In tonight’s game between the Reds and the Cubs, Cubs starter Rich Harden had already run up a pitch count of 103 through 4 innings of work, despite only allowing 1 run, so Cubs manager Lou Pinella opted to remove him from the game (wisely, I would say, given Harden’s legendary fragility). Harden left with a 4-1 lead, but obviously could not get the win, since he had not pitched the requisite 5 innings.

Rookie reliever Jeff Stevens thereupon entered the game to start the 5th frame, pitching one inning and earning his first ever career win.

The only problem was, in his one inning of work Stevens gave up two singles and a three run bomb to Johnny Gomes, erasing the Cubs’ lead and leaving the game as a 4-4 tie.

The Cubs promptly came back and scored a run in the bottom half of the fifth, and scoreless relief by three other Cubs relievers, including 2 innings of hitless, 3-strikeout work by Aaron Heilman, preserved a 6-4 victory for Chicago, and saved the “win” for Stevens.

This is one of the worst cases of “vulturing a win” that I’ve seen in a long, long time. Stevens was far and away the worst Cubs pitcher in this game, posting a -.265 WPA whereas all the other four pitchers were positive, and yet he was awarded the win.

I know I’m just beating a long dead horse here, but why again do so many people hang so much of their evaluation of a player (not to mention Cy Young Awards), on this incredibly flawed stat?

3 Responses to “Perhaps the ultimate example of why the “win” is a useless stat”

  1. Wins are a useless stat but Stevens isn’t going to be given undue praise because of his win total. He certainly didn’t “deserve” to get a win but it’s not like this is an instance where a pitcher’s win totals will cause him to be over-hyped.

    Cubs GM, Jim Hendry has taken a ton of criticism from morons in the Chicago media because Jason Marquis has 15 wins this season. Marquis was in the final year of his deal in Chicago, he was their number 5 starter and Hendry moved him to free up some salary. It was a good move when you consider how his replacement Randy Wells has performed this season.

    The problem is that Marquis has more wins, 15, than Wells, 10, so he’s perceived as having a better season. Marquis has had a good year but his numbers other than wins aren’t superior to Wells and Wells is a cheaper option. Moving Marquis is not a move Hendry should be criticized for but those 15 wins have inspired it.

    Marquis ERA 3.65 WHIP 1.29 FIP 3.90
    Wells ERA 2.96 WHIP 1.25 FIP 3.90

  2. Unofficial Scorer says:

    The scorer in San Diego last night gave Chase Headley a stolen base that should have been defensive indifference. No throw, not even a flinch by the catcher.

    But they need to hang their hat on something in San Diego, and if Headley can get up to 10 steals for the year…..

  3. Kurt Williams says:

    In 2000, Orioles reliever Arthur Rhodes blew a save, then blew the lead after the Orioles regained the lead in the 10th, only to get a win when the O’s pulled it out in the 11th. I’m no sabremetrics genius, but W’s are pretty useless as a barometer of pitching performance.

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