After Chris Perez’s meltdown on Tuesday night, IPL reader Chip P. left us a note:
Totally unrelated topic, but is there any way someone the IPL team can dig up some statistics on Chris Perez and non-save situation outings? It seems to me that when he is in the game without a lead, he ALWAYS gives up runs and Acta seems to not recognize this. I don’t have empirical data to back this up, which is why I am reaching out to you folks.
These stats are readily available on baseball-reference player splits pages so I took a look and figured the results were worth posting for everyone to see. Here are his numbers over the past two seasons:
Save situation: 52 games, 2.89 ERA, 1 HR allowed
Non-save situation: 27 games, 4.39 ERA, 4 HR allowed
At first glance it looks like Chip’s inclination was right, but there are some caveats worth mentioning.
For starters, you have to consider the nature of the non-save situation. Your closer prepares to pitch with the game on the line, and it requires a certain kind of mental makeup to excel in these situations. So when they’re asked to enter the game in a new situation, their entire routine is thrown off. Comparing a closer in save and non-save situations would be like comparing a star hitter’s regular stats to his pinch hitting stats – they’re never going match up. For example, Jim Thome has a career .219 batting average as a pinch hitter.
Secondly, this is a very small sample size. Perez allowed 13 earned runs in these non-save situations, but four of them came in one game against the White Sox last September. If we remove that game, his non-save situation ERA dips to 3.04, which is a negligible difference from his save situation era.
All of that said, when analyzing Perez’s performance from another angle, I do think Chip was still correct. I took a look at Perez’s performance in each game and ignored how many runs he allowed, but instead counted only whether or not he allowed any runs to score. In save situations, Perez allowed at least one run just nine out of 52 times (17%). But in non-save situations Perez yielded a run nine out of 27 times (33%).
So while I don’t think this necessarily should serve as an indictment against Perez – even the great Mariano Rivera has an era nearly half-a-run run higher in non-save situations – it does hold true that Perez struggles when the game is not immediately on the line.
Follow Ryan on twitter @TribeFanMcC