I have mentioned O'Brien's eagerness to tout a pitcher's won-loss record as the most important gauge of his success and effectiveness too many times this season. But it's maddening - and it makes him sound so ignorant. (Not long ago, he noted that Joe Kelly was "undefeated" even as Kelly's ERA was climbing to 8.46.) You'd think that someone with O'Brien's vast experience would know better - would see evidence in the box scores every single day that a pitcher's record is all but useless - but perhaps he's too insulated and does not venture outside of his broadcasting bubble. O'Brien will sometimes admit that, in the case of someone like Price, yes, the ERA is a bit higher than you'd like to see, but still ... 7-2!
Note: Among qualifying MLB pitchers, Bumgarner's ERA of 1.91 is tied for third. Price's mark of 4.88 ranks 84th.
Brian Kenny, Sports On Earth, May 31, 2016:
You think pitcher wins make sense. They don't. ...(Bold = my emphasis.) I must check out Kenny's book - which will be published in July.
There have been 17 outings this year where a pitcher has thrown at least seven innings of shutout ball and not gotten the win. There have been 48 outings where a pitcher has gone at least seven, and given up one run, or no runs. 48. We're only two months into the season! We think these things don't happen often, but they do. ...
Let's widen the lens. I wrote this up for the #KillTheWin chapter in my book, "Ahead of the Curve," which comes out in July. In that chapter I choke out the win from every conceivable angle. For now, let's use one example.
I picked the type of game where we can all agree on it being good enough to get a win most all of the time: eight innings, two runs. That's a 2.25 ERA. That ERA would be good enough to be among the Top 10 most years throughout baseball history. Yet from 1920 to 2014, a pitcher throwing such a game, got the win -- brace yourself -- just 33.6% of the time.
Soak that in. A pitcher leaves after eight innings, giving up just two runs and receive big applause from the crowd, along with pats on the back in the dugout. Yet two-thirds of the time, throughout live-ball history, that guy doesn't get a win. That number may be a bit skewed from the old days when pitchers threw complete games and eight innings is the full distance for a road loss. But two-thirds of the time?
We cite statistics because we believe they have value. That there is correlation to the physical activity we have just witnessed. The win, after all, is early sabermetrics, an 1800's attempt to isolate performance, once teams began using multiple pitchers. But the correlation to the performance is too loose and haphazard to be bothered with.