Something happened to the pitcher win over the last few years. Many people noticed it and many people did not: The pitcher win became obsolete.
I don’t mean it became obsolete in the sense that the pitcher win is a silly statistic that melts down baseball’s infinite complexities and endless possibilities into a single “Yeah, that guy won the game,” number. That’s always been pretty ridiculous.
No, the win became obsolete in an even more obvious way: Today, more often than not, the WRONG PITCHER gets credit for the win.
I suspect that anyone who likes the win — and for years and years, we all liked the win because it was all we knew — imagined it going to a starting pitcher, someone who pitched a bunch of good, solid innings. The loss, too, would go to a starting pitcher, the guy who didn’t quite have it that day.
Well, last year, more relievers got the win by going two-innings or less (724) than starters who went seven-innings or more (689). And even that does not really describe the absurdity of the pitcher win in 2017.
So … let’s keep score.
On Opening Day, there were three games — and obviously three wins. The first win of the 2017 season was earned by Tampa Bay’s Chris Archer by pitching seven good innings, allowing two runs. That, I imagine, is what fans of the pitcher win statistic like to see.
The second win went to Arizona’s Fernando Rodney, who pitched one inning and blew the save by giving up the one-run lead he was given.
The third win went to St. Louis’ Seung Hwan Oh, who pitched 1 2/3 innings of disastrous ball.
So let’s introduce the pitcher scoreboard. This is NOT intended to be a mathematical thing. Judgments made by the committee are final. So far we only have two categories: “Starters who pitch well” and “Relievers who struggle.” As the season goes on, we’ll add categories like “Starters who kind of stunk” and “Relievers who faced, like, one batter” and whatever else comes to mind.
For now, here’s the running Pitcher Win Scoreboard:
Starters who pitch well: 1 win.
Relievers who struggle: 2 wins
Here’s to another glorious baseball season.