Sunday, December 29, 2013


A quick look at the individual landscape that has come into play in the "non-save situation" (NSV) over time (with especial emphasis on the last decade or so)...

What the heck is Mariano Rivera doing in an essay dealing with
pitcher wins in non-save situations? 
While overall decisions are up (an all-time high of 26% of all decisions came from NSV situations), the wins and losses are spread around in a random pattern. Ironically, the explosion of roster slots devoted to relievers and the increasing "specialization" of the bullpen is giving more relievers access to (what we demonstrated in Part 2) "tie game" point-of-entries.

In the 1980s, there were 23 pitcher-seasons in which a reliever won ten or more games in NSV situations. That figure dropped to 10 in the 1990s (though there were 17 additional pitcher-seasons with 9 wins). Since 2000, there have been only seven such seasons (last pitcher to do so: Alfredo Aceves in 2009).

From 1986-1999 (the fourteen-year period adjacent to 2000-13), there were four pitchers who had 50+ wins in NSV situations (Roger McDowell, Eric Plunk, Mike Henneman, and Paul Assenmacher). Over the last fourteen years (2000-13), no pitchers have come close to winning 50 games in these situations; only two pitchers (Mariano Rivera, with 42; Octavio Dotel, with 41) are over 40.

And yet there are more NSV decisions than ever before.

Who are the relievers with the best lifetime WPCT in NSV games? Using 20 wins as a minimum, there are five pitchers with .800+ WPCTs: Doug Bird (.824, 42-9); that man Aceves again (.815, 22-5); Wes Stock (.813, 26-6); Brendan Donnelly (.806, 29-7), and Grant Balfour (.800, 28-7). Keeping in mind that the NSV category is not a zero-sum (or, in this case, a .500 proposition), you might not be surprised to discover that the lowest WPCT for pitchers with 20+ wins is not shockingly low (.438, or 21-27, compiled by Dan Wheeler).

The worst individual season for a reliever with 10 or decisions was turned in by the Red Sox' Jim Willoughby in 1976: he went 2-10 in NSV situations. Willoughby had a 2.60 ERA over 72 IP in such situations that year. That's what one can call a nightmare season.

You know, now that we look at him a bit more closely,
Eddie Yuhas really does sort of resemble a...a vulture!!
As you might expect, our old pal Roy Face has the best-ever single-season WPCT in NSV situations, going a cool 13-0 for the Pirates in 1959. (As you probably recall, he was 18-1 for the year). Two other pitchers went 11-0 over a single season: the aforementioned Mike Henneman for the 1987 Tigers, and Matt Herges--who did the same thing for the 2000 Dodgers.

You may not be all that surprised to discover that Phil Regan, on his way to a celebrated year as all-purpose bullpen ace for the 1966 edition of the Dodgers, went 12-1 in NSV situations. But you will probably be astonished to discover that Eddie Yuhas went 11-1 in such situations for the 1952 St. Louis Cardinals. (Actually, you are saying--in spite of yourself--"Who is Yuhas?"...yes, you know you are.)

Naturally, Eddie is the answer to the question "Who is the fifth guy in MLB history to go 11-1 in NSV situations, behind Bob Stanley, Doug Bird, Charley Kerfeld and Al Hrabosky?"). Unlike the rest of those guys, however, that 1952 season was effectively Eddie's only year in MLB. A starter (and an indifferent one, at that) in the minors, Yuhas became a bonafide "vulture" in his rookie season, but tendinitis left him permanently on the sidelines after just two games in '53.

Who had the most lifetime NSV wins? Na-ah. You'll have to come back for that...