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Hopefully Cliff Lee realizes wins are a dumb stat for pitchers

Oct 3, 2012, 3:47 PM EDT

Cliff Lee AP

Cliff Lee just tossed six innings of three-run ball in his final start of the season and has so often been the case he took a loss because the Phillies’ lineup scored all of one run.

Lee finishes the year with a 3.16 ERA and 207/28 K/BB ratio in 211 innings. And he’s going to wind up with a grand total of six wins. Or perhaps I should say six “wins” because of how silly the stat can be.

For instance, Ivan Nova has 12 “wins” with a 5.02 ERA in 170 innings and Bruce Chen has 11 “wins” with a 5.07 ERA in 192 innings.

Five times this season Lee allowed zero or one run in a start and failed to record a win. And he failed to get a win when allowing three or fewer runs a total of 14 times.

Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes that Lee is now the first pitcher in baseball history to win fewer than eight games with 200-plus strikeouts and a sub-3.20 ERA. And, coincidentally I’m sure, Lee ranks 85th among 90 qualified pitchers in run support.

  1. El Bravo - Oct 3, 2012 at 3:56 PM

    By definition, Cliff Lee is a loser.

    • delawarephilliesfan - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:04 PM

      Loser

      noun
      1. a person, team, nation, etc., that loses
      2. a person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor or, especially, a felony
      3. a person who has failed at a particular activity
      4. someone or something that is marked by consistently or thoroughly bad quality, performance, etc

      Well, lets see now…..every team and player “loses” so #1 applies to every player. #2 clearly does not apply. #3 – I don’t see how you can say he failed at his particular activity, since he has the 9th best ERA in the League, same reasoning for #4

      Those are just the lietral definitions. There is of course a slang meaning for Loser. Look it up….then look in the mirror

      • kkolchak - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:13 PM

        Wow–touchy. Enjoy the offseason, loser.

      • El Bravo - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:14 PM

        5. a person that looks up the definition to the word “loser”

      • delawarephilliesfan - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:22 PM

        @ kk – El Bravo is a troll, just mixing it up and giving him what he wants. I could care less if that bothers you

        @ El Troll – see above

      • kkolchak - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:27 PM

        My definition of a loser? A team that phinishes 17 games out of first place.

      • El Bravo - Oct 3, 2012 at 5:15 PM

        Hahaha, delawarephilliesfan knows me well. Cheers, sir. So who do the Phils’ Phaithful root for now? Nats? Braves? Cards? Giants? Anyone other than an NL team?

      • delawarephilliesfan - Oct 3, 2012 at 7:02 PM

        Well…..call me delusional, but I am still hoping the Phils win (see Danny Ozark comment re:1975)

        I am rooting for the Braves. And the way this season has gone, that is probably the kiss of death for them

      • bigdogpappad - Oct 3, 2012 at 7:44 PM

        Yeah “Loser” is a bit strong but you did a really nice 5th grade lookup of the word for all of us here, but why did you stop there? “dumb stat” – what does that mean Einstein?(you and Gleeman included) should look that up as well. Last time I checked WINS were part of the Pitching Triple Crown but since Lee mde a bad decision to join the Phillies what is the real issue here with Lee? He’s just STUPID!

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:16 PM

      noun
      1. a PERSON, TEAM, nation, etc., that loses:
      The visiting team or (PITCHER) was the loser in the series.

      2. Informal .
      a. a person who has been convicted of a misdemeanor or, especially, a felony: a two-time loser.

      b. a person who has failed at a particular activity: a loser at marriage. a loser at BASEBALL.

      c. someone or something that is marked by consistently or thoroughly bad quality, performance, etc.:
      Don’t bother to see that film, it’s a real loser.
      Don’t bother to watch that PITCHER, he’s a real loser.

      3. Slang . a misfit, especially someone who has never or seldom been successful at a job, personal relationship, etc.
      You know…like a PITCHER.

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:18 PM

      “5. a person that looks up the definition to the word “loser”
      Come on Bravo!
      I was actually attempting to help you!
      And please know I did so prior to seeing “Johnny Thin Skin’s” response.

      • delawarephilliesfan - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:25 PM

        “Come on Bravo!
        I was actually attempting to help you!”

        Well, then that was your mistake ;)

      • El Bravo - Oct 3, 2012 at 5:17 PM

        hhahaha, I didn’t even see this when I posted. Don’t worry, when I troll, I probably shouldn’t be helped. Something about feeding trolls and such….

  2. Francisco (FC) - Oct 3, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    Cliff Lee is so good he neutralizes bats in both dugouts!

    • cur68 - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:23 PM

      You en fuego today FC.

    • indaburg - Oct 3, 2012 at 5:13 PM

      Si, muy caliente hoy.

  3. delawarephilliesfan - Oct 3, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    Nolan Ryan in 1987 led the league in ERA and Strikeouts, and was 8-16 (going off memory, but I am pretty sure that was his final record). This was the damndest thing I have ever seen…..but it is over, and certainly won’t be but a footnote for Lee in the end

    • delawarephilliesfan - Oct 3, 2012 at 3:59 PM

      “will” be but a footnote……..

      EDIT FUNCTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • thefalcon123 - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:15 PM

      …and Storm Davis once went 19-7 with an 85 ERA+ in 169 innings.

      One win away from 20 wins in an absolutely awful season of pitching.

      I guess Storm Davis just knew how to win and Nolan Ryan didn’t, right guys?

  4. thefalcon123 - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:02 PM

    Yet, somehow, people still buy into wins as a statistic. First off, let’s stop calling it “wins” shall we? Let’s change it to what it really is: *Number of Times Pitcher Left Game With Lead After 5th Inning and Lead Wasn’t Then Lost By the Bullpen*. Or NOTPLGWLA5IALWTLBTB for short. Because *this is all that wins is measuring*. It is not measuring actual wins at all!

    • bigdogpappad - Oct 3, 2012 at 8:44 PM

      Sure that’s right, 2-hitters, 1-hitters, no hitters and perfect games are really won by the guys scoring runs, how silly of me to overlook the pitcher had nothing to do with the ‘NOTPLGWLA5IALWTLBTB’

      • thefalcon123 - Oct 4, 2012 at 10:04 AM

        Uh huh. And what percentage of wins are 1 and 2 hitters “bigdog”? 2%? 3%?.

        So, new deal. I will happily grant a pitcher a win every time he throws a one hitter or two hitter. I guess that means Felix Hernandez lead the league in wins this year with 3.

  5. Stiller43 - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:03 PM

    3 runs in 6 innings?…otherwise known as a 4.5 era? Are you implying this is good and he should get a win today?

    • delawarephilliesfan - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:05 PM

      3 runs in 6 innings is the deifintion of a Quality Start.

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:12 PM

        And yet, we wouldn’t really call a starter with a 4.5 ERA good, just acceptable. At least not in this era of the pitcher what with two or three yearly no-hitters. In the 90’s a 4.5 ERA was probably good! Perhaps quality start should change to 3 runs in 7+ innings or 2 or less runs in 5-6?

      • Francisco (FC) - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:14 PM

        Mind you I fully believe Cliff pitched well, it’s just that there does seem to be a disparity between the QS definition and what we generally consider good starter ERA.

      • Jeremy T - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:15 PM

        Having a 4.5 ERA over a long period of time would mean that pitcher is averaging 3 runs per 6 innings. It’s bad because of all the times that the pitcher let up more than that. 6 innings and 3 runs is called a quality start because, most of the time, that’s right around the cutoff of where you need to be to keep your team in the game. You’re right that it doesn’t account for the run environment, though.

      • The Dangerous Mabry - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:21 PM

        It’s also the WORST possible quality start. While there are a lot of problems with the save, we don’t assume that every save was a situation where a guy gave up two runs and loaded the bases before finally getting a lucky double play to end the game. Similarly, most quality starts aren’t 3 runs in 6 innings, but that’s the minimum criteria.

        From an ancient Rob Neyer article about the Quality Start:

        Have the pitchers credited with a quality start generally pitched well? Here are the ERAs for all quality starts and non-quality starts in both seasons:

        ERA

        Quality non-Quality

        1985 1.88 7.37

        2005 2.04 7.70

      • paperlions - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:35 PM

        Actually, that is the worst you can pitch and qualify for a quality start….you can pitch better and it’ll still be a quality start. That is the problem of perception for people that decry the QS definition…the thing measures how many times a pitcher gave his team a chance to win by pitching reasonably deep into the game and not giving up a ton of runs….that’s all it is for.

      • delawarephilliesfan - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:46 PM

        Right, and that is what Aaron used it for, illustrating an unsually high amount of times he failed to get a win when picthing well enough to give his team a chance to win.

  6. illadelphiasphinest - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    He was this years Cole Hamels. Goes out and pitches well, but the bats just don’t provide him with run support. Damn shame. O well looking foward to 2013!! Now if RAJ can just make the correct offensive additions (Hamilton, Justin Upton, n David Wright such wishfull thinking hahah) and add a vet or two in the pen were in business!!!

  7. dcfan4life - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    Im sure when he looks at his contract, he feels at ease no matter how he pitches since every dollar is guaranteed. Hes got his money, hes got his Cy Young, only thing missing is a World Series.

  8. The Dangerous Mabry - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Should’ve pitched to the score. That’s how they used to do it in the old days.

  9. fmlizard - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    My fantasy league did Win % this year instead of Wins. Next year, I’m dumping Wins or any related stat entirely from the scoring. And yes, I had Lee on my team this year.

  10. kkolchak - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:17 PM

    Sorry, Cliff, but chicks dig 20-game winners. Just ask Gio. :)

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:29 PM

      “phinishes.”
      I see what you did there Kolchak!

  11. Gamera the Brave - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    They call this lack-of-run-support phenomenon “Matt Cain’s Syndrome”…

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 3, 2012 at 4:28 PM

      Absolutely. Though as a Cardinals fan…I prefer to call it “Carpenters Last Three Game’s Syndrome.”

  12. bougin89 - Oct 3, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    This guy can’t win at all. I think he’s finished. The Phillies should probably just eat half his contract and trade him to the Brewers for any prospect they can get.

    -Brewers Fan

  13. philliesblow - Oct 3, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    So Lee only wins 6 games due to lack of run support, but yet I’ve seen a ton of posts lately saying RBI’s (or RsBI if you prefer) are a meaningless stat. I’m sure Cliff would have liked a few Phillies hitters to have more meaningless stats in his starts.

  14. churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Oct 3, 2012 at 6:22 PM

    For instance, Ivan Nova has 12 “wins” with a 5.02 ERA in 170 innings and Bruce Chen has 11 “wins” with a 5.07 ERA in 192 innings.

    A bit late to the party, but how about Clay Buccholz for the anti-Cliff Lee? 4 wins giving up 5 runs or more. 11 total wins, and only 5 of them did he give up less than 3 runs.

  15. deathmonkey41 - Oct 3, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    Couldn’t have happened to a bigger, gum-chewing doosh.

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