Originally Posted by M2
You know, the more I think about it, the weirder the whole concept of pitcher's wins is.
Think about it. How does a team win a ballgame?
It scores more runs than the opposition.
What are the main components to doing that?
Scoring runs and preventing runs.
How do runs get prevented?
Pitching and defense.
So pitching has nothing to do with half of what gets a team a win and it's not even the whole ball of wax on the run prevention side. Bill James figures it to be roughly 35% of how wins happen.
And these days starting pitchers only average roughly 6 IP a start. So a starting pitcher, on average, only holds about 25% of the responsibility for any game he wins. Plus, if the starting pitcher doesn't get the win, it then gets awarded to a reliever based on when the team scored the go-ahead run. What does that have to do with pitching?
When you think back to the birth of the wins statistic, the pitcher was one guy. He went out to the mound and threw a complete game. Relief appearances were an extreme rarity. For instance, the 1891 Reds had 13 relief appearance over 138 games and in no game was more than one reliever used. You could claim the pitcher earned the win because he was THE pitcher. Ten years earlier clubs only carried two or three pitchers for the entire season. Your best pitcher in those days was your star player, the main difference between winning and losing. Old Hoss Radbourn could go out and win a title pretty much single-handedly.
You've got to wonder if the game 130 years ago was played like the modern game if the pitcher's win would have been considered a meaningful measure of something. My guess is common sense would have dictated that wins were a team statistic and that no single pitcher does enough to earn credit for those wins. Yet now we've got the statistic built into the vocabulary of the game.
It amazes me how decision made in the 1870s based on what was a very different game gets passed along generation to generation without a second thought even though the rationale for it has long since evaporated.
Very interesting M2, and very well written. Thanks for the insight. I have to say, it holds some water and makes a lot of sense. :gac: