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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Cy Young couldn't win his own award.

Cy Young won 511 games in his career.  That's why the award for best pitcher is named after him.  Obviously, it's ironic that MLB Network had a parade of experts swearing allegiance to the notion that a pitcher's won-loss record is 100% meaningless.  Maybe the award should be renamed after the pitcher with the best fielding independent pitching (FIP), which is supposed to consider fielding.  It's all the rage.  Here you can read about it:

http://www.fangraphs.com/library/pitching/fip/

a pitcher can control: strikeouts, walks, hit by pitches, and homeruns
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Now a baseball fan who is a normal human being and inhabits planet earth may be shocked to learn that a pitcher cannot control home runs.  I know I am.  The one good thing that a pitcher can do is to strike out the batter.  That removes luck.  Otherwise, it's the rest of the players who actually retire batters, not the pitcher.

And just when you thought that batting average (BA) had breathed its last, there is the notion that BA on balls in play is significant, at least in revealing that it varies from season to season.  This is interpreted by some to reveal that a player's luck varied.  Gee, my first guess would be that the player was doing something different.  Maybe things are off just a bit resulting in soft rather than hard line drives, the kind that look good but float just a bit and get caught more often.

What's bizarre is that the data is now available and we don't need to homogenize forms of traditional stats as if we were examining the 1927 Yankees.  The other day some expert was saying that relief pitcher Joe Nathan must have been lucky in 2013 to have so few home runs per fly ball.  Well not on fly balls caught by infielders and catchers, which have no chance to be homers.  And not on lazy flies to outfielders caught far from even the closest fence.  Doesn't somebody actually know?

Yesterday the CY winners were interviewed immediately after the announcements.  How does that work?  Obviously LA Dodger Clayton Kershaw was the best pitcher in the Major Baseball League (MBL) but people insist on pretending that the leagues did not merge in 1999 and continue to have one award for each conference.

In the American Conference (AC) Detroit Tiger Max Scherzer overcame his won-loss record of 21-3 and the best winning percentage: 87.5%.  Scherzer led the AC in wins and percentage, nothing else.  He joined the relief pitchers who had been winners from 1974 through 1992: no complete games.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013  Awards week: general comments but no selections.

Mike Marshall NL 1974
Sparky Lyle AL 1977
Bruce Sutter NL 1979
Rollie Fingers AL 1981; MVP
Willie Hernandez AL 1984
Steve Bedrosian NL 1987
Mark Davis NL 1989
Dennis Eckersley AL 1992; MVP

Fortunately, the reliever trend only lasted 18 years and even excluded the Mariano Rivera 70 innings a season spasm.  In recent years wins and losses became less dominant and other stuff is evaluated.  Some of it even makes sense.
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In 1974 Mike Marshall (15-12) appeared in 106 games, all in relief: 208 innings, 21 saves.  At least Scherzer pitched more innings (214) than Marshall

Texas Ranger Yu Darvish had more strike outs (SO) in fewer innings but Scherzer was second in SO.

Brian Kenny on MLB Network insisted on repeating that Seattle Mariner Hisashi Iwakuma allowed fewer AC runs in more innings than Scherzer.  Finally, after a few hours Al Leiter asked how many more innings:
Iwakuma: 219.66 innings, 69 Runs, 65 ER, 185 SO
Scherzer: 214.33 innings, 73 Runs, 69 ER, 240 SO

Earned Runs (ER) were, of course, not mentioned.  They're out of vogue.

But wait, Scherzer had 30% more SO in fewer innings.  How come that wasn't mentioned?  It should have been the big differentiator.  One expert mentioned that Scherzer had more SO but did not mention anything suggesting SO rate, which unfortunately is usually put into one of those silly pitching specific stats: SO per inning rather than SO per AB.  The biggie of this type is WHIP.

WHIP Is For Wimps

For me WHIP has become one of those annoying items that people toss around to show off how much they know.  If someone wakes you up in the middle of the night do you really know what a good WHIP is?  I’m wide awake and I can’t tell you.  Even when groggy I’m likely to know a good BA or OBP.  What’s the deal with WHIP?
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Way back in 2010 Seattle Mariner Felix Hernandez officially freed us of the constraint of the won-loss record by winning the CY award with a crumby 13-12 record, worst ever for a starter.  I guess his teammates were lousy.  But then two years later he signed a new contract with that same team.  It extends through 2018.  Does that remove the bad teammates factor from considering Hernandez for the CY award?

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