Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The End of the Bullpen

You might be tiring of reading about the goatpen. I don't blame you if you are. There are very few things more demoralizing than a blown lead late, and we, as a fan base, have experienced that with near groundhog day like repetition. This will not be another analysis of how bad the bullpen is, but more a look at what effect this historically bad bullpen is having on this team.

The Astros are currently 45-93, good for a .326 winning percentage, and have a 7.5 game lead on the Marlins for the worst record in baseball. In other words, that 2014 number one pick is all but locked up. And for that, we can thank(?) the bullpen.

Its very difficult to determine what the Astros record would be if the bullpen was league average, or even not among the worst of all time. But there are a couple ways. For example, teams leading going into the 6th inning have won at roughly a 80% clip this year. The Astros, in contrast, are only 31-24, for a winning percentage of just .564. This is not all the bullpen, as starters have blown some of these leads as well, but if the Astros just converted these opportunities at a league average rate, it would result in 13 more wins. The resulting 58-80 record would put them right between the Cubs and Brewers for the 4th or 5th pick in the draft. Even if the Astros just matched the Cubs .672 winning percentage, second worst in the league, they would have added 6 more wins. Instead of having the #1 pick locked up, they would be a in very close race, with the possibility of even moving up to #3.

Looking at it in a different way, the Astros have scored 536 runs and allowed a league most 732. However, the bullpen has allowed a whopping 295 of those runs. The next worst team, the Mets, have allowed 219 from the bullpen. A teams' Pythagorean record calculates expected won loss record from their runs scored/runs allowed. Although teams consistently outperform and under-perform these predicted results, and in fact the Astros have under-performed their current Pythagorean record by 5 games, it is still a useful tool. If the bullpen allowed runs at a more reasonable rate, say, allowing between 180 to 220, putting them in lower half of the league, it would improve their expected Pythagorean winning percentage to between .408 and .430, potentially placing them at position #3 #4 or #5 in the draft.

This matches up fairly well with what we know of the rest of the team. The offense has scored the 23rd most runs in the league, whereas the starters have allowed the 28th most. Knowing just that, you would expect that team to be bad, but not far away the worst in the league. The extra kick comes from the bullpen.

There is an argument to be made that this is the best possible scenario for the Astros. There is very real value in that number one pick, and if you can improve the offense and starting pitching, while still ensuring that pick through the bullpen, might as well go for it. The bullpen, in theory, should be much easier to fix than the starting pitching and offense. I think people who aren't paying attention might be very surprised at how much better the Astros get next year if Luhnow pays proper attention to fixing this mess in the offseason.

An effective counter argument might go something like this. PLEASE MAKE IT STOP I CAN'T TAKE ANYMORE OF THIS I HAVE NEVER WISHED MORE STRONGLY FOR THE END OF THE SEASON TO COME WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME!!!!!.        

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wins are for losers.

Anonymous said...

Being a winner is really just being the last loser. Loser clubs like Pittsburgh are losers.

AGirlintheSouth said...

Bourbon and baseball...my 2013 combination. If I do it right, by the time the bullpen comes in, I don't care about anything anymore.