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The Angels have the best bullpen in baseball when inheriting runners on base

The bullpen without inherited runners is another story...

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Baltimore Orioles Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

If I told you that the Angels had the 3rd worst save percentage in baseball, you would have no problem believing that.

But if I told you that the Angels had the lowest inherited runners scored percentage, you would probably not believe me. But it’s true.

The Angels bullpen problems certainly don’t stem from allowing inherited runners to score - and the starting rotation thanks them for that. No, their problem comes from them allowing their own runners to score.

This is just the list of teams performing above league average which is 31%. Look at the Angels right there on top - and with the 3rd highest numbers of inherited runners among these teams, so it’s not like they aren’t getting chances to let runners score. Of course you may also notice that ugly save percentage. This is what happens when you lose Keynan Middleton and the back end of your bullpen was not that strong to begin with.

We aren’t done with the season yet, but notice the huge improvement with inherited runner score rate (in the table below) from 2017 to 2018 (9% better overall).

Kirby Yates only inherited 1 runner before landing on the Padres but everyone from David Hernandez on up was worse than the team (and league) average. Look how good Alvarez was/is BOTH years at keeping inherited runners on base.

These numbers this year are flat out impressive. Of course a few guys like Eduardo Paredes (small sample size), Cam Bedrosian, and Jim Jonhson are above leave average. Cam Bedrosian, who has lowed his IS rate by 10% from last year, has also found new ways to blow saves. He’s just 1 for 6 in save opportunities and already has matched his blown save total from last year. For the love of all things holy - he should NEVER close a game again unless he’s up by 3 runs. This guy just can’t pitch clean innings.

The Angels save percentage has also dropped 10% from last year thanks to having almost no one (other than Middleton) who can close out games. The next best guys are Justin Anderson and Blake Parker but even those guys have blown 4 saves total.

Noe Ramirez, Hansel Robles, Blake Parker, Jose Alvarez, and Justin Anderson have all inherited a fair amount of base runners and all have very impressive rates at keeping them from scoring.

This ability to keep guys on base at such a high rate is inevitably helping the ERA numbers of the starters. This is a good thing. The not so good thing is the fact that the Angels bullpen has the 7th highest slugging against at .426, and the second most home runs allowed in all of baseball with 53. They are also giving up the 4th highest rate of hard hit balls behind the Royals, Diamondbacks, and Twins. The Angels bullpen is also not generating a lot of swing and miss with the 8th lowest swinging strike rate and are 5th worst at getting out of zone swings.

Let’s revel in the fact that the Angels bullpen is great at something. Oh, and another fun fact is that the Angels also have the highest LOB-Wins rate of any team. Don’t know what that is? It’s the estimate of how many wins a pitcher has added as a result of stranding runners on base. The Angels as a team are #1 with 2.9. So go ahead and imagine how bad the Angels bullpen would look this year if they were letting all those inherited runners score. I think if they were even league average, the team record of 49-48 would probably look more like 47-50. It’s the small things, right?