How Do You Spell Relief?

Article excerpt

Having done extensive research earlier this year on the science of sabermetrics (the statistical analysis of baseball), your Field Correspondent was duly stunned by a recent news release about the Rolaids Relief Man Award.

The award, which has been around since 1976 and cataloged at http://www.RolaidsReliefMan.com, honors the best closers in both leagues. Bill James, who is a baseball writer and statistician, outlined the formula used to calculate winners in his book, Win Shares. The problem is that the formula seems ridiculously simple:

* Three points for a save

* One additional point for a "tough" save (when the pitcher comes into the game with the tying run on base)

* Two points for a win

* Two points deducted for each loss or blown save

The guy with the most points in each league at the end of the season wins.

Even something as relatively straightforward as WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) takes more computing power to calculate than the Rolaids Relief Man.

Celebrating the Victors

But the Rolaids Relief Man Award has been right about pitchers more than a few times. Among the annual winners are three of the precious few closers who are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame: Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, and Bruce Sutter.

Of course, lesser lights are candidates for the Baseball Nickname Hall of Fame: Jim "The Amazing Emu" Kern, Rich "Goose" Gossage, and Jeff "Yak Yak" Reardon.

This year's contenders--and even the pretenders--are thoroughly analyzed at the site, with game-by-game reports on everything from wins and losses to flyball versus ground-ball stats. So if you're so inclined to come up with a more meaningful--and harder to calculate--stat, then here's your shot.

The site also has one of our favorite quotes from a relief pitcher: "I want to thank all the pitchers who couldn't go nine innings, and manager Dick Howser who wouldn't let them go," according to the Kansas City Royals' Dan Quisenberry after winning the award in 1982. …

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