Let’s re-invent the wheel [new pitchers stats!]
I’m not too crazy about the new ways of assessing performance in a game whose very charm is having remained unchanged since the Civil War (ours). Still prefer to watch and read about baseball with a Red Book, not a slide rule, by my side.
But just because I don’t sing the Acronym Hymn doesn’t mean I don’t dig innovative statistics when appropriate. In fact, few people know (Bill Ladson, an old friend who now covers the Washington Nationals for us, is one) that 30 years ago I created what has become known as pitchers’ WHIP.
While covering the California Angels for the long-defunct Los Angeles Herald Examiner, I called it ORA (Opponent Runners Average). Calculated it weekly Majors-wide and listed league leaders in our Sunday papers.
I feel the stat muse tapping me on the shoulder again: Readers have increasingly implored me to stop citing and comparing starting pitchers based on their won-loss records, arguing their irrelevance given the way the modern game is run (pitch counts, bullpen relays, etc.).
I agree. I also think the ERA — a nine-inning index — has become meaningless for starters who rarely go nine [in 2 percent of all games last season] and even more ridiculous for relievers, who might take a month to get there.
So … here is what I’m going to do in ’14 coverage of the Bucs:
Starters’ “records” will reflect the times they pitch into the seventh inning or don’t get out of the fifth [in-between, there's your new no-decision]. That’s deserving of a win or a loss; everything else — like run support or whether the bullpen has a bad day — is out of their control. Cited ERAs will simply be based on six innings (for example, allowing 3 earned runs in 6 innings would equate to a standard 4.50 ERA but for us it becomes 3.00).
Relievers will have no ERAs. For a relief pitcher, nothing matters beyond runners who score while he is on the mound, inherited or his own. So relievers will be judged solely on RAVE [runs average; runners scoring divided by runners on base while in the game].
Retracing 2013 for RAVEs is way too time consuming, so I’ll track those going forward.
As for the ’13 Buccos rotation as seen through this new prism [actual W-L in parenthesis):
- A.J. Burnett 17-5, 2.20 [10-11]
- Francisco Liriano 12-6, 2.01 [16-8]
- Charlie Morton 9-6, 2.15 [7-4]
- Gerrit Cole 8-2, 2.14 [10-7]
- Jeff Locke 8-10, 2.34 [10-7]