Monday, September 29, 2014

The Value of a Win

I have had a long, misguided, and over-appreciated view of what a win really means in baseball. At least in terms of what a win is as it relates to a pitcher.

There was a time when I thought you could look at a pitchers record and ell if he was having a good season or not. Was this pitcher worthy of winning a Cy Young or even be considered an ace without 18+ wins? At one time I probably would have said no. I felt like consistency and good pitching go hand in hand and the results would usually, over the course of a 182 game season work itself out. I no longer believe this.

Even bad teams will win a lot of games, so one could conclude that even a good pitcher on a bad team is going to get positive results. The failure rate in most categories in baseball is so great that one would figure that even the bad will beat a good on any given night.
What I am learning about good pitching and good numbers are that strictly looking at win totals does no good at all. Sure, I will submit that there is something to be said for some guys that just manage to 'get it done', 'rise to the occasion', or simply 'just win, baby'. But in the big picture you can't just look at that.

After watching the Braves this season seemingly give up at least the first run on just about every night, but it seems like it is multiple runs early in the game. it makes it a lot more difficult to play from behind all the time and  not getting early runs is not helping anyone. When the Braves do score it seems like it is just one or 2 runs and then the bats go quiet again. This is leaving the Braves pitchers out on an island to fend for themselves. Sure there have been some stinkers thrown by the rotation, but on the whole, as a complete rotation they have been sensational. Considering at the beginning of the season it looked like the 5 man group had be decimated and that that was going to be the Braves downfall right from the get go.

On a season that looked so promising with a rotation that look like it could be Julio Tehran, Kris Medlan, Brandon Beachy, Gavin Floyd, and Mike Minor and or the possibility of Freddy Garcia, There was talk that maybe a 6 man rotation would be the way to go for the first month and see how that went. The team looked deep in that position, looked like a solid playoff calibre team that was ready to play any National League team.

That nice depth of quality arms looked to put the Braves in a position of strength and offered high optimism heading into April. Then the wheels went off the track and things began to go sideways. Medlan - Tommy John (again), Beachy Tommy John (again), Gavin Floyd looked good on his rehab then boom - Tommy John (again). Suddenly things down in Peachtree nation wasn't looking quite so peachy.

It was easy to be greatly concerned that this was going to devastate the team and just crush the team coming out of the gates a bury them early. Freddy Garcia was let go in what at the time seemed a strange decision and Aaron Harang was brought in off the scrap heap from Cleveland. Ervin Santana was swept away from at least 1 other team, at least one AL East team with a 14.1M 1 year contract. It looked like the season was going to be cut down at the knees because of the pitching. That was far from true. They were almost all the shining stars on a team that was just not able to sustain a consistent offence that, by the end of the season, was all but dried up. This is why the win for pitchers mean so little. You can pitch your ass off and get rewarded with either no support, blown leads from the bullpen or no help until it is too late. Even as a Braves fan I feel for Cole Hammels a bit as he seems to get the same amount of support that the entire Braves staff was given the majority of the season.

How Craig Kimbrell managed to rack up 46 saves is almost mind blowing. I guess with that said the Braves could not or would not score much of any runs until the 7-8 or 9th innings. The way a game is played out is directly influenced but the team that can jump out and score even a few early just takes the pressure off that you just can't plate guys.

With all the teams in the NL East poised to be better next season through nothing more than just getting healthy the Braves need to bolster a roster/lineup that can manufacture some runs. If they could not do it this year with the diminished staffs from other NL East teams then they are going to need some much different faces and approaches next year and maybe then some of these well tossed games and efforts by the pitching staff will not go to waste as often.