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Brandon McCarthy: Pitcher wins and RBI “absurd”

Mar 8, 2013, 9:45 PM EST

Diamonbacks' Brandon McCarthy delivers a pitch against the Reds during their MLB Cactus League spring training baseball game in Scottsdale Reuters

Dave Brown of Yahoo! Sports just posted an intriguing interview with Diamondbacks pitcher Brandon McCarthy. They talk about everything from the right-hander’s experience getting hit by a line drive, his tweeting, the trade that sent him to Oakland, as well as his familiarity with some advanced stats.

His thoughts on some traditional stats, pitcher wins and RBI, caught my attention:

DB:xFIP and WAR are great, but don’t pitchers need wins to take to arbitration?

BM: Yeah, that’s the worst part about wins. It’s the same with RBIs. They are the two numbers that truly get you paid. It’s absurd. But you become conditioned to having to think about it. In the minor leagues, I don’t think organizations push it, but you get built on that because that’s what you grow up with. And then when you should be getting to a point when you realize it’s a worthless stat, now you realize that your entire financial future depends on it, that stupid number, an arbitrary cutoff point.

McCarthy is one of a very short list of players who have publicly shown an interest in Sabermetrics. Zack Greinke is another, as he utilized stats to help him win the 2009 AL Cy Young award. It is nice to hear, every now and then, that a player has taken an active role in furthering his understanding of the game.

  1. raysfan1 - Mar 8, 2013 at 9:53 PM

    Every time I read something about this guy, I like him more.

    • indaburg - Mar 8, 2013 at 10:34 PM

      Yeah, I couldn’t dislike him if I tried. I don’t know why I would try.

      McCarthy gets it.

    • ezthinking - Mar 9, 2013 at 10:52 AM

      Everytime I read something like this, I realize there are more and more extremist dipshits when is comes to stats. Wins and RBI certainly are not the end-all-be-all of stats, but they certainly aren’t worthless. Oddly they are components of WAR.

      Greinke won the ’09 Cy Young in part with the best ERA in baseball, tie for third most wins, and had the third most K’s in baseball.

      “as he utilized stats to help him win the 2009 AL Cy Young award.” So does every CY Young winner. No stats means they didn’t play.

      • Detroit Michael - Mar 9, 2013 at 11:01 AM

        You are misinformed.

        Pitchers’ wins and RBIs are not components on WAR. At least not on fWAR nor b-refWAR.

      • illegalblues - Mar 9, 2013 at 1:38 PM

        this stuff isn’t hard to get, you just have to look up how the advanced metric works. doesn’t really work when you just assume stuff, ya know? i’ll help if you want, i have links.

  2. redguy12588 - Mar 8, 2013 at 9:58 PM

    Miguel Cabrera fans are about to flip out.

    “IF RBIS ARE SO WORTHLESS, THEN WHY IS IT COUNTED AS PART OF THE TRIPLE CROWN? TAKE THAT NERDS!”

    • Detroit Michael - Mar 9, 2013 at 11:02 AM

      The category of Miguel Cabrera fans and the category of fans who think that RBIs are relatively uninformative are not mutually exclusive.

  3. ranoversquarells - Mar 8, 2013 at 10:49 PM

    By the end results it looks like Zach no longer believes in cybermetrics …

  4. dawgpoundmember - Mar 8, 2013 at 11:09 PM

    Finally someone says it! Wins are so overrated!

    Wait….every stat adds up to wins.

    • bigmeechy74 - Mar 9, 2013 at 1:41 AM

      You are either trolling or stupid.

      • tuberippin - Mar 9, 2013 at 2:00 AM

        I will go with “all of the above”.

  5. 80fightins08 - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:18 AM

    Wins = not important???
    WAR = wins above replacement = important???
    You SABR geeks r killing me.

    “You play to win the game.”

    • raysfan1 - Mar 9, 2013 at 9:00 AM

      Nobody is saying wins aren’t important. Wins of course are the ultimate team performance measurement.

      Attributing wins to individual pitchers, however, does a poor job of showing how good or bad a pitcher is. You don’t even have to use Sabermetrics to demonstrate this…

      In 2010 Felix Hernandez led the majors with a 2.27 ERA in 249 innings pitched. He was outstanding. He won the Cy Young Award. His Win-loss record was 13-12 because he pitched for a lousy team that could not score runs(sorry Mariner fans).

    • deadeyedesign23 - Mar 9, 2013 at 1:28 PM

      Wins and Pitcher Wins are not the same stat.

      In 2010 Felix Hernandez had 13 Wins and we can probably all agree he was at least a top 5 pitcher in baseball that year. That same year Tyler Clippard had 11 wins as the set up man for the Nationals, averaging a bit more than 1 inning per appearance. The mere fact that you can say that Tyler Clippard was very nearly the same pitcher as Felix Hernandez base don this stat should tell you why it’s not very useful.

  6. supersnappy - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:51 AM

    A win, is the objective of the game and is of course very important. McCarthy is talking about the ‘win’, the statistic credited to pitchers. Nobody disputes the importance of winning, but giving full credit for that win to whichever pitcher was in the game when the winning team took a lead they never gave up (and who went 5 innings if he was the starter) is the silly part.

  7. supersnappy - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:51 AM

    A win is the objective of the game and is of course very important. McCarthy is talking about the ‘win’, the statistic credited to pitchers. Nobody disputes the importance of winning, but giving full credit for that win to whichever pitcher was in the game when the winning team took a lead they never gave up (and who went 5 innings if he was the starter) is the silly part.

    • supersnappy - Mar 9, 2013 at 8:52 AM

      Gah! Sorry the the double post. And the misplaced comma in the first one

  8. ndrick731 - Mar 9, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    The object of the game is to win. The object of the athlete is to get paid. The object of the team is to make money. The team will use the stat that allows them to pay the least. The athlete will use the stat that will get him the most money. Most teams want to win because it makes them more money. Most athletes are only interested in winning if it doesn’t cost them money. And the fan gets screwed. Where is the stat for that.

  9. 80fightins08 - Mar 10, 2013 at 9:00 AM

    I understand the arguments made against wins. But WAR is not something I can really get behind. WAR is different depending on its source. I read an article where a guy had a positive WAR on one source and a negative one on the other. Stat geeks are all over themselves finding the anomaly (king Felix), and ignore where their stats fail. Advanced metrics certainly have their place in analysis, but please, not in my living room or at the bar.

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