Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The "Wins and Losses" Farce

One of the key metrics for evaluating a pitcher in baseball is their record of wins and losses. It is essentially an accounting of how many runs opponents scored off the pitcher and his 8 defensive teammates relative to the number of runs the pitcher's 9-man batting order scored during the time when the pitcher was in the game. If it sounds like the pitcher plays only a fractional part (albeit an important fraction) in the final outcome, that is because it is so.

So why do we continue to track and consider this statistic as important? Obviously, good pitchers on poor teams can out-perform bad pitchers on strong teams and have an inferior Win/Loss record. It makes no sense.

Unless you look at it in relative terms.

Relative to the trend of looking at Win/Loss records for NFL quarterbacks, rating pitchers on that measure seems comparatively brilliant. Of course that is only due to the unfathomable absurdity of hanging a win or a loss for a 53-man football team on one player.

It is all over the news today. With last night's win over the Packers, Favre has become the first QB to defeat all 32 active NFL football teams in his career. I guess he did it all by himself. Forget the fact that the Vikings held the Packers to zero points through three trips to the red-zone and had 3 take-aways in the game. Forget the special teams play. Forget football's best running back, Adrian Peterson, who drew a stacked box all night and opened up the passing lanes for a talented core of Vikings receivers. Forget all the coaching, and scheming, and game-planning, and play-calling. Favre did it alone.

How can smart guys, who played the game and then became analysts, spew this crap? I can tolerate it in baseball because sometimes a pitcher throws nine innings of excellence and deserves recognition as the key contributor to a win. But in football, I cannot abide this emerging trend.


  1. All signs point to the media again. Don't get me started. I can only assume that the "smart guys, who played the game and then became analysts" were required to undergo a frontal lobotomy when they crossed over to the media, lest they stand our from the typical fluff spewing, mindless media members who have the audacity to call themselves reporters. Oh, I forgot, they cater to the mass population blah blah blah.

  2. Auggie's right... even though mocking my comment from an earlier WWDS. You can't be a national sports analyst and actually analyze the game. This is why Dan Fouts didn't last on MNF. The man knows the game, but would lose half the audience if he said anything deeper than "Well, Al... a nice straight kick through the uprights is a good play when you need 3pts on a 4th down"

    But! Remember, it is October, and the worst two weeks of sports broadcasting is upon us: baseball on TBS

  3. I may have sounded mocking, but the point about marketing to the mass population is a valid one. The best football program ESPN has produced in recent years is the "NFL Matchup" program with Ron Jaworski and Merril Hoge. They break down actual coaches film (i.e. not television replays) and show different offensive/defensive formations and how teams try to attack those formations. They provide really good insights to the game and the overall strategies. Last year the program was buried at 7:30 am Sunday morning (who is up then?) and this year I'm not even sure they have continued the program. Primetime of course is reserved for shots of TO doing sit ups in his driveway and the requisite Favre gushing.