Jorge Who-lio?

Exhibit No. 2,145 in why saves are an overvalued stat:

Reliever X allowed 10 home runs in 61 2/3 innings in 2003, 11 in 69 innings in 2004, 14 in 71 2/3 innings in 2005 and 10 in 66 in 2006. That’s 45 homers in 268 1/3 innings over the past four years.

Reliever X averaged more than 4.7 walks per nine innings in three of those seasons.

Yes, Reliever X has some nice strikeout rates, but when you average a home run every 6 innings and a walk every 2 innings, you’re not an ace.

Yet Jorge Julio has 99 career saves, so he’s a Capital-C Closer. He’s making 3.6 million this year, and he made 2.5 million last year. The Cardinals were supposedly in the mix for him, and it seemed very puzzling — who, exactly, is he better than in the current STL bullpen? The Marlins just gave up a guy who still has some prospect status (Yusmeiro Petit) to get him. And they’re going to make him their Capital-C Closer. Because he’s done it.

The point is not, necessarily, that just any schlub can be a good late-inning reliever. The point is that just having saves doesn’t make you a good pitcher. Cardinals fans, be glad that your team didn’t part with anything precious, or even semi-precious to get Jorge Julio.

-M.

3 Comments

Wow! Good stuff, Mathhew. I learned something there. Apparently a save by any other name would not smell as sweet (with apologies to William S). Just how should one go about evaluating closers? Inherited runners stranded? Clearly a save when it is a one run game and runners in scoring position and no outs when the releiver comes in, is much more valuable than one in which there is a three run lead and the reliever comes in for one easy inning against the bottom of the line up. We have wins, losses, quality starts, holds and saves… maybe we need something to diferentiate saves and quality saves?

Harlan K, Manchester, Iowa

I never understood the interest in JJ. I get more Orioles games on TV where I live than any other team and saw him give up HR after HR in late innings during his time in Baltimore. We were so happy to hear he’d gone to the Marlins.

My family lives in south Florida, and as fans of the Marlins and Dolphins, watch poor roster moves year after year. I applaud the wisdom of the Cardinals organization. They seem to spend their money wisely, and get the most and the best out of their players. It is indeed great to be a Cardinal fan.

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