The Stats: Stretching Nathan Out - Part II

A couple of days ago I made a half-assed attempt at evaluating Nathan's abilities with regards to pitching in the eighth and pitching more than one inning. As both BeefMaster and Johnny Safron correctly pointed out (I like to refer to this as the "Saffron Beef Critique"), simply grouping Nathan's performances by the length of his outings gives false impressions. For example, a (rare) appearance in which he gives up a walk-off HR after having gotten just one out in the 9th ought to be considered as the same type of outing as his trademark 1-2-3 9th innings.

Thus, I decided to run the numbers one more time, but this time I parsed the Retrosheet event files from 2004 to 2007 (Nathan's four full seasons as a Twin) in order to break down his pitching line by the situation in which he entered the game (the entry point).

I use the following abbreviations:

  • #P: Number of pitches thrown (may only be 98% correct I guess)
  • SO%: Strikeouts per batter faced
  • BB%: Walks per batter faced
  • #P/BFP: Pitches per batter faced

You will notice that I do not list Nathan's ERA below. In order to calculate that, I would not only have to look at Nathan's own pitching events but also the events for preceding and subsequent pitchers (due to the twisted nature of the earned run), and the mere thought of this programming exercise made my brain melt a little bit.

Now, without further ado, here are the...


Basic breakdown

Somewhere in the 8th inning 14 11.0 75 284 .203 .297 .234 26.7% 10.7% 3.79
Somewhere in the 9th inning 224 133.2 874 3346 .186 .239 .290 32.4% 6.2% 3.83
Extra innings 36 19.0 156 612 .168 .265 .198 33.3% 11.5% 3.92

Fine-grained breakdown

8th inning, 0 outs 5 4.0 27 98 .320 .333 .360 22.2% 0.0% 3.63
8th inning, 1 or 2 outs 9 7.0 48 186 .128 .271 .154 29.2% 16.7% 3.88
9th inning, 0 outs 215 131.0 854 3269 .184 .238 .288 32.7% 6.2% 3.83
9th inning, 1 or 2 outs 9 2.2 20 77 .263 .300 .368 20.0% 5.0% 3.85
Extra innings 36 19.0 156 612 .168 .265 .198 33.3% 11.5% 3.92


I guess the first conclusion is that when you become too fine-grained, you get down to ridiculously small sample sizes so most of the last table above must be thrown out the window.

Nathan is an absolute beast when entering the 9th with 0 outs. Look at that SO/BB ratio. It sends shivers down your spine. It is clear that Nathan is better at pitching in the usual 9th inning save situations - but not better by much. He tends to lose control a bit in extra innings, possibly due to nerves, but the resulting batting line doesn't really reflect this.

Also, I think that the almost constant value in the #P/BFP column shows that Nathan doesn't alter his approach much in terms of "nibbling" with the strikezone.

There. I guess we didn't learn a whole lot. We knew that he was good. We all have a feeling that he will be good in the 8th inning as well.

Anyway, I promise that it will take a while before I start spamming the forum with stats once again. ;)

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