Cincinnati Reds Bullpen in Review: 2011 QAR

The season is now complete, so after spending more time than I expected compiling data, it is time to reveal the Cincinnati Reds Quality Appearance Ratio statistics for the 2011 season.  As we move through the off-season, I will periodically add more teams to the discussion until we have a complete picture of how consistent each reliever in the National League is.

As mentioned, today we will focus on our hometown Cincinnati Reds.  The Reds have offered a mixed bag.  If you followed our BRM NL Central Awards and in particular the piece I wrote about pitching in the Central you will recall two relievers were recognized for exceptional performance throughout the season.  Those two are closer Francisco Cordero and left handed specialist Bill Bray.  In addition, if you follow me on Twitter at all you know that I have been hyper critical of Nick Massett.  So today we will discover a few truths that may surprise.

First lets revisit what a Quality Relief Outing is.  When I first devised this statistic, I wanted to find a way to look objectively at relief pitchers.  We can look at Wins and Losses but they rarely tell any story regarding a reliever.  Strikeouts are great because they keep the ball from entering the field of play but they still don’t give a sense of how much trust a manager might have when bringing a pitcher in from the bull pen.  ERA is inconsistent because a reliever can be called from the pen 8 times for an inning a piece and allow no runs, but if he allows 5 earned runs in the 9th outing his ERA shoots to 5.

So here are the criteria I devised for a better look at the quality of a reliever:

Criteria for a Quality Relief Outing (QRO)

  1.   Reliever allows no inherited runners to score.
  2.   Reliever records at least one out.
  3.   Reliever allows no runs to score or maintains a 3.00 ERA in extended outings.

Criteria for a Failed Relief Outing (FRO)

  1. Reliever allows an inherited runner or runners to score.
  2. Reliever records no outs.
  3. Reliever does not maintain a 3.00 ERA for the relief outing.

Criteria for a No Decision Outing (ND)

  1. Reliever allows more hits/walks than outs but allows no runs to score.
  2. Reliever gives up unearned runs but no earned runs.

I use a number of abbreviations in the tables so they must also be defined:

  • RA   = Relief Appearances:  Total # of Relief Appearances
  • QRO = Quality Relief Outing:  # of Appearances where more outs are recorded than hits + walks and a 3.00 ERA is maintained for the relief appearance.
  • FRO  = Failed Relief Outing:  # of Appearances where earned runs are allowed, inherited runners score or no outs are recorded.  (See ERA allowance in the QRO description
  • ND =  No Decision.  Does not meet the criteria for a QRO or a FRO
  • QAR  = Quality Appearance Ratio:  QRO/RA
  • FAR   = Failed Appearance Ratio:  FRO/RA

Now that you have the basis for the discussion lets see how the Reds relief corps performed!

Cincinnati Reds 2011 Relievers

The truth is when I made my selections for Central reliever of the year I decided not to use this data and rely on my intuition and the flawed numbers I referenced.  If I had I might have given more credit to Aroldis Chapman for one who turns out to be the most successful setup man on the team.  I would never have imagined that Nick Masset recorded a higher portion of successful outing than Bill Bray because Masset’s meltdowns were more brutal.  But when Dusty Baker looks to the bullpen, these percentages are the level of confidence he has for each of the pitchers.  Arrendondo, Bray, Masset and Ondrusek are all just 3 percentage points apart in their success rate.  None were as bad as we thought or as good as we wished them to be.  Francisco Cordero played as we should expect.  He had a few bad outings, 14 to be exact.  The one No Decision was actually his final miraculous save of the season when against all odds he walked 4 batters and allowed no runs.  But aside from giving me a sour stomach he allowed more hits/walks than outs 4-3.

Please comment on the formula.  I have tweaked this a couple of times based on input received.  This is by no means a definitive statistic as I did not include hit batters for instance, but I think it is a fair representation of the true quality of each pitcher this season.

Stay tuned for more QRO articles covering the NL Central first, then the National League.  If any trades occur during the off season that involve AL Relievers, I will analyze them as well.

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