Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza — Week 22 Individual Rankings

The Individual Reliever Rankings for Week 22. The top-scoring relievers in each category are pictured. AL Middle Reliever - Shawn Armstrong, AL Setup Man - Erik Swanson, AL Closer - Alex Lange. NL Middle Reliever - Jeff Hoffman, NL Setup Man - Andrew Nardi, NL Closer - Devin Williams.
(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) Top Center: MIAMI, FLORIDA - JUNE 20: Erik Swanson #50 of the Toronto Blue Jays delivers a pitch against the Miami Marlins during eighth inning at loanDepot park on June 20, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images) Top right: DETROIT, MICHIGAN - AUGUST 22: Alex Lange #55 of the Detroit Tigers reacts after the final out to beat the Chicago Cubs 8-6 at Comerica Park on August 22, 2023 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Bottom left: PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - AUGUST 25: Jeff Hoffman #68 of the Philadelphia Phillies in action against the St. Louis Cardinals during a game at Citizens Bank Park on August 25, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Bottom Center: PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - SEPTEMBER 08: Andrew Nardi #43 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the seventh inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on September 08, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) Bottom right: MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 02: Devin Williams #38 of the Milwaukee Brewers reacts to a strike out during the ninth inning app at American Family Field on September 02, 2023 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Reliever Roundup & Bullpen Bonanza — Week 22 Individual Rankings

We are at the end of Week 22 of the season. Here are the top ten individual relievers in each league. But these rankings take it to a different level than the other reliever rankings you’ve seen. We will separate our rankings by closers, setup men, and middle relievers. (We’re not going to worry about ranking long relievers.)

Rankings are split into the following categories. These categories encompass what a relief pitcher’s jobs are and are weighted according to importance. We don’t want to get bogged down, so we’ll keep it brief. (Author’s Note: For full details, including the full leaderboards, leave a comment and I’ll be glad to get back to you.)

Setup Men and Closers

Clutch (45% of score) — How well they perform in late innings either while the game is tied or while holding a narrow lead.

Run Prevention (35%) — How well they keep runs off the board, including inherited runners.

Baserunner Prevention (13%) — Who has the lowest WHIP and lowest home run percentage (HR%). WHIP is 85% of the Baserunner Prevention score, and HR% is 15%.

Command (7%) — Who has the best strikeout percentage minus walk percentage (K–BB%).

Middle Relievers

Run Prevention (60%), Baserunner Prevention (26%), Command (14%)

Totaling Up the Scores

The total score in each category is based on the league average. Zero points equals the league average. Positive scores are better than league average; negative scores are worse. The farther their score is from zero — either positive or negative — the farther they are from the league average.

In addition, a player must have at least 20 relief appearances to qualify for these rankings. Players who have played for multiple teams this season are ranked based on their full-season totals, even if they have switched leagues. They are ranked in the league of their current team.

(Note: Due to weighting each score, adding the categories together won’t equal the total score.)

For a full breakdown of each category’s score formula, click here.

Week 22 Individual Reliever Rankings

AL Middle Relievers

Shawn Armstrong of the Tampa Bay Rays takes the #1 position with an overall score of 42.4. Brock Stewart of the Minnesota Twins is second with 37.4. Third place goes to Danny Coulombe of the Baltimore Orioles with a score of 28.9. Tim Mayza and Jay Jackson, both of the Toronto Blue Jays, are fourth and fifth with scores of 27.3 and 26.0, respectively. Coming in sixth is Gabe Speier of the Seattle Mariners with a score of 23.4. Seventh and eighth place go to Robert Stephenson of the Tampa Bay Rays, who began the season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and Ian Hamilton of the New York Yankees. Their scores are 23.3 (combined total) and 22.2, respectively. Sam Hentges of the Cleveland Guardians and Brennan Bernardino of the Boston Red Sox round out the top ten, a flip flop from last week. They came in at 17.5 and 15.8, respectively.

AL Setup Men

Erik Swanson of the Blue Jays leads the AL setup men with an overall score of 146.5. Runner-up Jason Foley of the Detroit Tigers has an overall score of 133.7. Chris Martin of the Red Sox holds third place with a score of 128.5. Justin Topa of the Mariners is in fourth with 117.4. Aroldis Chapman of the Texas Rangers, who began the season with the Kansas City Royals, is in fifth with a combined total of 115.5 between his two teams. In sixth is Colin Poche of the Rays with 113.5. Coming in seventh is Hector Neris of the Houston Astros, scoring 109.7. Matt Brash of the Mariners, Tyler Holton of the Tigers, and Matt Moore of the Guardians, who began the season with the Los Angeles Angels, round out the top ten. Their scores are 107.4, 105.9, and 97.5, respectively.

AL Closers

The leading closer is still the injured Felix Bautista of the Orioles, who scored 248.8. Number two is Alex Lange of the Tigers, who scored 157.6. Yennier Cano of the Orioles and Will Smith of the Rangers are third and fourth with scores of 142.7 and 112.9, respectively. Emmanuel Clase of the Guardians rounds out the top five with a score of 109.5. In sixth is Carlos Estevez of the Angels (108.8), followed closely by Clay Holmes of the Yankees (108.7). Jhoan Duran of the Twins, with a score of 101.0, is in eighth. Jordan Romano of the Blue Jays and Ryan Pressly of the Astros finish off the top ten. Their scores are 87.0 and 81.7, respectively.

NL Middle Relievers

Of NL middle relievers with at least 20 appearances, Jeff Hoffman of the Philadelphia Phillies comes in first with a score of 26.5. Angel Perdomo of the Pittsburgh Pirates (25.4) comes in second. Third and fourth belong to Trevor Megill of the Milwaukee Brewers (23.7) and Kirby Yates of the Atlanta Braves (21.3). Hoby Milner of the Brewers (20.4) rounds out the top five. Steven Okert of the Miami Marlins (18.7) is in sixth, while Ryan Walker of the San Francisco Giants (18.6) is in seventh. Ryan Brasier of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who began the season with the Red Sox, is in eighth with a combined score of 17.6 between the two teams. Dylan Lee of the Braves (17.3) and Tom Cosgrove of the San Diego Padres (16.8) complete the top ten.

NL Setup Men

Andrew Nardi of the Marlins leads all eligible NL setup men with a score of 166.2. Joel Payamps of the Brewers, with 131.0, is second. Tyler Rogers of the Giants is in third (117.6). Fourth and fifth are Julian Merryweather of the Chicago Cubs and Lucas Sims of the Cincinnati Reds, with scores of 101.7 and 94.6, respectively. Colin Holderman of the Pirates is sixth, scoring 84.7. At seventh and eighth are Hunter Harvey of the Washington Nationals and Mark Leiter Jr.of the Cubs. Their scores are 84.6 and 83.1, respectively. David Robertson of the Marlins, who started the season with the New York Mets, and Caleb Ferguson of the Dodgers finish off the top ten with scores of 77.7 (combined) and 74.5, respectively.

NL Closers

The highest-scoring closer in the NL by a wide margin is, once again, Devin Williams of the Brewers, with a score of 247.1. Raisel Iglesias of the Braves is the runner-up, with 184.7, while David Bednar of the Pirates is third, scoring 173.3. Alexis Diaz of the Reds is fourth, with Paul Sewald of the Arizona Diamondbacks in fifth. Their scores are 157.9 and 132.2, respectively, with Sewald’s total including his performance with the Mariners before the July 31 trade. In sixth and seventh are Tanner Scott of the Marlins (130.1) and Kyle Finnegan of the Nationals (123.5). Giovanny Gallegos of the St. Louis Cardinals is eighth (118.5). Rounding out the top ten are Evan Phillips of the Dodgers and Camilo Doval of the Giants. Their respective scores are 111.9 and 104.7, respectively.

Full Leaderboards

AL Middle Relievers, full leaderboard, through end of play 9/7. Minimum of 20 total relief appearances.
AL Middle Relievers, full leaderboard, through end of play 9/7. Minimum of 20 total relief appearances.
AL Setup Men, full leaderboard, through end of play 9/7. Minimum of 20 relief appearances.
AL Setup Men, full leaderboard, through end of play 9/7. Minimum of 20 relief appearances.
AL Closers, full leaderboard, through end of play 9/7. Minimum of 20 total relief appearances.
AL Closers, full leaderboard, through end of play 9/7. Minimum of 20 total relief appearances.
NL Middle Relievers, full leaderboard, through end of play 9/7. Minimum of 20 relief appearances.
NL Middle Relievers, full leaderboard, through end of play 9/7. Minimum of 20 relief appearances.
NL Setup Men, full leaderboard, through end of play 9/7. Minimum of 20 total relief appearances.
NL Setup Men, full leaderboard, through end of play 9/7. Minimum of 20 total relief appearances.
NL Closers, full leaderboard, through end of play 9/7. Minimum of 20 relief appearances.
NL Closers, full leaderboard, through end of play 9/7. Minimum of 20 relief appearances.

Full Score Explanation

For clutch, we will use both the Goose Egg total (33%) and the ratio of Goose Eggs to Broken Eggs (67%) due to the major flaws in Saves and Holds. Full details about Goose Eggs are here. Otherwise, here’s the elevator speech.

A Goose Egg is like a save, except more restrictive. Here are the main points…

  • It’s done inning by inning, starting in the seventh.
  • Maximum of a two-run lead, not three, but it also includes tie games. Like the save, exceptions are made if the tying run is on base or at bat. (Not on deck, however.)
  • Run Breakdown:
    • No run of any kind — earned, unearned, or inherited — scores, it’s a goose egg (GE).
    • Earned run charged to the pitcher, it’s a broken egg (BE).
    • Any other run scores, it’s neither.
    • Earned run scores in an inning where he closes out the victory, it’s also neither.
    • Starts the inning and gives up no runs, but doesn’t finish the inning, it’s also neither.
  • He must finish the inning while recording the following number of outs:
    • No one on when he starts the inning — all three;
    • One on — at least two;
    • Two or three on — at least one.
  • Any time it’s “neither,” it’s called a “Meh,” as in “nothing special.” They’re like a stalemate in chess and count as nothing, so we really don’t talk about them.
  • Most important is the ratio of GE to BE (GE/BE). The historical average, dating to 1921, is 3.0, or 3-to-1.

For run prevention, we will use a mixture of the Scoreless Outing Percentage (Earned Runs only), Inherited Runners Scored Percentage (IS%), and ERA-minus. ScOtg% is 75% of the score, IS% is 15%, and ERA-minus is 10%.

Click here for the full database of these stats.

League Averages for This Week

At the end of play Thursday, September 7, AL averages were 3.0 GE/BE, 4.1 (rounded) GE, 70.9 ScOtg%, 29.1 IS%, 98 ERA–, 1.319 WHIP, 2.8 HR%, 14.3 K–BB%.

NL averages were 3.0 GE/BE, 4.0 (rounded) GE, 71.2 ScOtg%, 31.8 IS%, 95 ERA–, 1.317 WHIP, 2.8 HR%, 14.1 K–BB%.

Click here to return to the rankings.

Also See:

Week 21 Individual Rankings, Week 20 Individual Rankings, Week 16 Individual Rankings.
Week 22 Team Rankings, Week 21 Team Rankings, Week 19 Team Rankings (Midweek Update), Week 18 Team Rankings, Week 16 Team Rankings (Midweek Update), Week 15/All-Star Break Team Rankings

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Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan is the owner and sole contributor of Thompson Talks, a website discussing the Big Four North American Pro Sports as well as soccer. He also is a credentialed member of the Colorado Rockies press corps. His first and biggest love is baseball.

Evan lives in Gilbert, Arizona and loves history, especially of sports. He is the treasurer for the Hemond Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and also is a USSF and AIA soccer referee. He released his first book, Volume I of A Complete History of the Major League Baseball Playoffs, in October of 2021.

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