Period’s greatest lefty relievers – by G. Scott Thomas


Billy Wagner is slowly making his option to Cooperstown.

The 16-year reduction pitcher for 5 big-league golf equipment, primarily the Houston Astros and New York Mets, was named on solely 10.5 p.c of the Corridor of Fame’s ballots in 2016, the 12 months he turned eligible for consideration. However he regularly gained momentum, passing the 50-50 mark in 2022 and climbing to 68.1 p.c this 12 months.

That leaves Wagner solely 6.9 share factors wanting the 75-percent induction threshold, with two years of eligibility remaining. It appears possible that he’ll be a member of the corridor’s class of 2024.

Such an honor would solely be becoming, since Wagner ranks as the most effective left-handed reliever of your complete Trendy Period, the interval from 1961 by 2022.

I analyzed the data of all 156 lefties who relieved in no less than 324 regular-season video games through the 62-season span. My system assessed their performances in 10 statistical classes, measuring such qualities as longevity and total excellence. (I took every pitcher’s full file under consideration, together with any beginning appearances he might need made.)

The system for relievers is just like the one I used the previous two Thursdays for beginning pitchers — you can see it here — albeit with three adjustments:

  • The ratio of wins above substitute (WAR) is calculated per 60 innings for relievers, versus 200 innings for starters.

  • Complete video games relieved (GR) are substituted for video games began.

  • Saves (SV) are totaled, as a substitute of wins.

The system orders all contestants from high to backside, then assigns a rating of 1,000 factors to the frontrunner at a given place (on this case, Wagner) and 0 factors to the tailender. The scores for all different pitchers are decided by their relative performances within the 10 classes.

Wagner at the moment ranks sixth on baseball’s all-time record with 422 saves, which he collected between 1995 and 2010. Solely one of many relievers forward of him, John Franco, was a lefty. Franco wanted 21 seasons with three golf equipment (largely the Mets and Cincinnati Reds) to pile up 424 saves, simply two forward of Wagner’s whole.

However Wagner emerged with the general lead in at this time’s rankings, largely as a result of he outpointed all different left-handed relievers all through the Trendy Period in three key classes. He posted the bottom earned run common (2.31 ERA), lowest ratio of bases allowed per out (.507 BPO), and highest ratio of WAR per 60 innings (1.85 WAR/60).

The runner-up among the many period’s lefty relievers is Aroldis Chapman, who has pitched for 5 golf equipment since 2010, most notably with the Reds and New York Yankees. Chapman is at the moment lively with the Texas Rangers, although his stats from the unfinished 2023 season aren’t included in his totals.

Rounding out the highest 5 are Franco, Jesse Orosco (24 years with the Mets, Baltimore Orioles, and 7 different groups), and John Hiller (15 seasons solely with the Detroit Tigers). It needs to be famous that these rankings don’t embrace San Diego’s Josh Hader, whom I ranked earlier this summer season as the best left-handed reliever in baseball today. Hader started the 2023 season with a profession whole of 288 video games in reduction, 36 beneath the minimal threshold.

That is the twelfth story in my weekly collection concerning the Trendy Period’s high gamers. Observe these hyperlinks to earlier rankings of catchers,first basemen,second basemen,shortstops,third basemen,left fielders,center fielders,right fielders,designated hitters,left-handed starting pitchers, and right-handed starters.

Statistical breakdowns for the period’s high 5 left-handed reduction pitchers will be discovered beneath, adopted by a listing of the next 15.

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  • Rating: 1,000 factors

  • WAR: 27.8 whole, 1.9 per 60 IP

  • Averages: 2.31 ERA, .187 BA, .296 SLG, .507 BPO

  • Strikeouts: 1,196 whole, 11.9 per 9 IP

  • Totals: 853 GR, 422 SV

  • Notes: It comes as a shock that Wagner by no means led the Nationwide League in saves. The closest he bought was in 2006, when his whole of 40 put him second to Trevor Hoffman’s 46. But he was persistently reliable as a better, amassing no less than 30 saves in 9 totally different seasons. Wagner twice completed among the many high six vote-getters for the Cy Younger Award.

  • Rating: 982 factors

  • WAR: 19.1 whole, 1.8 per 60 IP

  • Averages: 2.48 ERA, .164 BA, .255 SLG, .514 BPO

  • Strikeouts: 1,045 whole, 14.7 per 9 IP

  • Totals: 667 GR, 315 SV

  • Notes: Chapman reached triple digits in strikeouts yearly from 2012 by 2015, although he didn’t pitch greater than 72 innings for the Reds in any of these seasons. His profession price of 14.7 strikeouts per 9 innings is well the most effective for any lefty reliever, with Wagner a distant second at 11.9.

  • Rating: 726 factors

  • WAR: 23.6 whole, 1.1 per 60 IP

  • Averages: 2.89 ERA, .249 BA, .343 SLG, .608 BPO

  • Strikeouts: 975 whole, 7.0 per 9 IP

  • Totals: 1,119 GR, 424 SV

  • Notes: Franco topped the Nationwide League in saves thrice — in 1988 for the Reds, in 1990 and 1994 for the Mets. He recorded a minimal of 30 saves in eight separate seasons between 1987 and 1998. He’s amongst 4 lefties who’ve relieved in additional than 1,000 big-league video games.

  • Rating: 715 factors

  • WAR: 22.9 whole, 1.1 per 60 IP

  • Averages: 3.16 ERA, .223 BA, .335 SLG, .624 BPO

  • Strikeouts: 1,179 whole, 8.2 per 9 IP

  • Totals: 1,248 GR, 144 SV

  • Notes: Orosco was a workhouse out of the bullpen. He hardly ever pitched as a better, as evidenced by his comparatively small save whole. He reached double digits in saves solely 5 occasions in his 24-year profession. However no person was extra sturdy or reliable. Orosco is the one pitcher in big-league historical past to work in additional than 1,200 video games.

  • Rating: 646 factors

  • WAR: 31.1 whole, 1.5 per 60 IP

  • Averages: 2.83 ERA, .229 BA, .341 SLG, .609 BPO

  • Strikeouts: 1,036 whole, 7.5 per 9 IP

  • Totals: 502 GR, 125 SV

  • Notes: The opposite relievers within the high 5 appeared to drift from group to group, however Hiller was remarkably steady. He pitched 545 video games in his profession (43 begins, 502 reduction appearances), all for the Tigers. He completed fourth in balloting for the American League’s Most Useful Participant Award in 1973, when he led the league with 38 saves.

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