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Not all no-decisions are created equal: Evaluating a little-examined pseudo statistic Gilbert D. Martinez SABR 41 Long Beach, California July 8, 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Not all no-decisions are created equal: Evaluating a little-examined pseudo statistic Gilbert D. Martinez SABR 41 Long Beach, California July 8, 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Not all no-decisions are created equal: Evaluating a little-examined pseudo statistic Gilbert D. Martinez SABR 41 Long Beach, California July 8, 2011

2 Background In 2009, it seemed like Houston Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt had a no decision in every game he pitched Of course, he didnt, but he did compile 16, a franchise record Made me wonder – Which starting pitcher had the most no decisions in a season? Which starting pitcher is the all-time leader in no decisions? Easy – just check and Id have my answers

3 Not so easy, not so fast There was no quick and easy way (that I was aware of) Baseball Reference is a tremendous resource that records all sorts of information – wins, losses, saves, holds, ERAs, BB, HBP, balks, even days of rest between starts But not no decisions

4 Rationale I wanted to bolster the anecdotal evidence about lucky or unlucky pitchers –ND: A lucky pitcher would be one who left a game while trailing and was saved by his team (got him off the hook for a loss) – meaning, a less effective pitcher +ND: An unlucky pitcher would be one who left while leading, but because of a poor bullpen, bad defense and/or inadequate offense, hed miss a chance for a win – meaning, a more effective pitcher

5 Rationale Neutral ND: A pitcher leaves in a tie game (neither lucky nor unlucky) By determining the season leaders in no decisions and career leaders in no decisions, we may learn more about a pitchers effectiveness This may provide more insight about pitchers and confirm or refute anecdotal evidence about their effectiveness

6 Methodology Baseball References Play Index (1901-2010) Games Started – (Wins + Losses) = No Decisions But I had to account for pitchers who got decisions in relief appearances, which were subtracted from the total wins and losses For the career leaders, same formula; again, I had to determine number of relief appearances that resulted in decisions and subtract from the total number of wins and losses

7 Methodology If a starting pitcher left a game with runners on, I determined –ND, +ND or Neutral ND based on the runners he was responsible for So, a starting pitcher who left with two runners on would be charged with those runs if they scored

8 Methodology For season totals, I looked at all seasons from 1901- 2010 For career totals, I looked at all pitchers with at least 174 game starts For seasons earlier than 1919, I had a friend check The Baseball Encyclopedia (10 th Edition) for decisions that resulted from relief appearances and subtracted those from the total number of decisions

9 Single Season Leaders Bert Blyleven had the most, with 20 in 1979 37 starts – (12 wins + 5 losses) = 20 54.1% of his starts resulted in no decisions 9 –ND (left the game trailing) 4 +ND (left the game leading) 7 Neutral ND (left in a tie) Four times he didnt go the minimum (3 –ND, 1 Neutral ND)

10 Single season leaders Second most: 18 no decisions by Andy Hawkins in 1986 35 starts – (10 wins + 8 losses) = 17 Adjusted to 18 (51.4%) 5 –ND 7 +ND 6 Neutral ND He didnt go the minimum in three starts, all –ND

11 Single season leaders Two players had 17 no decisions in a season: Oliver Perez of the New York Mets in 2008 and Kenny Rogers, who pitched for the Oakland As and New York Mets in 1999

12 Single season leaders Seven players had 16 no decisions in a season: Roy Oswalt of the Houston Astros in 2009 Joba Chamberlain of the New York Yankees in 2009 Randy Wolf of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2009 Eric Milton of the Minnesota Twins in 1999 Juan Guzman of the Toronto Blue Jays in 1993 Randy Jones of the San Diego Padres in 1979 John Montefusco of the San Francisco Giants in 1978

13 Single season leaders 23 pitchers had 15 no decisions in a season 45 pitchers had 14 in a season 96 had 13 in a season 147 had 12 in a season 7 had 11 in a season 13 had 10 in a season

14 Effective pitchers I examined the circumstances in which a pitcher left a game for those with 15 no decisions or more Of those, Pedro Astacio (9-8 with the Dodgers in 1996) was the most impressive 7 +ND, 7 Neutral ND = 14 times he left a game with a lead or a tie but didnt figure in the decision Most unlucky, but very effective

15 Effective pitchers Jim Deshaies (7-12 with the Astros in 1990) 4 +ND, 9 Neutral ND = 13 times he left a game with a lead or a tie John Montefusco (11-9 with the Giants in 1978): 3 +ND, 12 Neutral ND = 15 times he left with a lead or in a tie game Only 1 –ND, and he didnt go the minimum in that game

16 Least effective Of those with 15 no decisions or more, who was the luckiest (or least effective)? Bert Blyleven (Pirates 1979), 9 –ND After that, Joba Chamberlain (Yankees 2009), 7 –ND, Masato Yoshii (Mets 1998), 7 –ND, and Andy Hawkins (Padres 1986), 7 –ND

17 By percentages By percentage of game starts, most got no decisions in about 45 percent of their starts Highest: Rogers (1999), 54.8% Blyleven (1979), 54.1% Oswalt (2009), 53.3%

18 By percentages Elarton (2004), Yoshii (1998), Darling (1993), 51.7% Chamberlain (2009), 51.6% Hawkins (1986), 51.4% Dessens (2002), Perez (2008), Mlicki (1998) and Hamilton (1995), 50%

19 By the decades

20 Career no-decisions Highest number of no decisions in a career Tommy John (288-231) had 188 no decisions in 700 starts (26.9% of his starts were no decisions) Don Sutton (324-256) had 182 no decisions in 756 starts (24.1%) Tom Glavine (305-203) had 174 no decisions in 682 starts (25.5%) Roger Clemens (354-184) had 169 no decisions in 707 starts (23.9%)

21 Career no-decisions Jamie Moyer (355-227) had 167 no decisions in 628 starts (26.6%) Nolan Ryan (324-292) had 164 no decisions in 773 starts (21.2%) Bert Blyleven (287-250) had 161 no decisions in 685 starts (23.5%) Greg Maddux (355-227) had 159 no decisions in 740 starts (21.5%) Jerry Reuss (220-191) had 150 no decisions in 547 starts (27.4%)

22 Career no-decisions

23 76 players (with at least 174 game starts) got no decisions in 30.0% or more of the games they started Only 4 players got no decisions in 35.0% or more of their starts Most players high on the list pitched in the 1970s or later

24 Why? In the early 20 th century, starting pitchers threw more innings, perhaps making it more likely theyd get a decision Nowadays, with specialty bullpen pitchers, its less likely that a starting pitcher will go the distance Managerial decisions might also play a role: pitchers removed before tying run comes to the plate (more likely to happen now than in early 20 th century)

25 Future research Go through the single seasons with 14, 13, 12, etc., no decisions to determine +ND, –ND and Neutral ND Do the same for career numbers to determine who among the pitchers with the most no decisions or highest percentage of no decisions were more/less effective, or unlucky/lucky Examine what a teams total NDs say about a teams overall effectiveness

26 Baseball Reference A suggestion for Baseball Reference: Perhaps they can add single-season no-decision totals and career no-decision totals to their data Adding this statistic tells us a little more about these pitchers that a simple win-loss record does not We could call it the GDMNDIN: Gilbert D. Martinez No Decision Index Number* * just kidding – about the name, not the need for the statistic

27 Special Thanks To Cy Morong (author of Cybermetrics, a baseball blog: and Monte Cely, who both provided invaluable feedback and assistance To my baseball buddies in the Rogers Hornsby Chapter in Austin and San Antonio, Texas And to you for your kind attention Questions?

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