While Jonathan Papelbon’s career save rate of 88.3 percent sounds impressive, Smith points out that teams historically have won 85.7 percent of games they led by one run after eight innings, 93.7 percent of games they led by two runs and 97.5 percent of games they led by three. Thus, it is clearly inefficient to pay Papelbon or any top closer $12 million a year and only use him for situations in which the team likely will win anyway.
Caple’s entire article is about how the save statistic has turn the best relievers into overrated guys who rarely pitch in the most critical situations. He goes on to describe in detail how the save rule should be modified so that the pitchers who really do the hard work get rewarded.
I hate the mentality in baseball that the team’s best reliever can only be used if there is a save at stake. And instead they bring in their 3rd or 4th best reliever with the tying run in in the 6th inning.