Dominic Leone: Bullpen MVP? (Part 1: Bullpen = Good)

00a005254744584_b594f47a19_o== Since Mid-May, he’s been awesome ==

I got an interesting, but, to me, quizzical comment from “C-squared” the other day.  He says:

It surprises me that despite your early projections for Leone, his performance to date, what his stats tell us about the kid, and the fact that all he does is do his job and compete, there is so much noise coming from so many places about how he isn’t really all that good. Logan Davis flat out says it’s Zunino that deserves credit for Leone’s pitching, not Leone. With all the crap being flung at him from the ‘experts’ on Seattle’s boards, it would serve them right if Seattle cashed in on the kid, traded him to the Angels or Rangers for some iffy right handed bat, and then had to face him multiple times a year.

Anyway, from what I have seen, you are still the only one seeing value in him.

Of course, as I said in my response, I don’t spend tons of time in other comment sections, but I still find it hard to believe that Leone is not getting much love.

But, regardless of what others are saying, Leone is on the verge of becoming the bullpen MVP.

===

First off, let’s consider that the bullpen as a whole has been very good.  Here’s a look at some traditional “batting-against” stats in alphabetical order:

IP H 2B 3B HR BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS ISO
Joe Beimel* 22.1 20 5 0 0 9 12 0.253 0.337 0.316 0.654 0.063
Danny Farquhar 31 26 5 0 2 11 35 0.224 0.295 0.319 0.614 0.095
Charlie Furbush* 21 21 2 0 2 5 21 0.263 0.318 0.363 0.681 0.100
Dominic Leone 29.1 21 4 1 2 11 32 0.200 0.274 0.314 0.588 0.114
Yoervis Medina 26 17 1 1 2 13 27 0.187 0.299 0.286 0.585 0.099
Fernando Rodney 26.1 24 3 0 1 10 30 0.245 0.327 0.306 0.633 0.061
Tom Wilhelmsen 35.2 26 4 1 3 20 32 0.200 0.309 0.315 0.625 0.115

Notice how the workload has been quite evenly distributed among the seven.

===

Now let’s go to the Brainstorm “designer stats,” which are just our way of looking at things.  100 = the 10-year MLB average.

Note that every single reliever has beat the average in preventing homers and extra-base hits, and only Beimel has failed to beat the average in strikeouts.

On the other hand, only Furbush has been successful at avoiding walks.  But walks don’t hurt that much if you’re preventing big hits and striking guys out.

HR%+ BB%+ K%+ XBH%+ PSA+ Conv+ Comp
Beimel* 200 73 64 123 93 115 109
Farquhar 135 89 132 124 137 135 172
Furbush* 106 127 115 137 145 134 180
Leone 129 79 132 116 129 129 158
Medina 122 42 123 147 108 133 140
Rodney 163 85 130 150 140 149 190
Wilhelmsen 118 30 102 126 85 114 99

The three right-hand columns are our designer-stat “three numbers” measuring (1) “command/control” [PSA+]; (2) “stuff” [Conv+] and (3) the composite of the two [Comp].

The Bartender is the lowest-rated, which is entirely due to his high walk rate, but even he grades out to be an average contributor.

Beimel, despite a low K-rate and a relatively high BB-rate manages to grade out above-average due to his ability to avoid hard-hit balls (lowest ISO-against except for Rodney).  Can he keep it up?  Let’s hope so.

All the others have been good at avoiding damage and have high K-rates, which is the combination you want in a reliever.

===

Now let’s look at how the bullpenners have been Penciled into games (these stats from baseball-reference.com):

aLI LevHi LevMd LevLo Ahd Tie Bhd Runr Empt
Beimel* 0.737 5 3 16 9 2 13 6 18
Farquhar 1.138 7 5 16 15 2 11 5 23
Furbush* 1.079 12 3 14 16 5 8 12 17
Leone 0.986 9 4 11 10 3 11 11 13
Medina 1.361 12 6 10 13 6 9 5 23
Rodney 2.070 14 7 7 24 2 2 4 24
Wilhelmsen 0.784 5 4 18 10 2 15 6 21

The “aLI” stat is “average leverage index” which measures the difficulty of the situation in which the reliever pitches (1 = average).  The rest of the columns are the tabular basis for that.  The gray-shaded columns are the number of times pitching in high-, medium- or low-leverage situations; the cream-colored are times inserted when ahead, tied or behind; the blue-shaded are times brought in with baserunners or bases empty.

Not surprisingly, Beimel and Wilhemsen have been getting the call when the game is not on the line, and, of the four non-closers, it has been Furbush and Leone coming in with men on base.  Actually, I’m not quite sure how Farq ends up with a higher leverage index than Furb, given the other numbers, but that’s how it shakes out.

Regardless, the team has four setup guys who have been very, very good, and a closer who — despite some high-profile glitches and some wild rides — has also been very good at what he’s asked to do.

So the bullpen has been very good.  But is Leone its MVP?

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