Grant Balfour Among the Relievers

By Jason Wojciechowski on July 11, 2013 at 11:28 PM

From Jane Lee's Inbox today: "it's something of a slap in the face to the AL's best reliever -- based on numbers -- that [Balfour] wasn't [named to the All-Star team]."

With a minimum of thirty innings pitched, here are Balfour's American League ranks among relievers:1

Saves: 4th
K/9: 29th
K%: 27th
BB/9: 39th
BB%: 41st
HR/9: 47th
BABIP: 9th
ERA: 4th
ERA-: 6th
FIP: 43rd
FIP-: 43rd
tERA: 43rd
SIERA: 34th
WPA: 2nd
Shutdowns: 6th
Meltdowns: 4th
Save percentage: 1st
Innings w/o a blown save: 9th
Games w/o a blown save: 4th

So okay on the theory that save percentage is the only thing that matters, Grant Balfour has been the best reliever in the league. Factually.

But on literally no other measure is Balfour in first. (Joe Nathan beats him in WPA.) "Grant Balfour might be having the best season by a reliever in the American League" is probably wrong (again, Nathan; Greg Holland and Jesse Crain also come to mind), but at least you can make your arguments, whatever they are, and stand by your man on the basis of your opinions and reading of the data. You're not then stating as a fact something that's just not susceptible of factual statement.2

  1. All stats from FanGraphs. 

  2. To lean on something I wrote a while back: see this