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.
Oct 31, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT
The end of this awkward, orchestrated process is in sight.
Oct 31, 2014, 3:50 PM EDT
He’ll be eligible for free agency next offseason at age 34.
Oct 31, 2014, 3:20 PM EDT
Both players will reject the offers.
Oct 31, 2014, 2:55 PM EDT
Here we go.
Oct 31, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT
Dirks missed the entire season following back surgery and then a hamstring injury.
Oct 31, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
Go O.D. on some hot trolley action.
Oct 31, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT
Chavez played for the Yankees in 2011 and 2012.
Oct 31, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT
Our last HBT Daily of the year gives a brief taste of the coming winter.
Oct 31, 2014, 1:18 PM EDT
This season he hit just .247 with a .616 OPS in 113 games and Aviles hasn’t cracked a .700 OPS since 2010.
Oct 31, 2014, 1:03 PM EDT
Some random, hypothetical musings on a Friday afternoon.
Oct 31, 2014, 12:12 PM EDT
He was drafted by the Red Sox in 2002 and made 241 starts for Boston.
Oct 31, 2014, 11:47 AM EDT
The only question for next season is what inning he’ll pitch.
Oct 31, 2014, 10:50 AM EDT
Weeks has spent his entire career with the Brewers after being the No. 2 overall pick in the 2003 draft.
Oct 31, 2014, 10:19 AM EDT
Matsuzaka left Japan in 2007 to sign a six-year, $52 million contract with the Red Sox and had immediate success, but dating back to 2009 he’s combined to throw 418 innings with a 5.10 ERA.
Oct 31, 2014, 9:43 AM EDT
The mind reels when thinking of what may appear in such a publication.
Oct 31, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Including writeups for the top 63, because we’re not always all about round numbers.
Oct 31, 2014, 8:33 AM EDT
And it’s hard to argue with any of what Richard Sandomir has to say about it.
Oct 31, 2014, 6:27 AM EDT
Baseball people are saying that it’s one thing to go after a vacant job. It’s another thing altogether, however, to pursue a job someone — namely Rick Renteria — currently occupies.
Oct 30, 2014, 11:01 PM EDT
Giants second baseman Joe Panik started a key double play in Game 7. Here’s a deeper look at how it went down.
Oct 30, 2014, 9:47 PM EDT
The Diamondbacks announced this evening that they have exercised club options on right-hander Daniel Hudson and left-hander Matt Reynolds for 2015.
- The Cubs to announce the hiring of Joe Maddon on Monday 0
- Cubs fire manager Rick Renteria, clear way for Joe Maddon 43
- HardballTalk’s Top 150 Free Agents for 2015 22
- Joe Maddon’s pursuit of the Cubs job called “a classless act” by some in the game 111
- Kevin Youkilis opts for retirement at age 35 30
- 10 nominees for Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee announced 106
- Bochy’s championship resume ranks among game’s best 19
- Alex Gordon would have been a dead duck had he tried to score 82
- A veteran says enough is enough when it comes to tributes for the soldiers (281)
- Jose Canseco shot his middle finger off (148)
- Shocker! Joe Maddon to opt out of his contract and leave the Rays (142)
- Oscar Taveras dies after car accident in the Dominican Republic (140)
- Joe Maddon’s pursuit of the Cubs job called “a classless act” by some in the game (112)