What’s the “W/L” Assignment Worth Today?

Cy Young Award (we think that’s his full legal name) won 511 regular season big league games between 1891 and 1911. It’s not likely that he could have come anywhere close to that mark today under today’s pitch count culture and pitcher specialization rules. *

* So, why are we still paying so much attention to a pitcher’s win total at contract and annual award time ~ and even now using “200” as the new “300” benchmark when it comes to thinking about a pitcher like Justin Verlander’s future candidacy for the Hall of Fame?

Maybe this is one of those times in which we, the baseball culture at large, are simply too long on tradition and two short on imagination for a better way of assessing all the players on-the-field and their own individual contributions to winning and losing. If we are going to serve up W and L soup to the pitchers, simply because they set everything in motion first on every play, maybe we should either assign W’s and L’s to all the guys who deserve them – and even spare the pitcher on days they really did little to nothing to cause either final result.

In today’s game, a starting pitcher may hold the other team to a meager 1 run over the five to six innings he’s out there, but still get the loss because his club gets him zero run support over the time he’s pitching. By today’s rules, this good pitching effort takes the “L” because the losing team was behind 1-0 over the time the starter was out there and they never recovered from the avalanche of runs that followed via the charity of his pals in the bullpen.

On another day, a starter may give up four to five runs during the five innings he was out there and still get the “W” because his team tallied ten runs over the course of the same time.

Does that really make any sense? Not to me it doesn’t, but the absence of good sense still doesn’t get in the way of salary and award discussions about pitchers to this very day ~ or so it seems.

Let’s have some discussion about this issue of “W/L” assignments. Do we really need them? And how about their multiple assignment to multiple pitchers, or even multiple or one special position player at times? For example, can you think of a game as recently as last night in which “Ws” could have been assigned to Carlos Correa and Tyler White for their contributions to the 8th inning Astros rally win.

Let’s at least talk about it, maybe even have a SABR meeting discussion about it. I’m not personally talking about the invention of another exotic “WAR” figure here. Those math trips have done little but confirm SABR’s image as a gaggle of geeks. I’m talking about what we can see with our own eyes.

Do we need to look for a better way of assigning the “W/L” for pitchers, do we need to find a way to expand these assignments to other players, or do we simply need to drop individual “W/L” assignments altogether from this “team game” and allow the game’s final score to be the only “W/L” that counts?

********************

A Peek at the AL Batting Average Race 

Through Games of 9/01/18: 

BATTING AVERAGE

1. Mookie Betts

Boston Red Sox

.341

2. J.D. Martinez

Boston Red Sox

.333

3. Jose Altuve

Houston Astros

.326

4. Jean Segura

Seattle Mariners

.317

********************

AL WEST Contender Scores

Through Games of 9/01/18:

Houston 7 – LA Angels 3.

Seattle 8 – Oakland 7.

********************

AL WEST STANDINGS:

Morning of Sun., 9/02/18

TEAMS

WON

LOST

PCT.

GB

Houston

83

53

.610

 —-

Oakland

81

56

.591

   2.5

Seattle

76

60

.559

   7.0

LA Angels

66

70

.485

 17.0

Texas

59

77

.434

 24.0

********************

SEPTEMBER

2

LAA

SEA

@ OAK

3

MIN

NYY

BAL

4

MIN

NYY

BAL

5

MIN

NYY

BAL

6

7

@BOS

TEX

NYY

8

@BOS

TEX

NYY

9

@BOS

TEX

NYY

10

@DET

11

@DET

@BAL

SD

12

@DET

@BAL

SD

13

@BAL

@LAA

14

AZ

@TB

@LAA

15

AZ

@TB

@LAA

16

AZ

@TB

@LAA

17

SEA

@HOU

18

SEA

LAA

@HOU

19

SEA

LAA

@HOU

20

LAA

21

LAA

MIN

@TEX

22

LAA

MIN

@TEX

23

LAA

MIN

@TEX

24

@TOR

@SEA

OAK

25

@TOR

@SEA

OAK

26

@TOR

@SEA

OAK

27

@BAL

TEX

28

@BAL

@LAA

TEX

29

@BAL

@LAA

TEX

30

@BAL

@LAA

TEX

 

********************

Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle

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