Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, October 01, 2021

just under
Even though I followed my usual sports blindness this summer by ignoring baseball, I do recall taking a quick glance at the league pitching leaders sometime in August and thinking, “Those win totals seem kinda low”.

My instincts were true. This season marks the first full (i.e., non-strike) one ever without a single 20-game winner, and the buzz is over whether this is an anomaly or a trend.

“Starts go down, innings pitched go down, complete games go down, so wins go down. It’s kind of simple math,” Orioles pitching coach Leo Mazzone said. “You even talk about shutting people down when they reach 200 innings. If you’re going to win 20 you need to be in the game in the late innings.

“Twenty wins is always a major marker, but 20 is going to go by the wayside and 15 is going to be the standard,” he added. “I don’t think it’s the quality of the starters, I think it’s the evolution of the game.”

I don’t think 20 wins will become unreachable, but it will get rarer. Frankly, I’m surprised it took this long for this to happen. Bullpens are so stocked these days, as the MLB is more of a pitchers’ league than ever. More pressure is put on the middle relievers, and so a game’s pitching performance truly becomes a collaborative effort.

It’s easy to rap the pitchers for seemingly being coddled, but that ignores all the work they really do. True, the comparable position players in other sports don’t function the same way. In football, you have one designated starting quarterback every game, who throws his arm off; but he plays only once a week, for a grand total of 20 full games or so per year. In hockey, there’s typically a starting goaltender who plays the bulk of the season; but most teams like to limit that to 75 percent of the season, and teams don’t play practically every single day like in baseball, and the backup goalie tends to play the split in back-to-back games. The structure of baseball’s season makes it ridiculous to expect a pitcher to hurl 90-mile-an-hour bombs every night.

Hey, if they really want to hang onto the 20-win standard so badly, I guess they could add another 20 or 30 games to the schedule. It’s already ridiculously long now, so I’m sure no one will notice the extra padding…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 10/01/2021 06:53:15 PM
Category: Baseball, History
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2 Feedbacks »
  1. Things I learned today (9)

    Inevitably, it being still fairly early in the day, this list will include some things I actually learned yesterday, and possibly the day before that. (As George Carlin says, the day after tomorrow is the third day of the rest…

    Trackback by dustbury.com — 10/02/2021 @ 10:04:37 AM

  2. I think wins is a meaningless statistic anyway, considering how little control the pitcher has over his run support (especially in the AL). I personally concern myself with WHIP, much as I’m concerned much more with OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) than RBI when it comes to hitting — I simply think they’re a stronger metric for measuring performance in what actually matters — getting men on base.

    Comment by tim in tampa — 10/02/2021 @ 11:51:15 PM

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