Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight has developed an interesting alternative to baseball's save statistic. The link is obviously where you'll find more information, but the short version is:
- Many teams use their closer exclusively in the 9th inning, even when their talents would be better served in higher-leverage situations in the 7th or 8th innings.
- This habit developed from managers' tendencies to try to get the most possible saves for their closer, instead of the most possible wins for their teams.
- Silver developed a statistic called the "goose egg," which rewards relief pitchers for a scoreless frame tossed in the 7th inning or later.
Much more thorough analysis can be found below. I encourage anyone who loves stats to give it a look.