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Joe Nathan continued

April 27, 2012

In response to this article by Tom Tango, one of the kings of the sabermetric (advanced baseball statistics) movement, I create this addendum to my Joe Nathan article.

In the article, Tango clarifies the meaning and uses of RE24, also known as value added by the 24 base-out states. In short, there are 24 possible combinations of outs and baserunners (e.g. no outs, runner on first; two outs, bases loaded). The given base-out state at the time of an event affects the value of the event. Tango writes:

A HR with bases empty has a different impact than a HR with men on base. A strikeout with a runner on 3B with less than two outs is hugely impactful, while with no one on base, it is no different than any other out.

So certain kinds of outs are more important in certain situations, that’s something many of us learned in little league. But the important thing is that the difference is quantified, as in this example:

We see the biggest difference is when you have a runner on 3B and one out: the K value is an enormous -0.60 runs, while all other outs is -0.22 runs.

Because a strikeout keeps the ball out of play, it is more valuable in this situation than, say, a fly ball, which could score the runner if hit deep enough. Everyone knows this, so it is up to the pitcher to strike the batter out, while the batter does everything in his power just to make contact.

This stat is very similar to, but not the same as WPA. For instance, WPA would value a shallow fly ball the same as a strikeout, since neither would advance the runner home. RE24 would always value the strikeout more, which makes it a better metric for evaluating pitchers who can keep the ball out of the defense’s hands in these situations.

Tango concurs that RE24 is useful for evaluating relievers:

RE24 is especially helpful with relievers, as it properly assigns the run values when a reliever enters mid-inning and/or leaves mid-inning.

Only rarely do closers enter games mid-inning, but I figured it would be worthwhile to compare Nathan to Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman and Billy Wagner in this stat regardless.

As in the graphs in the previous article, Nathan rates second-best in his shorter career. Here’s a bar graph of the total RE24 over the players’ best six seasons.

This new (for us, at least) stat only confirms my position: Nathan would be the second-best one-inning closer ever if he can log about four more quality seasons.

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