September 7, 2010

"Why Pitchers Averages Mean Nothing"

M.G. Lloyd, Ph.D., on pitchers' win-loss records:
The method at present in vogue in professional baseball leagues for rating pitchers is crude, unjust and almost ridiculous. ...

It is true that more responsibility rests upon the pitcher than upon any one other man, but he has not as much power to decide the game as have the other eight combined. Any man on the team may throw away a game by his poor play, and many a pitcher has done work that would ordinarily win a game, only to have it lost by another player's errors. This is such common experience as to need no specific illustration. ...

Even supposing the pitcher received perfect support from the fielders, he is powerless to win a game by pitching alone. To win, it is just as essential that his team shall do good work during their innings at bat ...

Especially where pitchers are changed during a game is the present method unsatisfactory ... The entire game must be credited to one pitcher, and very often to the one who has had least to do with it. ... [I]t is really surprising to find such a primitive method applied in a sport which has been the foremost for so many years.

How should a pitcher's average be determined? ... He should be judged solely by the effectiveness of his own work, regardless of whether his team is able to win the game.
Baseball Magazine, November 1908

6 comments:

johngoldfine said...

A voice in the wilderness, crying, "Repent." Hasn't seemed to open the ears of the sinners yet....

L-girl said...

[I]t is really surprising to find such a primitive method applied in a sport which has been the foremost for so many years.

And here we are more than a century later, no less primitive!

FenFan said...

I continue to be amazed at the shit you find - good shit at that!

Michael Holloway said...

"..the shit you find..."

I wondered... and my search engine worked! :)

Great stuff.

http://www.la84foundation.org/SportsLibrary/BBM/1908/bbm21t.pdf

redsock said...

People complain about bizarre new stats, but the rules for crediting a pitcher with a win may be as weird as anything out there.

Michael Holloway said...

Yes, AND arbitration and negotiations are, in part based on those stats.

With that, I wonder if it isn't too institutionalized to ever change. W-L do seem to tell you who's a good pitcher, I suppose because IP and GS plays a large role. Managers wouldn't keep putting them out there if he didn't see something.

Has SABR ever done a project to discover better metrics to describe a good pitcher?