Sunday, February 9, 2014

David Robertson: Heir to the throne

When Mariano Rivera announced his retirement I just assumed David Robertson would fill the gap. I didn't really see the Yanks going out and getting somebody when Robertson was available. I figured I would just take a wait and see approach to how he does. So I never really put much thought into it until I started hearing murmurs of "Can he do it?" "Can he handle the pressure, the prestige?" At first, like any fan you listen in not giving it much thought, but then I began to smirk every time I would hear such a comment. Is that truly how we regard players today and their status on the field, their pressure handling abilities? The shoes that they fill from ghosts of players past? I began to ask myself, "what do the numbers say?" What type of talent does David Robertson truly bring to the Yankees bullpen and what I found may just surprise you. I am going to compare David Robertson to Mariano Rivera based on two different types of seasons.

1. Same age season
2. Similar WAR season

Using these two sample sets I will highlight both players talents with a variety of statistics to see if Robertson truly has the talent to handle the position. I guess that's if he can handle the "pressure" first..

Same age season (28):
In 1997 when Mo was only 28 and in his third full season in the bigs he had a very solid season, although his performance regressed slightly from the year before when he posted a 4.3 WAR he still came out strong with a 2 WAR. Mo stranded a whopping 87.2% of runners on base that season, he posted a 8.54 K/9 and had a 2.51 BB/9 rate. He had the second highest WHIP of his career in '97 with a 1.19 and one note of concern should of been his lopsided FIP to ERA ratio which was a 1.88 ERA and a 2.96 FIP. This lopsided ratio often suggests a regression in the near future and sure enough his WAR by almost a whole win the next year (although he still had a great season).

David Robertson was 28 in 2013 and he posted a 1.6 WAR. D- Rob posted a very similar LOB% with an 87.5%. Although it was a regression from his 2012 K/9 rate of 12.02, Robertson pounded the K-Zone in 2013 and had a 10.45 K/9. Robertson also posted a 2.44 BB/9 rate which contributed to his 1.04 WHIP in 2013. Robertsons ERA to FIP ratio was much more even keeled, it was a 2.04 ERA to a 2.60 FIP.

Similar WAR season: 
In 2010 Mo posted a 1.7 WAR while having a 6.75 K/9 and a 1.65 BB/9. Mo only stranded 78.5% of runners on base that season and his GB% was 51.2% which represented the last time in his career that he would have that rate above 50% (it regressed by over 5 percentage points the next season which in turn also increased his HR/FB ration by 2 percentage points.) He got batters to swing at 38.2% of balls outside the zone and overall had a 83% contact rate. An interesting point I want to make sure to highlight is that although his K/9 rate was quite small that year he was still very successful and had a very solid defense behind him because he had on overall average of .182 that year and a 0.83 WHIP.

D-Rob posted his 1.7 WAR season in 2012, I also feel compelled to point out the fact that the difference in their IP for their 1.7 WAR seasons was only 0.1. Robertson accomplished his success this season through different means, D-Rob's K/9 that year was more than DOUBLE Mo's with a 12.02 K/9 rate. He did walk more people though and had a BB/9 rate of 2.82. Robertson stranded 81.5% of runners that season and had a GB% of 44.9%. His GB% rate didn't seem to affect him much though cause he only gave up 5 home runs. Rob wasn't as successful at getting batters to swing at balls outside the zone with a 28.9% O-Swing rate. But he was more successful at missing bats and had a very respectable 76.8% contact rate. Robertson's BA that season was .228 and had a WHIP of 1.17.

Ill leave the conversations for the comments section but I find it very intriguing when you look at these numbers. Fairly comparable? Absolutely. Certainty? Is it ever?


  1. Interesting. You know you're going to get a lot of arguments comparing Robertson to Rivera! Not from me though. Statistics are statistics and you can't change them. Rivera was probably working with a larger strike zone in the late '90's than Robertson was in the last few years. Maybe due to reputation, maybe due to the fact that umpires weren't under as much scrutiny as they are now. That might explain the descrepancy in batters chasing pitches.

    1. Oh of course but my goal is to incite anarchy! In all seriousness I know there are obvious distinctions from the 90's to now. But as you said the statistics speak for themselves I can comfortably say that I have no concerns about Robertson.

    2. D-Rob will do fine. His BB have been good enough last year to do better this year. He will be able to go one inning as a closer not 2 innings as was the case before...a few times. Even IF he were to fail...I doubt it...we have a couple of pitchers that may be able to fill the gap! It seemed to me he was going for the perfect pitch too many times...not smart!

    3. Saying anyone is similar, if not better statistically, than Mariano is sure to incite a riot around here...

    4. I guess that's the beauty of stats and opinions!

    5. That's why I like stats, there is no opinion. It's all black and white.


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