Friday, July 25, 2008

Franchise Vulture Wins

Yesterday's yesterday's tomorrow's tomorrow is today, right? I've put together lists of vulture wins and blown save wins by franchise and here they are. It should be obvious, but teams in two or more cities (San Francisco/New York) or with two or more names (Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos) are combined under the franchise's current identity.

Vulture Wins by MLB Franchise, 1956-2008
(through 7/24/08)
(teams extant in 1956 italicized)
  1. St. Louis Cardinals, 455
  2. Cincinnati Reds, 444
  3. Atlanta Braves, 443
  4. Philadelphia Phillies, 440
  5. San Francisco Giants, 437
  6. Chicago Cubs, 403
  7. Pittsburgh Pirates, 395
  8. Los Angeles Dodgers, 393
  9. Houston Astros, 385
  10. New York Mets, 359
  11. San Diego Padres, 359
  12. Washington Nationals, 354
  13. Oakland Athletics, 343
  14. Chicago White Sox, 334
  15. Cleveland Indians, 334
  16. New York Yankees, 333
  17. Minnesota Twins, 319
  18. Boston Red Sox, 315
  19. Detroit Tigers, 298
  20. Los Angeles Angels, 296
  21. Texas Rangers, 274
  22. Baltimore Orioles, 272
  23. Milwaukee Brewers, 268
  24. Kansas City Royals, 233
  25. Seattle Mariners, 219
  26. Toronto Blue Jays, 200
  27. Colorado Rockies, 198
  28. Florida Marlins, 170
  29. Arizona Diamondbacks, 148
  30. Tampa Bay Rays, 89
Obviously the bottom part of the list is cluttered by expansion teams, but something still jumps out at me. The first American League team doesn't show up until place #13, beneath four National League expansion teams. I suspect most of that is due to the designated hitter. After all, if the pitcher's spot never comes up, then it's easier to leave a reliever in for more than one inning, thus making it much harder for him to pick up a vulture win. It also makes it easier to leave a starter pitching well in a close game on the mound if you don't need to pinch hit for offense.

Blown Save Wins by MLB Franchise, 1956-2008
(through 7/24/08)
(teams extant in 1956 italicized)
  1. New York Yankees, 169
  2. San Francisco Giants, 157
  3. Oakland Athletics, 149
  4. Boston Red Sox, 143
  5. Minnesota Twins, 140
  6. Texas Rangers, 140
  7. Pittsburgh Pirates, 138
  8. Chicago Cubs, 135
  9. Chicago White Sox, 134
  10. Baltimore Orioles, 125
  11. Los Angeles Dodgers, 125
  12. Los Angeles Angels, 124
  13. Cleveland Indians, 122
  14. Atlanta Braves, 121
  15. Cincinnati Reds, 121
  16. Philadelphia Phillies, 114
  17. San Diego Padres, 111
  18. Detroit Tigers, 110
  19. Houston Astros, 110
  20. New York Mets, 107
  21. Milwaukee Brewers, 103
  22. St. Louis Cardinals, 101
  23. Washington Nationals, 97
  24. Kansas City Royals, 95
  25. Seattle Mariners, 84
  26. Toronto Blue Jays, 73
  27. Colorado Rockies, 39
  28. Florida Marlins, 39
  29. Tampa Bay Rays, 29
  30. Arizona Diamondbacks, 23
This list isn't quite as separated by league, but that makes sense. When a closer comes in and blows a save yet still picks up the win, his team most likely regained the lead in their next time at bat. Even if the closer is pinch hit for in his team's next time at bat in NL games, he's still the pitcher of record, so there's no favoring one league over the other in terms of blown save wins by team.

I'm surprised a team like Arizona that's had pretty good success during its time in the majors trails everyone else. I would've expected a team with less wins overall (like Tampa Bay) to be far behind all other teams simply because of a lack of save opportunities. Then again, perhaps Tampa Bay has had more blown saves than Arizona and thus more chances to win those games for their closer(s).


Bopperland said...

Great way to tie up this research on Vulture Wins and Blown Save Wins (and thanks for undertaking it). Your rationale for explaining the findings by league does indeed hold up to scrutiny, but with one important caveat. The DH ws not introduced into the AL until 1973, so that cannot fully explain the league differential. The only other major rule difference I recall is how many players could meet on the mound during a manager conference, so it isn't that!

What I would like to see is a slight modification to the results that takes the number of seasons/games into consideration. I was about to try this myself, but I figure you have better access to the data needed. Take your results and divide them by the actual number of games played in the timespan for each team (or the number of seasons played). I prefer games so it takes work stoppages into consideration. You then end up with a statistic showing VW Per Season (or per x games). That removes the game differential and might elevate some of the bottom-feeders higher.

As predicted, I noticed that the Yankees led in the BSW category. They have always been about superstar starters, solid closers, and generally mediocre relievers. One cannot argue with success, though.

The aspect we did not cover was post-season, but I consider that a whole different game. You are encouraged to come up with more studies on post-season stats, as they are largely ignored (mostly because they never factor into fantasy leagues). Contact me if you need some inspiration.


Theron Schultz said...

Indeed there are almost two decades from 1956 until the designated hitter rule takes effect, but pitcher usage also changed drastically. Only 17% of vulture wins took place in the period 1956-1972 which covers about 1/3 of the seasons for which I have data, reflecting the fact relievers weren't used as much until more recently (there were as many vulture wins from 1956 through 1972 as there have been since July 11, 2004). So while not having the DH helped balance things out at the beginning but by the time relievers really started racking up vulture wins the DH had been around for a while.

Just to make sure, I looked up the franchise numbers for 1956-1972 and teams from both leagues are jumbled together, but looking at 1973-2008 puts the NL decisively over the AL again.

Any VW per games played number for 1956-2008 would be skewed as well, so I'm thinking even just looking at the last 10.5 seasons (since the last expansion) might be more interesting.