Several weeks ago, I debuted a new metric which I developed called RWAR, or Reliever WAR. In this article I broke down the theory behind the metric as well the equation I used to calculate it. The metric creates a different WAR scale strictly for relievers and it factors in the importance of the situation in which they pitch and how they do compared to the average pitcher in said situation. At the time of the article’s writing Trevor Rosenthal was the most valuable reliever in the game. As several weeks have passed now lets take a look at the updated leaderboard for 2015 thus far.
As you can see by looking at the list, Rosenthal is no longer the most valuable reliever in the game. Actually, interestingly two of the most valuable relievers are actually Wade Davis and Dellin Betances who are no longer the closers for their respective teams. These two extremely talented arms are deployed in a variety of situations by their managers often times coming in when the pitcher before him finds himself in a jam. The Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees boast two of the best bullpens in the game and as a result they are two of the best teams in the AL both leading their divisions despite both teams’ starting rotations ranking in the bottom ten in baseball in ERA.
On the flip side Fernando Rodney and Neftali Feliz find themselves at the bottom of the list as the worst relievers in 2015. Rodney has been terrible for the Seattle Mariners losing his job as the closer and pitching to an ERA over five. He is just one of the many players for the Mariners who have not performed up to the lofty expectations for the team going into the season.
In an era where starters are not going as deep into games as they used to there is a reliance on the bullpen and bullpen depth. As teams like the Yankees and Royals show having an extremely talented bullpen (two players ranked in top 25 in RWAR) can help overcome starting rotation struggles and still find themselves among the best teams in the game and atop their respective divisions.
Over the next few weeks I will be looking into this leaderboard in an attempt to find some trends and conclusions that can be made about relief pitching and possibly quantify the qualities that make for an elite reliever.