Koji Uehara: one of the 20 best relief seasons ever?

HomeRunBaker

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The Best Catch in 100 Years said:
In a similar vein, Mark Eichhorn for the Blue Jays in 1986: 166 K, 45 BB, 8 HR, 1.72 ERA in 157 IP. Interesting how much RP usage has changed over the last 20-30 years, though I guess this year Drew Smyly is racking up a lot of quality innings (should end up right around 100 for the year) in a pretty similar role to what Eichhorn and Hernandez played.
 
At least Jimy Williams didn't abuse Eichhorn.....157 IP out of the pen in 69 outings followed by 127 IP in 89 games the following year?
 
Meaningless Stat of the Day: During Eichhorn's 11 season career he wore 8 different uniform numbers.
 

singaporesoxfan

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Besides the inherited runners problem, using a rate stat like ERA+ for relievers doesn't take into account the value of pitching multiple innings and generally the frequency of pitching (e.g. would you rather have a reliever who pitched 2 innings each appearance at a 250 ERA+, or a reliever who pitched only 1 inning per appearance with a 300 ERA+?) Which in the end makes the + part not particularly useful - the + indicates normalization across history, but the change in usage away from multiple-inning relievers means that the stat isn't that helpful for comparison across eras.
 

ItOnceWasMyLife

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Koji keeps cruising right along.  I'm trying to imagine having this much confidence in a closer for an entire decade.  No wonder the MFY fans are so cocky.  I could definitely get used to this late inning calmness.  I tell you, once Rivera retires (not totally buying this year is his last), the MFY will never be the same.
 

TomRicardo

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ItOnceWasMyLife said:
Koji keeps cruising right along.  I'm trying to imagine having this much confidence in a closer for an entire decade.  No wonder the MFY fans are so cocky.  I could definitely get used to this late inning calmness.  I tell you, once Rivera retires (not totally buying this year is his last), the MFY will never be the same.
 
2007 Papelbon?
 

rembrat

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ItOnceWasMyLife said:
Koji keeps cruising right along.  I'm trying to imagine having this much confidence in a closer for an entire decade.  No wonder the MFY fans are so cocky.  I could definitely get used to this late inning calmness.  I tell you, once Rivera retires (not totally buying this year is his last), the MFY will never be the same.
 
lol
 

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ItOnceWasMyLife said:
Koji keeps cruising right along.  I'm trying to imagine having this much confidence in a closer for an entire decade.  No wonder the MFY fans are so cocky.  I could definitely get used to this late inning calmness.  I tell you, once Rivera retires (not totally buying this year is his last), the MFY will never be the same.
Last night the announcers on ESPN quoted something along the lines of the fact that Uehara had only allowed 7 baserunners in the last 70 PA's.  That's nuts!  And I like it.
 

Al Zarilla

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Saints Rest said:
Last night the announcers on ESPN quoted something along the lines of the fact that Uehara had only allowed 7 baserunners in the last 70 PA's.  That's nuts!  And I like it.
Probably right, although link below doesn't have HBP, reached on error, other ways to reach besides hits and walks. July and August combined are a little over 70 PAs. 
 
http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/gamelog/_/id/30130/koji-uehara
 

DanoooME

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Through last night in July and August per BB-ref:
 
84 PA, 8-82, 2 2B, 31/2 K/BB, 1 ROE, 0 HBP, .098/.119/.122
 
Absolutely ridiculous numbers.
 

Lose Remerswaal

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That's gotta be an unsustainable BABIP.
 
I can't be the only one who saw that final Wieters flyball leave the bat and quietly say "uh oh" until they saw Nava stop backtracking shy of the warning track.
 

Kevin Youkulele

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Lose Remerswaal said:
That's gotta be an unsustainable BABIP.
 
I can't be the only one who saw that final Wieters flyball leave the bat and quietly say "uh oh" until they saw Nava stop backtracking shy of the warning track.
In a word, yes.  The BABIP for the numbers in DanoooME's post is .157.  Mariano Rivera's best ever single season BABIP is .212, which is probably a pretty good proxy for the best one can ever hope for from a closer, and Rivera's career BABIP is .264.
 

joe dokes

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Lose Remerswaal said:
That's gotta be an unsustainable BABIP.
 
 
Sure it is.  But the sample size for a pitcher like Ue* is so small that -- unlike with a starter or a hitter with 600PAs -- there's a fair chance that deadly regression won't happen this season.
 
 
*'Ue' is a great abbreviation. Its like some element on the periodic table -- Unhittium.
 

Sam Ray Not

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joe dokes said:
'Ue' is a great abbreviation. Its like some element on the periodic table -- Unhittium.
 
It also means "above" or "on the top" ( ) which is pretty appropriate to his superior performance this season.
 

joe dokes

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wade boggs chicken dinner said:
 
There is a t-shirt there too.  Go make some money man.
 
Just remember all the little people on your way to the top.
 

mabrowndog

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It's gone beyond ridiculous now. 
 
Think about everything that's happened in your life since June 10 inclusive. That's 82 days.
 
Since then Koji's made 34 appearances working 35 innings.
 
He thrown 344 of 454 pitches for strikes (75.8%).
 
He's faced 118 batters, striking out 46 and walking 3.
 
He's surrendered just 11 hits, only 3 for extra bases (3 doubles and a HR).
 
That homer, a solo shot, is the only earned run he's allowed over that span.
 
His ratios during this stretch are the stuff of FAP-worthy Penthouse Forum pornographic fiction.
 
ERA = 0.257
K/BB = 15.33
WHIP = 0.400
BAA = .096
OBP = .119
SLG = .148
OPS = .266
 

Al Zarilla

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mabrowndog said:
It's gone beyond ridiculous now. 
 
Think about everything that's happened in your life since June 10 inclusive. That's 82 days.
 
Since then Koji's made 34 appearances working 35 innings.
 
He thrown 344 of 454 pitches for strikes (75.8%).
 
He's faced 118 batters, striking out 46 and walking 3.
 
He's surrendered just 11 hits, only 3 for extra bases (3 doubles and a HR).
 
That homer, a solo shot, is the only earned run he's allowed over that span.
 
His ratios during this stretch are the stuff of FAP-worthy Penthouse Forum pornographic fiction.
 
ERA = 0.257
K/BB = 15.33
WHIP = 0.400
BAA = .096
OBP = .119
SLG = .148
OPS = .266
Hot night, so I got up for a drink of water, checked in here. Was going to complain about your ERA number for Koji. Oh, it's .257, not 2.57. Crazy Eck of 1990 kind of year, or Eck of a year for Uehara.
 

rembrat

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mabrowndog said:
It's gone beyond ridiculous now. 
 
Think about everything that's happened in your life since June 10 inclusive. That's 82 days.
 
Since then Koji's made 34 appearances working 35 innings.
 
He thrown 344 of 454 pitches for strikes (75.8%).
 
He's faced 118 batters, striking out 46 and walking 3.
 
He's surrendered just 11 hits, only 3 for extra bases (3 doubles and a HR).
 
That homer, a solo shot, is the only earned run he's allowed over that span.
 
His ratios during this stretch are the stuff of FAP-worthy Penthouse Forum pornographic fiction.
 
ERA = 0.257
K/BB = 15.33
WHIP = 0.400
BAA = .096
OBP = .119
SLG = .148
OPS = .266
 
Awesome. Can someone with a B-REF subscription run a Season Finder query on hitters with a minimum of 121 PA and an OPS less than .300? UE is basically turning opposing hitters into some long forgotten shitty hitter and I'd like to know who that shitty hitter is or was.
 
P.S. I already checked Jose Igelsias and in his last 121PA he is hitting .237/.275/.289 and that is still too good.
 

joyofsox

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rembrat said:
 
Awesome. Can someone with a B-REF subscription run a Season Finder query on hitters with a minimum of 121 PA and an OPS less than .300? UE is basically turning opposing hitters into some long forgotten shitty hitter and I'd like to know who that shitty hitter is or was.
 
P.S. I already checked Jose Igelsias and in his last 121PA he is hitting .237/.275/.289 and that is still too good.
 
They are all pitchers (except for Ben Egan). And more than half are from the Deadball Era.
http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/GBf5c
 

Savin Hillbilly

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rembrat said:
 
Awesome. Can someone with a B-REF subscription run a Season Finder query on hitters with a minimum of 121 PA and an OPS less than .300? UE is basically turning opposing hitters into some long forgotten shitty hitter and I'd like to know who that shitty hitter is or was.
 
P.S. I already checked Jose Igelsias and in his last 121PA he is hitting .237/.275/.289 and that is still too good.
 
Unless I'm doing the search wrong, there have been no seasons since 1901 in which a non-pitcher had at least 121 PA with an OPS that bad. So you could say that Uehara is turning the league into the worst hitter in baseball history.
 
EDIT: joyofsox beat me to it. Not sure why my search didn't turn up Egan.
 

mikeford

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It upsets me that he is seemingly not in the conversation for AL Cy Young.
 
His WAR is a long shot off from the leaders but still, where would this team be without him?
 

mabrowndog

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Displaying his walk and strikeout rates relative to plate appearances instead of innings makes for some simplistic enjoyment. Again, since June 10:
 
K/PA = .399
BB/PA = .025
 

Savin Hillbilly

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There's still some innings to go, and he could back off these numbers, but right now, Uehara has a WHIP under 0.7, a K/BB over 9, and an ERA+ over 350. Eckersley 1990 is the only other guy with at least 50 innings to hit all three of those marks.
 
He won't be in the conversation for Cy Young (or Fireman of the Year) because he'll only have 20-some saves. But he seriously ought to be in the conversation for MVP, WAR be damned. Cabrera will win the award, of course, but Uehara should be among the top runners-up.
 
EDIT: De-hyperbolization courtesy rodderick.
 

rodderick

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Savin Hillbilly said:
There's still some innings to go, and he could back off these numbers, but right now, Uehara has a WHIP under 0.7, a K/BB over 9, and an ERA+ over 350. Eckersley 1990 is the only other guy with at least 50 innings to hit all three of those marks.
 
He won't be in the conversation for Cy Young (or Fireman of the Year) because he'll only have 20-some saves. But he seriously ought to be in the conversation for MVP, WAR be damned. Cabrera will win the award, of course, but Uehara should be among the top runners-up.
 
I have an unhealthy love for Koji, but if he were having this exact same season for another team, and came anywhere near the top-5 in MVP voting, this board would explode.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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rodderick said:
 
I have an unhealthy love for Koji, but if he were having this exact same season for another team, and came anywhere near the top-5 in MVP voting, this board would explode.
 
Yes, it would, and probably with some justice. So you're right, I should delete the word "top" from "among the top runners-up". Let's just say that Koji should get enough votes to show up on the list, and not at the bottom with the fringe vote-getters, but somewhere in the middle. I don't think he will, because I doubt that most writers look at relief pitching numbers closely enough to dig what an extraordinary season Uehara's having. But he should.
 

drbretto

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I think on this board, with those numbers, even if he played for the yankees he would have a few people passionately arguing his mvp case.
 

iayork

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mabrowndog said:
It's gone beyond ridiculous now. 
 
Think about everything that's happened in your life since June 10 inclusive. That's 82 days.
 
Since then Koji's made 34 appearances working 35 innings.
 
In the September Memories thread:
 

ishmael said:
Pedro's stats for September 1999 were insane (41 IP, 70 Ks, 6 BBs, 0.88 ERA, 0.63 WHIP), 
 
 
So I was curious about Koji's last 41 innings.  Going back to May 29 gives: 40.2 innings, 54 Ks, 5 BBs, 0.89 ERA, 0.47 WHIP.  Pretty damn close, with Pedro ahead in K and Koji ahead in WHIP but in a less PED-enhanced year.
 
No real point, just shows how incredible each record is.  
 

StupendousMan

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I was inspired by GreenMonsterVsGodzilla to create a T-shirt with his design.  I modified the number at the bottom so that it is the current (as of Aug 31) batting average against.  
 
 

 
 
You can find this T-shirt design at CustomInk.com.  Specifically, I think that if you visit this link
 
http://www.customink.com/designs/unhittium/mmn0-000w-jzvw/share/?pc=EMAIL-40778&cm_mmc=share-_-emailb-_-button-_-end
 
you'll be able to order copies of the item -- or modify it as you wish.
 
The quoted price from the website was $10.29 each for an order of 20 shirts, or $24.75 for a single shirt.  I think that includes shipping, but I'm not sure.  I don't receive any commission for the sale of these shirts, I just thought it would be fun to try to make one and share it with others.
 
If there is any real interest among SoSH readers, would be it possible for a mod or someone with a lot more experience to set up some sort of special deal to benefit the Jimmy Fund?
 
M

MentalDisabldLst

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I would pay $5 for a well done sign with that on it.
 
I would pay $15 for StupendousMan's tshirt, especially if it was a little more obviously about the Red Sox, but $25 plus shipping is just a little too much for a quirky item.  The bulk price at a group of 20 would be interesting though.  Let me be the first to say I'd be in.
 
The problem is that SM's link goes to this thread URL, not his tshirt, so I can't even assess shipping costs and such.
 

StupendousMan

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MentalDisabldLst said:
 
I would pay $15 for StupendousMan's tshirt, especially if it was a little more obviously about the Red Sox, but $25 plus shipping is just a little too much for a quirky item.  The bulk price at a group of 20 would be interesting though.  Let me be the first to say I'd be in.
 
The problem is that SM's link goes to this thread URL, not his tshirt, so I can't even assess shipping costs and such.
 
Rats.  I messed up the link in my message above.   Give me a moment ..... okay, there.  I've fixed the URL in the message above, and I'll repeat it here for good measure. 
 
http://www.customink.com/designs/unhittium/mmn0-000w-jzvw/share/?pc=EMAIL-40778&cm_mmc=share-_-emailb-_-button-_-end
 
If someone tries to use this link, and it doesn't lead to the unhittium shirt, please send me a PM so I can try fixing it again.
 

SMU_Sox

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His FIP and xFIP have been under or just above 3.00 since 2010. Even the fielding independent neutral stats love him.
 

Jordu

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Bump.

Since the ASB, he's given up an .078 BA and a .209 OPS.

July- September #s: 28.3 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 36 K.

He's got to at least be in the Cy Young discussion.


85 outs, 10 baserunners. That is sick.
 

Savin Hillbilly

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I just did a search on Play Index to see where Uehara stands among relievers with at least 200 IP, a K/9 >10 and a BB/9 <1.5. According to PI, the answer is: he stands alone. There are 28 relievers with at least 200 IP and a K/9 over 10. Koji has the lowest BB/9 at 1.25. The second lowest BB/9 in the group is Sergio Romo at 1.78. Third lowest is Papelbon with 2.32.
 
Where Koji stands among 1131 relievers with 200+ innings since 1900:
 
6th in FIP
4th in FIP-
3rd in ERA-
 
This isn't even 2013 numbers. This is *career* numbers. 
 
Are we looking at the most underrated pitcher in baseball history? (I mean, up until the past few weeks.)
 

EllisTheRimMan

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Rudy Pemberton said:
Bump.
 
Since the ASB, he's given up an .078 BA and a .209 OPS. 
 
July- September #s: 28.3 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 36 K. 
 
He's got to at least be in the Cy Young discussion.
 
I'm traveling and was watching on gameday... went to post in the gamethread at the start of the inning and there were already 2 outs before I got done.  Went back to see what else was posted and the last post was already WATAH!  9 pitches tonight and this is not an anomaly.  We can compare ERA+, WHIP and other results-based stats, but the incredible thing to me watching him as a reliever (even before closing) is the mindblowing effiiciency.  I think this is what is driving the thought process behind comparing to all time greats.   I mean you go to take a piss in the middle of the 9th or end of the 8th, come back and he's high fiving the entire team (again).
 
If you really want to savor an Uehara save... don't blink.
 

ScubaSteveAvery

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Savin Hillbilly said:
I just did a search on Play Index to see where Uehara stands among relievers with at least 200 IP, a K/9 >10 and a BB/9 <1.5. According to PI, the answer is: he stands alone. There are 28 relievers with at least 200 IP and a K/9 over 10. Koji has the lowest BB/9 at 1.25. The second lowest BB/9 in the group is Sergio Romo at 1.78. Third lowest is Papelbon with 2.32.
 
Where Koji stands among relievers with 200+ innings since 1900:
 
6th in FIP
4th in FIP-
3rd in ERA-
 
This isn't even 2013 numbers. This is *career* numbers. 
 
Are we looking at the most underrated pitcher in baseball history? (I mean, up until the past few weeks.)
 
This made me curious to just look at single seasons using roughly his current parameters.  This is looking at all years between 1871 to present
 
IP greater than or equal to 60
WHIP less than or equal to 0.65
K/9 greater than or equal to 12
BB/9 less than or equal to 1.5
 
He's the only one.  Which is incredible if you think of the thousands (tens of thousands?) or relief pitchers who have played the game since its beginning. 
 
If you move the parameters back a bit to 
 
IP greater than or equal to 60
WHIP less than or equal to 0.75
K/9 greater than or equal to 11
BB/9 less than or equal to 2
 
You get three total pitchers.  Koji's current season.  Joaquin Benoit's 2010 season where he pitched 60.1 IP with a K/9 of 11.19, a BB/9 of 1.64 and a WHIP of 0.68.  
 
The third pitcher on the list...Koji Uehara's 2011 season where he pitched 65 innings with a K/9 of 11.7, a BB/9 of 1.25 and a WHIP of 0.73. 
 

Savin Hillbilly

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Rudy Pemberton said:
It's kind of amazing to think that he was basically the team's 4th closer; getting the job after Hanrahan, Bailey, and Tazawa (who I don't think ever even had a save opportunity). His first few outings of the year; he was pitching the 6th inning.
That's the funny part--it seemed like we signed him almost as an afterthought, a quality veteran for the middle innings, a depth guy. And we just happened to stumble on one of the best relievers of all time. It's like finding out that some dicey-looking guy you met in a pub is the King of Middle-Earth.
 

Lowrielicious

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Rudy Pemberton said:
 
Imagine that the Sox never signed him. Where would they be? 
 
Not a nice thought.
On the flip side imagine if they installed him as closer from the get go.
 
Do the redsox really have 28 saves and 20 blown saves on the year??
Koji is 16:3, putting everyone else at 12:17.
 

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Lowrielicious said:
 
Not a nice thought.
On the flip side imagine if they installed him as closer from the get go.
 
Do the redsox really have 28 saves and 20 blown saves on the year??
Koji is 16:3, putting everyone else at 12:17.
Yeah, although blown saves are sort of a weird statistic, as it isn't just the guys actually trying to close out the games.   For example, Oakland has 17 blown saves, but Balfour, who has 36 of their 40 saves on the year, has blown only 2.