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  1. When did Kenley Jansen become the Dodgers closer? I know the fantasy community would love it, but the indications are that Javy Guerra will start as closer (and that there isn’t going to be a competition in spring training).

    I had seen a suggestion, also, that Vinnie Pestano might not be second in line in Cleveland, as he has a lot of difficulties with lefties. Would you agree with that?

    Comment by Simon — February 10, 2012 @ 9:31 am

  2. I think everyone is looking for the next Kimbrel and based on Jensen’s absurb K/9, people think he will automatically get the opportunity.

    I agree with Simon–I believe Mattingly has said that Guerra will get the first crack at the job, but we’ll see as the spring unfolds.

    I found the lefty-closer splits pretty telling. Thornton had a roller coaster ride last season and Addison Reed is waiting in the wings.

    It’ll be interesting to revisit this article later in the year.

    Comment by Matt V — February 10, 2012 @ 9:45 am

  3. I just took the closers from MLBdepthcharts:

    I figured they would have more knowledge then me on the subject.

    2. Wow, I didn’t know his numbers were that bad. 4.1 K/BB vs RHH, 1.4 vs LHH. Definitely an issue.

    Comment by Jeff Zimmerman — February 10, 2012 @ 9:49 am

  4. I think it’s a little misleading to conclude that Bailey should be outright avoided. He’s excellent against righties, in the top five on the list, so the fact that he has an average-ish FIP against lefties makes his split look like more of a red flag than it is. Is he an elite closer? No. Should we “stay away from [him]?” Maybe at his current ADP (which would have been helpful to see) but I’d sure rather have him than a lot of guys on this list, including some on your “safe” list like Frank Francisco and Jim Johnson.

    Maybe you’re just saying that he’s more likely to lose his job than mediocre but steady guys like Francisco and Johnson but that has a whole lot more to do with the manager and the organization than handedness splits. If Francona were still in Boston then Bailey’s leash would be about a mile long but who knows with Valentine. That would have been a fantastic addition to this piece if you’re going to strongly recommend against Bailey, a detailed look at Valentine’s career in terms of bullpen usage and defined roles.

    Comment by Aaron — February 10, 2012 @ 10:12 am

  5. Aaron, I think this (and most of these types of advice articles) means to avoid Bailey relative to his current ADP/MDP or auction price. As the closer in Boston he’s looked at as a 2nd tier closer due to injury risk. However if he has problems against LHHs, and specifically the Yankee LHH, that’s more risk than most people are expecting. I’d still rather have him than Franky Francisco though. Of course there are dental procedures that I’d rather have than Franky. :)

    Comment by JR Ewing — February 10, 2012 @ 10:31 am

  6. I’m not sure we should worry about platoon splits very much at all in terms of closer performance (versus how good the closer is overall). If we look at just guys who were closers all of last year, it looks like they face RHH about 46% – 58% of the time, not a huge spread. Steven Goldman pointed out a few days ago that in the AL (the DH league) teams only use on average about 0.75 pinch hitters per game. Furthermore, to the limited extent that teams adjust their personnel to take advantage of closers’ platoon tendencies, is it that much greater than what they do when guys are pitching in a set-up role in the 8th inning?

    I do know that it is harder for a LHP pitcher to become a closer, but that’s more due to managerial preference and the difficulty in finding another quality LHP to handle matchups earlier in the game. For example, see Gardenhire’s comments about Glen Perkins.

    Comment by Detroit Michael — February 10, 2012 @ 10:55 am

  7. Is League really that bad? His ERA might have been a little lower than expected thanks to a low HR/FB, but at the same time his strand rate was pretty terrible as well. His K rates are low, but they seem artificially low based on his swinging strike rate. To me, he’s a solid closer with a good chance of being cheap come draft day.

    Comment by Andrew — February 10, 2012 @ 12:27 pm

  8. I agree. I think the problem is that there’s just no “there” here. It totally seems like splits might be useful when evaluating closers but in reality I don’t think it makes a lick of difference.

    “Truthfully, I expected to find a little more useful data on handedness splits to help fantasy owners stay way from certain pitchers.”

    That’s really the bottom line, here. Stretching to make it seem like we found even a few guys to avoid is the problem.

    Comment by Aaron — February 10, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

  9. I totally agree, Aaron. Why avoid Bailey but not J.J. Putz? Bailey is better against LHB and RHB, it’s just that he’s *so* much better against righties that he has a large platoon split.

    Comment by David — February 10, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

  10. Untrue. Your causation is flawed. If teams started using LH closers with massive splits, opponents would start pinch hitting much more often. There is no static rule saying how often teams choose to pinch hit. They do so based on a calc. of how much edge it gains them, minus the penalty of losing the orig. player. Facing RH closers with small expected splits minimizes this edge and makes pinch hitting generally unattractive in most situations.

    Comment by evo34 — February 12, 2012 @ 8:00 pm

  11. This is good work. People often get too excited about a LH closer prospects without taking a close look at his splits (incl. in the minors to give proper sample size).

    Comment by evo34 — February 12, 2012 @ 8:02 pm

  12. My only suggestion would be to show IP in your table above, as R/L splits take a long time to become predictive.

    Relatedly, is there any chance FG could provide minor league splits? They seem to get minor league stats already form MLB, so I imagine getting/publishing split data would be feasible (?)

    Comment by evo34 — February 12, 2012 @ 8:04 pm

  13. One final point: for low sample sizes (say, less than 300 IP), it may make sense to look at xFIP instead of FIP. The assumption being that there have not been enough innings for the HR/FB rate to stabilize and become predictive. This is obviously worth further study, but I do believe it makes sense in principle. For the Bailey example, his xFIP difference is only 0.85 (vs. 1.50 for FIP). He has given up 3 HR vs. RHB and 8 HR vs. LHB. These numbers are low enough that I would be much more comfortable using xFIP than FIP for future projections.

    Comment by evo34 — February 12, 2012 @ 8:11 pm

  14. Craig Kimbrel: .01


    Comment by Chad — February 13, 2012 @ 1:01 am

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