If you’re here, you’ve likely been exposed to our series on pitcher wins and why we want to kill them. It’s become a pretty big topic of conversation around baseball and some people are calling for a cease fire because the win has been repeatedly slaughtered to the point that we’ve probably violated the Geneva Convention. So, I’ll make sure to avoid overdoing it because apparently #KillTheWin is sabr-bullying. If you’re new to the cause, check out the groundwork for why wins are a terrible statistic and then enjoy The Nine Worst Wins from 2013 (as of Sept 13th).
- You Can Have A Great Season and Not Win
- You Can Have A Bad Season and Win A Lot
- Wins Don’t Even Out in Big Samples
- A Case Study in Wins
- 12 Assorted Facts About Wins from 2013
- Dissecting the Case for Wins
- A Replacement for Wins
So the methodology is quite simple. Below are the pitchers in 2013 who have earned a “win” sorted by the lowest Win Probability Added (WPA). What WPA does is measure how much the team’s likelihood of winning changed as a result of every play and assigns that value to the pitcher and batter who took part. It’s not a perfect stat for measuring a player’s performance but it works for our purposes here for a simple reason. If a pitcher’s team scores 10 runs in the first inning, that pitcher can pitch poorly and get a win, but most of the pro-win alliance thinks that’s okay. They believe in something called “pitching to the score” which has been shown to be fiction. So in order to make the point clearly, I’ll use WPA which is entirely dependent on context. If you’re up 10, you’re allowed to give up 5. If you’re up 1, you better not give up two.
There are other ways to do this, but I think this is the most valuable way to do it given the audience still in need of persuasion.
|9||Randall Delgado||2-Aug||ARI||BOS||W 7-6||GS-6 ,W|
|8||Brandon League||31-May||LAD||COL||W 7-5||9-9 ,BW|
|7||CC Sabathia||18-Aug||NYY||BOS||W 9-6||GS-6 ,W|
|6||Alfredo Simon||22-Apr||CIN||CHC||W 5-4||13-13f,W|
|5||Rafael Soriano||17-May||WSN||SDP||W 6-5||9-9 ,BW|
|4||Matt Belisle||28-Jul||COL||MIL||W 6-5||8-8 ,BW|
|3||Joe Smith||26-Jun||CLE||BAL||W 4-3||8-8 ,BW|
|2||Michael Wacha||19-Aug||STL||MIL||W 8-5||7-7 ,BW|
|1||Kyuji Fujikawa||12-Apr||CHC||SFG||W 4-3||9-9f ,BW|
To date, there have been 282 wins in which the pitcher had a negative WPA in 2013. Above you’ve seen the nine worst including Fujikawa having just about the worst performance I could imagine in a win using this method. In fact, as far back as we have WPA data, it’s the 14th worst such win.
It looked like this! That’s pretty bad.
This is all by way of saying that wins aren’t a useful statistic and that even if we allow for the idea of pitching to the score, we still have a ton of ridiculous wins every season. If every win was handed out perfectly the rest of the season, we would still have seen 11.6% of the wins in 2013 go to pitchers who hurt their team’s chance to win.