Part two of this look at what happened to "high workload" relievers in the year after they led the league in relief IP covers the years 1971-1984.
The chart shows that in the early 70s a few exceptional pitchers were able to build on high workload and sustain their success, at least for several years (Marshall, John Hiller, Rollie Fingers, Pedro Borbon, Goose Gossage), but that effect was short-lived. By the early 80s we see the high workload guys break down in terms of IP and ERA+ just as much as was the case in the 1957-70 data.
Thanks to the performances in the early 70s, this group loses less ground in terms of IP--falling off only about 21% (instead of the 27% for the 1957-70 group).
In terms of ERA+, however, the results are remarkably similar. The performance drop was 20.3% in the next year for the workload leaders in 1971-84, compared with 22.5% for the workload leaders in 1957-70.
Several of the workloads in the AL during the early 70s (Hiller and Lindy McDaniel) are notably different in that these pitchers would throw three or more innings at a rate much greater than anyone else in the time frame (and, quite possibly, in any time frame). Those seasons probably warrant closer examination just due to their anomalous nature; we'll delve into that after the conclusion of this series.
Working a reliever hard is clearly showing up as a poor long-term (or even "medium-term") strategy. We don't figure anyone will be surprised when individual reliever workload levels start to nosedive in our next fourteen-year period (1985-1998). Stay tuned.