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The Importance of Wins (and Potential Open Thread)

UPDATE: Snelling to DL; Bocachica called up:

Well, as always, feel free to use this thread to rehash the ugly events for Oakland the last two days, basketball or baseball, while still keeping in mind that things could have been a whole lot uglier for the A’s without last night’s win. Use this thread to start a petition to Fire Larry Davis Now, or if you are drained from emotional sporting events, feel free to talk about how even though you knew Ian Ziering was the fourth of the bunch; you kind of secretly wanted him to continue, and who should be chosen for the Idol final two tonight. (Melinda! Blake!)

For starters, I would like to point out some numbers, just because they’re mind-boggling to me. We’re halfway through May; our ace pitcher (who has lived up to the billing and then some) has made 9 starts, and has done everything he can to will the A’s to victory when he takes the mound.

Now, I know that many believe (including our own Dave Stewart), that as a starting pitcher, you pitch to the score; you pitch to win. And in some sense, I’m sure there is a grain of truth in that. You would throw pitches with a three run lead that you wouldn’t in a tie game; you are very aware of the score at all times, and your ultimate goal is to give up fewer runs than the other team. I get that.

But there is also a reason why I thought Colon winning the Cy two years ago was a downright travesty, and it wasn’t because he was on the Angels. It was because he won the award solely on the strength of his wins, not because he was the best pitcher. He was very, very good, but no Santana or Rivera, and I would credit the Angels’ run support with the difference. I just have trouble believing that Colon ‘pitched for the wins’ better than any one else. And if anyone can tell me how Danny Haren could have possibly pitched any better in his eight innings on Monday, I’d like to hear it. How about giving up zero runs? Is that ‘pitching for the win’ enough?

Joe Morgan (who I believe still holds a vote in the Cy voting) has this to say about starting pitchers:

"Everything you have said depends on the team. ERA also depends on errors and how good the team plays. If the team makes mental mistakes, the pitcher still pays for it. The game is still wins and losses. The Pirates led the league in ERA in 1989 or around there. The[y] finished last. I guarantee you those pitchers would have rather had wins. You don't send a pitcher out to the mound and say "get a good ERA." You want him to win games. A good ERA might come with wins, but the wins and losses are the most important. If you had a guy with a .001 ERA but never won a game and another guy had a 3.5 ERA and won 25 games, who would you give the award to? Wins and losses is the column that matters most."

To put it mildly, I think this is crap. Sure, no one wants a pitcher who loses games. But it stands to reason that eventually someone will take a look at that pitcher’s stats and be forced to say, "Maybe it’s not actually the pitcher’s fault that those games were lost!"

Here are Danny Haren’s numbers from the season:

Appeared in 9 games
3-2 record
1.64 ERA
60.1 innings pitched
44 hits
11 earned runs
14 walks
48 strikeouts

APR 02, L, 6IP, 4H, 0 ER
APR 07, L, 7IP, 6H, 1ER
APR 13, ND, 5IP,4H 3ER
APR 18, W, 7IP, 4H, 0ER
APR 23, W, 7IP, 5H, 1ER
APR 28, W, 7.1IP, 7H, 2ER
MAY 04, ND, 7IP, 4H, 2ER
MAY 09, ND 6IP, 6H, 2ER
MAY 14, ND 8IP, 4H, 0ER

These numbers actually make me simultaneously proud of Haren and angry at our offense. That’s pitching well enough to conservatively win 7 games, with, say the Red Sox’s offense. I’m not taking anything away from Beckett, but Haren is pitching as well. Would I try to prove that to Joe Morgan? No way. I dare someone to bring Haren up in a chat, if you’re into Joe!Chat. I’d bet Haren isn’t even on Joe’s radar as ‘top AL pitchers contending for the Cy’. He will 100% cite Haren’s win total as a reason why he is not an elite pitcher, and I couldn’t disagree more. With a better offense (something that has nothing to do with Haren), he wins at least double his games so far. But the offense is not getting the job done when he pitches. And yes, so far this season, Haren has been matched with some legitimate top-tier pitchers, and we can only hope that this evens out.

Tonight’s game is at 7:05, as the A’s try to secure at least a series split.


How does one determine an elite pitcher?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Wins are most important - a pitcher with 20 wins should win Cy over one with less
    (17 votes)
  • 31%
    Pitching statistics are important, but pitchers have some control over wins
    (134 votes)
  • 64%
    Pitching statistics; wins/losses are mostly out of pitcher control
    (280 votes)
431 votes total Vote Now