The 2010 Yankees & Inherited Runners

The Edwin Jackson trade possibility
The RAB Radio Show: January 4, 2011
That was a bad day. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

One of the most frustrating things to watch in baseball is when a reliever comes into a game and isn’t able to put the fire out. Instead of stranding the runners like he was asked to do, they end up coming around to score, and even worse is when he piles some more runs of his own on top of that. It inevitably happens throughout the season, but it doesn’t mean we have to like it. Those inherited runners are one of baseball’s little statistical quirks, because when those runs score don’t get charged to the pitcher that was actually on the mound at the time.

Let’s say it’s the seventh inning, and CC Sabathia loads the bases with two outs on an infield single, a bloop into the triangle in shallow right-center, and a hit by pitch that grazed the batter’s jersey. Joe Girardi takes his ace out at 118 pitches and gives the ball to Chad Gaudin because he’s trying to force feed him a spot on the playoff roster. Gaudin walks two straight batters then gives up a solid single to center, allowing all three of those inherited runners to score before getting the final out. All three runs are charged to Sabathia while Gaudin exits with a shiny 0.00 ERA. It’s not fair or an accurate representation of what happened, but those are the rules.

As a whole, the Yankee pitching staff allowed 61 of 212 inherited runners to score in 2010, or 28.8%. The major league average was 30.8%, so the Yanks were solidly better than the rest of the league in that department. I’m guessing that has to do the team’s primary relievers having down right excellent strikeout rates, close to or above one strikeout per nine innings pitched. The best team at stranding inherited runners in 2010 was the Twins (23.8% allowed to score), the worst was the Diamondbacks (41.3%, yikes). Here is the inherited runner breakdown for Yankee relievers with at least 25 innings pitched in 2010…

It’s not an enormous amount of baserunners on an individual level, but every little bit counts. Fun fact: All three of those inherited runners Mo allowed to score came in one game, the May 16th game when he walked Jim Thome with the bases loaded before allowing the grand slam to Jason Kubel (pictured above). To give you an idea of how unstable this data really is, David Robertson‘s percentage of inherited runners scored would have been an above league average 28.1% instead of a below average 31.3% had he allowed nine runners to score instead of ten.

Aside from Mitre and CHoP, the team’s core relief crew did a fine job of stranding runners, basically league average or better. None of the primary guys really had an especially poor season in this department. But what about the starting pitchers that handed the ball off to said relief crew?

Among the many great stats kept at Baseball Reference is data on bequeathed runners and bequeathed runners scored. That is runners left on base by a starting pitcher and handed over to a reliever, the other side of the inherited runner coin. Here’s a breakdown of the team’s five regular starters from 2010, with their bequeathed runner data…

Again, it’s a relatively small amount of runners on an individual level, but it still puts a dent in the ol’ ERA. Both Pettitte and Hughes appear to have benefited greatly from work by the guys relieving them, Sabathia not so much. I wanted to get an idea of how much having an above or below average rate of bequeathed runners score impacted these guys’ ERA’s, so let’s figure out how many runners would have been expected to score had each received the team average of 28.8% inherited runners scored…

Okay, so it’s not much of a difference, nothing worth getting upset over. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started writing this post, so for all I knew it could have been a 0.50 ERA swing in some cases. I wish there was a way to get bequeathed runner data for relievers, but alas, B-Ref only keeps it for starters. I suspect that Joba might have been a little unlucky in those spots, I seem to remember quite a few times when he was lifted with men on base only to watch the inning implode. Heck, those three inherited runners Mo allowed to score in that game all belonged to Joba. Could be confirmation bias, so who knows.

As it stands, the only significant addition to the 2011 bullpen is Pedro Feliciano. He’s been an inherited runner stranding machine over the last four years, allowing just 51 of 235 runners to score (21.7%) over the last four years. Over the last two seasons, it’s 18.3%. That definitely has something to do with his status as a lefty specialist though, so don’t get too excited. As long as the Yankee relievers keep missing bats and getting outs on strike three, I would expect them to be better than league average at stranding extraneous baserunners.

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The Edwin Jackson trade possibility
The RAB Radio Show: January 4, 2011
  • Amol

    From baseball prospectus:

    Name-Bequeathed Runners-Bequeathed Runners Scored
    Boone Logan-29-5
    Chad Gaudin-9-4
    Chan Ho Park-4-3
    David Robertson-31-8
    Dustin Moseley-6-2
    Ivan Nova-10-4
    Joba Chamberlain-14-7
    Kerry Wood-10-0
    Mariano Rivera-6-0
    Sergio Mitre-4-1

    http://www.baseballprospectus......cid=907851

    • Thomas

      Joba definitely did get unlucky. Using the 30% of bequeathed runners score, only 4 should have scored. This would have lowered his ERA to 4.02 compared to the 4.40 it actually was.

    • http://twitter.com/firstheart42 seimiya

      Damn, Kerry Wood’s 10-0? Bet that helped with his 0.69 ERA. What would it have been if he had 3/10? (I can’t do math :( )

      • Thomas

        1.73 ERA

        • http://twitter.com/firstheart42 seimiya

          That’s moderately more reasonable (but still pretty damn good).

      • TopChuckie

        Kerry says, “Thanks Mo.”

    • TopChuckie

      Looking at Logan’s numbers, I’m thinking this can’t just be that pitcher’s base runners, it must also be the ones he inherited, no? So Joba’s 7 bequeathed runners allowed to score may not have gone against his ERA, they may have belonged to the pitcher before Joba.

  • David

    How ’bout a split on Logan, who kind of sucked early in the year and was sent down vs after his second call up when he was a lot better?

    • Thomas

      After Logan was brought up the 2nd time (July 18th). He had a rate of 30% (23 IR), before it was 10% (10 IR).

  • OldYanksFan

    Excellent, excellent post. Thanks.

  • the Other Steve S.

    I’m just glad you’re not bitter about Gaugin, :-)

    Try refiguring the ERAs based on location of inherited runners scored. Say, if CC left a guy on third and Sergio lets him in, charge CC with .75 ER and Sergio with .25. From first it would be .25/.75. From second they each get a half.

    • http://twitter.com/biebrichbeats ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

      I had a similar thought while reading the post and I guess the numbers of outs should be factored in, too. Would probably make this too complicated but more fair.

  • http://twitter.com/kschmidt2 Kiersten

    Let’s say it’s the seventh inning, and CC Sabathia loads the bases with two outs on an infield single, a bloop into the triangle in shallow right-center, and a hit by pitch that grazed the batter’s jersey. Joe Girardi takes his ace out at 118 pitches and gives the ball to Chad Gaudin because he’s trying to force feed him a spot on the playoff roster. Gaudin walks two straight batters then gives up a solid single to center, allowing all three of those inherited runners to score before getting the final out.

    Did this really happen?

    • http://www.superkyle.tk Fat Abbot

      sounds plausible

  • Jimmy

    Interesting analysis. Would the inherited runner scored % be any more consistent if it was weighed for where the runners were when bequeathed? A bequeathed runner on third who then scores and a runner bequeathed on first who then scores should weigh differently, no? Granted this may make the sample sizes too small to improve the analysis.

    Anyway, thanks for digging this up. I wasn’t aware this data was even available.

  • king of fruitless hypotheticals

    charge each of them with a run :)

  • CS Yankee

    I always thought they should of changed it to runner in scoring position with 1 or less outs goes to the removed pitcher (ERA), plus a runner at first with no outs (to the removed pitcher).

    2 outs with guy on 2B/3B, or 1 out with runner on 1B should be charged to the Relief Pitcher’s ERA.

    Historically stats shouldn’t change though, but a Realistic Expectation Earned Run Average (REERA) would be great…plus the name says that you have improved it (plus it sounds cool).

  • TopChuckie

    I don’t really think we should be letting Joba off any hooks. Starters are supposed to get into and out of jams over the numerous innings they throw, and sometimes they might tire and need help getting out of those jams. On the other hand, relievers are not supposed to get into jams, only out of them.

    • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S.

      This is proof that Joba is not a reliever.

      • The Big City of Dreams

        According to the Yankees he is. He’s a middle reliever who they refuse to start or trade.

  • http://danielslifka.wordpress.com Jerome S.

    The vindication of anecdotal evidence!

    I had a feeling during the season that CC was getting screwed by this.