That Was Just a Bad Night All Around

I’m not going to talk much about the Hiroki Kuroda incident last night; it’s simply one of the worst things I’ve ever seen on a baseball field. I didn’t see the game live last night, and I first heard about it on the MLB Network this morning. You know what scared me the most? When, before I’d seen the highlight or had any other info, one of the MLB Network guys invoked the name “Bryce Florie”. I was living in Boston in 2000 when Florie nearly lost an eye to a liner, and whenever you hear something being compared to that, you know it’s not going to end well.

Fortunately, Kuroda never lost conciousness and preliminary reports say that he’s got nothing worse than a concussion, which we can all be thankful for. So all signs point to good news there.

charlie_haeger_AAA_allstar.jpgOf much less importance, of course, while we still don’t know how long Kuroda will be out, his injury really hurts an already patchwork starting staff. But with all bad news comes a silver lining, and here it is: after weeks of MSTI support, Charlie Haeger is getting the start on Monday against the Cardinals! As I’ve been saying for some time, he could be exactly what the clubs needs – an effective innings-eater. My only worry now is that he’s been sitting in the bullpen for a while, by the time he starts tomorrow it will have been 11 days since his last AAA appearance. After how hard I’ve been pulling for him, I really hope that the layoff plus the hot-hitting Cardinals don’t lead to disaster.

Speaking of disasters, Jonathan Broxton last night: woof. Here’s the thing, though. I usually don’t critique other blogs, just the “professionals”, but I saw something at LAdodgertalk that I simply can’t let go by. Nothing personal, guys, but your reasoning is completely flawed on your post saying that Broxton should lose his job:

How would you like to have the five wins that Broxton blew back right about now?  The Dodgers would be looking pretty good with those 5 more wins.  We’d be looking at a 9-1/2 gme lead instead of a 4-1/2 game lead!

Sure, but that’s assuming that he was perfect and had zero blown saves. That’s just unreasonable. What if Brian Wilson hadn’t blown six saves this year? Then the Giants have a half-game lead. Life is full of “What if’s” , and unless you’re talking about “completely hopped up on steroids Eric Gagne, circa 2003″, blown saves happen. These guys are human beings, not robots, and while I certainly can’t say I was happy with Broxton’s performance last night, he’s facing major league hitters, not Little Leagers. Some times 100 MPH fastballs get turned around. It happens.

Here’s the bottom line:  Jon Broxton has a career 65% save percentage and George Sherrill has an 81% save percentage (by contrast, Mario Rivera has a 92% save percentage).

87toppsjonathanbroxton.jpgSee, this is a completely unfair statistic. Yes, Broxton had 19 blown saves on his record coming into 2009, but that tells you absolutely nothing. You know why? Because he wasn’t the closer. As the setup man for Takashi Saito, Broxton could only blow the lead in the 7th and 8th inning. If he did his job and held it, Saito would step in for the save in the 9th. When you are put in a position where it’s literally not possible to get the positive number added to your stat line, that makes the percentage of times you fail utterly meaningless.

No, to really make that number mean something, you have to go from the time where Broxton actually became the closer – from when he actually had a chance to pick up the save. Saito’s last appearance of 2008, before his token games in September, came on July 12. From there through the rest of the season, Broxton saved 14 of 17 games, which is 82% – and even the last one is hard to pin on him, as it was largely due to a Russell Martin throwing error. So far this year, he’s saved 25 of 30, and the offense has managed to bail him out to get a win in two of those five games.

What all this means is that since Broxton became the closer, he’s saved 39 of 47 chances, which is an 83% success rate. That’s still pretty good, and while I’m not pretending it’s not worrisome that his ERA has risen each month of the year, it’s hardly prudent to throw him under the bus just yet.

Stats can be distorted to show just about any outcome you want; let’s not use them to to unfairly make a case that doesn’t exist.



  1. [...] 2009 season was a disaster thanks to injuries both annoying (a strained oblique) and near-tragic (a liner to the head) and a NLCS meltdown, but when he’s healthy he’s one of the more effective starters in [...]