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Randy Choate got the win after throwing one pitch

Jun 14, 2014, 10:31 PM EDT

Screen Shot 2014-06-14 at 10.20.22 PM Getty Images

The next time someone argues that pitcher wins mean anything, remember the Cards-Nats game from tonight.

Stephen Strasburg and Shelby Miller are locked in a pitcher’s duel. It’s 1-1 in the top of the seventh. Miller gets two outs, but also loads the bases. He’s at 101 pitches and he’s gassed, so Mike Matheny calls on Randy Choate. Choate comes in and throws one pitch, which induces a ground ball to get the Cards out of the inning.

Bottom of the seventh comes and the Cards rally for three runs on a Matt Adams homer, a walk to Matt Holliday with the bases loaded and an Allen Craig single. Choate is the pitcher of record throughout this half-inning, even if he’s just watching it all from the bench, even as Jon Jay pinch hits for him. Pat Neshek comes in for the eighth and sets the Nats down 1-2-3. Trevor Rosenthal does the same in the ninth. Ballgame.

The man who threw one pitch is awarded with the win. Granted, he did his job and all that he was asked to do. But he still threw one pitch. And that’s pretty much all you need to know about pitcher wins.

  1. NatsLady - Jun 14, 2014 at 10:36 PM

    Aren’t you off-duty? Go enjoy the Fieri meltdown.

  2. Kevin Gillman - Jun 14, 2014 at 10:39 PM

    The only people that care about wins for relievers are the poeple that don’t like that stat. I am sure Randy cares MORE that his Cards win than he does that he is rewarded the W himself.

    • dan1111 - Jun 15, 2014 at 3:14 AM

      That is a fair point. However, someone must care a little bit, since they still assign wins to relievers.

      • Kevin Gillman - Jun 15, 2014 at 3:56 PM

        But what else will they do? I am serious, sometimes all I read on here are the writers bitching about something, some rule in baseball they don’t agree on. I honestly think they all gather around every day in a round table just to blurt the things they don’t like about baseball. I guess, in theory, I am doing this too but sometimes, enough is enough. Baseball is STILL the greatest sport to watch, and play. Even with the dumb rules.

      • Reflex - Jun 15, 2014 at 4:06 PM

        Part of loving something is seeking improvement in it. Continual and gradual improvements will only improve the game over time. Complaining about Wins has directly impacted who has won the Cy over the past few years, its likely that Kershaw would have lost out to Wainwright or Zimmermann last year and Felix never would have taken it in 2010 without people pointing out the fallaciousness of pitcher Wins.

        I say keep it up. Beating these drums is leading directly to change. And the change has been positive and increased fan engagement with the game.

  3. NatsLady - Jun 14, 2014 at 11:07 PM

    The more relevant question is whether Matt Williams let Stras hit for himself and go out for the 7th because he wanted to give Stras a chance to get the “win” the game, or if he thought Strasburg (at approx 86 pitches) was the best choice for the bottom of the 7th (given that the Nats have, by the numbers, the best bullpen in MLB).

    Stras worked a walk in his at bat, loading the bases. (Span then hit the aforementioned Choate pitch for a weak grounder). Stras then gave up a HR to the first batter in the 7th, Matt Adams, to make it 2-1.

    Should Williams have pinch hit for Stras with two out and two on with the game 1-1?

  4. tfbuckfutter - Jun 14, 2014 at 11:15 PM

    I thought we all agreed that Holds were the most legit stat ever.

  5. chiadam - Jun 14, 2014 at 11:53 PM

    No, this is not actually not all that you need to know about pitcher wins. They’ve overrated. We get it. And we get that stat people love to ridicule us simpletons that dare to mention wins and batting average. I just hope that one day they stop hovering over their computers like weebles waiting for a chance to pounce every time a pitcher gets a fluke win like this.

    • Reflex - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:06 AM

      Actually batting average is fine for what it purports to tell you. The SABR response is only that on base percentage tells you more than BA, which is true since avoiding outs is the most important thing a hitter can do. The simpleton argument about offense is typically that RBI’s and Runs mean something inherently, when in reality they are a product of the team almost as much as the hitter. A good hitter on a good team will have a lot of RBI’s typically, a good hitter on a bad team will have substantially fewer, even if they produce at the same level in every other way.

    • jwbiii - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:18 AM

      . . . he types as he hovers over his computer.

  6. thomas844 - Jun 15, 2014 at 12:55 AM

    I don’t think people argue wins as a legit stat when it comes to relievers. I can understand why win total would carry some weight for a starter, though. Obviously not as much as ERA or WHIP, but in a lot of cases, wins at least give an idea for how a starting pitcher’s season is going.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Jun 15, 2014 at 4:43 AM

      A few days back, we learned of the tragic death of former pitcher Bob Welch. Two of the most prominently mentioned items noted were his WS duel with Reggie Jackson, and his going 27-6 in 1990. Because wins don’t mean anything. (Oh, CC wrote the obit for this blog.)

      • Craig Calcaterra - Jun 15, 2014 at 7:38 AM

        What I did not say, due to the timing and it being a point of respect, is that Welch’s win total that year got him the CYA even though he was nowhere near the best pitcher in the AL that season. In that case, wins served as so highly a misleading stat that people’s misaprehension of them caused a major award to be given to a guy who, while having a good season, did not deserve it.

      • moogro - Jun 15, 2014 at 12:46 PM

        Wow. Look it up. Welch should have been third, maybe fourth place in voting that year.

      • Reflex - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:55 PM

        Discussing an accomplishment someone is known for is not the same thing as endorsing that accomplishment above others. It was his obit. People remember his 27 win season. It makes sense to mention that. Even to those of us who place little value on pitcher wins.

  7. nfieldr - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:32 AM

    Early 60’s, I’m at a minor league game in Charlotte. Top of the 9th, game is tied, runner on 1st.

    Pitching change is made to bring in a lefty. He picks off the runner before throwing a pitch. The Hornets score in the bottom half. Winning pitcher threw exactly 0 pitches.

    My dad told me to remember that game because I’d probably never see it again. He was right.

    • paperlions - Jun 15, 2014 at 8:54 AM

      This has happened twice since 1986 (when the necessary stats began being recorded) in MLB.

      BJ Ryan, May 1, 2003

      Alan Embree, July 7, 2009

  8. perryt200 - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:36 AM

    yeah I watched that game. I don’t remember Trevor Rosenthal exactly setting them down 1-2-3.

    next, the pop in the bat; the offense we have been waiting for is not .189 Taveras. It is Matt Adams. Big City can flat hit. From a change up last night to a really low fast ball tonight.

    And Paper can pretty well bite my ass. I think Matheny has done a great job. Just out managed one of the “hottest” teams in baseball. (which I totally disagreed with from the start, they played junk and when they played quality they are getting beaten)

    I will go one more. Always been a John Jay fan. Problem is most stat guys would say I was because I was an idiot. I loved his number of errorless innings. And of course the stat guys would says that was not a predictor of his actual play. Those guys can bite my ass too. Jay is as clutch hitter right now as anyone on the team and I still like his defense.

    Lastly, you have to love a pitcher in the National League helping his own cause. Get rid of the DH and make every team consider how the pitchers hit. Miller with a double and the go ahead run was priceless.

    • Reflex - Jun 15, 2014 at 1:53 AM

      Jon Jay is a perfectly average player. His defense is almost dead average, his offense has been at times slightly above average and at times slightly below average. The percentage of runners who score when he is at bat is 14% for his career. The MLB average is 14%, so he is as ‘clutch’ as any typical major league hitter is.

      There is nothing really wrong with Jon Jay. But there is nothing really great about him either. He’s not hurting the team by much (he’s on track to produce a bit below an average player this year, and produced a bit below last year after a couple years of above average play), but he’s also not helping them.

      Paper’s problem is that the Cards have a better option they are choosing not to play right now. The Cards would be a better team with Jay as a 4th outfielder.

      • perryt200 - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:09 AM

        And tonight Jay WAS the 4th outfielder. Came in on the double switch to bat for Choate then took Hollidays spot in left. And he can play any outfield position.

        Paper’s problem is that instead of being 4.5 games up, StL is 4.5 games back. Which as a fan he is blaming on the manager instead of a small sample size (it is a long season) as he likes to continually harp on.

      • Reflex - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:18 AM

        We are more than a third of the way through the season. I don’t really call that a small sample at this point. The Cards are not leading, and every single game counts. I’m not certain when you feel they should put the best nine they have on the field, but personally I believe that should be every single game given that divisions are usually only won by a few games, give or take.

      • paperlions - Jun 15, 2014 at 9:07 AM

        I am not blaming the record on the manager, that is primarily the player’s fault. I am blaming the manager for making poor decisions in just about every way you can make poor decisions, thereby making it more difficult for players to win games.

        A manager is supposed to help a team win by putting players in the best position to succeed. Instead, Matheny is a net negative and someone who’s decisions the players have to overcome to win close games.

        His double switches are horrible, often unnecessary while making both the offense and defense worse).

        He IBBs too many opposing hitters.

        He sac bunts way too often, and regularly calls for them in the first inning.

        He regularly leaves starting pitchers in too long.

        His lineups are a disaster. He has apparently stated that he puts struggling hitters in the 2-hole. Um, hey Mike, 2nd is where you best hitter should bat. Then we get fantastic things like Ellis and Grichuk batting 2nd.

        I’m all for Adams playing against every RHP and sending Craig to the bench. When Craig isn’t hitting, he provides negative value because he’s horrible on defense and on the bases. Last night, with a man on first, he played a routine ground ball single to the left of the secondbaseman so badly, that Rendon scored all the way from first. With a real RF, last night’s game was a shutout.

        He regularly makes playing time decisions based on horribly small samples sizes.

        Defense matters. Matheny’s logic that you should play guys that are hitting well because the entire team is struggling is wrong. If you can’t hit, preventing runs is all the more important.

        The frustrating thing about Matheny is that he talks, and every time he does he demonstrates that he doesn’t really understand what he’s doing. He’s the Ruben Amaro of Managers.

        If you think Taveras’ .189 is indicative of how he performed while up, you weren’t watching his ABs. He barrels up everything. He swung and missed at exactly 3 pitches the entire time, he has a great idea of the strike zone. His problem was that he hit the ball hard at people the entire time.

    • unclemosesgreen - Jun 15, 2014 at 8:01 AM

      Matheny just out-managaed one of the “hottest” teams in baseball?

      Which tactical gambit of his was clearly superior to that of Matt Williams?

      I don’t know if you’re an idiot, but I do know that coming to this post and randomly shouting about paperlions makes you irrational. Coming here and randomly shouting about all the people, real and imagined, met and unmet, who can “bite your ass” makes you a jerk. And I don’t need any stats at all to back that up.

  9. sfm073 - Jun 15, 2014 at 2:16 AM

    I’m not disagreeing that the win stat is way overrated, but please stop posting this stuff every time a relief pitcher gets a fluke win. I really can’t believe NBC continues to pay you to write the same 5 articles day in and day out. And please save it Craig fanboys we know you love him and how dare anyone say anything bad about him.

    • paperlions - Jun 15, 2014 at 9:09 AM

      If we are making a list of things to stop posting, can we move: Wanna by ______’s House? to the top of the list?

  10. infieldhit - Jun 15, 2014 at 3:44 AM

    Reliever wins are usually a result of timing. There could be multiple relievers, but if you just happen to be the guy of record when your team gets the lead, you get the W. Because, heck they have to give it to someone in an objective manner. And that arbitrary reasoning applies almost as much to starters.

    Non-pitchers don’t get wins for hitting and fielding, so why apply them to pitching just because it’s convenient and not much else?

  11. johnnysoda - Jun 15, 2014 at 7:58 AM

    Still not as bad as this:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/DET/DET200305011.shtml

  12. nottinghamforest13 - Jun 15, 2014 at 9:33 AM

    He enters the game to Eric Prydz – Call on Me so he deserves any stats awarded to him.

  13. mikhelb - Jun 15, 2014 at 5:46 PM

    Thats exactly why W’s do not mean a single thing for stat minded fans.

  14. doctornature - Jun 16, 2014 at 5:44 AM

    I remember coming into a high school game in the top of the 7th in a scoreless game, bases loaded and one out. I threw one pitch and got a custom made one hop chopper just to the left of the 2nd base bag. Shortstop stepped on the bag and then got the runner by 30 feet at first for an easy double play.

    We won on a walk off homer in the bottom of the seventh.

    One pitch, 2 outs, and a W.

    The W was not important. The fact that we advanced in the playoffs is what sticks in my mind, where we came in 3rd in state, despite us giving up only 3 hits in the last 4 games.

    Our Ace Charlie Jenkins threw 2 1-hitters and I threw a no-hitter and a 1-hitter. Charlie lost 1-0 in the Finals with the only run scoring on an error and a sac fly that would have been reversed if replay had been in play back in 1969.

  15. entitymn - Jun 16, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    I seem to remember a Twins reliever doing this a bunch when I was just starting to watch baseball, but I cannot remember his name. Drove Bert Blyleven absolutely nuts, so it was definitely a good thing. I have not come up with a way to track down a list of one pitch pitcher Wins. Anybody? Would make for a good article, I think.

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