Section 1

June 25th, 2011 at 9:46 PM ^

When does he look tired?

I don't know what the pitch count was.  I was almost surprised to see Valverde come in.  I thought he could have breezed through the 9th.  But that's what Leyland's job is.

Section 1

June 25th, 2011 at 9:58 PM ^

The 1-2-3 hitters, right?

The pitch count, I suppose, is enough to justify the decision to pull him.  I won't argue with any of it.  It is just awesome.  It doesn't get much better than this.  This is Jack Morris-type stuff.


June 25th, 2011 at 10:32 PM ^

with AAB on this one, wins is a stat that should be far down the list when judging starting pitchers, since a large part of it is also based on how your team plays offensively and defensively in your starts. There are far better measures to judge starting pitchers than simply wins and losses. Justin Verlander is clearly a better pitcher than Jack Morris, that is not really debatable. If wins and losses mattered the most than Feliz Hernandez would not have won the Cy Young last year.

skunk bear

June 25th, 2011 at 10:44 PM ^

Verlander may, in fact, be a better ;pitcher than Morris.

But, I stand by my claim. Winning is an art unto itself. Successfully using your team's offense and defense is a skill.

There are pitchers who knew how to translate everything into wins and those that struggled to do so.

skunk bear

June 26th, 2011 at 1:35 AM ^

I'll start with a small correction, with your indulgence.

Wins and ERA are not exclusively pitcher controlled stats.

I've never said otherwise. On the contrary, it seems to me that the arguments being made against my position, say that Felix Hernandez only needed a better team around him and he would have set the world on fire. That is: Felix's performance would have remained steady as the team's performance would have improved resulting in more wins for Felix.

Well, all things remaining equal, if Felix's team had performed better, Felix probably would have won more. So?

All things remaining equal is a pipe dream. It doesn't work that way. Also, every close loss was a chance for a close win, even as things played out. Felix didn't do that well at taking advantage of those opportunities did he?

skunk bear

June 26th, 2011 at 12:28 AM ^

By holding the opposing team to fewer runs than his own team scores, Nick.

You can pitch to not give up any runs or you can pitch to hold the other team down to some other number. For instance, pitchers will tell you that it gets easier to pitch with a lead.


June 26th, 2011 at 12:58 AM ^

You can have one of two pitchers on your team:

The first loses every game by the score of 1-0.  Call him Bob.

The second wins every game by the score of 10-9.  Call him Dave.

Each pitcher pitched every inning of those games.

Which pitcher would you rather have?  Bob or Dave?

You would rather have the outcome of Dave's teams, but is Dave a better pitcher?

skunk bear

June 26th, 2011 at 1:21 AM ^

Alright, I'll play.

Assumming, equivalent opposition, Bob has probably held opponents to a lower batting average, fewer runners, more LOB, and of course fewer runs. Probably thrown more strikes fewer balls, etc.

But as much as you want to, Nick, you cannot divorce the results from the question of who is "better".

With Bob, we're probably in last place. With Dave, we'll go to the Series.

If your objective is to pile up nice stats and look good while losing, Bob is your guy. If your objective is to win and you couldn't care less how you look doing it, there is no question, you want Dave.


June 26th, 2011 at 1:32 AM ^

So what you are saying is this:

You are the GM of Dave's team, who scores ten runs per game.  You wouldn't trade you undefeated 9.0 ERA pitcher for a winless 1.00 ERA pitcher?

How big does this descrepancy have to be for you to admit Bob is better?



skunk bear

June 26th, 2011 at 1:46 AM ^

What concession are you looking for?

You didn't say anything about a trade.

It was by  your hypothetical that Dave won every game.

That is what I want. Wins.

How about a concession from you?

How about if you admit that if you had choice between two pitchers one guarenteed to win no matter how poorly he pitched (Dave) and another guarenteed to lose no matter how well he pitched (Bob), that you would choose Dave, too?



June 26th, 2011 at 1:35 AM ^

Umm, no. You're a manager on another team - do you tade for Bob or Dave? You're telling me you'd take a pitcher who gives up 9 runs a game over one who gives up one? That is simply insane. No pitcher can win consistently if his team can't bat in a few runs and his outfielders can't make a play. No goalie can win if his team scores no goals. No QB can win the superbowl if his receivers can't catch and his linebackers can't tackle.

By your logic, every single player on the Tigers is precisely equal in skill level, because they all have the same record.


June 26th, 2011 at 2:03 AM ^

My point is this:   You take our example earlier.   If the two pitchers switched teams,  Bob would likely have a very good record with a very low ERA and Dave would likely have  a very bad record with a very high ERA.

Since you feel that the quality of a team's offense should be included in how good a pitcher is, I will take the liberty of switching our hypothetical here.

Dave is now on the team that didn't score any runs.  You feel as if he will 'just win' now and start holding teams to 0 or 1 runs in order to get the win, when he previously was giving up 9 runs a game.  I think he'd continue to give up runs by the bunches and lose most games.

Bottom line is Dave sucks and he sucked just as much when he was undefeated in my previoius example as he does in this one.


June 26th, 2011 at 8:45 AM ^

No you've made the strawman. There is no such thing as a "pitcher who always wins". There are "teams that always win" and "pitchers who always pitch well". You can't trot out a pitcher and a catcher and no fielders or batters and win a game.

Going to the hypothetical 1-0 loser and 10-9 winner, are you at least willing to concede that the WINNNER of the 1-0 game is a superior pitcher to the winner of the 10-9 game?

Given that, try this: Say that in the 1-0 game, Bob's team is the home team. Bob has managed to hold the opponents to a single run through 9 innings. It's the bottom of the 9th with runners on second and third. Two outs. Case A: next batter strikes out, game over. Bob takes a loss. Case B: next batter hits a long single, both runners score. Bob gets a win.

Please explain why Case B is a superior pitching performance to Case A.

Also, please concede that your "wins are all that matters" approach would make Brandon Jackson a "superior" running back to Barry Sanders. After all, Jackson has a Super Bowl ring...

skunk bear

June 26th, 2011 at 10:21 AM ^

I have created no strawman arguments. The hypothetical was  Nicks.

You have created a strawman by suggesting that I would choose a pitcher who gave up 9 runs a game without the guarentee found in Nick's hypothetical and criticizing my choice because no pitcher can win giving up 9 runs a game.

I choose "Dave" because Dave won.


June 25th, 2011 at 10:32 PM ^

for a team. Pitcher wins, as a stat, don't have much to do with how good a pitcher was, because there are so many variables that go into winning a baseball game, and a pitcher has control over very few of them (he doesn't have control over run support, his defense, his manager, or his bullpen, for example).  A crappy pitcher who gets 8 runs of support per game  will win more games than Felix Hernandez getting 2 runs of support per game, but that has absolutely nothing to do with whether the crappy pitcher is better than Felix Hernandez.

It just means he plays for a better team.  

skunk bear

June 25th, 2011 at 11:18 PM ^

I don't agree. I know that Bill James says that, but I am not an admirer of these kind of cutesy statistics or claims. Defining what constitutes "clutch" is always going to be a problem for any statistical analysis.

If you want to tell me that Koufax wasn't a clutch pitcher and that Kaline wasn't a clutch hitter, you've got your work cut out for you.

skunk bear

June 25th, 2011 at 11:44 PM ^

I'll tell you what I think: You have somehow become convinced that "advanced baseball stats" are the be all and the end all of understanding baseball.

I think that they can be a useful tool, but can easily be overvalued.

In baseball, everything happens in context. The analyst who only uses statistics, no matter how "advanced", is assuming everything is an independent trial. They assume hitter "X" hits for y average. Pitcher "Z" has w "FIP". All you need to do is throw it all into the computer and presto!

It doesn't work that way.


June 26th, 2011 at 1:59 AM ^

I believe the point of the "no such thing as clutch" studies is that it, in fact, DOES work that way. That is, over the long run, many statistical measures are context independent. Clutch would imply the opposite - certain players would have strongly context-dependent performance.

Can statistics unfailingly predict the result of a single trial/game/at bat? No, but that's the point of statistics: they are mostly meaningful over long periods of many trials. If there was a such thing as "clutch", you would expect certain trends to appear and remain meaningful over the many, many trials we have at our disposal. They don't.

You say "I just don't believe those statistics". The problem is that your eyes and memory lie to you - we have a strong selection bias wherin we remember the great and terrible clutch performances, but forget all of the okay but not exceptional ones. Any player who strings together a small run of one or the other extreme gets a label, and that just results in an even stronger selection bias.

skunk bear

June 26th, 2011 at 2:03 AM ^

Perhaps you should enlighten me about all these "studies" you talk about.

I only know of one. In that one, Bill James pulled a convoluted definition of clutch out of his ass, that anybody could have predicted would serve as nothing more than an essentially random subset of the whole, producing, guess what, no statistically significant difference.

Wow, that proves it.


June 25th, 2011 at 10:59 PM ^

no sense, the pitcher has absolutely no control over the run support they get. You're making it sound like it is an attribute of the pitcher, when it is completely seperate. Let me put it this way Feliz Hernandez only won 15 games last season with Seatle due to horrible run support that he had no control over, if he was pitching for the Yankees last year he would have won 20 games + with the exact same stats. That is completely independent of anything under Felix's control, it doesn't make the season he had any less great.

skunk bear

June 25th, 2011 at 11:27 PM ^

The pitcher does have control over what he does with the run support he gets.

Some pitchers can bear down and not give up that one run that they know can cost them the game.

Some pitchers cannot handle such pressure.

Hernandez may well have won 20 with the Yankees, but probably could have won more than 15 with Seattle, if Hernandez is really that good.

After all, Steve Carlton won 27 with a last place team.