Historical Bullpen Facts

Nothing major here. It's just funny how you can be looking at Bobby Ayala's player page at one moment, and then one thing leads to another and you're working on an eight-page spreadsheet.

Note that none of the following numbers are adjusted for park.

  • In 1998, Bobby Ayala went 1-10, blew nine saves, and ran up a 7.29 ERA. He also ran a 4.02 FIP, a .381 BABIP, and allowed a slightly below-average rate of line drives. By no means was Ayala a particularly great reliever over his time in Seattle, but he does not deserve his reputation. Blame bad luck and bad defense. His K/9 in 1994 was 12.1.

  • The 1999 Mariner bullpen struck out 324 batters, walked 295, and beaned 29, for an adjusted K/BB of 1.00. They also had a .399 OBP against. The 1999 Mariner bullpen took the average hitter and made him Nick Johnson. Jose Mesa had a .366 OBP against in 39 save situations. 

  • The worst Mariner bullpen of all time, by ERA, was that 1999 edition, at 5.94. That was also the worst Mariner bullpen by ERA vs. league average. Using FIP, we get 1999 again (5.34), but using FIP vs. league average, we end up with 1992 (4.55 vs. 3.71). Neither the 1992 nor the 1999 Mariner bullpens could throw strikes, but at least the 1999 Mariner bullpen did a decent job of keeping the ball in the yard.

  • The best Mariner bullpen of all time, by ERA, was the 2001 edition, at 3.04. Same for ERA vs. league average. Using FIP, we get 1981 (3.58), and using FIP vs. league average, we get 2003 (3.66 vs. 4.27). Looking back, it's interesting how the bullpen went from nightmare to decent to awesome as quickly as it did. Remember, though, that those relievers from the early aughts got a huge boost from the defense. The 2001 bullpen had a .251 BABIP. .251. Just two years earlier, it was .332.

  • The 1978 Mariner bullpen posted an adjusted K/BB of 0.92. That means they walked and beaned more batters than they struck out. It's not as woeful as the 1999 figure, since strikeout rates for relievers have climbed from the mid-5's to the mid-7's over the past three decades, but it's still impressive in all the worst ways. 

  • Going back to 1977, the best bullpen by FIP vs. league average belonged to the 2003 Dodgers, and the worst belonged to the 1982 Twins. Those Twins were undone by a home run rate that was literally twice the average. The Dodgers, meanwhile, struck out a batter an inning.

  • Best and worst by K/BB vs. league average: 1994 Expos :( and 1989 Tigers. The 1999 Mariners come in second-worst.

  • Through its history, the Mariner bullpen has posted a 4.17 ERA, a 4.24 FIP, and a 1.7 K/BB against league averages of 3.93, 4.07, and 1.8.

  • Since 1977, Dodger relievers have posted an FIP 10% better than the league average, while Tiger relievers have come in 8% below the league average. Dodger relievers have posted a 3.53 sum ERA over 33 seasons. Even given the NL adjustment and a pitcher-friendly park, that's crazy.

  • Tampa Bay relievers have a 1.7 franchise K/BB, against a league average of 1.9.

I have no idea why I did this.

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