Saturday, May 16, 2009

LaTroy Hawkins Blows It Again... Again

LaTroy Hawkins, pictured above in his short stint with the Colorado Rockies, has been much maligned over his career. Hawkins has pitched, since 1995, with the Minnesota Twins, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Baltimore Orioles, Colorado Rockies, New York Yankees, and currently the Houston Astros, as well as for the USA in the 2009 WBC. Hawkins has been moderately productive over his 13 years, producing 11.2 wins above replacement.

Today, LaTroy Hawkins entered in a 4-4 game between the Cubs and his Houston Astros. It took 3 batters for the Cubs to score the game winning run off Hawkins. Although this was not a save situation, many fans of Hawkins former teams will attest to his ability to blow saves. In fact, since 2002, Hawkins leads the MLB in blown saves with 39, which is even more amazing (ridiculous?) considering his save total of 37 in that time period.

The blown save requires that the pitcher enter a "save situation" and then give up the lead. It sounds like it would be difficult for a non-closer to rack up as many blown saves as Hawkins did, then. However, nearly any time that a pitcher ends with a lead could technically be considered a "save situation."
    • He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning.
    • He enters the game, regardless of the count, with the potential tying run either on base, on deck.
    • He pitches for at least three innings.
So anytime the reliever gives up the tying run - whether or not that run is inherited from other relievers - the reliever is charged with a blown save.

Interestingly enough, LaTroy Hawkins has not been below replacement level for any full season during this period in which he's leading the league in blown saves, according to either FanGraph's Value Wins as well as Rally's WAR database. Hawkins is certainly not a great reliever and not necessarily even a good one, but he's certainly not as terrible as his blown saves number would suggest. Then again, I suppose that would be nearly impossible.

No comments: