Sunday, February 17, 2013

Enough with the "Win" Stat, Please



Those of you that have read my ranting and raving over the past few years know that there’s two guys that cover Detroit baseball that get under my skin more than anyone: Bill Simonson and Jerry Green.

Now as much as Bill makes me want to burn down entire neighborhoods over his idiotic, poorly thought out opinions, I get that he’s playing a character. At least I hope he is. No one could possibly consistently be that wrong about the sport of baseball.

But Jerry Green should be different. He has written for the Detroit News since 1963. He’s in both the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame and the NFL Hall of Fame, for crying out loud. I want to respect the man. I want to enjoy his columns. Or at least one of them.

But I can’t. His ignorance and “get off my lawn” old man writing style is tiresome. I would avoid reading it all together, but what fun would that be for this blog, eh?

This weekend he wrote about Justin Verlander and how Felix Hernandez’s recent extension with the Mariners could affect the Tigers re-signing JV. Per the norm with Green, he had me at the beginning, for the most part. But halfway through, the train goes flying off the tracks. Happens every time.

Take a look.
 
Over the long, barren winter from the last called strike of the World Series until the beginning of spring training, baseball is filled with debate and some controversy.

The same is true of the NFL offseason. And all of college sports. And the NBA. And etc. Hell, Olympic wrestling is currently filled with debate and controversy. Any other pointless statements before we begin?
“Billy likes to drink soda. Miss Lippy’s car is green.”

Good. Carry on.

But there can be no argument about this vital subject: Pitchers are a different classification of athlete.

That is, if these creatures are to be considered athletes at all. And quite often they are silently ostracized by their teammates.

Yes. You see, Prince Fielder is obviously an athlete.
Kyle Farnsworth is not.
Get it? Good.

Pitchers are coddled; they are pampered. They are considered baseball's artisans.

Those of them who are starting pitchers work as quintuplets. The norm is that they are out of service four of every five days during the season.

And when they pitch, the number of times they throw is counted by adult men with clocking devices.
"The metric system is the tool of the devil! My car gets forty rods to the hogshead, and that's the way I likes it!"

Shortstops and right fielders are not limited by pitch counts.
Perhaps ex-right fielder Jose Canseco should have been.

Pitchers are fragile — much more so than first baseman and center fielders.

First basemen Nick Johnson and Travis Hafner beg to differ. Add center fielders Grady Sizemore and Ken Griffey Jr, to that list, too. But anyhoo…

The pitchers are so precious their tender arms are preserved in bags of ice cubes after every game in which they pitch. They are the first to receive the services of the team's masseur.

And always for the starting pitchers when the job gets too tough, they have other specialist pitchers available to rush into the games to rescue them.

Plus, the value of the specialist pitchers is so much that managers employ super-specialists who are withheld from the games until the ninth inning.

Normally, crotchety old sportswriters can’t stop bellowing from the rooftops about THE TEAM. Managers never shut up about how it takes 25 guys to get the job done. But now, we’re apparently going to shit all over individual guys and their roles?

I’m not sure I’m getting the point. Instead of calling pitchers “pussies”, why not recognize that no player on the field affects the game more than that day’s starting pitcher most of the time? There’s a reason that “Verlander Day” is celebrated in Detroit every five days and “Nate Robertson Day” was greeted with facepalms and increased liquor sales.

The general code of all major-league managers is never dare to use this super-specialist — known as the closer — in the eighth inning. Even if the bases are loaded, the incumbent pitcher is about to implode — and the hard-earned three-run lead is on the verge of disappearing.

Maybe in Detroit, but not MLB all managers follow this code. Mariano Rivera has well over 100 career saves that went over one inning. Even Jonathan Papelbon had 39 saves over an inning entering last season. And he sucks. I understand that it’s rare, but I hate you and must disagree as much as possible.

Those are basic theories of the game.

Yes, theories. That’s the essence of baseball. Facts are for those new-age saber nerds.

Jerry goes off on quite a long Grandpa Simpson rant about 19 dickety 12 and The Kaiser or some nonsense here that you can go read at the News site if you wish. I’d like to skip to the part of this article that annoyed me into writing this post, if you don’t mind.

The urgent need for quality pitching is such that the other day the Seattle Mariners awarded Felix Hernandez a contract worth $175 million over seven seasons.

And consider Hernandez — nicknamed King Felix — never has been a 20-game winner, or pitched in a World Series. Consider that Hernandez never even pitched in a playoff game.

Consider that Hernandez plays for a dreadful organization that is incapable of scoring runs thus keeping him from racking up more of the misleading “wins” that ancient writers love so much.

Consider that he plays once every five days and has ZERO control of what happens in those other four that would contribute to the team's winning record that would lead to a World Series.

Most of all, consider covering a different sport if you are unable to understand the simplest things about baseball after 80 years of watching it, Jerry.

Team wins = very important.

Pitcher wins = misleading bullshit.

Fast forwarding again…

Just for debate, I did some research of my own.

Hernandez and Verlander both arrived in the major leagues in 2005. Justin was in for two spot starts, a pair of losses. Hernandez arrived in late season and went 4-4.

Now, Verlander has a career 124-65 record with an ERA of 3.40. Hernandez trails by a distance — 98-76 with an ERA of 3.22.

Now don’t misinterpret this as me bagging on Justin Verlander in favor of King Felix or this turning into MarinerSnark, but Jerry’s overlooking something major here in his so-called research. Yes, JV’s the greatest pitcher I’ve had the pleasure of watching in my lifetime. But Felix Hernandez isn’t just some piece of shit. In fact, he’s probably had worse luck than any guy I can remember.

Verlander has 26 more wins, as Jerry pointed out. But in their careers, Verlander has received 2 or less runs of support only 57 times. Felix has suffered 2 or less runs of support 84 times.

Verlander has received 6+ runs of support 91 times. The Mariners have only done this 41 times for Hernandez. That’s a difference of 50 games. Yowza.

Just looking at those stats, imagine how many wins Hernandez would have had with the Tigers offense behind him. How can you hold something Felix has no control of against him?

Each has won a Cy Young. King Felix — quite mysteriously — with a 13-12 record in 2010.

Fuck you with a splintered bowling pin. Yeah, he went 13-12. He also had a league leading 2.27 ERA. He led the league in innings pitched. He allowed a league low 7.0 hits per 9 innings. His ERA+ was an outstanding 174. And in 15 of his 34 starts, the M’s scored 0-2 runs of support.

Looking at a W-L record as the sole deciding factor in grading a pitcher is ludicrous. In Jerry Green’s world, Detroit was insane for acquiring Doug Fister after going 6-14 in 2010 and being 3-12 in 2011 before the trade. It was Doug’s fault that the Mariners consisted of Ichiro and eight Don Kellys in the lineup, I guess.

In 2010, 17 AL pitchers had more than Felix’s 13 wins. Do you honestly think that these 17 pitchers were all better due to this fact? Carl Pavano, at 17-11 and a 3.75 ERA was better? Brett Cecil’s 15-7, 4.22 season was superior? John Lackey was better at 14-11, 4.40 for Boston?

No. They just played for teams that scored many, many more runs than Felix’s team did.

Pretend fucking Matlock’s on and pay attention, for crissakes.

The next year, Verlander won it with his 24-5 record plus the MVP double.

So far, Verlander has pitched two no-hitters. Hernandez pitched a perfect game last season.

As we prepare to start another go-around in 2013, my contention remains that baseball's most important statistic, obviously, is victories. Winning!

Then you are dumber than a Kardashian sister attempting to understand quantum physics.

I have failed to figure out how the Sabermetric professors factor plain, old-fashioned victories into their WAR, ERA-Plus and assorted other stats.

They don’t. Because pitching wins are possibly baseball’s most flawed statistic.

I know I’m probably preaching to the choir here with my readers, but consider the following.

Pitcher A plays for a high-scoring team. But he allows a lot of runs, too. But say his team gives him 6 runs of support more often than not. He finishes the season 18-8 with a 4.65 ERA.

Pitcher B plays for a pile of shit like the Astros or the Mariners of recent years. He gets dick for run support. He goes 6-16 with a 3.02 ERA.

Which pitcher would you prefer to have on your team if they’re both free agents? I’d take Pitcher B. So would you, most likely. Jerry Green would apparently take Pitcher A. Because Pitcher A is a "winner". And because Jerry’s a dipshit.

How about this scenario? Max Scherzer pitches 8 innings and allows one run. He leaves a 1-1 tie game and Joaquin Benoit comes in for the 9th. Benoit allows three runs. Trailing 4-1, the Tigers rally to score 4 in the bottom of the ninth and win 5-4. Joaquin Benoit is the winning pitcher.

“Great job, Joaquin!” –Jerry Green

Makes me furious…

Winning?
Verlander has pitched the Tigers to two pennants. His record for postseason playoffs — divisional and league championship series — is 6-1.

Greatest pitcher ever!

True, Verlander is 0-3 in starts in the World Series.

Fuck! Cut him!

Then again, King Felix pitches for the Mariners and, thus, carries a postseason record of 0-0.

And this is obviously all Felix’s fault. Tear up his contract. Give that money to 155 year old Andy Pettitte because he has 19 career postseason wins playing for loaded Yankees teams.

To put it in terms Jerry can understand, his thinking is balderdash, hogwash, and poppycock.

I’m 35 years old. I hate the generation that followed me for making Maroon 5, Justin Bieber, Bruno Mars, and One Direction rich and famous. But I can still understand facts and logic in a world that is beginning to pass me by.

But if I live to be 90 and refuse to accept reality, I hope someone is kind enough to beat me to death with a shovel.

Or at least take my keyboard away.

1 comment:

  1. These guys kill me...How do they keep their jobs?

    ReplyDelete