Mainstream Pitching Stats Are So Mainstream

felix

**Guest article by @greggorox**

At the risk of sounding like a certain “PMA” pitcher out west, I’m writing this article to proclaim mainstream pitching stats are too cool for this dude, know what I mean, brah? What do I mean when I say “mainstream pitching stats”? These are stats that mainstream media has spoon fed us over the years and we’ve accepted as gospel. Things like ERA, W-L, and saves, just to name a few.  These are the stats that are supposed to measure a pitcher’s value and worth, but do they really do so? I mean, are we supposed to measure how a pitcher’s worth based on if his team can give him consistent run support, even though he may be giving them quality start after quality start (not the mainstream definition of “quality start” that would net you a crisp 4.50 ERA)? How do we measure a pitcher’s worth based on a stat that changes when he’s not even on the mound? How can we take a stat seriously where you can “earn” a save if you’re the last arm throwing in a 30-3 game?
A prime example of how flawed mainstream stats are is Felix Hernandez’s Cy Young
season of 2010, where he finished with a W-L record of 13-12. A few goofball
writers refused to vote for King Felix because he was only one game over .500,
despite having an otherwise eye popping stat line (mainstream and saber). He
even got a fourth and fifth place vote! The Seattle team Hernandez pitched his
guts out for lost 101 games that year. 101. Hernandez had fifteen starts in
which he pitched at least 6.2 innings and gave up three or less runs, including
three games where he pitched eight innings or more while giving up one or zero
runs, yet got either a no decision or charged with a loss. Go to
baseball-reference.com, see for yourself, and have the desire to dog cuss those
writers who didn’t give King Felix their Cy vote. Is it fair that Hernandez got
tagged for 12 losses, where at least half of those were of no doing of his own?
If you value a pitcher’s W-L record, you probably also cite a QB’s W-L record
when debating who’s the better QB.

Folks, we’ve been fooled worse than Josh Hamilton on a low and away pitch—the mainstream media has convinced us that W-L, ERA, and saves aren’t hollow stats and should be the true measure of a pitcher’s success/failure. Are we going to sit on our couches or ballpark seats and continue to let this happen? Well, what I can do, you may be asking. Should we picket the MLB office in New York? Do we write a letter to the ghost of Dear Abby and ask her for advice? Do we quit watching baseball and take up knitting? Well, you could do any of those things, but may I suggest you
look at alternative stats, aka saber metrics, to set you free from the silliness
of mainstream stats?

One saber stat I absolutely love is FIP (not to be confused with the unfortunate cat
disease), Fielding Independent Pitching. Fangraphs describes FIP best as it
“measures what a player’s ERA should have looked like over a given time period,
assuming that performance on balls in play and timing were league average.”
(http://www.fangraphs.com/library/pitching/fip/). It’s more of a “what will happen”, than “what are you doing now” type of stat, but if you take the time to study it you will find that it’s far more accurate and useful than ERA.

Another wonderful alternative stat is ERA+, which adjusts a pitcher’s ERA in conjunction with the pitcher’s ballpark and league ERA. The ERA+ average is set at 100; a score above 100 indicates that the pitcher can be called “above average” and
below 100 “below average”. Are you still with me? Hey you in the back, wake
up!

I know that might be a lot to take in, but trust me ERA+ gives you a more accurate
measurement of a pitcher’s value/worth than your mainstream ERA you see on TV
and stat sheets. It takes into account where the pitcher pitches the majority of
his games and calculates accordingly, something ERA can’t do. John Lennon asked
us to give peace a chance—I say give ERA+ a chance.

As far as saves, I’ll say only this: Wes Littleton, August 27, 2007. You can’t
debate that point if I gave you a thousand years. If you don’t know what I’m
talking about, Google it and see for yourself. Be sure to have aspirin
handy.

I encourage you to think outside the box and research saber stats, pick ones you
like/agree with, and use those to measure a player’s worth. Don’t rely on the
mainstream media for your baseball knowledge. They’re getting paid to write
articles about a player’s favorite dessert and which player has the hottest
wife, not to properly educate you on the great game of baseball. Do yourself a
huge favor and wean yourself off the mainstream pacifier and join us grownups at
the adult’s table! 😀 Mainstream stats may net you a fake blonde, with a fake
tan/fake everything, but saber stats will net you that cute, nerdy girl, with
glasses and a ponytail that can kick your ass in Jeopardy, all the while
adjusting her fantasy lineups. I apologize for overloading your brain with the
use of the word “mainstream” throughout this article, but it was necessary to
call this travesty to your attention. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a shampoo
commercial to film (I’m flying myself to the shoot).

@Greggorox is a guest columnist for ShutDownInning.com.
Patrick Despain
Patrick is a member of the IBWAA and creator of Shutdown Inning. He was raised him Arlington, Texas and grew up watching games on HSE and listening to Eric Nadel and Mark Holtz on the radio. He is a long time Rangers fan and never achieved his dream of being a bat boy. He know lives in Georgia with dreams of a Texas return.

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