Pittsburgh Pirates Bullpen in Review: 2011 QAR


The 2011 campaign is a tale of two seasons for the 2011 Pittsburgh Pirates.  Mired in futility for the previous 18 seasons Clint Hurdle swept into Pittsburgh this year and brought with him a different attitude and a desire to wipe away the past.

If you took a poll around Pittsburgh on opening day asking where everyone figured the Pirates would be in the standings 100 games into the season and there is a strong chance no one would have suggested the Pirates would be in first place.  No one.  Yet on July 27th that is where the Pirates found themselves.  That is also the day they began a descent of epic proportions.

There are a lot of ways to quantify the fall of Clint Hurdle’s team.  We could examine the starting rotation, the lack of any offensive punch all season, but today we will take a look at the bullpen.  As most relievers tend to finish the season with a success rate between 60 and 70 percent the deciding factor between success and failure can be just the shear number of relief appearances.  During the Pirates first 100 games they had 324 for an average of 3.24 relief appearances per game.  During the last 62 games they averaged 3.63 appearances per game creating more opportunities to fail when all things are equal.  The truth is of course things are never equal and momentum tends to affect the whole team not just one or two parts.  First lets again refresh ourselves on the Quality Appearance concept:

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 let’s look at the Pirates bullpen for 2011 using the Quality Appearance Ratio (QAR):

The results of the year tell the story.  Ten men appeared in 20 or more games during the season, 4 of those appeared in 70 or more games.  If the expected standard of performance is a QAR of at least 70% then of these 10 only two of them, Jason Grilli and closer Joel Hanrahan have met the standard.  Hanrahan’s total will place him among the league leaders and he stands out for maintaining a consistent performance all season long.  Jose Veras and Daniel McCutchen both achieved a high number of QROs but they both had 24 failed outings reducing their effectiveness somewhat.  The two pitchers who struggled the most are Chris Resop and Joe Beimel who managed a QAR of just 57% and 54% respectfully.  Worse, Beimel had a failure ratio of 43%.  This fundamental breakdown indicates a need to access their usefulness on this team.  More importantly for Reds fans these are the kind of pitchers that Walt Jockety must avoid in order for the Reds to find success.

Follow me on Twitter as we continue to review the QAR results across the National League @JohnHeitz