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 27, 2014, 11:05 PM EDT
Ian Kennedy’s left oblique is bothering him, so he’ll miss tomorrow’s start against the Braves.
Jul 27, 2014, 10:35 PM EDT
The Padres are expected to get Jedd Gyorko back from the DL, but lose Carlos Quentin on Monday.
Jul 27, 2014, 9:40 PM EDT
Josh Harrison kept the PIrates in the mix in Sunday’s game against the Rockies by using his legs.
Jul 27, 2014, 8:45 PM EDT
Pitchers do not want to be facing Carlos Santana right now.
Jul 27, 2014, 7:50 PM EDT
Baseball’s implementation of home plate collision rules, meant to protect catchers, hasn’t gone as smoothly as expected this season. There was yet another example on Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia.
Jul 27, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT
The Rays and Red Sox have been nipping at each other throughout the season, so it was no surprise that Chris Archer took exception when David Ortiz gawked at his three-run home run.
Jul 27, 2014, 6:05 PM EDT
According to an ESPN report, the Red Sox are considering a trade that could bring Matt Kemp to Boston.
Jul 27, 2014, 5:13 PM EDT
Frank “The Big Hurt” Thomas gave a tremendous speech — reflecting on his parents and upbringing in Georgia — Sunday at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown, New York …
Jul 27, 2014, 4:29 PM EDT
Via the National Baseball Hall of Fame Musuem’s official Twitter feed, here are the six new plaques that will be added to the walls in Cooperstown after Sunday’s induction ceremony …
Jul 27, 2014, 3:41 PM EDT
Rangers left-hander Derek Holland is scheduled to throw a full-effort bullpen session on Monday at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas. If it goes well Holland will be cleared to embark on a 30-day minor league rehab assignment later in the week.
Jul 27, 2014, 2:55 PM EDT
On this Hall of Fame induction Sunday — Greg Maddux, Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine, Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre are going in — we give you Ted Williams’ speech from 1966 …
Jul 27, 2014, 2:08 PM EDT
The Mariners acquired Kendrys Morales from the Twins on Thursday for right-handed reliever Stephen Pryor, and they’re not done trying to beef up their offense.
Jul 27, 2014, 1:25 PM EDT
Mark Appel was promoted to Double-A Corpus Christi on Saturday despite posting a 9.74 ERA and 1.92 WHIP in 44 1/3 innings at High-A Lancaster. And he was invited to Minute Maid Park in Houston on Sunday morning to throw a bullpen session in front of Astros coaches and executives. This stuff is not sitting well with some of the players on the Astros’ current major league roster.
Jul 27, 2014, 1:07 PM EDT
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that the Yankees are eyeing Twins outfielder Josh Willingham, who would require less of a committment in years and money than Alex Rios and Marlon Byrd.
Jul 27, 2014, 12:20 PM EDT
So I have three – no, wait, just thought of another one, so four – theories about the Baseball Hall of Fame’s decision to reduce the time a player can spend on the ballot from 15 years to 10. I am not opposed to this rule, by the way. I have long thought 15 years was too long for a player to be on the ballot. And I am absolutely for some changes in the Hall of Fame process …
Jul 27, 2014, 11:34 AM EDT
Jack Hannahan is finally ready to rejoin the Reds’ active roster after missing April, May, June, and most of July following offseason shoulder surgery.
Jul 27, 2014, 10:59 AM EDT
Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Tony La Russa, Joe Torre, and Bobby Cox make up the star-studded six-man class of players and managers that will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday afternoon in Cooperstown, New York. Here’s a sneak peek at the intro video that will be seen before the ceremony on MLB Network …
Jul 27, 2014, 10:12 AM EDT
The Dodgers and Diamondbacks got into a few scuffles last season, and now their Triple-A affiliates are taking the feistiness to another level. Check out this brawl from Saturday evening …
Jul 27, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
This doesn’t sound like a promising development. According to Nick Groke of the Denver Post, star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki flew to Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon to visit Dr. William Meyers about his lingering left hip injury. Meyers performed a sports hernia surgery on Tulowitzki in 2012
Jul 27, 2014, 8:56 AM EDT
The Dodgers are back on top in the NL West. Clayton Kershaw allowed only two hits and a walk over nine shutout innings and Adrian Gonzalez went 3-for-5 with two doubles as Los Angeles dominated the host Giants on Saturday night in San Francisco.
- Mariners’ interest in Matt Kemp is “very real” 21
- Astros players upset over Mark Appel’s promotion to Double-A, bullpen session in Houston 38
- Four theories about the Hall of Fame voting changes 21
- Troy Tulowitzki is visiting a sports hernia surgeon 9
- Settling the Score: Saturday’s results 29
- Giants acquire Jake Peavy from Red Sox 55
- Maximum stay on Hall of Fame ballot changed from 15 to 10 years 66
- Jon Lester is willing to return to the Red Sox as a free agent even if they trade him 32
- Expert’s Corner: How to troll fans of all 30 teams (201)
- Verducci: baseball should think about an “illegal defense” rule to combat shifts (164)
- Yankees acquire Chase Headley from Padres (108)
- Who is the next Face of Baseball? (97)
- David Ortiz passes Carl Yastrzemski on the all-time home run list — is he a Hall of Famer? (92)