The Declarer (Floyd McWilliams' Blog)

Thursday, April 29, 2004


Stupid baseball statistics, 4/29 edition

Take a look at these two pitching lines from yesterday:

Pitcher #1: 2/3 IP, 1 ER, 2H, 0 BB, 0 SO
Pitcher #2: 2/3 IP, 1 ER, 2H, 1 BB, 0 SO

What do you think about these performances? Well, the first thing that comes to mind is that they're not very good. A run in two-thirds of an inning? Both pitchers have a 13.5 ERA. #1 has a WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) of 3, #2 has a 4.5. These are awful numbers.

But neither pitching performance is particularly meaningful. There are 27 outs in a game and each pitcher contributed two of them. Giving up one run is not the end of the world.

Which pitcher did better? Obviously #1, who gave up one fewer walk. But he was charged with a loss, while pitcher #2 earned a win!

Both players are on my fantasy team. Pitcher #1 is Luis Ayala, who toils for the Montreal/San Juan Expos -- an apt nickname, as the Expos are owned by Major League Baseball and functions as an exhibition team that will never be allowed to win. He pitched the final 2/3 inning of the Expos - Padres game. Ayala was one of five Expos pitchers, and followed two other pitchers who each gave up a run -- Beltran got no outs, while Cordero got one out. So Ayala did better than either of these guys, but he happened to be on the mound when the Expos gave up the lead, so he picked up the loss.

Meanwhile, pitcher #2, LaTroy Hawkins, pitched the final two-thirds of the eighth inning. He was also one of five pitchers. Greg Maddux pitched six innings of two-run ball, but Hawkins' 13.5 ERA performance netted him the win, because the inning after he sat down the Cubs scored the go-ahead run.

The win (and conversely the loss) is the stupidest statistic of any human endeavor.


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