Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza — Week 23 (Sep 11 to Sep 17) Team Rankings

Jordan Romano celebrating with Alejandro Kirk. Their Toronto Blue Jays are second in the AL and third overall in Week 23's bullpen/reliever/relief corps rankings
(Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza — 9/11–9/17 Team Rankings

We are beginning the 23rd week of the season. Here are the team bullpen/reliever/relief corps rankings as we enter the final three weeks of the season. The leader has remained the same since these rankings first ran, but another team almost passed them. An AL Wild Card contender leapfrogged six teams to enter the Top Three. And the AL and NL leaders each have around twice as many points as their league’s runners-up.

Statistics are through the end of play Sunday, September 10 and only include each reliever’s stats with his current team. In addition, the team stats only include pitchers on the active roster and exclude position pitchers.

These rankings are not interested in what some guy in the minors did back in April before he was sent down. We want to see whose current relief roster is the toughest. That will be most useful when watching and analyzing games.

Brief Rankings Explanation

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, leave a comment and I’ll be glad to get back to you.)

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%).

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.

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

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

Overall leader boards. AL (red) on the left; NL (blue) on the right.

Week 23 (Sep 11 to Sep 17) Team Reliever and Bullpen Rankings

The Elite

  1. Milwaukee Brewers (31.1, First in NL), No Change from Last Week
    56.9 Clutch, 8.8 Run Prevention, 10.4 Baserunners, 15.1 Command

  1. Detroit Tigers (30.4, First in AL), No Change from Last Week
    64.9 Clutch, 2.8 Run Prevention, 4.8 Baserunners, -6.2 Command

Better Take an Early Lead…

  1. Toronto Blue Jays (15.3, Second in AL), +7 from Last Week
    21.2 Clutch, 10.8 Run Prevention, 3.1 Baserunners, 22.5 Command
  1. San Francisco Giants (15.1, Second in NL), No Change from Last Week
    33.9 Clutch, -4.3 Run Prevention, 6.0 Baserunners, 7.2 Command
  1. Atlanta Braves (12.7, Third in NL), ▼ -2 from Last Week
    24.5 Clutch, 0.2 Run Prevention, -0.6 Baserunners, 23.8 Command

The Very Good

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (11.9, Fourth in NL), +2 from Last Week
    16.0 Clutch, 8.3 Run Prevention, 12.7 Baserunners, 2.5 Command
  1. Boston Red Sox (11.8, Third in AL), ▼ -1 from Last Week
    23.4 Clutch, 0.7 Run Prevention, 1.1 Baserunners, 12.2 Command
  1. Seattle Mariners (10.1, Fourth in AL), ▼ -3 from Last Week
    15.4 Clutch, 6.2 Run Prevention, -1.1 Baserunners, 16.0 Command

The Good

  1. Cleveland Guardians (9.6, Fifth in AL), ▼ -2 from Last Week
    13.6 Clutch, 8.9 Run Prevention, 1.8 Baserunners, 2.0 Command
  1. Miami Marlins (7.8, Fifth in NL), +2 from Last Week
    6.7 Clutch, 6.6 Run Prevention, 7.1 Baserunners, 22.2 Command
  1. Pittsburgh Pirates (7.7, Sixth in NL), +2 from Last Week
    20.0 Clutch, -3.2 Run Prevention, -1.9 Baserunners, 1.3 Command
  1. Tampa Bay Rays (7.4, Sixth in AL), +2 from Last Week
    11.2 Clutch, 4.4 Run Prevention, 5.7 Baserunners, 1.0 Command

Slightly above Average

  1. New York Yankees (5.5, Seventh in AL), ▼ -2 from Last Week
    10.3 Clutch, 0.2 Run Prevention, 7.7 Baserunners, -3.8 Command

The Average

  1. Chicago Cubs (2.4, Seventh in NL), ▼ -5 from Last Week
    1.3 Clutch, 3.4 Run Prevention, 2.2 Baserunners, 5.0 Command
  1. Cincinnati Reds (0.3, Eighth in NL), +3 from Last Week
    0.4 Clutch, 1.9 Run Prevention, 0.2 Baserunners, -7.7 Command
  1. Philadelphia Phillies (-0.5, Ninth in NL), +1 from Last Week
    -6.3 Clutch, 2.0 Run Prevention, 3.9 Baserunners, 16.1 Command
  1. Houston Astros (-1.4, Eighth in AL), ▼ -2 from Last Week
    -3.7 Clutch, -0.9 Run Prevention, 0.3 Baserunners, 7.2 Command

Below Average

  1. Baltimore Orioles (-2.7, Ninth in AL), ▼ -2 from Last Week
    -10.4 Clutch, 6.3 Run Prevention, 1.2 Baserunners, -4.7 Command
  1. Los Angeles Angels (-3.1, 10th in AL), +3 from Last Week
    16.3 Clutch, -18.8 Run Prevention, -17.4 Baserunners, -23.0 Command
  1. Minnesota Twins (-4.1, 11th in AL), No Change from Last Week
    -8.2 Clutch, -5.2 Run Prevention, 5.0 Baserunners, 10.0 Command

Lots of Work to Do

  1. Washington Nationals (-6.6, 10th in NL), No Change from Last Week
    -5.7 Clutch, -5.6 Run Prevention, -8.7 Baserunners, -14.5 Command
  1. Texas Rangers (-7.8, 12th in AL), ▼ -3 from Last Week
    -22.0 Clutch, 1.0 Run Prevention, 6.6 Baserunners, 13.1 Command
  1. San Diego Padres (-8.1, 11th in NL), +1 from Last Week
    -16.6 Clutch, -0.1 Run Prevention, -0.2 Baserunners, -8.1 Command
  1. St Louis Cardinals (-9.3, 12th in NL), ▼ -1 from Last Week
    -6.2 Clutch, -8.2 Run Prevention, -14.0 Baserunners, -26.0 Command

Stock Up on Tums

  1. Arizona Diamondbacks (-12.2, 13th in NL), +1 from Last Week
    -27.7 Clutch, 0.2 Run Prevention, -0.1 Baserunners, 2.9 Command
  1. Colorado Rockies (-12.5, 14th in NL), ▼ -1 from Last Week
    -11.8 Clutch, -9.8 Run Prevention, -12.0 Baserunners, -31.1 Command
  1. Chicago White Sox (-14.0, 13th in AL), No Change from Last Week
    -21.5 Clutch, -8.5 Run Prevention, -2.0 Baserunners, -14.8 Command

Pray for a Blowout Win

  1. New York Mets (-18.2, 15th in NL), No Change from Last Week
    -30.8 Clutch, -6.5 Run Prevention, -7.5 Baserunners, -14.8 Command
  1. Oakland Athletics (-23.1, 14th in AL), No Change from Last Week
    -26.9 Clutch, -18.6 Run Prevention, -13.5 Baserunners, -38.4 Command

The Negative Outlier

  1. Kansas City Royals (-40.2, 15th in AL), No Change from Last Week
    -61.7 Clutch, -23.0 Run Prevention, -21.9 Baserunners, -21.8 Command

 

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 don’t really 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.

Click here for the full database of these stats.

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%.

Back to the rankings.

Also See:

Week 22 Rankings, Week 21 Rankings, Week 19 Rankings, Week 18 Rankings, Week 16 Rankings, Week 15/All-Star Break Rankings, Week 14 Rankings, Week 13 Rankings.

Week 22 Individual Rankings, Week 21 Individual Rankings, Week 20 Individual Rankings.

Category Breakdowns

Team-by-team scores in the Clutch category.
Run Prevention scores, team by team
Baserunner Prevention scores, team by team
Command scores, team by team

Main Photo:

Embed from Getty Images

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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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