January 18, 2012

All I Do Is Win Win Win No Matter What

Why do people think that W-L records are the know it all be it all of how good a pitcher is? They don't portray a pitchers true value. If anything it skews it. Sometimes pitchers just get stuck on bad teams or just get unlucky. Look at the 2011 Giants rotation. Lincecum, Cain, and Bumgarner combined for a record of 38-38. Does that mean they sucked? No. It just shows how bad the Giants offense was. A pitcher can’t control how many runs his team scores or how they play defense behind him. His job is just to go out there and keep the team in the game. In games where they gave up 3 earned runs or less, 11 times Lincecum got a loss or no decision. Cain and Bumgarner? 16 and 11 respectively. That’s 38 times the Giants couldn’t score 3 or more runs to help their pitchers get the win. Run support is hard to come by when you have one of the worst offenses in the league The Giants also had 14 blown saves. That’s 8-10 games they should have won but couldn’t close. Those 8-10 games would have put the Giants in contention for the NL West. Another example is Felix Hernandez. In 2010 he had a 2.27 era 3.04 FIP and 3.14 xFIP. But what was his record? 13-12. In games where he gave up 3 earned runs or less he got either a loss or no decision 17 times. If his team was able to score a few more runs in half those starts, he would easily be a 20 game winner, but the Mariners are the Mariners.

It’s just not fans who look at W-L. Writers do it too. I mean look at some Cy Young award winners. In 2005 Bartolo Colon won it over Johan Santana because he had the mighty 20+ wins. His FIP and xFIP that year was 3.75 and 3.91. Santana's was 2.80 and 3.12. Santana had more strikeouts and innings pitched while only giving up 2 more walks even though he pitched 9 more innings. His WHIP was also 0.971 vs Colon's 1.159. I guess that 16-7 record wasn’t as nice looking as Colon's 21-8. In 2005 Roger Clemens won over Randy Johnson cause his W-L that year was 18-4 while Johnson's was 16-14. Johnson's FIP and xFIP was 2.30 and 2.65. Clemens? 3.11 and 3.42. WAR wise? Johnson's 9.9 > Clemen's 6.0. In 1990 Bob Welch took it from Clemens by going 27-6 compared to Clemens’ 21-6. Welch’s era and FIP were 2.95 and 4.19. That calculates to a 1.8 WAR. Clemens? 1.93 era 2.18 FIP and 8.7 WAR.

So as you can see, W-L doesn’t show you how good a pitcher is, it just shows you how the team does during his starts. But as the days of sabermetrics rises, so does the awareness of fans and writers. Lincecum and Greinke both won Cy Young’s in 2009 even though they had less wins than other candidates that year. And in 2010 Felix Hernandez won it with a 13-12 record. The lowest wins and winning percentage for a Cy Young award winner, relief pitchers not included. So here's to the future of baseball and the downfall of W-L records!

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