Aug 27, 2013, 9:45 AM EDT
So I’m reading the latest Jon Heyman column and I’m finding myself agreeing with him more than I am with people coming at the issue he’s discussing from a sabermetric point of view. And I wasn’t even hit on the head this morning or anything.
The topic: the Kill The Win campaign Brian Kenny has been waging at MLB Network and on his NBC Sports Radio show. You’ve probably seen or heard some of it. Basically Kenny is crusading to kill pitcher wins as a stat. Now, I’m not sure that he really wants to eliminate the pitcher win. I suspect this is more about conscious rhetorical overstatement in order to shock people into looking at the issue more thoughtfully. Like, Kenny is at 11 in order to get people up to a 5. It makes sense, as do Kenny’s underlying arguments about why the win stat is misleading and way less useful than people tend to think. We’ve been talking about that for years here, of course.
But to the extent this is actually about killing the win — or to the extent people take the baton from Kenny and make extreme arguments about wins being utterly meaningless — I’m more on Heyman’s side of things. Heyman, you may not realize, is actually pretty sensible about pitcher wins. He voted for Felix Hernandez for the Cy Young a few years ago despite the low win totals. He understands that strikeouts and baserunners and stuff matter more than wins. This thinking somehow disappears when he starts talking about Jack Morris and the Hall of Fame but he’s no Hawk Harrellson or Harold Reynolds about these things.
I don’t value wins too much in pitcher analysis, but I don’t think they’re utterly meaningless. For me they’re attention-getters more than anything. When I’m looking through stats from past decades and I see pitchers with big win totals I tend to want to look more deeply at their stat lines to see what kind of season they really had. If I see pitchers who I know (or heard) were good, I notice low win totals and look at their teammates and strikeouts and unearned run totals and things. I use wins as a signpost, and I’m glad they’re there for those purposes. Growing up in the 70s and 80s wins were much talked about and no matter how much my thinking has advanced, I still key on them some. Having them around is like having the common phrases page in the back of your guidebook while traveling in a foreign country.
Also: wins are fun to talk about outside of analysis. As are bunts and batting average. I like having them around for that kind of fun and I like talking about them as long as people don’t mistake the fun talk for meaningful analytical talk. It’d be a real bummer if those stats disappeared simply because we don’t use them the way we used to.
Ultimately all of this may turn on how you feel about revolutions in general. I’m kind of a cautious guy with small-c conservative tendencies. I’m pro-change and advancement and think science and math and change and the future are wonderful things that we should embrace and not fear. But I am wary of rhetorical extremes and ideas which posit that the past is crap and must be abandoned if we are to advance.
Kill the win? Nah. Just reduce it’s significance. And keep it around like we keep around record players and manual typewriters and stuff. They’re neat.
Jul 30, 2015, 4:07 PM EDT
Defeat from the jaws of victory and then they got all wet.
Jul 30, 2015, 3:50 PM EDT
Nava hit .303 in 134 games for the Red Sox in 2013, playing a key role in the team’s World Series title.
Jul 30, 2015, 3:46 PM EDT
It’s like we’re in Philly all over again.
Jul 30, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT
We’re recapping all of the deals as they come down.
Jul 30, 2015, 3:00 PM EDT
He’s signed through 2019.
Jul 30, 2015, 2:17 PM EDT
This is a big trade. At least in mass.
Jul 30, 2015, 1:40 PM EDT
Jul 30, 2015, 1:13 PM EDT
Who else needs a veteran closer?
Jul 30, 2015, 12:39 PM EDT
The Blue Jays have their ace and now have their sights set on catching the Yankees.
Jul 30, 2015, 11:52 AM EDT
Bidding war, baby!
Jul 30, 2015, 11:15 AM EDT
Money? Health? And what the hell is a “hip doctor” anyway?
Jul 30, 2015, 10:47 AM EDT
“If I wait to be 100 percent, it’s going to be season-ending.”
Jul 30, 2015, 10:31 AM EDT
We should totally have live “Jeopardy!”
Jul 30, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT
Houston made a run at him.
Jul 30, 2015, 9:56 AM EDT
A playoff rotation of Kershaw, Greinke and Price would be reDONKulous.
Jul 30, 2015, 9:37 AM EDT
The Cardinals may be small market, but they’re certainly not small revenue.
Jul 30, 2015, 9:15 AM EDT
Moss is hitting just .217/.208/.487 this season but he has a line of .254/.340/.504 over the previous three years.
Jul 30, 2015, 8:45 AM EDT
Even if the deal wasn’t done, the Mets should’ve taken Wilmer Flores out of the game.
Jul 30, 2015, 7:33 AM EDT
Trades are judged twice: when they’re made and a couple of years later when we see how they turned out. For now, however, this is a win-win deal for Texas and Philadelphia.
Jul 30, 2015, 7:02 AM EDT
The Astros regain the lead in the AL West by taking another one from the Angels.
- 2015 MLB Trade Deadline Tracker 2
- The extraordinarily odd, 13-player Dodgers-Marlins-Braves trade is done 47
- Breaking: The Blue Jays acquire David Price from the Tigers 97
- Both the Phillies and the Rangers did well in the Cole Hamels trade 67
- Rangers land ace left-hander Cole Hamels from Phillies 106
- Mets, Brewers call off reported Carlos Gomez trade 76
- Dodgers, Marlins, Braves trade involving Mat Latos “simply being held up by paperwork” 76
- The Tigers are going to “reboot;” plan to trade Price and Cespedes 74
- The MLBPA is considering withholding cooperation with ESPN, Fox over Colin Cowherd’s comments (157)
- The Cubs are in discussions with the Phillies on Cole Hamels (146)
- Colin Cowherd wonders how baseball can be considered “complicated” if Dominicans can understand it (129)
- Major League Baseball rips Colin Cowherd in an official statement (123)
- Settling the Scores: Wednesday’s results (106)