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.