Some Less Favorable Baseball Rules

THE OFFICIAL RULES OF BASEBALL Unless these rules came down Mount Sinai from a Power Far Greater Than Ourselves, perhaps a few could stand some re-writing.

Unless these rules came down Mount Sinai from a Power Far Greater Than Ourselves, perhaps a few could stand some re-writing.

1) The Basis for Awarding Wins to Pitchers. We cannot quote you the exact rules governing wins, but we know the general framework of how it works. A starting pitcher must pitch a minimum of 5.0 complete innings and leave the game with his club holding a lead that they never relinquish to earn the “W” win credit for victory. If the starter’s club then surrenders the lead after his departure, but regains it in time to salvage the win, the “W” is then awarded to the pitcher who was in the game when the lead was regained and nevermore again surrendered.

Here’s the part that bothers me most about this rule, by hypothetical example: A home club starting pitcher could leave a no-hit performance after 8.2 innings because of an injury in a 0-0 tie and be replaced by a reliever who then gives up three consecutive home runs, before he finally gets the third out on a great outfielder catch on a leaping grab over the wall. When the home club then scores four runs in the bottom of the 9th inning to capture the game, the “W” goes to the very ineffective reliever because he was the active pitcher of record when the winning rally concluded. Meanwhile, the starter who worked 8.2 innings of no-run, no-hit ball gets no credit at all.

It probably wouldn’t do any good to change the rule and allow the starter to get the “W” in instances like the one cited in our example, unless baseball, or SABR, wanted to take on the daunting, possibly impossible purgatorial task of re-working all the assignment of “W”s, “L”, “H”s, “Sv”s, etc in MLB history for the sake of maintaining comparative meaningful statistical data – and inevitably being forced somewhere into tinkering with the iconic numbers of so many great Hall of fame pitchers.

So be it. The “W-L” assignments may just have to continue as one of those stats that we take with the largest grain of salt available.

2) When runners reach base on an error and score, or any runner simply scores, both because of an error by the pitcher, why shouldn’t those runs be treated as earned – since it was the pitcher himself who caused them to happen? We have to give reader and baseball researcher and historian “StanFromTacoma” for waking up this ancient call to “baseball rules unfairness” indignation on this old echo. I will stand with Stan on this one by cutting and pasting a comment he left at another column in The Pecan Park Eagle:

“I think a pitcher’s fielding error should count as an earned run. If the pitcher sails his throw over the first baseman’s head I see no reason why the runner who reaches base on that error should not count as an earned run if he eventually scores.” ~ StanFromTacoma, June 26, 2015, comment to The Pecan Park Eagle on the column entitled, “Rule Change Kills Stat Comparisons Over Time”, published June 26, 2015.

What do you think? And are there any other rules that bother you? And last, but probably most importantly, do you think that serious changes in the way the game is scored, merited or not, are worth the damage it does to our ability for comparative statistical analysis of the game’s production over time – and would it even be worth the effort, or even possible, to retroactively adjust past records to conform with what we might hopefully consider as new permanent fairer rules on scoring wins, errors or any other measurable game factor?



3 Responses to “Some Less Favorable Baseball Rules”

  1. Larry Dierker Says:

    My beef is with the balk rule. A pitcher should not be able to fake a throw to a base. It’s a waste of time that serves no purpose. A “discernible stop” is a matter of opinion and also serves no purpose. Pitchers and runners alike would prefer a rule that only requires the pitcher to bring his hands together in the same place on every pitch with a man or men on base. He need not stop. This would allow pitchers to work faster (even quick pitch) and would make it easier for base stealers to time pitchers. It would probably both save time and encourage the running game.

  2. gregclucas Says:

    Adding a team error to do away with pop ups that fall between two fielders who could have easily handled it. Hitters are often given un-deserved hits now…. instructing scorers to use the rule of thumb that when a hitter makes solid contact and a question arises hit or error? to give the hitter the benefit. Conversely when a ball is hit poorly (the pitcher has done his job) give the pitcher the benefit if there is a doubt….While it is true many of the statistics baseball holds dear–mostly for pitchers– have a different weight than when they are devised and pitcher’s routinely threw complete games–they cannot be discounted completely. A starting pitcher with a very low ERA is likely still a very good pitcher in any era. Does his ERA compare adequately with that of Christy Mathewson or Walter Johnson? Perhaps not, but it still shows excellence in what he does.

    For relief pitchers that is a different story since they pitch far fewer innings and one bad one can make them look far worse (by their ERA) than they may really be in total. Perhaps a new (average appearance number) needs to be considered.

    As for Wins and Losses I concur the method is not the best, but unless all of history is to be changed it probably needs to remain as is. (Stat-heads could come up with another unofficial stat–not that we need any more of those–to cover Wins Deserved perhaps.

    Just some thoughts.

  3. Cliff Blau Says:

    On #2- the reason is that earned runs is a pitching statistic, not a fielding statistic.

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