Friday, October 31, 2008

The Bryan Harvey Award

After the Steve Carlton Award for the highest percentage of a team's wins by one pitcher and the Hugh "Losing Pitcher" Mulcahy Award for the highest percentage of a team's losses by one pitcher, it was suggested a similar award be made for saves. This award would be given out to the pitcher who has the highest proportion of saves to team wins.

This award is named after Bryan Harvey, a dominant closer whose career was shortened by elbow injuries. After pitching in three games for the California Angels in 1987, Harvey spent nearly all of 1988 with the Angels. His 2.13 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 76 innings led to 17 saves and a second-place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting behind Walt Weiss. Over the next two seasons he converted 50 of 63 save opportunities while striking out just over 12 batters per nine innings. The 1991 season, however, is when he really burst onto the scene. That year Harvey rode his awesome splitter to 46 saves in 67 games, spanning 78 2/3 innings. He struck out 101 batters while walking only seventeen. His ERA was an impressive 1.60 and his WHIP was a minuscule 0.86. He was rewarded with a spot on the all-star team, a fifth-place finish in the Cy Young voting, and a lucrative four-year deal.

Unfortunately, 1992 was a letdown year. A great start was curtailed by elbow injuries that ended Harvey's season after June. The Angels weren't optimistic about Harvey making a comeback and they hoped to offload his contract, so they left him unprotected in the expansion draft following the season and he was picked up by the Florida Marlins. He quickly made the pick worthwhile for the Marlins, putting together an excellent 1993 campaign: 45 saves in 59 games, 73 K's in 69 innings, an all-star appearance, and votes for the MVP and Cy Young Award. Unfortunately, his elbow problems returned the next year and he would only appear in 13 more major league games.

Harvey gets this award named after him because of that 1993 season with the Marlins. The Marlins won only 64 games in their first season, meaning that Harvey picked up a save in 70.3% of his team's wins, a major league record. No one else has reached even 65%.

Saves in the Highest Percentage of Team Wins, 1901-2008

RankNameTeamSavesTeam WinsSV%
1Bryan Harvey1993 Marlins456470.3
Eric Gagne2003 Dodgers558564.7
Mike Williams2002 Pirates467263.9
Randy Myers1993 Cubs538463.1
Roberto Hernandez1999 Devil Rays436962.3
Francisco Rodriguez2008 Angels6210062.0
Danys Baez2005 Devil Rays416761.2
Bobby Thigpen1990 White Sox579460.6
Ugueth Urbina1999 Expos416860.3
10Jose Mesa2004 Pirates437259.7

Obviously, Francisco Rodriguez is the 2008 Bryan Harvey Award winner. It never hurts to look at who else finished in the top ten, though:

2008 Bryan Harvey Award Rankings
  1. Francisco Rodriguez, Angels, 62 saves out of 100 wins, 62.0%
  2. Brian Wilson, Giants, 41 out of 72, 56.9%
  3. Joakim Soria, Royals, 42 out of 75, 56.0%
  4. Jose Valverde, Astros, 44 out of 86, 51.2%
  5. Trevor Hoffman, Padres, 30 out of 63, 47.6%
  6. Francisco Cordero, Reds, 34 out of 74, 45.9%
  7. George Sherrill, Orioles, 31 out of 68, 45.6%
  8. Brad Lidge, Phillies, 41 out of 92, 44.6%
  9. Joe Nathan, Twins, 39 out of 88, 44.3%
  10. Mariano Rivera, Yankees, 39 out of 89, 43.8%
Eighty-three pitchers have saved half or more of their team's wins in a season. Before the 1990 season, only five pitchers had done so a total of six times: Rollie Fingers (1977), Dan Quisenberry (1983 & 1984), Bruce Sutter (1984), Dave Righetti (1986), and Steve Bedrosian (1987). Fingers was the only one of those six to do it while saving fewer than forty games.


Bopperland said...

Huh?? You may have a typo, or perhaps the reason why Harvey was so overworked!

"Over the next two seasons he converted 50 of 63 save opportunities while striking out just over 12 batters per inning".

He must have had a lousy catcher! Darned passed 3rd strikes.

Theron Schultz said...

Haha, yes, it was a typo. I fixed it.

Gerry said...

So now you have to work out whose blown saves were the highest percentage of his team's losses.

And then, whose holds were the highest percentage of his team's wins.

Is there such a statistic as Blown Holds?