Originally posted on Full Spectrum Baseball  |  Last updated 4/27/12

King Felix Hernandez

In this day and age of sabermetrics and statistical idolatry, it has become en vogue for those in the know to discount pitching wins as a useful measurement of pitching performance.  The simple gauges of wins versus losses and ERA have been replaced by WPA, BAbip, BAA, WHIP, and a host of other tools.  To a certain extent, I have no issue with this approach, and I applauded the forward thinking vote that awarded Felix Hernandez the Cy Young award with a losing record.

However, I also see a certain amount of over-correction to the statistical side that deserves some attention.  Ultimately, the goal for almost every baseball team is to win as many games as possible.  There are obvious exceptions to this goal, but they usually don’t come into play until long after a team has been determined to be dead in the water.  Logically, the ultimate goal of the starting pitcher is to help his team win as many games as possible.  If you are fine with this logic, then maybe you are willing to take one more logical leap of baseball faith.

A great pitcher on a really lousy team has a slight advantage over a great pitcher on a really good team when it comes to certain statistical categories.  Consider a situation in which the two pitchers in question find themselves in a nearly identical situation simultaneously.  Each is protecting a 1 run lead with runners on 1st and 3rd.  There are no outs, and it is the top of the 6th inning.  The pitcher who plays for a really good team has the option of surrendering a run in exchange for a double play.  The pitcher who plays for the lousy team has that same option, but his team is more likely to lose the game due to lack of offensive prowess.  The pitcher on the lousy team then has the option of going after the batter, while the pitcher on the really good team is more likely to play for the tie in hopes that his team comes back to take the lead again.

It would be hard to find fault in the logic of either pitcher, but it seems as though the pitcher on the lousy team just might have an advantage in the way he pitches for the win versus the way the pitcher on the really good team goes about reaching that same goal.  These theoretical situations are basically two variations of “pitching to the score”.  You may hear this phrase from time to time on broadcasts without much explanation.  In the case of the pitcher on the really good team, his primary concern is his team winning the game.  For the pitcher on the really lousy team, his primary concern may not be exactly the same thing.  Sure, he wants his team to win, but he may believe that the best chance for his team is to get it done via his arm.  He simply cannot trust the team’s offense to score another run.

Is that so bad?  Each of these pitchers is more a victim of circumstance than anything else.  One may have to sacrifice his ERA for the greater good.  The other may be denied a victory regardless of what he does in that 6th inning.

Given the two scenarios described, is it time to look past wins, losses, ERA, and all the sabermetric statistics as well when evaluating a pitcher’s performance for the season.  Could there also be a new all-encompassing stat that brings together the two sides and includes some normalization factor for pitching staff context, overall team success, park factor, and league factor as well?  If so, can we please call this great new stat the “Dennis”, because acronyms are overrated, but “Dennis” is forever.

 

MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Gordon Hayward suffers broken leg in Celtics debut

Report: Court sides with Ezekiel Elliott, suspension lifted

Bulls’ Nikola Mirotic in hospital after practice fight with teammate

Ranking the 12 teams most likely to make the College Football Playoff

Joel Embiid calls minutes restriction ‘f—ing bulls—‘

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Meeting between NFL owners, players on anthem was very positive

Alex Smith calls Mike Mitchell hit ‘about as flagrant as it gets’

Chris Paul criticizes Clippers' culture, says he had ball too much

Ben Roethlisberger takes shot at reporter over Martavis Bryant rumor

Kyrie Irving will never divulge why he left Cavs: ‘That’s not what grown-ups do’

Isaiah Thomas clarifies talk about never speaking to Danny Ainge again

The 'Old faces in new places' quiz

Nikola Jokic: A throwback superstar for the modern era

25 questions heading into the 2017-18 NBA season

The 'Sure do hope you have a backup plan in place' quiz

Tale of the Tape: National League Championship Series

Sports & Politics Intersect: White House looms large over sports world for another week

The 'A butcher, a Baker, a touchdown maker' quiz

Tale of the tape: American League Championship Series

What's trending up, down so far in the NFL

Three Up, Three Down: Divisional Series brings both luck and heartbreak

The 'Adrian Peterson hopes to rise from the ashes in Phoenix' quiz

College football 2017 Week 7 predictions

Mariners News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

The 'Old faces in new places' quiz

25 questions heading into the 2017-18 NBA season

The 'Sure do hope you have a backup plan in place' quiz

Tale of the Tape: National League Championship Series

Sports & Politics Intersect: White House looms large over sports world for another week

The 'A butcher, a Baker, a touchdown maker' quiz

Tale of the tape: American League Championship Series

Three Up, Three Down: Divisional Series brings both luck and heartbreak

The 'Adrian Peterson hopes to rise from the ashes in Phoenix' quiz

What's trending up, down so far in the NFL

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker