Matt Barnes DFA'd

jon abbey

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I didn't post this earlier because I thought someone else would, but sometimes baseball front offices get scarred by mistakes they made that they really regret, and it affects their moves going forward. For instance, the Mets were evidently very upset afterwards that they gave up top prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong for a rental of Javy Baez in 2021, and it made them extra reluctant to deal prospects last deadline or this winter.

I bring this up because in the Chad Jennings article in The Athletic today, he brings up Jeffrey Springs (who coincidentally signed a nice extension with TB today). Bloom moved Springs to TB in Feb 2021 in a similar roster juggle maneuver and Jennings thought of that move when Bloom wrote this:

“Look we all have our share of (mistakes), I have some of mine,” Bloom said. “Sometimes there are guys where the easy way out is to designate or to trade someone who, you know, doesn’t have a shiny ERA or just got whacked around or doesn’t have as much under their belt, even when all the indicators say that that’s the wrong move. Usually when you do that, the game will punish you.”

https://theathletic.com/4124718/2023/01/25/why-red-sox-cut-matt-barnes/

So I think that was at least a tiny factor here in not taking one of the more obvious DFAs, as Springs was two years ago.
 

effectivelywild

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One thing I did notice on a few of these---number 1 was a pure meatball, number 2 was a curve that got too much of the plate and number 4 was similar, with Brasier also completely missing his location---is that even these were flukey looking hits, he was throwing his fastball in some eminently hittable locations on many of these, which is something that he was generally doing a lot early in the season. Later in the season he seemed to locate his fastball better which drastically helped.

I think that when looking at pitchers but especially relievers, you have to try to reduce how much you rely on ERA and instead look at things like FIP and also aspects of his pitches, suc as command, to get a sense of how the pitcher may perform going forward. Brasier definitely had some bad batted ball luck that inflated his ERA and there are aspects of his pitches that you can convince yourself bode well for the future. These same concepts make Barnes return to form look like it had a strong element of good luck to it. Depending on how you view such analysis, you may either disagree or agree with these conclusions but personally I would rather have a team that consistently looks at these things to project future performance. And at least it's consistent, in this case.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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I'll preface this by saying I don't particularly like Brasier. But part of his results last year, as has been mentioned upthread, are affected by the fact that he pitches pretty well most of the time but occasionally has a nuclear inning. Last year that happened 4 times during which he gave up 17 ER in 2 1/3 innings. The rest of the time over 64 appearances he pitched 60 innings with an ERA of 3.45, pretty much the same as the xFIP of 3.49.
That’s some Eric Van BS . Do that to any reliever.
When he’s not pitching horribly… he pitches pretty okay
 

effectivelywild

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That’s some Eric Van BS . Do that to any reliever.
When he’s not pitching horribly… he pitches pretty okay
Yeah, with relievers you can't cherrypick just the "good" outings: taking out Barnes 5 worst outings where he gave up 11 runs in 3.1 innings makes him look elite. If I had to put money down, I'd say that I bet Brasier's a better pitcher (let's say by xFIP) than Barnes next year, but,,,I wouldn't put much money down. ultimately my feelings on this will hinge on whether the Sox are able to trade him and how much of his salary they are paying down.
 

brandonchristensen

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Do you trust the numbers more when, say, they suggest a hitter has an unsustainably high BABIP? Are there some advanced statistics you trust and others you don't? I'm not trying to be snarky, I'm just curious.
Sorry been at a birthday party. I’m only responding to you because I got 6 responses all with varyingly similar thoughts…

I’m sure this will get a similar amount of responses and that’s fine. I personally dislike numbers that aren’t strictly results based. I think WAR relies too much on defense when defensive tracking seems suspect at best (Duran notwithstanding).

BABIP is a little different in my eyes because a high BABIP can be driven by the luck of the specific quarter inch of the bat the ball struck, by a hot streak, by positional alignment…the process of a bat hitting a ball is so impossible whereas a pitcher putting the ball on the bat and receiving bad results repeatedly feels more like he can’t miss bats. Like Pedro sticking up for a team mate making an error “I let him hit so it’s my fault.”

Though I do see now what you mean by the similarities. I think with how even with great luck with BABIP you’re still talking about a high 30% success rate whereas a pitcher with “bad luck” is mostly unreliable out there.

I don’t know. As a kid of the 80s and 90s, the sport has changed so much in so many ways that maybe it’s gotten past me. But I see advanced metrics used so often that don’t always match what I see when I watch a game anymore. Feels so cold to me - players are just algorithms to be used in a larger algorithm. You can’t argue with the results sometimes - but it doesn’t make the game any more fun.

Sorry for the ramble.
 

Trlicek's Whip

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Why would any GM view Barnes as having a "proven closer" aura when he lost his closer job 1.5 seasons ago and just got DFAed despite being owed $10 million?
Anyone with the same vibe here who thinks we were nuts to DFA Barnes. All I can think of is that it's a long and crappy winter for Sox fans, and some are feeling the nostalgia for Barnes' being a part of the 2018 WS and having some Hall of Pretty Good seasons.

Because he's largely not been sustainably great even if he's one of the best pitchers to come out of Danbury, CT, and as unfun as Ryan B is to watch pitch, I see the argument in dumping Barnes first, and now.

And as Mauf and others mentioned, maybe there's cause/effect we're not yet aware of where Barnes brings back a prospect or something during his DFA window.
 

joe dokes

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Sure. But again… what does Barnes look like if you do that? What does Sawamura look like if you take out the games he wasn’t brought in with runners on? I’d probably take him too actually

It's not cherry picking . If brasier had 20 games like that, no one would say "just take those out." As between Barnes and brasier, how many of Barnes's 45 games were pretty ok? That's really the question as between those two last year. Quick a.d dirty is each being charged with runs in about 1/3 of their appearances.

The overall point is that it's not unreasonable to think that there's really very little to separate the 2 going forward.
 

DeadlySplitter

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I didn't post this earlier because I thought someone else would, but sometimes baseball front offices get scarred by mistakes they made that they really regret, and it affects their moves going forward. For instance, the Mets were evidently very upset afterwards that they gave up top prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong for a rental of Javy Baez in 2021, and it made them extra reluctant to deal prospects last deadline or this winter.

I bring this up because in the Chad Jennings article in The Athletic today, he brings up Jeffrey Springs (who coincidentally signed a nice extension with TB today). Bloom moved Springs to TB in Feb 2021 in a similar roster juggle maneuver and Jennings thought of that move when Bloom wrote this:

“Look we all have our share of (mistakes), I have some of mine,” Bloom said. “Sometimes there are guys where the easy way out is to designate or to trade someone who, you know, doesn’t have a shiny ERA or just got whacked around or doesn’t have as much under their belt, even when all the indicators say that that’s the wrong move. Usually when you do that, the game will punish you.”

https://theathletic.com/4124718/2023/01/25/why-red-sox-cut-matt-barnes/

So I think that was at least a tiny factor here in not taking one of the more obvious DFAs, as Springs was two years ago.
I saw this earlier today myself and rolled my eyes. If you're letting "scars" affect your future decision making, there's confirmation bias shifting your judgment and that's not good.
 

jon abbey

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I saw this earlier today myself and rolled my eyes. If you're letting "scars" affect your future decision making, there's confirmation bias shifting your judgment and that's not good.
That's one way to look at it, but also learning from your mistakes is something positive. In the Mets' case, I think it was smart to not move guys like Baty for a quick upgrade, we'll see about this move but given the underlying numbers that have been cited, it seems like it was the right thing to do and maybe not the move Bloom would have made last year if he was faced with a similar/identical situation.
 

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One thing I did notice on a few of these---number 1 was a pure meatball, number 2 was a curve that got too much of the plate and number 4 was similar, with Brasier also completely missing his location---is that even these were flukey looking hits, he was throwing his fastball in some eminently hittable locations on many of these, which is something that he was generally doing a lot early in the season. Later in the season he seemed to locate his fastball better which drastically helped.
Also, insofar as this suggests the responsibility should be shifted to the fielders. . .how many of these were errors?
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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It's not cherry picking . If brasier had 20 games like that, no one would say "just take those out." As between Barnes and brasier, how many of Barnes's 45 games were pretty ok? That's really the question as between those two last year. Quick a.d dirty is each being charged with runs in about 1/3 of their appearances.

The overall point is that it's not unreasonable to think that there's really very little to separate the 2 going forward.
But it's been established knowledge that Barnes was pitching with a shoulder injury from overuse, how long that was causing him to not pitch well is a question we don't know but why can't I remove what I see as his likely "pitching injured" time. Up until his contract, he was a good reliever with some absolutely sublime stretches and some not so good stretches. He signed the contract and it was almost a full consensus here that it was a great deal with most posters saying that even if he isn't as good as his absolute dominant periods, it was still a great contract due to his still very consistently good results up until what seems like his injury. When he finally returned, the results were there.
 

8slim

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This is where advanced metrics fall apart for me.

He was bad because of bad luck seems like a horrible thing to bank on.
All of scouting is trying to estimate how good a player is and will be. When you're considering all that goes into it, wouldn't you want to put more weight on things that correlate more with performance?

It's not saying you think he's going to be better because he's had bad luck, it's saying you think he's going to get better results because he has a better process.
The challenge I have is the simple act of evaluating relievers statistically. The sample sizes are so small, and there can be so much volatility in their game-over-game performance. Personally I think, specific to relivers, looking at one season and ~40-60 innings to draw definitive conclusions is incredibly difficult. I don't envy the job a front office has to do in regards to building a pen, because it really is a crapshoot for all but a small numbers of pitchers.

In this case, I'm of the opinion that neither Barnes nor Brasier is likely to have a positive impact on the 2023 Sox. Hopefully Blooms find a way for someone to absorb a good chunk of Barnes' salary, and hopefully Brasier is cut when a bunch of relievers look far better than him in ST.
 

8slim

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Sorry been at a birthday party. I’m only responding to you because I got 6 responses all with varyingly similar thoughts…

I’m sure this will get a similar amount of responses and that’s fine. I personally dislike numbers that aren’t strictly results based. I think WAR relies too much on defense when defensive tracking seems suspect at best (Duran notwithstanding).

BABIP is a little different in my eyes because a high BABIP can be driven by the luck of the specific quarter inch of the bat the ball struck, by a hot streak, by positional alignment…the process of a bat hitting a ball is so impossible whereas a pitcher putting the ball on the bat and receiving bad results repeatedly feels more like he can’t miss bats. Like Pedro sticking up for a team mate making an error “I let him hit so it’s my fault.”

Though I do see now what you mean by the similarities. I think with how even with great luck with BABIP you’re still talking about a high 30% success rate whereas a pitcher with “bad luck” is mostly unreliable out there.

I don’t know. As a kid of the 80s and 90s, the sport has changed so much in so many ways that maybe it’s gotten past me. But I see advanced metrics used so often that don’t always match what I see when I watch a game anymore. Feels so cold to me - players are just algorithms to be used in a larger algorithm. You can’t argue with the results sometimes - but it doesn’t make the game any more fun.

Sorry for the ramble.
1) I feel ya.

2) re: the bolded... you can definitely argue, because using those stats as predictors often fails. Not always, but certainly not never. I do find that some folks dump a few advanced stats, or projections, into a post and act as if their position is now definitively correct. That's not the case. As some said upthread, just because something can be measured doesn't mean it's important, insightful or predictive. I came to SOSH 20+ years ago because I loved the use of advanced statistics to better understand the game. But there are sooooo many numbers that using 1 or 2 as definitive proof of most anything isn't really a best practice, IMHO.
 

brandonchristensen

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1) I feel ya.

2) re: the bolded... you can definitely argue, because using those stats as predictors often fails. Not always, but certainly not never. I do find that some folks dump a few advanced stats, or projections, into a post and act as if their position is now definitively correct. That's not the case. As some said upthread, just because something can be measured doesn't mean it's important, insightful or predictive. I came to SOSH 20+ years ago because I loved the use of advanced statistics to better understand the game. But there are sooooo many numbers that using 1 or 2 as definitive proof of most anything isn't really a best practice, IMHO.
I threw a 'sometimes' qualifier in there because I fear the dreaded "show your work" response.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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I threw a 'sometimes' qualifier in there because I fear the dreaded "show your work" response.
I’ve become more skeptical of defensive statistics since learning more about them…. The more predictive offense and pitching stats I think need context a lot more than normally provided but I think they tend to be more consistently accurate than defensive
 

joe dokes

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But it's been established knowledge that Barnes was pitching with a shoulder injury from overuse, how long that was causing him to not pitch well is a question we don't know but why can't I remove what I see as his likely "pitching injured" time. Up until his contract, he was a good reliever with some absolutely sublime stretches and some not so good stretches. He signed the contract and it was almost a full consensus here that it was a great deal with most posters saying that even if he isn't as good as his absolute dominant periods, it was still a great contract due to his still very consistently good results up until what seems like his injury. When he finally returned, the results were there.
No doubt about Barnes's late season *results*. But digging a little deeper into those results, I suppose, gave the team pause as to where, between awful and sublime he would be going forward.
 

effectivelywild

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Sorry been at a birthday party. I’m only responding to you because I got 6 responses all with varyingly similar thoughts…

I’m sure this will get a similar amount of responses and that’s fine. I personally dislike numbers that aren’t strictly results based. I think WAR relies too much on defense when defensive tracking seems suspect at best (Duran notwithstanding).

BABIP is a little different in my eyes because a high BABIP can be driven by the luck of the specific quarter inch of the bat the ball struck, by a hot streak, by positional alignment…the process of a bat hitting a ball is so impossible whereas a pitcher putting the ball on the bat and receiving bad results repeatedly feels more like he can’t miss bats. Like Pedro sticking up for a team mate making an error “I let him hit so it’s my fault.”

Though I do see now what you mean by the similarities. I think with how even with great luck with BABIP you’re still talking about a high 30% success rate whereas a pitcher with “bad luck” is mostly unreliable out there.

I don’t know. As a kid of the 80s and 90s, the sport has changed so much in so many ways that maybe it’s gotten past me. But I see advanced metrics used so often that don’t always match what I see when I watch a game anymore. Feels so cold to me - players are just algorithms to be used in a larger algorithm. You can’t argue with the results sometimes - but it doesn’t make the game any more fun.

Sorry for the ramble.
I know what you mean. When watching the actual games there is little solace from seeing a bad result and saying "oh but it was just bad luck!". When a hitter comes up in a close and late situation with 2 outs and runners on second and third it's....hard to get excited about a line drive that just happened to get hit at the right fielder. Same thing with a pitcher giving up a little flare with bases loaded or a ground ball that is just out of reach for a fielder. During the actual games, I'm not interested in the "luck independent" results. However, I think the reason why people have been looking at things like FIP and xFIP is that they are, overall, better predictors of future performance than ERA. There do seem to be some guys though that....consistently have appealing "metrics" but underperform---I feel like Dalbec is often like this. So for the actual games, results are what matters, to me. But in terms of projecting how someone will do going forward? I'll take the numbers, but YMMV.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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I know what you mean. When watching the actual games there is little solace from seeing a bad result and saying "oh but it was just bad luck!". When a hitter comes up in a close and late situation with 2 outs and runners on second and third it's....hard to get excited about a line drive that just happened to get hit at the right fielder. Same thing with a pitcher giving up a little flare with bases loaded or a ground ball that is just out of reach for a fielder. During the actual games, I'm not interested in the "luck independent" results. However, I think the reason why people have been looking at things like FIP and xFIP is that they are, overall, better predictors of future performance than ERA. There do seem to be some guys though that....consistently have appealing "metrics" but underperform---I feel like Dalbec is often like this. So for the actual games, results are what matters, to me. But in terms of projecting how someone will do going forward? I'll take the numbers, but YMMV.
The problem with ascertaining and determining what is "luck" and isn't though is subjective when it comes to a whole bunch of circumstantial situations on the field. I still like FIP and xFIP but with a pretty big grain of salt to start and a giant bucket full if there's a consistent breakdown between actual results and expected results. See Franchie for one example off the top of my head
 

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And I think that's also part of the problem with defensive stats like range. It's subjective to determine whether a fielder should/could have reached a ball in play.
 

nvalvo

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I think about this a lot with situations like Duran's disastrous audition in CF, or the poor left side infield defense we've had over the last few years.

You might say that the pitching and offensive statistics, which are generally more reliable, will converge on a "true" value over time — a la the central limit theorem. But what if you're a flyball reliever like Austin Davis, and your centerfielder is turning deep fly balls into inside the park grand slams? What if you're a groundball pitcher, say Brayan Bello, in front of a Xander Bogaerts-type SS, who's not committing many errors, but also isn't getting to many balls in play?

I guess you end up with a .404 BABIP and a two-run split between your FIP and your ERA, like Bello had. That we can adjust for to some extent, but think about what it does to things like IP/start.

These uncertainties in the defensive stats don't stay in the defensive stats. They have knock-on effects to the other stats of other players.
 

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The pitcher with the biggest difference between FIP and ERA was Jim Palmer. He had a lower ERA than FIP in literally every season of his career that he threw more than 100 innings. Having Mark Belanger and Brooks Robinson behind you certainly helps, but there was something he was able to do to limit the quality of contact against him that you miss with fielding independent stats.
 

joe dokes

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The pitcher with the biggest difference between FIP and ERA was Jim Palmer. He had a lower ERA than FIP in literally every season of his career that he threw more than 100 innings. Having Mark Belanger and Brooks Robinson behind you certainly helps, but there was something he was able to do to limit the quality of contact against him that you miss with fielding independent stats.
I think the Orioles are a bad example to prove a valid point. Just about every Oriole starting pitcher from 69-75 had a lower ERA than FIP. Paul Blair, Don Buford, Grich, Hendricks, Etchebarren were all really good or better. (Blair was definitely at Brooks/Belanger levels). Even Boog and Davey Johnson were at least average.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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I think the Orioles are a bad example to prove a valid point. Just about every Oriole starting pitcher from 69-75 had a lower ERA than FIP. Paul Blair, Don Buford, Grich, Hendricks, Etchebarren were all really good or better. (Blair was definitely at Brooks/Belanger levels). Even Boog and Davey Johnson were at least average.
Wouldn't a heavy sinker induce not just a lower ground ball rate, but one that also possibly has backspin as it leaves the bat causing the ball to slow down tremendously- obviously on an infield grounder, but also just in it's course through the air if it's a line-drive or flyball?
 

Manuel Aristides

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Wouldn't a heavy sinker induce not just a lower ground ball rate, but one that also possibly has backspin as it leaves the bat causing the ball to slow down tremendously- obviously on an infield grounder, but also just in it's course through the air if it's a line-drive or flyball?
I think this just emphasizes how many unknowns exist in stats, generally, especially ones that purport to correct for context. Seems entirely plausible to me that a team with a couple sinkerballers and a couple elite IF defenders would grow the grass way out to slow grounders down further, or wet the dirt more, or whatever else people think helps ground balls get converted into outs. Or that they did things like that with the intent of helping those pitchers but had the opposite effect. Correcting for context is a noble idea but it's a mistake to think it's ever done perfectly. To @8slim 's point, better to consult a broad range of statistic and hope such noise gets turned down by being within a larger universe of statistics.
 

joe dokes

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Wouldn't a heavy sinker induce not just a lower ground ball rate, but one that also possibly has backspin as it leaves the bat causing the ball to slow down tremendously- obviously on an infield grounder, but also just in it's course through the air if it's a line-drive or flyball?
I dont know. I recall reading pieces about pitchers inducing weak contact. I also recall knuckleballers being a particularly difficult group to evaluate.
I was just responding to the particular choice of Palmer's ERA/FIP. The Orioles' defense during that time was exceptionally good year after year. (They had a bunch of "1's" defensively in Strat-o-matic!)

I'm of the mind that the advanced pitching numbers can give a basic idea of "he's not *that* good or *that* bad" but its hard to go much further than that. I'm sure each organization approaches these things differently.
 

brandonchristensen

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I know what you mean. When watching the actual games there is little solace from seeing a bad result and saying "oh but it was just bad luck!". When a hitter comes up in a close and late situation with 2 outs and runners on second and third it's....hard to get excited about a line drive that just happened to get hit at the right fielder. Same thing with a pitcher giving up a little flare with bases loaded or a ground ball that is just out of reach for a fielder. During the actual games, I'm not interested in the "luck independent" results. However, I think the reason why people have been looking at things like FIP and xFIP is that they are, overall, better predictors of future performance than ERA. There do seem to be some guys though that....consistently have appealing "metrics" but underperform---I feel like Dalbec is often like this. So for the actual games, results are what matters, to me. But in terms of projecting how someone will do going forward? I'll take the numbers, but YMMV.
It makes sense. I don't begrudge anyone for being all in on it - it just seems to ignore teh actual gameplay.
Same with pythag records - what you should be instead of what you are seems weird in a game with outlier games of lots or little runs.
 

joe dokes

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It makes sense. I don't begrudge anyone for being all in on it - it just seems to ignore teh actual gameplay.
Same with pythag records - what you should be instead of what you are seems weird in a game with outlier games of lots or little runs.
I think a lot of those stats are the beginning of discussions for teams, not the end. "we underperformed our pythag by 12 games. Why? A bunch of blowouts? A shitty bullpen?
Run competently and honestly (with itself), a team that wins 85 games and overperforms its Pythag by 10 games is having different discussions than one that wins 85 and underperforms by 10.
 

brandonchristensen

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I think a lot of those stats are the beginning of discussions for teams, not the end. "we underperformed our pythag by 12 games. Why? A bunch of blowouts? A shitty bullpen?
Run competently and honestly (with itself), a team that wins 85 games and overperforms its Pythag by 10 games is having different discussions than one that wins 85 and underperforms by 10.
Makes sense. Anyway, I'm derailing like crazy! Going to let you smart folk handle these types of discussions. I'll just focus on my important stats like Pitcher WINS and Hitter's RBIs.
 

Sandy Leon Trotsky

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It makes sense. I don't begrudge anyone for being all in on it - it just seems to ignore teh actual gameplay.
Same with pythag records - what you should be instead of what you are seems weird in a game with outlier games of lots or little runs.
Pythag is interesting though... it takes into account a long, long, long season so I can see how it works (but the Yankees didn't take any solace in the '61 World Series when they outscored the Pirates by like 228 runs but still lost the series) projected out over a full season. Which, of course means at the end of the year... who fucking cares? Sometime around the middle of July, I can see a GM and manager sitting down and looking at expected W/L record and actual and figuring that into the whole equation of whether to buy, sell or stay.
The entire theory is figured that all teams win a relative number of blowouts, lose blowouts, eek out crazy wins and lose in heartbreaking games the same over a full season.
It looks like theoretically, if not factually, that having a very good bullpen outperforms pythag consistently. The Mariano Effect has been discussed around here