There are a lot of baseball statistics that are assigned to a specific player but really are completely circumstantial and really should be a team stat, not player specific. These stats include, but are not limited to; RBIs, runs, saves and a pitchers wins and losses. I will save the RBI, run and saves discussion for another time, but last night in the National League West there were perfect examples why a pitcher should not be judged on his won/loss record (see more here on Jorge De La Rosa’s start and how outside influences impacted his outing).
For years the Cy Young award has been given out to the best pitcher in either league and for most, if not all, of those years it has gone to the pitcher with the most wins. Thankfully last year Zack Greinke won the award even though he was tied for seventh in the American League in wins. Slowly the world is starting to see the light.
Here are some pitchers last night in the NL West and their stat lines:
Pitcher A: 6ip, 9 hits, 7 runs (all earned), 2 BBs, 8 Ks and 3 HR allowed
Pitcher B: 7ip, 1 hit, 1 run (earned), 3 BBs, 10Ks and 0 HR allowed
Which pitcher had the better night? Pretty obvious answer; Pitcher B did. Now if I tell you that Pitcher A got a win and Pitcher B got the loss, would that impact your decision as to which pitcher had a better night? It shouldn’t.
Pitcher B allows one base hit, a single, and that one hit happens to score. He does have definite control and input as to how those seven one-half innings transpire that he pitched as he touches the ball by far more than any other player on his team while he is on the mound, but for the other half of those seven innings and the two innings when he is out of the game, he has very little control. In this case, no control over how well the other pitcher pitched or how well his offense hit.
Jonathan Sanchez. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
Pitcher B’s offense failed him and couldn’t even score one single run. Pitcher A’s offense saved him and scored nine runs. Why should Pitcher A get a “W” and Pitcher B get an “L”?
Pitcher A is Dan Haren from the Arizona Diamondbacks. He had his worst outing since September 18th 2006 when he gave up seven runs to the Cleveland Indians while he was pitching with the Oakland Athletics. His worst outing in over three years.
Pitcher B is Jonathan Sanchez from the San Francisco Giants. Just what the Giants need; another pitcher. Sanchez has always had incredible “stuff”, kind of like Ubaldo Jimenez, but he has trouble controlling it, like Jimenez. Sanchez has now pitched back-to-back games with 10 K’s or more and looks like he might be figuring it out (that is the sound of the rest of the NL West groaning).
While I will agree that a pitcher is a very strong cog in the team’s machine that helps win a ball game and conversely can also be the reason a team loses, it is not correct to assess a pitchers season based on wins and losses. He just doesn’t have total control of the game. Even if he pitches nine innings he is sitting on the bench for half of the game. Only stats that are directly within a pitchers control should be used when assessing a pitchers season. Stats like ERA (or FIP to be more exact), strikeout to walk ratio, WHIP, batting average against, innings pitched, etc should all be used and maybe wins and losses can be used as a peripheral stat.
To toss out another example from last night in the NL West: Chad Billingsley pitched three innings and allowed seven runs (four earned) and was not assigned a loss because his offense picked him up late in the game. And don’t even get me started on giving a pitcher a win for blowing a lead late in the game to only have his team score more runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Going forward help the rest of the world make better decisions on which pitchers are good and which are poor, ignore the won-loss record.
Next up for baseball education: why the RBI is a worthless statistic.
More Rockies from Examiner:
- More pitching education: De La Rosa’s stat line doesn’t tell the entire story
- Sad news for the Rockies family: Keli McGregor passes
- Cooks gets cooked: in game 1
- Rockies weekly slideshow: Check out the pictures here
- Ubaldo Jimenez makes Rockies history: Throws no-hitter