An interesting baseball subtlety

Today I looked at the box score for this afternoon’s Red Sox/Angels game and I was confused by what I saw. Hideki Okajima was charged with a blown save despite not allowing a single run, earned or otherwise. I puzzled over how this was possible. It turns out that a pitcher is charged with a blown save if he allows a runner to score the tying run (thus eliminating the chance of earning a save) regardless of whether he was responsible for allowing that runner to reach base. In today’s game, Okajima entered the game with the bases loaded. The runs that were scored while he was on the mound were charged to the pitchers who preceded him but he was charged with the blown save.

This seems a little unfair to me. He came into the game with a 1-run lead and the bases loaded. Any mistake, including a walk or even a passed ball, would earn him a blown save. By the time the inning was over, he had allowed 3 runs to score, so he probably earned the blown save. However, in general, I think assigning credit or blame to pitchers is a fool’s errand. I have commented on this at length in the past so I won’t go into it again. However, this situation highlighted to me that wins and losses aren’t the only types of credit/blame quantities assigned to pitchers that are problematic in their execution.

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April 2008

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