Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza — Week 26 (Sep 26 to Oct 1) Team Rankings

Position pitcher Rowdy Tellez celebrating a strike as he closed out a blowout win. His Milwaukee Brewers are first in the NL and first overall in Week 26's bullpen/reliever/relief corps rankings.
(Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Reliever Roundup and Bullpen Bonanza — 9/26–10/1 Team Rankings

We are in the 26th and final week of the regular season. Here are the team bullpen/reliever/relief corps rankings as we wind the season down. Six of the seven NL playoff contenders are in the NL top seven. Four of the top five in the AL have been eliminated from playoff contention. And two of the current AL division leaders are in the AL bottom five.

Statistics are through the end of play Monday, September 25 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 leaderboards through end of play Sept 25, active rosters only. AL (red) on the left; NL (blue) on the right.

Week 26 (Sep 26 to Oct 1) Team Reliever and Bullpen Rankings

The Elite

  1. Milwaukee Brewers (40.9, First in NL), No Change from Two Weeks Ago
    75.7 Clutch, 11.1 Run Prevention, 12.3 Baserunners, 19.2 Command
  1. Detroit Tigers (28.6, First in AL), No Change from Two Weeks Ago
    61.9 Clutch, 0.2 Run Prevention, 4.1 Baserunners, 2.2 Command
  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (26.8, Second in NL), +3 from Two Weeks Ago
    42.0 Clutch, 14.2 Run Prevention, 13.5 Baserunners, 17.9 Command

Better Take an Early Lead…

  1. Toronto Blue Jays (18.8, Second in AL), No Change from Two Weeks Ago
    30.9 Clutch, 9.4 Run Prevention, 0.7 Baserunners, 21.9 Command
  1. San Francisco Giants (12.9, Third in NL), ▼ -1 from Two Weeks Ago
    34.5 Clutch, -8.6 Run Prevention, -1.1 Baserunners, 8.0 Command

The Very Good

  1. Seattle Mariners (11.9, Third in AL), +2 from Two Weeks Ago
    19.8 Clutch, 5.4 Run Prevention, 0.7 Baserunners, 15.3 Command
  1. Miami Marlins (11.6, Fourth in NL), +3 from Two Weeks Ago
    17.1 Clutch, 5.1 Run Prevention, 4.8 Baserunners, 21.4 Command

The Good

  1. Atlanta Braves (9.4, Fifth in NL), ▼ -3 from Two Weeks Ago
    18.2 Clutch, -0.8 Run Prevention, -1.4 Baserunners, 24.3 Command
  1. Cleveland Guardians (8.9, Fourth in AL), No Change from Two Weeks Ago
    13.8 Clutch, 6.8 Run Prevention, 1.4 Baserunners, 1.8 Command
  1. Boston Red Sox (7.7, Fifth in AL), ▼ -3 from Two Weeks Ago
    17.3 Clutch, -0.5 Run Prevention, -0.8 Baserunners, 3.0 Command

Slightly above Average

  1. Minnesota Twins (4.1, Sixth in AL), +9 from Two Weeks Ago
    0.8 Clutch, 3.3 Run Prevention, 9.8 Baserunners, 19.7 Command
  1. Tampa Bay Rays (3.5, Seventh in AL), No Change from Two Weeks Ago
    0.2 Clutch, 4.7 Run Prevention, 8.8 Baserunners, 8.8 Command

The Average

  1. Chicago Cubs (2.6, Sixth in NL), +1 from Two Weeks Ago
    7.4 Clutch, -1.4 Run Prevention, -2.0 Baserunners, 1.0 Command
  1. Cincinnati Reds (2.5, Seventh in NL), +1 from Two Weeks Ago
    6.2 Clutch, 1.7 Run Prevention, -1.1 Baserunners, -10.5 Command
  1. Pittsburgh Pirates (2.3, Eighth in NL), ▼ -4 from Two Weeks Ago
    9.0 Clutch, -5.8 Run Prevention, -1.1 Baserunners, 6.4 Command
  1. Houston Astros (1.2, Eighth in AL), +1 from Two Weeks Ago
    -0.9 Clutch, 1.7 Run Prevention, 2.2 Baserunners, 10.4 Command
  1. New York Yankees (-0.2, Ninth in AL), ▼ -4 from Two Weeks Ago
    -2.8 Clutch, -2.7 Run Prevention, 12.0 Baserunners, 7.3 Command
  1. Philadelphia Phillies (-0.7, Ninth in NL), ▼ -2 from Two Weeks Ago
    -10.4 Clutch, 5.1 Run Prevention, 6.1 Baserunners, 20.2 Command
  1. Los Angeles Angels (-1.5, 10th in AL), No Change from Two Weeks Ago
    16.9 Clutch, -13.9 Run Prevention, -16.9 Baserunners, -28.7 Command
  1. Washington Nationals (-1.7, 10th in NL), +1 from Two Weeks Ago
    6.2 Clutch, -6.2 Run Prevention, -9.7 Baserunners, -15.7 Command

Below Average

  1. Texas Rangers (-4.4, 11th in AL), +1 from Two Weeks Ago
    -13.4 Clutch, 0.7 Run Prevention, 5.1 Baserunners, 10.4 Command
  1. San Diego Padres (-5.7, 11th in NL), +1 from Two Weeks Ago
    -14.8 Clutch, -0.2 Run Prevention, 5.6 Baserunners, 4.1 Command

Lots of Work to Do

  1. Baltimore Orioles (-7.0, 12th in AL), ▼ -5 from Two Weeks Ago
    -18.1 Clutch, 4.8 Run Prevention, 2.2 Baserunners, -10.8 Command
  1. Colorado Rockies (-11.5, 12th in NL), +2 from Two Weeks Ago
    -10.3 Clutch, -6.8 Run Prevention, -12.0 Baserunners, -40.8 Command

Stock Up on Tums

  1. Arizona Diamondbacks (-15.8, 13th in NL), No Change from Two Weeks Ago
    -36.0 Clutch, 1.5 Run Prevention, 3.4 Baserunners, -8.2 Command
  1. New York Mets (-17.9, 14th in NL), +2 from Two Weeks Ago
    -32.6 Clutch, -3.2 Run Prevention, -6.5 Baserunners, -18.2 Command

Pray for a Blowout Win

  1. Oakland Athletics (-20.8, 13th in AL), +2 from Two Weeks Ago
    -25.0 Clutch, -15.6 Run Prevention, -12.6 Baserunners, -35.2 Command
  1. St Louis Cardinals (-26.4, 15th in NL), ▼ -4 from Two Weeks Ago
    -40.4 Clutch, -10.3 Run Prevention, -12.6 Baserunners, -42.9 Command
  1. Kansas City Royals (-26.6, 14th in AL), +1 from Two Weeks Ago
    -38.6 Clutch, -16.3 Run Prevention, -16.6 Baserunners, -19.5 Command
  1. Chicago White Sox (-36.5, 15th in AL), ▼ -3 from Two Weeks Ago
    -57.8 Clutch, -19.3 Run Prevention, -10.8 Baserunners, -32.9 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 23 Rankings, 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 26 Individual Rankings, Week 22 Individual Rankings, Week 21 Individual Rankings, Week 20 Individual Rankings.

Category Breakdowns:

Clutch scores, team by team
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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