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Doug Fister can’t buy a win

Posted by John Autin on July 27, 2011

Seattle finally won a game Wednesday, erupting for 9 runs against the Yankees. It's no surprise that it happened the day after Doug Fister started.

On Tuesday, Doug "No Visible Means of Support" Fister was tagged with another tough loss, allowing 3 runs in 7 IP, while his mates could barely make contact off CC Sabathia. The Mariners have scored 2 runs or less in 16 of Fister's 21 starts this year.

  • His last win came on May 30. In 10 starts since then, he has a 3.42 ERA, but an 0-7 record, including an agonizing 3-game stretch allowing 1 run each game while lasting 8, 8 and 9 IP -- all for an 0-1 record. He has 4 games of 8+ IP and just 1 run allowed, but no wins to show for them. All other SPs combined, when going 8+ IP and allowing 1 run this year, are 77-12, with 15 no-decisions. No other pitcher has more 2 winless games of 8+ IP and 1 run.

(1) Fister's season record is now 3-12 (.200 W%), but with a 3.33 ERA / 111 ERA+.

Since 1901, here are the 15 starting pitchers with a season Winning Pct. of .250  or worse but an ERA+ of at least 100 (min. 15 decisions):

Rk Player ERA+ W-L% Dec Year Age Tm Lg G GS CG SHO GF W L SV IP H R ER BB SO ERA HR BF
1 Ned Garvin 159 .238 21 1904 30 TOT ML 25 24 16 2 1 5 16 0 193.2 155 85 37 80 94 1.72 6 781
2 Eddie Smith 119 .190 21 1937 23 PHA AL 38 23 14 1 11 4 17 5 196.2 178 100 86 90 79 3.94 18 847
3 Frank Allen 116 .182 22 1913 24 BRO NL 34 25 11 0 3 4 18 2 174.2 144 75 55 81 82 2.83 6 736
4 George McConnell 113 .250 16 1916 38 CHC NL 28 21 8 1 7 4 12 0 171.1 137 66 49 35 82 2.57 8 682
5 Jesse Flores 113 .235 17 1947 32 PHA AL 28 20 4 0 5 4 13 0 151.1 139 72 57 59 41 3.39 10 633
6 Doug Fister 111 .200 15 2011 27 SEA AL 21 21 3 0 0 3 12 0 146.0 139 57 54 32 89 3.33 7 602
7 Jack Russell 108 .250 24 1929 23 BOS AL 35 32 13 0 3 6 18 0 227.1 263 132 99 40 37 3.92 12 978
8 Howie Fox 106 .240 25 1949 28 CIN NL 38 30 9 0 6 6 19 0 215.0 221 120 95 77 60 3.98 13 928
9 Ben Cantwell 103 .235 17 1929 27 BSN NL 27 20 8 0 6 4 13 2 157.0 171 98 78 52 25 4.47 11 683
10 Paul Derringer 103 .206 34 1933 26 TOT NL 36 33 17 2 3 7 27 1 248.0 264 117 91 60 89 3.30 4 1045
11 Rollie Naylor 102 .217 23 1919 27 PHA AL 31 23 17 0 5 5 18 0 204.2 210 109 76 64 68 3.34 2 819
12 Dolf Luque 102 .238 21 1929 38 CIN NL 32 22 8 1 4 5 16 0 176.0 213 103 88 56 43 4.50 7 771
13 Elmer Jacobs 101 .240 25 1917 24 PIT NL 38 25 10 1 12 6 19 2 227.1 214 87 71 76 58 2.81 3 941
14 John Buzhardt 101 .238 21 1960 23 PHI NL 30 29 5 0 0 5 16 0 200.1 198 101 86 68 73 3.86 14 849
15 Russ Christopher 100 .235 17 1942 24 PHA AL 30 18 10 0 10 4 13 1 165.0 154 78 70 99 58 3.82 8 718
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/27/2011.

__________

(2) Fister's career record is 12-30 (.286), with a 103 ERA+. Since 1901, that's the worst W% for a starter with an ERA+ of at least 100 in at least 30 decisions:

Rk Player W-L% ERA+ Dec From To Age G GS CG SHO GF W L SV IP H R ER BB SO ERA HR BF IBB HBP BK WP Tm
1 Doug Fister .286 103 42 2009 2011 25-27 60 59 3 0 1 12 30 0 378.0 389 171 160 79 218 3.81 31 1578 4 17 4 12 SEA
2 Mack Allison .300 103 30 1911 1913 24-26 45 27 17 1 12 9 21 1 246.2 247 135 87 67 57 3.17 4 988 11 1 9 SLB
3 Cliff Curtis .315 101 89 1909 1913 27-31 136 94 39 5 32 28 61 6 744.2 707 393 274 317 236 3.31 22 3126 37 0 22 BSN-TOT-BRO
4 Rollie Naylor .336 102 125 1917 1924 25-32 181 136 67 2 28 42 83 0 1011.0 1174 584 442 346 282 3.93 34 4364 17 2 22 PHA
5 Tony Saunders .351 100 37 1997 1999 23-25 62 61 2 0 0 13 24 0 345.2 343 196 175 204 304 4.56 33 1542 2 13 2 7 FLA-TBD
6 Highball Wilson .359 102 39 1902 1904 23-25 46 41 36 1 5 14 25 0 363.2 405 184 128 66 85 3.17 8 1527 21 1 3 PHA-WSH
7 Bill Burns .366 101 82 1908 1912 28-32 117 85 45 10 21 30 52 2 717.2 705 331 217 147 233 2.72 14 2846 38 7 11 WSH-TOT-DET
8 Scott Perry .370 113 108 1915 1921 24-30 132 104 69 5 24 40 68 5 893.1 927 403 305 284 231 3.07 23 3706 14 2 13 SLB-CHC-CIN-PHA
9 Tom Poholsky .373 101 83 1950 1957 20-27 159 104 30 5 30 31 52 1 753.2 791 381 329 192 316 3.93 90 3184 15 13 1 16 STL-CHC
10 Ned Garvin .375 120 104 1901 1904 27-30 125 106 86 8 19 39 65 3 942.1 874 474 283 301 432 2.70 15 3889 41 3 38 MLA-TOT-BRO
11 Ross Baumgarten .379 101 58 1978 1982 23-27 90 84 10 6 3 22 36 0 495.1 492 246 220 211 222 4.00 43 2133 5 4 6 21 CHW-PIT
12 Elmer Ponder .386 105 44 1917 1921 24-28 69 42 20 3 19 17 27 0 378.2 395 173 135 72 113 3.21 11 1582 9 0 13 PIT-TOT
13 Eddie Smith .392 108 186 1936 1947 22-33 282 197 91 8 60 73 113 12 1595.2 1554 816 678 739 694 3.82 106 6973 33 1 34 PHA-TOT-CHW
14 Tom Cheney .396 104 48 1957 1966 22-31 115 71 13 8 21 19 29 2 466.0 382 224 195 245 345 3.77 53 1981 6 6 0 15 STL-PIT-TOT-WSA
15 Bob Weiland .397 100 156 1928 1940 22-34 277 179 66 7 47 62 94 7 1388.1 1463 794 654 611 614 4.24 85 6150 37 5 13 CHW-BOS-TOT-SLB-STL
16 Jeremy Guthrie .404 105 104 2004 2011 25-32 166 143 4 0 8 42 62 0 949.2 944 472 441 279 581 4.18 129 4023 11 44 3 17 CLE-BAL
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/27/2011.

(By the way, that's Ned Garvin on these lists, not our old friend Ned Garver -- although Garver is certainly one of the top "better-than-his-record" pitchers.)

(3) Fister's ERA this year in his 12 losses alone is 4.25, with an average of almost 7 IP per game. Through Tuesday, Detroit's Max Scherzer had a 4.35 ERA and averaged 6 IP per start this season -- and an 11-5 record.

Obviously, the Mariners haven't scored much for any of their pitchers over the past 2 years. But in 2010, they all in the same boat; their 4 starters who qualified for the Run Support list occupied the bottom 4 spots in AL support.

This year, Fister has gotten the short end of a very short stick. The M's have averaged 3.6 for Felix Hernandez, 3.4 for Michael Pineda and Jason Vargas -- and an AL-worst 2.4 runs per 9 innings in Fister's starts. John Danks (2.8) is the only other AL pitcher getting less than 3 runs per game.

The sad part is that Fister's MLB performance has been better than any reasonable expectations. In the minors, he was 23-31 with a 4.38 ERA in over 400 IP, allowing 10.3 H/9. His big-league marks are all better -- 3.81 ERA, 9.3 H/9, an outstanding 1.9 BB/9 and a strong HR rate of 0.7 HR/9. But the W-L results have been far worse.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 at 10:41 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

43 Responses to “Doug Fister can’t buy a win”

  1. Glad someeone finally posted about this. It's tough to talk about this without mentioning that in one of the games, Fister allowed only one run on a Cameron Maybin walk. It was discovered later that Maybin should have only had 3 balls on him. So Fister lost 1-0 with the only scored run coming on a 3 ball walk. About as tough of a loss as you can take as a pitcher right there.

  2. i wonder if his luck is the reason behind highball wilson's nickname

  3. John Autin Says:

    @2, Zuke -- Funny!

    But considering the off-color puns made on "Doug Fister" in a recent blog, perhaps we should allow for a cooling-off period before deciding on his nickname.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/13140#comment-130368

  4. In terms of WAR, the only player more valuable than Fister (2.8 WAR) on the M's is Felix (2.9 WAR). Right behind him is Brendan Ryan (2.5 WAR), mostly because of his defense. Fister has been fantastic this year but his run support over the last two years is simply a mystery. Its not like he's always being matched up against the best pitchers in the game either. Luck can be such a strange thing.

  5. Hmm. Ross Baumgarten. Never thought of him as a hard luck pitcher. People talk a lot about the 1980 Oakland staff - young and good but burned out fast. How about the 1979 White Sox. 5 guys 27 and under, 4 out of 5 with ERA+ > 110, ERA .530 (all with Rich Wortham as the odd man out). They were primed to be a dominant staff in the 80s, but what happened. Remaining career wins: Barrios-2, Wortham-4, Kravec-5, Baumgarten-7. Only Steve Trout had any kind of a career, winning 74 games over the next 10 years. What the heck happened? How did it all fall apart so fast? Anyone remember?

  6. List of stats for '79 should read; ERA+ > 110, ERA .530.

  7. Clearly my string of symbols in being interpreted somehow. One more time
    ERA+ greater than 10
    ERA less than 3.90
    WPct greater than .530

  8. John Autin Says:

    @5, Tristram -- You could throw Britt Burns into that mix, too; he burst on the scene in 1980, had a 140 ERA+ for 1980-81 combined, but was out of the game by age 26.

    There's a lot of luck involved in keeping young pitchers healthy.

  9. if you look at ned garvin's stats (and i'm sure some others), he gave up an unusual amount of unearned runs. at his time the normal er/r was like 0.7, but he had only half or less in a couple of seasons. i remember because i did a best pitcher thing and he won the year 1900 with a losing record and i looked at his stats again. these things usually work themselves out like that.

  10. Fister has 2.8 WAR and only three wins. Even though we all know wins are a junk stat for pitchers, that's astounding. Has any starting pitcher ever gone a whole year in which his WAR > W ? I imagine that high-value modern closers might be able to do this because they're usually given a different junk stat (saves) for dominant performance... but a starter?

  11. John Autin Says:

    @9, Jason -- It's always good to look at unearned runs when a W-L record is way out of line with the ERA. That's not a factor for Fister, though; he's allowed just 11 UER in 378 IP -- a little below average, I think.

  12. John Autin Says:

    @10, Nightfly -- Good question.

    -- No qualifying pitcher ever had more WAR than Wins. Fister's ratio would be the most extreme ever.

    -- The lowest ratio of WAR to Wins in a full qualifying season was 0.85 (3.4 WAR, 4 wins) by Eddie Smith of the '37 Phillies.

    -- The lowest ratio in a 200-IP season was 0.82 (4.9 WAR, 6 wins) by Joey Hamilton of the '95 Padres. Hamilton tossed 204 IP in 30 starts with a 3.08 ERA, 132 ERA+, but went 6-9.

  13. @Nightfly
    Someone with the Play Index need to look into that, I'd be shocked if it were so.

  14. @10, 12

    I took a slightly different approach than John.
    2 pitchers have made at least 20 starts in a season and had WAR>=W, both are named Ross: Baumgarten in 1980 and Ohlendorf last season.

    Here are the players with WAR>=W sorted by # of starts:
    http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/SqhVU

  15. Johnny Twisto Says:

    You could throw Britt Burns into that mix, too; he burst on the scene in 1980, had a 140 ERA+ for 1980-81 combined, but was out of the game by age 26.

    Right after being traded to the Yanks....sigh....

    if you look at ned garvin's stats (and i'm sure some others), he gave up an unusual amount of unearned runs.

    Yup, I think that's part of the reason most of these seasons are from many years ago, when there were more UER and ERA tells us a bit less about a pitcher's actual performance.

  16. @5 Tristam

    I think you're looking at this the wrong way. The '79 White Sox staff was hardly primed to be a dominant force. NONE of those guys were strikeout pitchers and it's hard to be dominant if you're not striking batters out. In fact, Baumgarten managed to have a fairly decent season in '79 despite walking more batters than he struck out. (BTW, Steve Trout, later in his career, would have 4 straight seasons with more walks than strikeouts which is pretty hard to do).

    Anyway, the question in my mind is along the lines of "How did a staff of four generally mediocre pitchers all manage to put together decent seasons during the same year?"

  17. Zambrano - 6+ strong, 2 ER, got a hit!

  18. @8 JA - if you open it up to '80, you'd have to include Richard Dotson and LaMarr Hoyt, as well, who both had real careers. I guess as a group of 8, having 3 fully develop seems like a reasonable number.

    @16 Ed - completely agree. However, I was remembering back to the sentiment in '79 - which was a pre-Bill James world where much of that wasn't known.

    Overall, I am most surprised at how fast the 4 young starters from the '79 staff flamed out - it was almost overnight.

  19. @18 Tristram

    Gotcha. I was only 10 years old in 1979 so have no particular recollections of the White Sox pitching staff. All I can do is look back on their pitching records. BTW, I mentioned that Baumgarten had more walks than strikeouts in 1979; the same was true of Barrios. And Kravec and Trout weren't far off. I just think it's really hard to sustain success when you're walking as many (or more) batters than you're striking out.

  20. As a side note to my last comment, in looking at the White Sox staff from 1979, I would have assumed that they were last in the AL in strikeouts. But they weren't. There were 3 teams that stuck out even fewer batters than the White Sox. In fact, the staff with the most strikeouts in 1979 was the California Angles with 820 (which was mostly fueled by Nolan Ryan). Here's the thing....the team with the FEWEST strikeouts last year was the Cleveland Indians with 967. I knew strikeouts had been increasing but that's pretty amazing. The staff that had the most strikeouts in 1979 would have placed dead last in 2010, even though they had Nolan Ryan pitching for them.

  21. On the other hand there's Alfredo Aceves, who has a career record of 20-2. I know wins and losses don't mean much to a reliever, and he's actually pitched very well for excellent teams (NYY, BOS), but still, this is amazing.

  22. One more thought on the stats I saw for Doug Fister this year. I see he's thrown three complete games, and lost them all. What's the record for the most complete games by a pitcher in a season where they didn't win any of the games?

  23. @22
    Scott, I assume your question means most complete games where the pitcher loses instead of getting a no-decision. If not, then all the rain-shortened tie games get included.

    Jim Tobin, pitching for Boston in 1942, holds the record with 16 losing, complete games. A big fat 0-16 for his efforts.

    Three others are tied with 15 complete games, during the years 1928-32.

    Since 1990, Melido Perez went 0-8 in such games in 1992, Jack McDowell 0-7 in the same year and Jack Morris 0-7 in 1990.

    Complete list here:
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/play-index/shareit/MiGBk

  24. Most of the pitchers on the second list are pretty forgettable, with the exception of Jeremy Guthrie.

    So, Doug Hard-Luck Fister, may be unique in his career in the sense that he may well be the best pitcher on the list, although it remains to be seen how the rest of his career will play out.

    He is young to be the victim of such poor run support. I wonder how long a pitcher can go like this before it starts to mess with his head?

  25. topper009 Says:

    This should at least earn him a cool nickname, like "Black Cat" or "Broken Mirror" or "Friday the 13th"

  26. John Autin Says:

    Topper009 -- I see him more as "The Orphan". Or maybe "Home Alone".

    Or ... "Foster Child" Fister?

  27. #23
    Jim Tobin won 7 of his complete games in 1942, I am not sure how to search for just losses in complete games.

  28. @27
    Troy, just check off the "loss" button"on the Play Index search page under the "Pitcher Decision" section, in addition to, of course, the complete game button.

    That should limit the search to just games the pitcher lost, along with whatever other criteria you have set.

  29. Sounds like Seattle has another potential Cy Young award winner this year.

  30. topper009 Says:

    Foster Fister has a nice ring to it. If you like the orphan angle you could go with Oliver Twist, I think a certain common poster here would like that name, or go the Home Alone route and call him Macaulay.

    Really too bad he is being associated with bad luck because of course a more "natural" nickname would be something like "Old Lady" or "Five Fingers"

  31. Another funky thing about the '79 White Sox starters - the top four were left-handed. Frankie Barrios only started 15 games that year, so if they would have brought up Britt Burns and thrown him in the rotation they could have had an entire left-handed rotation.

  32. John Autin Says:

    @31, Ray -- The '83 Yankees did have an all-lefty rotation: Ron Guidry, Dave Righetti, Shane Rawley, Ray Fontenot, Bob Shirley. Their 127 starts by LHPs is the most since 1919.

    The '79 ChiSox were 3rd with 116.

    The '75 ChiSox were 2nd with 124. Wood, Kaat and Osteen accounted for 121 of those.

  33. Thanks for the assist, Raphy! Confirms my suspicion that it would be insanely difficult to accomplish (if that's the correct word here).

    As an honorable mention from your list, Hoyt Wilhelm's 1958 - he made only ten starts (the first of his career) but pitched 131 innings, comparable to Baumgarten (136 IP) and far more than Ohlendorf (108.1 IP). Wilhelm had 3.7 WAR (the most of anyone on this list) but only 3 wins. And immediately following him is Lee Smith, making the final five starts of his career. He threw 117 innings for the Cubbies in 1982, and had 3 WAR but only 2 wins.

    (The next year Smith pitched exclusively in relief, had 103.1 IP, and 4.5 WAR but only 4 wins. It makes me think that it's really tough to rack up wins above replacement if you're a reliever, especially a modern 3-out closer in the LaRussan mold. You simply can't get innings the way the 60's and 70's firemen could.)

  34. @33, one of those ten starts Wilhelm made in 1958 was a no-hitter against the Yankees.

  35. Dukeofflatbush Says:

    Speaking of bad-luck pitchers, you have to mention Randy Johnson in '99. From June 25, to July 15, he made 5 starts all 7+ IP, for 40 IP and 1.13 ERA. He struck out 62 and gave up only 25 hits - but went 0-4.
    In the first 4 games, the D-backs were No-hit, 1-hit, 2-hit, 3 hit, all shutouts. On his fifth start, his team mustered up 5 hits and 2 runs. He left in the 8th winning 2-0, but Matt Mantei gave up 3 runs in .2 innings.

    And then there is Nolan Ryan in '87, who led the league in SO and ERA but finished only 8-16. I thought he might be in contention for the WAR > W, but I guess his BBs kept his WAR to only 5.5.

  36. John Autin Says:

    Yeah, Duke, but the Big Unit still got the Cy Young Award in '99.

  37. [...] • Seattle Mariners pitcher Doug Fister is one of the Tigers’ rumored trade targets. If you’re looking at Fister’s 3-12 record and thinking he’d be a terrible pick-up, consider how little run support he’s received. In 16 of Fister’s 21 starts this season, the Mariners’ lineup has scored two or fewer runs. His ERA is 3.33 this season. That’s among the reasons why Seattle may want to keep him. [Baseball-Reference] [...]

  38. @Gerry - wow. I had no idea that Hoyt's no-hitter was in there. Makes it even cooler.

  39. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    What's the record for the most complete games by a pitcher in a season where they didn't win any of the games?

    Messed around with the PI a little bit, and from what I can tell the answer is five, by Jeff Weaver (2001 Angels) and Curt Fullerton (2-15 record with the 1923 Red Sox). Nine other pitchers lost all four CGs that they threw,

    Note: The stat line on Fullerton's main B-Ref page says he pitched six complete games in 1923, but his 1923 Game Log shows only five CGs.

  40. Even the greatest pitchers need an offense. Seattle has but one player hitting over .300. It's not a pitching problem in Seattle. It's bats.

  41. [...] games. But the Mariners’ lineup has supposing a rapist miss of run support. In 16 of his 21 starts [...]

  42. [...] has an unimpressive 3-12 this season for the Mariners. But his ERA is 3.33, and he’s received terrible run support from the Seattle lineup this year. In 16 of Fister’s 21 starts, the Mariners have scored two [...]

  43. John Garrett Franklin Says:

    It's been a tough year for Doug Fister, but also for Dustin Moseley of the San Diego Padres. He also meets the same criteria of WPct 100. The season started out rough as Moseley allowed four runs in his first three starts and the Padres scored zero, yes zero, runs. It is all about bats and as somebody mentioned in an earlier response, the Mariners only have one .300 batter. The Padres also only have only one .300 batter, but unfortunately he is playing first base for the Red Sox this year. And to the responder who lamented the 3-ball walk that beat Fister, trust me, it was about the only lucky moment the Padres have had all year. Let the dogs enjoy just that one little bone.