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homer at the chalkboard[What follows emerged out of a debate in the comments yesterday and Monday. Rather than offer an 800-word comment of my own that would explode the bottom of the page, I thought it better to offer an article.]

Since he emerged as a big story, one thing has terrified me about the Masahiro Tanaka posting. No, it isn’t the chance that he isn’t posted in the end, or even the chance that the Cubs come up second for his services.

It’s the 24-0.

When Tanaka completed the 2013 NPB season with a “perfect record,” I knew that, once his story got going, we were going to hear regularly about just how good he was in Japan, using the 24-0 thing as a justification for that good-ness. To be clear, Tanaka was very good this year in Japan – and in recent years, too, where heaven-forbid he actually lost a few games – but his win/loss record tells us almost nothing about just how good.

Indeed, win/loss record is perhaps the most pernicious statistical dud to be thrust upon the well-meaning baseball public since the invention of the sport.*

*(CERA – catcher ERA – and RBIs are up there, too.)

It’s the worst statistic not because it doesn’t do what it says it does, or because it’s meaningless. Instead, win/loss the worst statistic because what it does is very little, and it is held up to do a whole lot. It is incredibly misleading, and it has historically been offered up as the standard bearer of how well a pitcher pitched in a given season.

Consider that, over the course of their respective careers, Felix Hernandez has amassed a record of 110 and 86 during his time in Seattle (.561 winning percentage), while his predecessor with the Mariners, Freddy Garcia, who the left the team the year before Hernandez arrived, had a record of 76 and 50 (.603). Was Garcia simply a better pitcher with the Mariners than Hernandez? Of course not – Garcia’s average season WAR in that time was in the 3.5 range, dwarfed by Hernandez’s average mark around 5.0. Given the clear failure of W/L to tell us which pitcher was better – generally in the same ballpark, pitching for the same team – over a long stretch of time, we can conclude that there is obviously a fundamental flaw in the stat.

That flaw, as expressed in this example? Le duh: the Mariners team for which Garcia pitched was one of the best teams in baseball. Hernandez’s Mariners have been one of the worst.

I find that the last remaining, modestly credible argument anyone can make for wins and losses anymore is that, “well, it’s not a perfect stat, but it still gives you a rough idea of how well a pitcher has performed. It still tells you something about the pitcher’s performance.”

Sure, the win/loss statistic tells you something about the pitcher’s performance. But what it tells you is about as useful as a stat that tells you which starting pitcher in a given game gave up fewer homers. You can’t argue that giving up fewer homers than your opponent in a game isn’t desirable, and thus it tells you something about the pitcher’s performance. But you also can’t argue that the stat would be subject to a whole lot of noise that detracts from its utility – what if the starter lasted just an inning because he got blasted by doubles or walks? What if the pitcher’s team just went on a homer binge? The flaws in the stat are immediately apparent, and the value is minimal. (I’d argue this hypothetical homer stat is probably more useful than wins/losses in terms of correlation to future performance, but I have done no research to back that up, so it remains me just puffing my chest in a parenthetical.)

In the end, win/loss record for a pitcher answers a question that wasn’t worth asking: did the pitcher happen to leave the game when his team had the lead?

It does not tell us, in any meaningful way, how well the pitcher actually pitched. Do wins and losses tell us something? Sure. Do they tell us far less than ERA, FIP, BB/9, K/9, HR/9, BABIP, LOB%, HR/FB%, and on and on? Yes.

So why continue to use it? Why fight for its utility simply because it offers the teeniest, tiniest scrap of (frequently misleading) information about a pitcher’s performance? I just don’t get it.

Actually, I do get it: the reason win/loss record has gotten so much play over the years is because of the unfortunate pairing to the words “win” and “loss,” which, at the team level, are the most important numbers in any given season. Unfortunately, a team’s “win” is not the same thing as a pitcher’s statistical “win,” and the conflation of the two has led to decades of frustration for all of the reasons discussed herein.

  • Jason P

    The thing about the win is, even people who agree it has no value still subconsciously put some stock into it. Even though functionally, there is no difference, 20-10 with a 3.50 ERA “sounds” better than 8-12 with a 3.50 ERA.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Baseball cards and sports news has drilled into our subconscious, it time to create a new box score.

    • cub2014

      no one can argue that some pitchers pitch
      better in tighter situations. i am sure someone
      can find stats about that. (low scoring outcomes)

      era & whip arent ideal stats either I would like
      to know when those hits & walks are being given
      up? or the whip after errors? or like when runners
      are on base. so they all have to be factored in.

      but again I agree wins are the worst stat
      to be used as a singular evaluation.

      • hansman

        “no one can argue that some pitchers pitch
        better in tighter situations.”

        I bet you’d find that the pitchers that appear to pitch better in tight situations are pitchers that pitch better in non-tight situations.

        • cub2014

          so you are saying that athletes dont perform
          better or worse in different situations?

          I believe some choke (get nervous) some are
          clutch (they live for those situations). I mean
          unless you can statistically prove me wrong.
          I will never believe that some athletes in all sports
          dont step up to the challenges. Whereas some
          back away from it.

          • hansman

            Most of the guys that shy away from pressure get weeded out in the minors. There is no greater pressure than having to perform well enough to get the call they have been waiting for their entire lives.

            By the time they get to the big leagues and maintain themselves in the big leagues, the difference between the “clutch” guys and the “chokers” is incredibly small.

            Are there clutch performances? Yes. Does success in one clutch performance mean a player is more likely to succeed in another? No.

            99.9% of the time, guys “clutch” stats are within the range that you would expect based on their “baseline” performance.

            • bbmoney

              I think you summed that up very nicely. I agree with all of that.

    • Robert

      When all is said and done:
      A team does not go to the playoffs because of
      ERA, FIP, BB/9, K/9, HR/9, BABIP, LOB%, HR/FB%,
      only if they have more W’s than the other teams.

      Look at Kofax, Drystale, Maddox, etc.

      • TOOT

        What?
        “Look at Kofax, Drystale, Maddox, etc”.

        I’m not biting on this one. Good try though.

  • fortyonenorth

    I agree that W-L is overrated and misleading but I would argue that it’s not altogether useless. At the end of the day, winning is what matters and, given an appropriate sample size, there is meaning in whether a pitcher can win ballgames. That Tanaka is 24-0 almost certainly doesn’t paint a complete picture of his value as a pitcher. But to discard his record and say that W-L doesn’t matter? When was the last time an MLB pitcher with *bad* advanced stats put up those kind of numbers? On the other hand, look at a guy like Shark who has very good advanced stats but not-so-hot W-L record. Sure, some of those were blown saves and the such, but anyone who has watched Jeff over the last few years knows that he can be cruising along in shutdown fashion and then totally lose it (mentally) because a few plays don’t break his way. Great pitchers win ballgames because they find a way to get out of innings and keep their teams in ballgames even when they don’t have their best stuff.

    • terencemann

      RA Dickey was 29th in baseball in Wins last season but certainly not the 29th best pitcher. Madison Bumgarner and Felix Hernandez combined for 25 wins over full seasons in 2013 but are certainly better than most of the pitchers who won more games than them. There’s just no reason at all to use pitcher wins as a metric to evaluate how good a pitcher is because it tells you very little about how good they are at actually doing what a pitcher can do to get batters out but does tell you how good or bad their team was on the day they pitched.

      • CubbieBubba

        right, same thing with batting avg. Doesn’t tell you how good the hitter way, just how bad pitching was that day.

        • terencemann

          Well, batting average is really more about fielding and park effects.

  • Fastball

    I have never admitted to be a fan of the metrics but I have always followed them. I do have some relationship with W/L. That stat is something of a precursor to what I pitcher is or isn’t. I think you can look at it and say wow he was 15 -3. Then that makes you want to understand how he got there. I am a big believer in the fact that teams will play better for and produce more runs for a pitcher for whom they believe in. Also I am a firm believer teams play better behind a pitcher who is always throwing strikes and keep his defense alive. Guys who are slow as molasses on the mound may be effective at placing pitches. But, their defense falls asleep behind them and they are unfortunate bearers of inflated stats that make them look even worse than they could have. If a pitcher is 5 – 10 I am going to have to look at him and think to myself how did he get there. I look at everything Brett talks about for the most part. I also know enough that he probably can’t survive much past 5 or 6 innings and his fate is not his own. I don’t have much sympathy for those type pitchers anyway. For me I like to know how many innings is this guy hanging around every start. I like the Quality Start stat. Was he ahead when he left the game or was it because he just got shelled like Shark does after pitching 5 great innings then gets blown up with some long balls and couple of walks. Which leads me to not trust all the metrics 100% of the time. Because a pitcher can go 4 or 5 innings everytime out and be awesome then turn around in the 6th and get shelled. His one bad inning gets over shadowed by his good innings. My mind fails me but we had a starter just 2 years ago who couldn’t pitch for crap in the 1st inning. If he survived he was decent after that.

    So I am going on Record Stating that I finally agree about the metrics. I was converted some time ago by all these conversations on the BN. But I have always hated to admit it. I’m still Old School on a lot of things. But I do agree with Brett on this topic.

    • terencemann

      The idea that players play better for certain pitchers whom they believe in is almost certainly not true. If players knew a pitcher was elite, wouldn’t they be more inclined to take the day off and assume they only need to score a couple runs to win?

  • J.F. Edwards

    Baseball cards and a touchstone to past: that’s what W/L are still good for.

    Brett is spot on about the utility of the stat. And I won’t even play in fantasy leagues that use them.

    But I didn’t understand BABIP, FIP, or OBP when I was 9 years old in the pre-Internet era. Box scores and baseball cards were all the data I could find and understand. And I used that vast knowledge to engage in all kinds of arguments with my good friends about who was the best player. That was fun and it got me into baseball and I wouldn’t trade wins and losses for that. Now I know more. No harm done.

    But I do wonder if there was a time when wins and losses did mean more? If it’s true that pitchers used to throw more innings and go deeper into games, and had more responsibility for the outcome, maybe it was a bit more useful. Perhaps the statistic is becoming less useful because of the way we use pitchers now. And because we’ve never looked at the game with more eyes and analysis and stats, we are just figuring it out.

    That’s baseball. That’s life.

  • http://bleachernation ferris

    Yes but he won 13… not 0…if he won 0 hed nwver win rhw cy young…..wins do matter. Team wins. If your 0-24 your team lost alot more than it won…considering only 34-36 starts per season…

    The argument is who bettr the guy with 24-0 record an a 4 era or the guy 0-24 with a 1 era…wins matter

    • Nick

      Of course the 1 era is the better guy. Being 0-24 with a 1 era would mean he had the worst defense behind him and 0 run support, but it wouldn’t mean he’s not the better pitcher.

      • jt

        a guy who earned a 0-24 W/L 1.00 ERA season would be known on lips of late night bar arguments for as long as BB would be played.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      For predicting future success the 0-24 with a .100 ERA is the better pitcher. So no when it comes who I want on my team or who we should pay wins don’t matter.

  • http://bleachernation ferris

    If more starters pitchd into later innings decisions would be theres more often…that an with five man rotation we may never see a 300 game winner again

    • Blackhawks1963

      CC Sabathia might beg to differ with you.

      • http://bleachernation ferris

        Yet he makes over 20 mil an his winning is what got him paid. Losing good isnt better than winning ugly

        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          Wait are you saying the primary reason the Yankees paid (and many other teams wanted him) was is W/L record? If so that is as bad an idea as you’ve said in this entire thread.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          Brian Cashman is not someone who shells out for W’s garnered on another team. Cashman shelled out $$$ to CC because of CC’s excellent K:BB ratio (nearly 4:1 when he signed with the Yanks) and fairly low HR rate (less than 1 per 9 innings). CC didn’t win (or lose) ugly: he looked good doing either most of the time.

          As for pitchers going deeper into games, *part* of why run-scoring is down likely is that starters now push harder than ever while they are in the game. If a guy paced himself to last another inning or two, then he would give up more runs in the early innings. That in turn would decrease the number of games where he has a lead late.

          At any rate, we have more guys than ever throwing 90+. One cost of that is going to be more guys running out of gas in the 6th or 7th.

  • Patrick W.

    I asked Tom Tango about the idea that some pitchers pitch better in high-leverage situations. Specifically I wondered if you could measure the win probability on before each pitch, and the win probability after each pitch, and get an idea if a guy was more likely to lower the win probability than increase it.

    He pointed me to Linear Weighted Pitching, which I don’t think is complete, but might be worht studying for somebody here with the time.

    • Patrick W.

      He actually called it: pitch-level Linear Weights

      • Patrick W.

        OK, finally found the email and here’s what I asked:

        We know (or can know) the probability of a hitter making an out based on the count in any given at bat. I would like to know the average incremental impact of each pitch from a pitcher. If say, a pitcher throws a first pitch strike, the probability of getting an out goes up, but if the next three pitches are balls, the probability after the fourth pitch goes way down. If the batter gets on base, well the out probability after that pitch was zero. So if the average probability the pitcher will get an out before the first pitch to a batter is .725 but the pitcher, on average, ends up pitching in counts where the average probability goes up to .850 his per pitch probability goes up .125. There may also be something in there about reducing or increasing win probability after each pitch.

        And his response:

        Yes, that is pitch-level Linear Weights. We’ve had a few of those threads on my old blog.

        Definitely a worthwhile approach.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          One thing that would need to be accommodated is stretch vs. windup pitches. This came up with Zach Greinke: he simply is much less commanding when pitching from the stretch. This creates the illusion that he “chokes” with men on base: however, it turns out that his success pitching from the windup with men on base is the same as as his success pitching without men on base. (That was based on his performance prior to last year: I have no idea whether 2013 changed anything.)

          But this is another way in which pitching is fundamentally different from batting. A batter goes up there with his stance. Pitchers use at least two fundamentally different throwing styles depending on situation: and because those throwing styles affect how he throws the ball, they will affect how well he pitches the ball.

  • http://mccarronlegal.com jmc

    what the heck is phlojustin (sp) ?

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Phlogiston was long assumed to be the element of fire. It was assumed to be true: and like a lot of traditional baseball stats, a certain school of people clung to it despite it’s basic tenants being refuted again and again.

      It is a classic example of an “old school” vs. “new school” debate: the old school accepted it as theory and tried to explain the universe with it; the new school turned it into a hypothesis and refuted it (again and again and again); etc., etc.

      (The Ptolemaic astronomical scheme is another great example: they literally went into complete contortions to maintain “the truth” of an Earth centered universe to refute a Sun centered one!)

      • DarthHater

        [img]http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3832/11443176456_577b640621_n.jpg[/img]

  • Carew

    Wins and Losses are stats that have been around since the beginning of the game. I do agree it is not the best statistic, but I think if you throw it in with the others, it just finishes up the story.

  • ClevelandCubsFan

    1989 Cy Young Vote. Fascinating. This is a proof of concept that WINS=SUCK

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/awards/awards_1989.shtml#NLcya

    Question: How in the world does Mike Scott get more votes than Maddux? Answer: The magic 20 wins.

    Question: How can Orel Hershiser only get 6% of the freaking vote when he absolutely dominated the entire freaking league all year long??? Answer: 15 wins.

    Hershiser was absolutely the best pitcher in the league by every metric except record.

    Speaking of which, it looks to me like Hershiser should have won 3 straight Cy Young awards from 1987-1989. Dude got robbed. Wins suck.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Yup and it wasn’t until 2010 before voters started to see beyond that magic 20 win mark and voted King Felix although he only had a 13-12 record yet people were still arguing that Sabathia and his 21 wins were more deserving. King Felix was amazing that year yet still “lost” 12 games because of a horrible offense.

    • ssckelley

      Or take a look at some of the seasons Nolan Ryan had where he was easily the best pitcher in baseball but did not win the Cy Young because of the lack of wins.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        I don’t’ think that Ryan ever was the best pitcher in baseball. Yes, he K’ed a ton of guys. However, he also walked a ton of guys, twice walking over 200. (Ryan has multiple 6 year spans in which he walked more guys than Maddux did in his entire career: and Ryan was pitching to a much bigger strike zone!)

        Ryan didn’t give up huge numbers of HR, but he walked enough guys that his ERAs were rarely spectacular. (I suppose it’s even possible that his fielders had problems staying focused with so many walks and K’s: not only were there tons of PAs in wihch nothing happened for them, a lot of batted balls must have come after multiple pitches!)

        • ssckelley

          I disagree, when you strike out as many as he did you can get away with those walks. Part of the reason why he had so many walks is he pitched a ton of innings. He played on some bad Angel and Astros teams, in 1987 he was the best pitcher that year and finished 5th in the Cy Young voting with a 8-16 record.

          • DocPeterWimsey

            I was referring to 1970′s Nolan. And the reason why he gave up so many walks is because, for years, he had awful control. That’s why the Mets gave up on him so quickly.

            Now, by the mid-late 1980′s, Ryan actually was one of the better pitchers in the game: and the fact that he cut down on his walks so much was a big part of why. Of course, his ERA also benefited from pitching in the Astrodome (which was a very dead park), but he was hardly the only pitcher to get that benefit in that era: artificial turf parks abounded, and balls do not carry well at night in those parks.

            I’m not sure he was ever *the* best at that time: but the fact that he could lead the league in ERA with a 0.333 winning percentage on a 0.470 team really shows just how misleading wins and loses are for pitchers. Take away Ryan’s record, and the Astros go from 76-86 to 68-70 while the team ERA rises!

            • ssckelley

              If a pitcher goes 9 innings, strikes out 10, gives up 3 runs, I would not care if he walked 5. Over half the games he started in the 70s you did not need a bullpen because he pitched all 9. Those 2 years he walked 200 he pitched 299 and 332 innings those years.

              Yes, the Mets gave up on him……big mistake!

        • ClevelandCubsFan

          lol, I was just looking this up…

          Based on WAR, you’d have to give him 1973 and 1977. He walked 164 batters in 1973 and still had a 2.36 K/BB…. that. is. hilarious.

          • DarthHater

            Blyleven was better in 1973.

            • ssckelley

              I agree, and he is another pitcher who did not get a lot of wins because of the teams he played on. He had some great seasons with the Twins.

              • DarthHater

                Yep

            • ClevelandCubsFan

              Your right. That was a dang good year for pitchers. My eyes didn’t scroll down well. In fact, 4 guys were better than him by BR WAR. Which is insane. Because 7.7 WAR will get you a CY on many a given year.

  • jawsofvictory

    There’s been a bit of vagueness between meaning and utility. Does the W-L record have meaning? Of course it does. For example, wins tell you Picher Z’s team did not lose the lead following his efforts. Wins also tell you that starting Pitcher Y made it through 5 innings (though, stupidly, losses do not so tell). But does this have utility? Not much. Did Pitcher Z get the ‘W’ because he completed the game with good pitching, because relief pitching was sufficient and/or because his team was so offensively superior that pitching was irrelevant? All of those things are better described by other statistics.

    That said, “killing” the W-L record seems a little agro. All numbers are good to have.

    Consider, hypothetically, that the HR might contain more utility than it expresses in TB, SLG., and so forth. How many times have you seen a HR wreck a pitcher’s nerve, turn a game around? Is this psychological, touchy-feely stuff that cannot be quantified? No. We just don’t have a method for measuring it, yet. It wouldn’t be a good way of summarizing a player’s total value, but it would have some modicum of utility…hypothetically. Perhaps the win has uses that simply require a lot more contextualizing. Could it ever be a useful method for evaluating Picher Y’s overall ability? No.

    But baseball stats are so much better than other sports because they are so manifold. I like wOBA as much as the next jerk, but I also savor the whole long list of stats because I enjoy sussing out the individual nature of a given player’s game. While wins are a dubious inclusion, I’d rather have them recorded than not.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      Someone had an article recently and I can’t find it. Maybe it was linked from on here. But the argument was this… a good stat answers a burning question we have about the game. K/BB answers How did his strikeouts compare to his walks? ERA (for all its faults) answers How many runs did he give up, on average, in the span of a typical game?

      Wins answers this questions:

      How many times it happen that he started the game and pitched at least 5 inning with his team having scored more runs than his opponent during the time he was pitching and up until a new pitcher entered the game and then never relinquished that lead OR that he entered the game in relief with his team tied or losing and his team then scoring runs to gain the lead during the time he was pitching and up until a new pitcher entered the game and then never relinquished that lead OR that he entered the game in relief before the conclusion of the 5th inning with his team winning and his team has a lead when and if a new pitcher takes over and the team then never relinquishes that lead OR he entered the game in relief at any point and lost the lead but his team subsequently rallied during his time pitching and up until a new pitcher entered the game to regain the lead and then never relinquish that lead?

      And that is not a question anyone in here has ever asked themselves as they watched a game of baseball.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        Great point.

        • jawsofvictory

          ha!

          I guess most of us “asked” the question, at some point, when learning the rules that define a win.

          I’m way too lazy to figure this out, but I wonder when (assuming it was a separate development) the win came to include relief pitchers under the conditions described above. I mean, the win seems to have been created for the starter, since bullpens were so much less developed until recently.

          • hansman

            I think it’s always been I seem to recall a story from the 1908 WS (or a game back then) where a cubs starter went 1, was pulled and the reliever got the win.

            The reliever in question was the Cubs ace.

            Gonna need spriggs on this one

            • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

              That was in Chris’s book I think?

              • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

                Nope not there, unless it’s anecdotal to an entry.

              • hansman

                It was a The Calendar entry.

            • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

              Wikipedia has a good non-baseball junkie overview and history http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Win–loss_record_(pitching)

  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

    Here’s what I wish would be done with starting pitching. Add more stats like the QS something like a XQS (extra quality start – 7 innings 2 or less runs) and Starts that are bad like BS (bad start less than 5 innings and 4 or more ER). Add in a MS (meh start – btwn a QS and a BS) and finally a YFSS (you fucking suck start – less than 4 innings 5+ ER). It would at least give everyone a simple quantitative stat that measure performance but doesn’t necessarily predict future performance.

    Of course these names are silly but I like the idea to give levels to a pitchers start that allows you to compare starters that W/L will never give you.

    • ClevelandCubsFan

      DFTFNDL

      Didn’t finish the first – no disabled list

      These should be tied to a $250,000 reduction in salary.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        And of course the YJMMLG (you just made Marmol look good – getting pulled before even throwing a strike)

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      I’d would mind see a NNN (nearly no no – complete game no ER 2 or less hits)

      • ClevelandCubsFan

        KOS

        Kevin Orie Special

  • http://bluebattinghelmet.wordpress.com Rob

    WAR might make the dedicated stats people excited, but it’s never going to appeal to the casual fan. If there’s 40,000 people in the stands at a ball game, maybe 1,000 know, or care, what WAR represents. But everyone understands when a pitcher takes the win. Those already in the weeds of WAR will nod their heads in agreement with you, but the game won’t survive if WAR is everything and W/L matters naught.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      This is because this is what history and the media have programmed us to care about. It’s W/L and ERA for pitchers and triple crown stats for hitters. Maybe one day focusing on more meaningful stats will replace the box score standards and the W for pitchers should be the first thing removed and replaced. I never expect WAR to become popular among the casual fan because it’s do damn complicated to figure out but WHIP, K/BB stats, or QS are easily calculated stats that have more meaning. It can happen but people have to stop hanging on to tradition because of tradition.

      • FarmerTanColin

        The trend is definitely changing a lot of casual fans are starting to realize that advance metrics aren’t just for the super geeks. I remember a friend of mine thought advance metrics were all madeup off someone’s book. (Lol)

        I cant wait for the day I see an intelligent “Keys to Game” say something like…Well Bob he’s had a recent trend of bad BABIP luck, lets see if his solid BB to K ratio stays and maybe his homerun rate regresses back to league average. He’s a bomb waiting to go off. And by bomb I mean his baseball card stats come alive.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      “But everyone understands when a pitcher takes the win.”

      This is false.

      One of the things I am asked to explain by baseball fans the most often, both casual and dedicated fans alike, and fans from all teams, is why Reliever A got the win instead of Reliever B when Reliever B did XYZ and all Reliever A did was throw two pitches. I’d estimate a good third of all baseball questions I answer have to do with pitching wins and how that stat is defined. There is a lot of misunderstanding out there on this topic.

      Everyone does not in fact understand the win. The rules governing wins as a pitching stat are among the most arcane and arbitrary in the game.

      If we have to keep Wins around, we should at least clean up the rules governing what it is, where it comes from, who decides it (no major stat should EVER be at the sole discretion of the scorekeeper… and in some scenarios wins are), what it measures, and how it is presented. Then at least people might generally understand what a win is.

      • http://bluebattinghelmet.wordpress.com Rob

        Baseball is unique is so many ways, and assigning a win and a loss to one pitcher every game is one of them, No football player can ever get a Win assigned to them, just like no shortstop can ever take the Loss. That’s as old as baseball itself, and there’s no need to mess with it because of the specialization of pitching roles.

        Travis Wood can have Quality Starts all year long, but he’ll never be considered as an elite pitcher if nine wins is all he can provide to his team. I’m sorry that some don’t like that, but that’s just a fact.

  • http://bluebattinghelmet.wordpress.com Rob

    History is very important to baseball. It’s what sets it apart from every other sport out there. We minimize the history of it at our own peril,

    Babe Ruth would get a good laugh at all of the stats that are being concocted to measure the game today.

  • TSB

    While the stat wonks are busily checking up on a player’s WHIP, PBP, K/S, WTF, etc., the other fans will be watching the game, saying “that SS made a good play!”

    • mjhurdle

      and unfortunately for the ‘other fans” that dont understand WHIP, K/S, etc; they also wont understand that it was actually the 2B that made the play deep in the hole, because their dad always told them that only SS make plays that deep, and by golly no new fangled math and actual study of the sport is going to convince them otherwise!

    • FarmerTanColin

      It’s such a long 5 seconds looking up a player’s numbers. PBP? Lol I’m currently holding a solid PBR to blood ratio.

  • TOOT

    Off the subject, but it does have to do with a Chicago sports team, so I am going there. What is the deal with Dennis Rodman? Is he tring to commit suicide by going to North Korea? Dude can’t be that dumb, can he?

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