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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Saving The Saves Stat: Angels 5, Mariners 2

The two obvious highlights of this game are Juan Rivera's 4-for-4 night with a trio of doubles and a home run, and K-Rod claiming the major league single-season saves stat as his own. As the latter is going to take up plenty of space discussing on its own, I'll start with the former to get it out of the way.

Last night was only the second time in Juan's career he's posted a game with three doubles (the other was on June 27, 2005 as an Angel), and the third time in his career he's hit for ten total bases (September 27, 2003 as a Yankee versus the Orioles, and August 18, 2005 as an Angel against Tim Wakefield and the Red Sox). He came up lame on the final hit, a double that ended in a hip flexor strain. Mike Scioscia brought in pinch-runner Gary Matthews, Jr., who eventually scored on Brandon Wood's RBI single. Lost amidst the other fine performances, Wood had his third multi-RBI game in the majors, and that shouldn't be overlooked.

Frankie got to 58 saves on a three-run lead, it will be long noted by his many detractors; Seitz has already mentioned his sustained dominance over a long haul, and how, despite the closer being overrated, Frankie's still a damn good pitcher. His peripherals, like his slider, are deceiving; true, he's down for the year (both his 10.35 K/9 and 2.31 K/BB are under his career 11.74 K/9 and 2.98 K/BB marks), but he's improved toward the end of the season:

Month     K/9    K/BB
April    6.94    1.00
May      8.76    1.71
June     9.53    2.40
July    12.00    2.29
August  14.73   18.00
Sept.   10.50    2.33
Earlier in the season, Dave Cameron reviewed Frankie's saves and concluded that
Some may guess that K-Rod has just padded his total, racking up cheap saves by coming in with two or three run leads, but it just isn’t true. Rodriguez has a pLI of 2.63, giving him the highest leverage index of any reliever in 2008. A 2.63 pLI is extraordinarily high - the second highest season total in the last 10 years belongs to Troy Percival in 2000, when he had a 2.57 pLI that year. Thigpen had a 2.05 pLI, by the way.
Frankie's come down a bit from those totals, currently owning a 2.57 pLI (leverage index). That's still damned impressive, and while yesterday's game was an example of a save situation where almost no leverage was involved, the Angels ought to be immensely grateful for the years he's been here to nail down the ninth.

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