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Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Economist: A perfect conundrum

An argument that people who want to #KillTheWin should also recognize that Clayton Kershaw’s masterpiece should not be considered a perfect game, because baseball is at its heart a team sport.

The problem with assigning wins and losses to pitchers is it gives them undeserved credit or blame for their teammates’ performances. Defining perfect games as an individual achievement falls victim to the exact same fallacy…If we want to #KillTheWin, let’s kill the perfect game and RBI too, as well as the save and assist and every other number over which one player does not have complete control.

David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: June 19, 2014 at 06:01 PM | 22 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: perfect games

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   1. Baldrick Posted: June 19, 2014 at 11:14 PM (#4731196)
Not analogous. Wins are a problem because they are commonplace and are treated as having statistical relevance. They don't accurately reflect one's contribution to the value being discussed.

But perfect games aren't about measuring value. They're just...neat. They are extraordinarily rare things, to be celebrated first and only analyzed second. We appreciate them simply for being what they are.

Most knowledgeable baseball fans are perfectly aware that Kerry Wood's game was a far better individual performance than any of the perfect games. They probably know about many of the not-quite-perfect games precisely because they failed to happen. The idea of the Perfect Game isn't degraded because Kershaw doesn't have one, or because Ernie Shore doesn't, or because Pedro doesn't, or because Galarraga doesn't. We remember those things precisely because they demonstrate just how impossible a feat it is, just how many thing have to go right, just how much we are at the mercy of things beyond our control.

We celebrate them because they can't be forced, no matter the skill. They are influenced by skill, certainly. But ultimately they exceed us. And that's why they're beautiful.
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 19, 2014 at 11:48 PM (#4731214)
If we want to #KillTheWin, let’s kill the perfect game and RBI too, as well as the save and assist and every other number over which one player does not have complete control.


I'm okay with that.
   3. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 19, 2014 at 11:58 PM (#4731218)
The guy who wants to Kill the Win also wants to stop celebrating no-hitters.

He's wrong on both counts.
   4. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 20, 2014 at 12:05 AM (#4731223)
let’s kill the perfect game and RBI too, as well as the save and assist and every other number over which one player does not have complete control

you don't have to "kill" them, ferChrissakes. Just understand them for what they mean (or don't mean).
Jeez
   5. PASTE Thinks This Trout Kid Might Be OK (Zeth) Posted: June 20, 2014 at 12:07 AM (#4731225)
#4: I'm not sure you understand how modern media works. ;)
   6. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 20, 2014 at 12:07 AM (#4731226)

you don't have to "kill" them, ferChrissakes. Just understand them for what they mean (or don't mean).
Jeez


Which was already well under way before Brian Kenny got all insufferable about the whole thing.

   7. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: June 20, 2014 at 12:13 AM (#4731228)
Which was already well under way before Brian Kenny got all insufferable about the whole thing.

it's one of them deals when someone who is purportedly on your side , you want to say "shuttthefuckkup!!"
   8. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: June 20, 2014 at 12:29 AM (#4731233)
Every individual performance is done within the context of a team game. Take the following line: 5 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3R, 3ER, 5BB, 3K. Pretty mediocre to poor pitching line, right? That was Andy Pettitte's WS clinching game 6. I remember watching that game. The fans were chanting "An-dy Pett-itte" over and over. It was a good start because he was given 7 runs to work with and just needed to get some innings in without getting torched and send it to the pen. If he'd had the same results in game 2, he would have been the goat of the game. The value of a performance is absolutely dependent upon the context in which it takes place. I do believe that wins and RBIs have their place in baseball.
   9. silhouetted by the sea Posted: June 20, 2014 at 01:18 AM (#4731241)
I agree that wins are ok, even just for the sake of tradition, as long as we understand what they mean. It also may help if you did not need to have a winning pitcher every game, although I have no idea who would be in charge of awarding wins.
One of the things that is interesting about the run of the mill announcer (and I am a Reds fan so you all know what that means) is that they will constantly point out how a pitcher pitched "good enough to get the win" but got no offense or bullpen help but then they will talk about how great a pitcher someone was because he won so many games. Most of the time you can tell that they don't even notice the contradiction.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: June 20, 2014 at 04:10 AM (#4731258)
One thing that's funny about it is that the quality start tells you pretty much what the "win" statistic is supposed to tell you about the quality of the pitcher, but QS is often derided by the pro-win crowd.

As to perfect games, etc. #1 nails it.

I recall one of the points-based fantasy sites I used to play on awarded pitchers bonus points for no-hitters and perfect games ... and to hitters for hitting for the cycle. The guy with 4 HR or 12 total bases was deemed less worth than the guy with the cycle. Always liked that one.
   11. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: June 20, 2014 at 07:59 AM (#4731284)
Which was already well under way before Brian Kenny got all insufferable about the whole thing.

Yeah, what's Brian thinking? I am positive #JustUnderstandWinsForWhatTheyMeanOrDon'tMean is just as catchy.
   12. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: June 20, 2014 at 08:45 AM (#4731309)
Clayton Kershaw’s masterpiece should not be considered a perfect game
Well, yeah, sure. Does anyone actually consider it a perfect game? A guy got on base.
   13. villageidiom Posted: June 20, 2014 at 10:03 AM (#4731359)
I've no problem with saying Pitcher X pitched a perfect game. Otherwise, if you want to recognize the team effort you'd say Team Y played a perfect game, and without fail the first question anyone would ask is "Who was pitching?" Saying Pitcher X pitched a perfect game conveys that.

I do have a problem with whoever would respond to "Team Y played a perfect game" with "Well, they played perfect defense, and scored a run. I'd hardly call their hitting perfect, so we really shouldn't call it a perfect game, more like perfect defense. And even with that, they were out of position on that one play, and lucky it worked out, so it's not really perfect defense either."
   14. shoewizard Posted: June 20, 2014 at 09:32 PM (#4732024)
So in a perfect world, where pitchers are rewarded financially for their performance and skill, and projectable future, what are the metrics or stats you would weight most heavily, for example in an arbitration hearing ?

   15. David Concepcion de la Desviacion Estandar (Dan R) Posted: June 23, 2014 at 01:25 PM (#4733596)
Me personally? Probably their Steamer/ZiPS forecast WAR?
   16. Rusty Priske Posted: June 23, 2014 at 03:39 PM (#4733766)
I am with #4. There is nothing wrong with tracking Wins, just like there is nothign wrong with tracking RBI.

Just treat them like what they are: a recording of something that happened rather than a measure of someone's value.
   17. vivaelpujols Posted: June 23, 2014 at 04:15 PM (#4733822)
The guy who wants to Kill the Win also wants to stop celebrating no-hitters.

He's wrong on both counts.


Why is the win a relevant statistic? It's completely arbitrary. If you change the definition of "win" to "team wins when x pitcher starts" i'd be cool with that.
   18. vivaelpujols Posted: June 23, 2014 at 04:16 PM (#4733825)
So in a perfect world, where pitchers are rewarded financially for their performance and skill, and projectable future, what are the metrics or stats you would weight most heavily, for example in an arbitration hearing ?


ERA and IP. Maybe consider strikeouts and walks as well.
   19. vivaelpujols Posted: June 23, 2014 at 04:16 PM (#4733826)
Which was already well under way before Brian Kenny got all insufferable about the whole thing.


Yeah maybe around BBTF, but not for most fans.
   20. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 23, 2014 at 06:15 PM (#4734008)
Why is the win a relevant statistic? It's completely arbitrary. If you change the definition of "win" to "team wins when x pitcher starts" i'd be cool with that.


See Rusty's 16. Baseball statistics don't exist strictly as a measurement of value.

Yeah maybe around BBTF, but not for most fans.


So what? It was already declining in value among anyone who cares about such things, including the BBWAA (Greinke and Hernandez's Cys being Exhibits A and B). If your casual baseball fan father still likes measuring pitchers by wins, that hurts no one. Telling him he's an idiot for thinking that might.


   21. vivaelpujols Posted: June 23, 2014 at 06:30 PM (#4734017)
I never claimed the point of statistics was to measure value. That's you reading something into my post based on your preconceived notions. Wins are a dumb stat because they have so many qualifications that are completely arbitrary. Starter needs to pitch 5 innings, but a reliever can win with 1? C'mon now. If you want to measure team results, use team wins and award it to the pitcher who pitched the most innings. If you want to give starters credit for pitching good games, give them a quality start. Wins are a jumbled and asinine.
   22. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 23, 2014 at 06:56 PM (#4734028)
I never claimed the point of statistics was to measure value. That's you reading something into my post based on your preconceived notions.


I don't recall saying you did.

Wins are a dumb stat because they have so many qualifications that are completely arbitrary. Starter needs to pitch 5 innings, but a reliever can win with 1?


Of all the goofy things about wins, that never struck me as one of them.

If you want to measure team results, use team wins and award it to the pitcher who pitched the most innings.


If you want to measure team results, use team wins.

If you want to give starters credit for pitching good games, give them a quality start.


People already do that. The continued existence of the win does not impede on that.

Wins are a jumbled and asinine.


Yup, that's a pretty accurate description. They've also been around for more than 100 years, and are known to close to 100 percent of the baseball fans, most of whom do not view baseball as an academic pursuit but rather an entertainment one. And even for us thinkin' fans, we can still have fun with questions about who's going to get to 300 wins, whether this guy can win 25, etc., while completely understanding the myriad problems with the measurement. You don't discard that because some people have a mistaken assessment of their worth in measuring value.


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