Today’s Yankees series recap and comments about Liam Hendriks made me wonder a few things about the usage of the Sox top leverage reliever and closers in general.
- How often do top teams utilize their closers (innings and games)?
- Is Hendriks being used abnormally?
TLDR: Situational use aside, I think it’s too early to say if Hendriks is really being underused overall.
I put together this short analysis.
Methodology-wise, I chose to only compare the Top 5 AL teams. For comparison, I chose to look at the last full 2019 season (ignoring 2020). Then I created 3 statistics for comparison:
- Workload Rank (by IP of relievers)
- % of total Innings pitched
- % of total games pitched
- The Sox are using Hendriks slightly below average this year vs. top AL teams, but almost the same as average 2019 top teams.
- The Sox are using Hendriks well below his 2019 rate in Oakland (but about the same as his 2020 rate).
- Oakland is an outlier for closer usage in both 2019 and 2021 seasons, leading both % of games and IP.
Reliever workload rank is interesting to compare among the top AL teams. In 2019, most top teams used their highest leverage reliever the most innings (Yankees were a strange outlier using Chapman 5th most often).
The 2021 season is still young, but it looks like only the Red Sox and Athletics have closer workload ranks similar to 2019. It is possible that teams save their top reliever usage for the stretch runs. The Sox are right in the middle of the other Top 5 AL teams.
Thanks for digging in to the numbers!
It would be interesting to look at a few statistics that would help us see how he used, not just how often.
For example, he has thrown 6 2/3 innings in low leverage situations, compared to 4.0 for Chapman. Similarly, he has 5 2/3 innings in high leverage situations, compared to 7 innings for Chapman. It would be fun to see how that compares to the league.
Also, it feels like he has inherited more runners than a lot of closers. I have not dug into that yet, but it may be interesting.
Thanks for posting!