Comments on: WAR Leader and Cy Young Winner in the Same Season This and that about baseball stats. Tue, 16 Jul 2013 17:01:55 +0000 hourly 1 By: Harlock Thu, 25 Nov 2010 22:09:16 +0000 "However, 13 wins does not cut it period for being a Cy Young winner as a bonafied number 1 starter."

In 15 of his 34 starts, the Mariners scored two runs or less. In four of them, they got shut out--including one in which he pitched a 2-hit complete game, but since one of those two hits was a solo homer... Why was that loss his fault? 90+% of the time, if you only give up one run in eight innings, your team is going to win.

His first game of the season, he left the game with the M's up 3-1 (but two runners on base with two out). A reliever came on and let both of those runners score (from first and second, no less) before he could close out the inning. Did Felix really deserve a no-decision for that one?

His eighth game of the season, he left the game after 7 with the M's up 5-1. They lost 6-5. He should've had the win for that one, but the bullpen blew it for him. His eleventh game of the season, he allowed one run through eight innings, but because the M's only scored one run of their own, he had to sit back and watch the bullpen blow another game (a walk-off grand slam in extra innings, no less)

His sixteenth game, he went nine innings and only gave up two runs. But because the M's only scored two of their own, he had to sit back and watch the bullpen lose it in extra innings. His eighteenth game, he went seven innings, leaving the M's up 4-2. They lost 6-4. His twentieth game, he went eight innings and only gave up three...but the M's only scored two, so he soaked the loss.

His twenty-first game, he had a 2-hit shutout through eight, but management had decided that they wanted to start being more conservative with his pitch count, so they didn't send him out in the ninth despite the fact that he hadn't cracked 100 pitches yet. He got a no-decision because the M's didn't score until the bottom of the ninth. His twenty-ninth game, he had a shutout through seven, but since the M's didn't score until after he was pulled, he got another no-decision.

So I'm seeing at least three games that his bullpen cost him victories, and another six that his offense cost him victories. Give him a league-average offense and a less incendiary bullpen, and he probably would've gotten at least 17 wins. (yes, my math makes it 22, but that's assuming everything had gone perfectly, which is a rotten assumption.)

And it's "bona fide." It's Latin for "in good faith."

By: Mike Felber Mon, 22 Nov 2010 01:26:31 +0000 My Avatar is not amused!

Well seriously, Walter Johnson should have an award named after him for sportsmanship. About the kindest & most gentle man you could imagine. And if you add in offensive contributions, his WAR is clearly #2 amongst hurlers. Career OPS + was 76, great for a pitcher. Also still holds the pitcher record with a .433 B.A. An injury from a batter ball ended his career at 39. Imagine if they had the medical care they had today.

By: John Q Sun, 21 Nov 2010 22:11:00 +0000 LOL, Yeah, the "Johnson Award" would sound a little bit embarrassing.

By: Joseph Sun, 21 Nov 2010 20:42:51 +0000 Well, now I'm glad that Cy Young is the all time leader in WAR, since the award is named after him.

I'm pretty sure nobody would want an award named after the 2nd place guy, Roger Clemens.

And the third place guy--well, the "Johnson" award sounds like it should go to somebody for something you don't see on the diamond, but in the locker room.

By: Michael E Sullivan Sun, 21 Nov 2010 14:24:54 +0000 Wins ARE important. If wins were not an important statistic, you would not have the standings in the paper every day.

Team wins are not the same thing as pitcher wins. Team wins are the ultimate point of the game for every player. Pitcher wins are determined by an arbitrary formula much of which does not track the pitcher's value toward producing the ultimate goal: team wins.

If a pitcher has 100-120 pitches coming out of the 5th/6th/7th inning of a tie game or down 1 run and is starting to slow down but still pitching ok -- do they come out? If you have good relievers, the team's chance to win the game is probably higher if they come out, but that pitchers chance to get a win is zero if they come out, and fairly significant if they stay in. The pitcher doesn't even have control over this decision, just input.

If the offense produces a ton of runs, all the pitcher has to do to get a W is not pitch badly. If the offense produces no runs, that pitcher has to completely dominate or pitch superbly and get some luck merely avoid a loss, and can't ever win. The pitcher has *no* control over this.

The whole point of WAR is to judge players based on the expected contribution to team wins of what they did. It's not perfect, but this is what it is trying to do, and if you can make a good statistical argument for a way in which it is wrong and how to make it better, the people who use it and quote it are going to care, and maybe start using your new improved statistic.

WPA judges players on the actual situational contribution to team wins. This adds in any "pitching to the score" or "clutch" factors. The problem is that it also adds a great deal of noise, for we know from analysis that there is very little difference in clutch-ness between the clutchest and least clutch players (at least for those least clutch players who might ever be considered for the hall). The difference is so tight, that it's very hard to produce a study that can verify that there is any such thing as clutch ability at all, and easy to produce one that suggests there is not.

"wins" for pitchers doesn't do either of those things. It uses an arbitrary way to assign value to pitchers that was invented before anybody had a good sense of how to statistically judge player value, and in the days before computers made complicated calculations fast and accurate.

This is what the anti-stat crowd doesn't seem get. Pitcher wins is still a derived stat. You aren't choose to avoid stats, you're just choosing one algorithm over another. And the one you are choosing is just a bad one for the purposes you want to use it for (deciding who is a better pitcher). And you even *know* this most of the time. When comparing two pitchers, one of whom went 21-7 with a 3.75 ERA on a good team, and another who went 18-10 with a 2.50 ERA on a bad team -- almost everyone will vote for guy number 2. It's just that some people freak out when that "win" stat gets too low, because you are anchored to the idea that pitchers get wins and losses and that matters.

I'm not saying you should just trust WAR. That would be as stupid as just trusting pitcher W-L.

By: John Q Sun, 21 Nov 2010 05:35:39 +0000 Joseph,

I just picked Namath as one example you can use plenty of others.

Fran Tarkenton had a 124-109 record
Dan Fouts had a 86-84 record
Warren Moon had a 102-101 record

All three are in the NFL Hall of Fame and none of them would be in the Hall of Fame is they were judged like Baseball pitchers.

By: John Q Sun, 21 Nov 2010 05:30:06 +0000 Joseph,

That's not true, you're only referring to his "passer rating."

In 5 different seasons Namath finished 1st or 2nd in passing yards. 7 different seasons he finished in the top 5 in T.D. passes. 7 times he finished in the top 4 in passing yds per game. 5 consecutive years he finished in the top 4 in completion %. Remember too that players of that time periods didn't have very long careers.

He was the AP & UPI player of the year for 1968, He was the Super Bowl MVP in Super Bowl lll, He was the AP player of the year for 1969.

When he retired in 1977, he was #10 all time in pass completions & passing yards and #15 in T.D.'s.

By: Joseph Sun, 21 Nov 2010 03:56:36 +0000 John Q: If you evaluated Namath by any of his stats, he wouldn't be in the hall of fame, either. He threw like 50 more interceptions than touch downs. His passer rating for his career was about 65, which is not very good at all.

By: John Q Sun, 21 Nov 2010 03:46:52 +0000 David RF, good catch my bad.

@70 JR,

Obviously those guys were relievers my point was they won less than 13 games and won the Cy Young and 3 of them won the MVP.

Obviously Wins are important in a TEAM concept. As far as assigning them to a Starting pitcher it makes little sense because of the arbitrary nature of the variables involved.

I'll use my Football analogy. You wouldn't put any importance on a W-L record of a Quarterback so why would you put ALL the importance of a W-L record on a Pitcher? It makes no sense. If anything a Quarterback has much more of an impact on a football game than a staring pitcher has on a baseball game and a Quarterback's W-L record isn't taken into consideration for his overall productivity.

Joe Namath had a 62-63 W-L record. If he was judged like major league pitchers are judged he would be considered a mediocre QB. Jay Schroeder had a 61-38 record. If Football QB's were judged like Baseball Pitchers then Schroeder would be in the NFL Hall of Fame and Namath wouldn't.

By: JR Sun, 21 Nov 2010 03:01:28 +0000 @67-Every single one of those guys were relievers, not starters.

Listen, I think Felix Hernandez is a stud pitcher no question. However, 13 wins does not cut it period for being a Cy Young winner as a bonafied number 1 starter.

Wins ARE important. If wins were not an important statistic, you would not have the standings in the paper every day. What are the stat geeks going to do next, petition MLB to no longer keep win/loss records and have the top 2 teams with the best WAR for each player play in the series?