Phillies Reliever Usage By Leverage Index

Many have criticized Phillies manager Charlie Manuel for his bullpen usage to start the season. Specifically, his non-use of $50 million man Jonathan Papelbon in high-leverage situations against the Pittsburgh Pirates, and his use earlier this afternoon in a low-leverage spot against the Florida Marlins.

The table below lists each plate appearance for every Phillies reliever in the four games thus far, ordered by Leverage Index (LI). Papelbon is highlighted in red.

LI (leverage index): A measure of how important a particular situation is in a baseball game depending on the inning, score, outs, and number of players on base, created by Tom Tango.

Baselines: The average LI is 1 and is considered a neutral situation. 10% of all real game situations have a LI greater than 2, while 60% have a LI less than 1.

Pitcher LI
Blanton 5.49
Bastardo 5.34
Herndon 4.90
Blanton 4.90
Blanton 4.87
Bastardo 4.75
Herndon 4.56
Bastardo 4.28
Kendrick 4.04
Bastardo 3.76
Bastardo 3.56
Bastardo 3.46
Bastardo 3.32
Papelbon 3.31
Stutes 3.18
Qualls 2.86
Stutes 2.86
Stutes 2.68
Herndon 2.67
Blanton 2.67
Papelbon 2.44
Kendrick 2.44
Herndon 2.20
Blanton 2.20
Stutes 2.20
Stutes 1.83
Qualls 1.78
Stutes 1.71
Stutes 1.69
Papelbon 1.66
Kendrick 1.50
Qualls 1.34
Stutes 1.32
Kendrick 1.12
Qualls 0.98
Stutes 0.98
Kendrick 0.78
Stutes 0.76
Stutes 0.62
Herndon 0.33
Savery 0.30
Savery 0.29
Herndon 0.19
Savery 0.15
Herndon 0.10
Papelbon 0.10
Savery 0.07
Papelbon 0.05
Savery 0.05
Savery 0.04
Papelbon 0.03
Papelbon 0.02

Papelbon’s highest-leverage spot ranks 14th on the list, and four of his seven spots rank in the bottom-seven, including the lowest-two. Due to Manuel’s adherence to old baseball orthodoxy — the save rule — the Phillies have not been optimally deploying their relievers. As a result, they lost very winnable games in Pittsburgh over the weekend.

LI Bin AB JB DH KK JP CQ JS MS Total
0-0.99 0 0 3 1 4 1 6 3 18
1-1.99 0 0 0 2 1 2 0 4 9
2-2.99 0 2 2 1 1 1 0 3 10
3-3.99 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 6
4-4.99 2 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 7
5-5.99 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2

 

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11 comments

  1. John Murtha

    April 09, 2012 06:07 PM

    While I agree JP could have been deployed in higher leverage situations, especially since his stats are better in those situations, I do think that our closer shouldn’t be the only reliable arm coming out of the bullpen especially when Blanton isn’t exactly cheap himself (10.5M versus JP’s 11.1M). Kendrick even clocks a cool 3M this year. Regardless pitching (1.65ERA, .88WHIP) has not been the issue through the first four but the offense is dismal with a batting average of .204, better than the oppositions of .196. Not a big surprise when 35M of the salary is on the DL.

  2. Del

    April 09, 2012 06:22 PM

    Kinda reminds me of JC Romero being used vs RHB more then LHB

  3. Moose

    April 09, 2012 07:09 PM

    Bill,

    Is there a way to account for these in-game, other than saying, “This looks like a tough situation.” I mean at least with bunting there is a table to show run expectancy, is there a similar table Charlie could look at as the situation is unfolding so he can realize the high leverage situations?

  4. Fatalotti

    April 09, 2012 08:03 PM

    John Murtha:

    Papelbon actually has pitched better in his career in non-save situations than in save situations. I know it’s not a direct proxy for high-leverage vs. high-leverage, but:

    Save:

    253.2 IP, .9895 WHIP, 10.79 SO/9, 2.41 BB/9, 4.47 SO/BB, .67 HR/9, 2.38 ERA

    Pretty good, huh?

    Non-Save:

    141.2 IP, .96 WHIP, 10.86 SO/9, 1.91 BB/9, 5.70 SO/BB, .51 HR/9, 2.16 ERA

    I guess the point is, Papelbon is a terrific pitcher, no matter when you put him in the game. Given that, and given his price tag, we should use him to pitch our most important innings first and foremost.

  5. Moose

    April 09, 2012 09:19 PM

    Perfect Bill. Thanks

  6. Phillie697

    April 10, 2012 11:47 AM

    @John Murtha,

    Yes, because compounding the mistake in giving KK $3M by making another mistake of pitching him in high leverage situations is surely the best way to win baseball games, yep. That’s an emotional justification, not a logical one.

  7. yingling

    April 10, 2012 12:04 PM

    “es, because compounding the mistake in giving KK $3M ”

    So you let him walk?

  8. Phillie697

    April 10, 2012 05:09 PM

    @yingling,

    No one said KK can’t pitch in garbage time. I’m okay with that if you REALLY feel the need to do something with the $3M man. KK is useful in his own way, just not to pitch in high leverage situations.

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