
Guest
RobBob
5 years 4 months ago

Perhaps I’m more concerned about the terminology then. The poor reliever should, I guess, but “dis-credited” for the result, but with a “meltdown”?

I tend to think of a meltdown as coming into a game in which you turn your team’s good fortune into bad. In particular, if your team is already likely to lose then it’s hard to attribute the ‘meltdown’ to that reliever. I wonder what the stat would look like if meltdowns only occur when the team has a WPA >.5? Those are the culprits I’d like to weed out.

Tangotiger
Editor
Member
5 years 4 months ago

Bill James noted that the biggest problem with Quality Start is that the word used is “quality”. Had we called it a Johnson Game or a Maddux Game, then NO ONE would discuss “uhhhh… is 3 ER in 6 IP reallllllllllllly quality?”

Do people feel they can’t get past the word meltdown in its literal sense?

Noseeum
Guest
Noseeum
5 years 4 months ago

Love the stat. Hate the name. Plus/minus isn’t bad.

“Pitcher X had 10 meltdowns last year.”

He had 10 temper tantrums? The words are too much for the events described. Need something that’s more objective sounding.

Calling this a meltdown would be like calling striking out looking an “epic fail.”. “Hitter X had 30 epic fails last year.”

Too corny. Hold and blown hold would be good but that’s taken. Just one simple word for “he did his job.”

I’ll think on it.

noseeum
Guest
noseeum
5 years 4 months ago

More on the name. Just read an article about Soriano’s meltdown against the Twins, and of course they used the word meltdown. Because that’s what that was. Giving up a 4 run lead is a meltdown for sure. I think that word should be reserved for articles. It shouldn’t be used for a stat.

Still thinking though!

Tangotiger
Editor
Member
5 years 4 months ago

I’m all ears for any non-blah name. Plus/minus is as blah as they come.

Helps and Hurts?

Douses and Firestarters?

Be creative please…

jorgath
Guest
jorgath
5 years 4 months ago

Hmmm…Shutdown seems fine, but maybe go with Shutdown and Screwup?

Robbie
Guest
5 years 4 months ago

“douses and firestarters” “meltdowns and shutdowns”

This kind of terminology will never catch on. Don’t expect Dan Schulman to drop these on SNB.

If there’s a chance this stat will go mainstream it has to have a basic name. I know plus/minus is already used in hockey but that’s ok – it would only help its credibility in terms of “breaking it in”.

You help your team win: plus. You hurt your team: minus. Easy to grasp and understand. Great way to measure relief performance.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
5 years 4 months ago

No broadcaster is going to talk about this stuff no matter what it’s called. It takes too much time to research and explain and the color commentator won’t know anything about it other than “Yeah, that guy was nasty. Sick, wicked nasty.”

Tangotiger
Editor
Member
5 years 4 months ago

What if you get 2 outs, but your WPA was only +.04 wins.

In my case, I don’t count that as a shutdown. But, it’s a “plus” descriptively. How is the guys going to say: “You know, he did his job but… well, it didn’t matter enough… it’s a small plus, and we only count medium and big pluses”.

Anyway, plus/minus has been nominated. I’m rejecting it because it’s too generic, and I don’t think it’s a good enough name.

Is there any other name someone wants to propose? Those who proposed plus/minus can feel free to say that Shutdown name sucks. You did your job by making a suggestion, and that’s all I ask.

Jim Lahey
Guest
Jim Lahey
5 years 4 months ago

I feel like the meltdown stat makes situational relievers look worse than they should. Peter Moylan for instance comes in with 2 guys on base or in a low leverage 6th inning. Basically anytime he gives up a hit in situation 1 he gets a MD.. or gets yankdd from the game. Feels similarly flawed as the save stat to me giving credit to those used in high leverage situations instead of just the 9th. But maybe I’m just misinformed about WPA

tangotiger
Guest
tangotiger
5 years 4 months ago

If he’s coming into the game in a low-leverage situation, he won’t cause a -.06 change in win expectancy.

The definition is quite clear: if you cause more than .06 drop in wins while you are in the game, it’s a “minus”, with whatever word in the english language you want to use.

Why would it matter if you allow -.06 wins on one batter or ten batters?

symonds
Member
symonds
5 years 4 months ago

Not sure why all the hate for Shutdowns and Meltdowns. Maybe the hangup is on single syllable words?

Stops and Yields?

Closers are frequently referred to as stoppers, so this has the benefit of sounding familiar. Yield is frequently used by commentators to describe pitchers giving up runs.

Bascinator
Member
Bascinator
5 years 4 months ago

Very well written article, Steve. Also, great discussions on the meesage board.

Are shutdowns and meltdowns in any way predictable? Do they have strong year-to-year correlation?

noseeum
Guest
noseeum
5 years 4 months ago

How about “flop” for the meltdown side of things?

billy
Guest
billy
5 years 4 months ago

shutdown and letdowns

Kev
Guest
Kev
5 years 4 months ago
David
Guest
David
5 years 4 months ago

I do like the down and down quality of the name. But meltdowns are reserved for a massive blow up. What about shutdowns and letdowns?

wpDiscuz