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Proposal: let's just get rid of wins for pitchers

May 3, 2010, 12:15 PM EDT

Greinke crouches.jpgDave Brown at Big League Stew watched Zack Greinke’s dominant yet losing performance and thinks that it’s high time we just get rid of wins for pitchers altogether:

Does a point guard get a “W” in basketball? Hockey goalies may get
wins and losses, but does anyone pay as much attention to those
statistics as they do in baseball?
Quarterbacks have W-L records, I guess, but it’s paid such little mind.
What was Johnny Unitas’ record? Joe Montana’s? Peyton Manning’s? Nobody
has much of a clue without
looking it up.

As individualistic as baseball can be, it’s still a
team sport. Just because some people believe the game to be “75 percent
pitching” doesn’t make it so. It’s never been like that. Not even in
the 19th century, when guys like Old Hoss Radbourn were throwing 600-plus innings in a season, like they were
larger-than-life biblical characters who, it was said, lived for 10
centuries.

Brown is actually rooting for Greinke to keep dominating, but keep losing, so that people will finally start to understand that wins are rather arbitrary and largely dependent upon one’s teammates. Sometimes, as in Greinke’s case, teammates who suck.

I don’t know that I’d go that far, but anything that takes the wind out of people’s “Pitcher X just knows how to win” hogwash would be a good thing.

  1. Jonny5 - May 3, 2010 at 12:27 PM

    “anything that takes the wind out of people’s “Pitcher X just knows how to win” hogwash would be a good thing.”
    Look, us Philly fans are used to saying that in regards to Jamie Moyer, don’t make us stop now!!!!! Did anyone see Jamie Moyer in the dugout before the 4th inning last night? Word has it he was holding a Santana action figure while dumping a can of stewed tomatoes on it, as he was chanting in an in-descernable tongue. Yeah, see, he just knows how to win alright.

  2. Old Gator - May 3, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    Here’s a proposal a tad more modest than eating rookies (much less selling them off for ethanol): let’s pin the loss on the pitcher who actually gives up the deciding losing run. I always thought it was idiotic to tag a starting pitcher who gives up one run in six innings when the guy who relieves him gives up five, his team scores five runs in the late innings and the starter still gets tagged with a 6-5 loss.
    .
    Also, apropos my theory about the indispensability of rotten umpiring, let’s give the home plate umpire the authority to call a run home from second or third base any time the pitcher gives him a WTF look on a called ball.

  3. trampslikeus - May 3, 2010 at 12:33 PM

    This takes me back to, what, 2000? Keeper league, 1st pick in the minor league draft could choose from Teixeira, Prior, (I think) Mauer…after much research of the previous season’s minor league statistics, and after very careful consideration, he chose to take…Josh Towers. ‘Cuz he was something like 14 and 2 in the minors that season. Are you out there someplace, Eric Bowman?

  4. BCTF - May 3, 2010 at 12:36 PM

    If it wasn’t for the win stat Bert Blyleven would be in the HOF already

  5. APBA Guy - May 3, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    Judging from that picture of Greinke he’d go along with the proposal to do away with wins and losses.

  6. Jonny5 - May 3, 2010 at 12:53 PM

    Excellent point.

  7. DiamondDuq - May 3, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    Greinke signed his own fate when he signed his 4 year extension last January. The guy would have been eligible for arbitration this past winter and would likely have been able to get at least $15 million for this year before becoming a free agent after the current season when he would probably could have gotten even more than CC Sabbathia’s 7 year $161 million deal! He must be a glutton for punishment to sign up for what amounts to 2 additional years with the Royals.

  8. Joey B - May 3, 2010 at 1:02 PM

    “Brown is actually rooting for Greinke to keep dominating, but keep losing, so that people will finally start to understand that wins are rather arbitrary and largely dependent upon one’s teammates. Sometimes, as in Greinke’s case, teammates who suck.
    I don’t know that I’d go that far, but anything that takes the wind out of people’s “Pitcher X just knows how to win” hogwash would be a good thing.”
    Rather arbitrary? Not in the l/t. I’m a little lazy today, but of the top 100 win totals in the past 60 years, probably all of them have positive ERA+ numbers. You depend on your teammates, but better pitchers still win more often.
    And even ‘knowing how to win’ has merit. Way too many people dismiss the intangibles. Someone with a 4.50 won’t outpitch someone with a 3.50, but there are guys that know how to get by without their best stuff. Like everywhere else in the world, there are some guys that get rattled easier than others.

  9. Joel in Chicago - May 3, 2010 at 1:02 PM

    So I like UZR and wOBA as much as the next guy, but I think there is a place for the wins stat. I think it reflects how a starting pitcher gets along with the rest of his mates. Can he get through 7-8 innings while still giving up 4-5 runs, or does he only get through 4 excellent ones while throwing 100 pitches.
    but i do agree wins are practically meaningless for relievers.

  10. Scott - May 3, 2010 at 1:12 PM

    Yeah, Greinke could have won that game if he’d just given up negative runs. I’d need both hands to count the number of times Jack Morris did it.

  11. J. McCann - May 3, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    I think they should actually give out partial wins. Spread tenths of win among the pitchers on the winning team based on some simple formula to only give it to effective pitchers (but not the guy with the save). But that is just me and I am wierd and/or ahead of the times.
    Anyone with a brain knows Zach is great anyway.

  12. ecp - May 3, 2010 at 1:19 PM

    “anything that takes the wind out of people’s “Pitcher X just knows how to win” hogwash would be a good thing.”
    Grand idea, but won’t happen. People who say those sorts of things would just point at Greinke and say “I don’t want him on my team; he doesn’t know how to win.”

  13. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - May 3, 2010 at 1:21 PM

    So I like UZR and wOBA as much as the next guy, but I think there is a place for the wins stat. I think it reflects how a starting pitcher gets along with the rest of his mates

    While this may be true (I don’t think it is), Greinke is definitely a special case. Courtesy of Joe Posnanski, look at these stats:
    So what’s the point? Well, here’s the point: Since August 16, 2008, Zack Greinke has made 46 starts and he has a 2.11 ERA.
    The Royals record in those 46 starts? you betcha: 22-24

    Some hilarious commentary from games:
    June 11, 2009: Again, a bland, good start for Greinke – 7 1/3 innings, 3 runs. The Royals were ahead 3-1 when he left, though he did leave two men on. Then the Royals botched a double play grounder, Joakim Soria could not get Jhonny Peralta out (for shame) and the Cleveland won it 4-3 in the 10th inning*.
    *Pretty typical Royals finish – Kyle Farnsowrth enters, Mark DeRosa singles, Vicotr Martinez singles, Shin-Soo Choo singles, ball hits seagull, Royals lose, cue Three Stooges music.
    Or this comment from a reader:
    You know what’s really funny. The Royals are 1-5 when Greinke pitches this year. If had given up zero runs this year the Royals record in his starts would be… 1-5.

  14. Geoff - May 3, 2010 at 1:23 PM

    Totally agree with this and with BCTF in particular. In an era where RBI have been accepted as an opportunistic, team based stat rather than an individual achievement, why can’t we do the same thing with pitcher wins and losses?

  15. (Not That) Tom - May 3, 2010 at 1:24 PM

    I hear Greinke frequently steals his teammates’ special dietary lunches, hangs toilet paper in the improper overhand fashion in the lockerroom stalls, never picks up the tab at the restaurant, and often gives Yuni Betancourt a wedgie right before gametime. Definitely explains his W-L record this season.

  16. Geoff - May 3, 2010 at 1:30 PM

    I’m pretty sure he signed that deal out of loyalty to a team that stuck by him while he sorted out his very real mental health issues (can’t remember the exact diagnosis). I’m not really sure how an entire team being poorly run in general and just overall sucking is his fault.

  17. Joey B - May 3, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    “Grand idea, but won’t happen. People who say those sorts of things would just point at Greinke and say “I don’t want him on my team; he doesn’t know how to win.”
    Of course, out of the 6B people in this world, no one has ever uttered those words. Not intended for you, but there are a lot of people out there that think most BB fans are mindless idiots. I do not know a single person who doesn’t know that SPs on better offensive teams are more likely to win than players on bad offensive teams. I’d guess that 99% of BB fans recognize that.
    I have not the foggiest idea of why wins need to de-recognized simply the odd fan here or there doesn’t understand the concept of run support.
    As long as we’re on the topic, let’s stop recognizing RBIs and runs scored as a barometer since those too are dependent on your teammates.

  18. JasonC23 - May 3, 2010 at 2:09 PM

    This past Saturday, White Sox vs Yankees. John Danks exits with a 5-2 Sox lead. Scott Linebrink comes in and gives up 4 runs. Luckily, the Sox score 2 more later to win the game 7-6.
    Winning pitcher? Scott Linebrink.
    Yeah.

  19. Brade - May 3, 2010 at 3:38 PM

    Just about every stat in baseball depends to some degree on one’s teammates. Runs and RBI’s, to name a couple. A pitcher’s ERA is certainly affected by the range of his defense. I just wish people would stop whining about the Win stat. Whatever point they’re trying to make, we baseball fans ALREADY KNOW. It’s like arguing over +/- in hockey. We know goals are the more important stat, but that doesn’t mean we need to abolish the lesser stat.
    Take things for what they are.

  20. Ron - May 3, 2010 at 4:26 PM

    Leave outing out the facts that Greinke has publicy said he’s not playing for the money and wants to stay in Kansas City, you have a very good point.
    Add in those facts, and your point doesn’t really have one.
    How about instead of always making it about the money (Bryce Haprer?) we celebrate a guy who wants to play the game and live in a nice place.

  21. Moses Green - May 4, 2010 at 4:26 AM

    By the end of his extension he will have decided he’d rather play in another nice place, where he might get some W’s and a taste of the playoffs. I’m thinking St. Louis might be a nice place where the weather and winning atmosphere fits his head and his clothes.
    Chicago New York Detroit (and it’s all in the same street) – these are cities that would eat him up. Likewise Boston and L.A.
    Zack needs more of a typical city involved in a typical (midwestern) daydream, so he will be comfortable winning and living. Then whenever he decides to hang it up and see what tomorrow brings maybe he’ll have some more W’s, all this losing has really got to be wearing thin by now.

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