By: Chris DuPrau @Chris DuPrau
In my youth, it was easy to tell if a pitcher was great or not. You flipped over their baseball cards, or checked their stats in the paper. You may have looked at their ERA or K’s, but the only real number you cared about was…wins.
14-16 wins = Pretty good
17-20 wins – Really good
20+ wins = Great
It was so easy. You didn’t really have to think. All you had to do was look at that number. We revered and respected that number. When we looked on the back of a card and saw that Bob Welch had 27 freaking wins in 1990, we were blown away. How good must he have been that year to get 27 freaking wins? Turns out he was really good but far from great.
Bob Welch 1990 Stats
27-9, 2.95 ERA, 238 IP, 214 Hits, 77BB, 127 K’s 1.22 WHIP
He also had Mark McGuire and Jose Conseco on his team giving him plenty of run support as they were 4th in the majors in runs scored.
Still, 27 wins is freaking impressive. For years, the win has been slowly dropping in importance in my mind. When I started playing fantasy baseball, I was introduced to WHIP and realized that was a better indicator of how dominant a pitcher was. During the juiced ball era, if you saw a pitcher with an ERA under 4.00 you were impressed, now it’s probably around 3.25 to really impress me. The win was no longer the end all be all, but it was still important.
When Felix Hernandez won the CY Young award in 2010, he was 13-12 with a 2.27 ERA, 249IP, 194 Hits, 232 K’s and a WHIP of 1.05, and I began to really question the value of the Win. But, I also thought that the American League had crappy pitchers that year, so the baseball voters threw Felix a bone.
Since then, baseball stat guys have been preaching how the importance of the win has decreased dramatically. Pitchers don’t stay in the game as long and bullpens are suspect year to year were all reasons they gave. The point they were making made sense to me, but I was brought up with the “W” meaning so much. I just couldn’t give up on it.
And, then, 2018 Jacob deGrom came into my life.
I’ve watched Jake develop for the past 5 seasons. I saw him come out of nowhere to win the ’14 NL ROY. He went crazy. He showed dominance in game 1 of the NLDS against the Dodgers and guts in the clinching game 5. He dealt with injuries in ’16 but came back strong in ’17. Nothing though, nothing, could prepare me for what he was going to do in 2018.
In what will go down as another disappointing season by my Metropolitas, my boy Jake just completed the 3rd greatest pitching season I’ve ever seen behind only Pedro in ‘99 and 2000. Now, just in case you’re not familiar with what deGrom has done this year, (it’s odd that you’re this far into a baseball column and don’t know about Jake, but thanks for reading) I’ll give you all his stats besides the W-L record.
1.70 ERA, 217 IP, 152 H 46 BB, 269K’s, 0.912WHIP
Just looking at that, how many wins do you think that pitcher would have 18, 20, 22?
Jake went 10-9 this season.
That’s not a typo.
10 freaking wins!
This guy just pitched one of the most dominant seasons in modern baseball history and had a record of 10 wins and 9 losses.
How could this happen you ask, 2 words…The Mets.
The Mets bullpen pitched to a 5+ ERA when they came in for Jake, usually needing 6 or fewer outs, and the Mets offense took a dirt nap most times when he pitched. Just for fun, look at what would have happened if the Mets had just given him average run support.
When deGrom started if the Mets scored…
4 Runs in each game he would have been 30-0
3 Runs in each game he would have been 25-1
2 Runs in each game he would have been 20-6
Again, deGrom was 10-9.
It’s not fair, the guy deserved better. I’m not writing this because I’m mad the Mets did him dirty. I’m writing this because people need to understand how amazing Jake deGrom was this year and realize that his record was not his fault.
My oldest is starting to get into baseball. He won’t be into baseball cards the way I was because its 2018 and kids don’t care about baseball card, but if he’s into baseball, he’ll have to at least tangentially be into baseball stats. I’ll teach him that OBP is really important, that it’s a problem if a guy has 30 HR’s but under 70 RBI, and I’ll teach him that a W for a pitcher doesn’t mean that much. Thirty years from now when I won’t be telling my grandkids about a Mets pitcher I saw get 23 wins, I’ll be telling them about how a pitcher who had only 10 wins, pitched the best season I’ve ever seen in Queens. (Even if he does somehow get screwed out of the Cy Young award.)
Keep on keepin’ on