You, Sir, Deserved the Win

We all know the ‘WIN’ is an archaic stat.  It is a remainder of a by-gone time, when pitchers finished what they started, and bullpens consisted of 4 guys plus whoever wasn’t starting that day.  In the era of LOOGYs, long men, short men, set-up men, and closers, lots and lots of starters make it through only five or maybe six innings.  The WIN is more of a team effort, not so much the measure of how one man’s prowess created the result.

Still, some wins are more deserving than others.  To prove that point, let’s take a look at Padres starting pitcher victories in 2013, using Bill James’ Game Score.

For the unfamiliar, here’s how you calculate Game Score:

  • The starter begins with 50 points.
  • He gets a point for each out recorded (3 points/inning).
  • He gets two additional points per each inning completed after the fourth.
  • Add 1 point per strikeout.
  • Deduct 2 1 point for each walk issued.
  • Deduct 2 points for each hit allowed.
  • Deduct 2 points for each unearned run he’s saddled with.
  • Deduct 4 points for each earned run surrendered.

The ideal 9-inning game score (9-inning perfect game with 27 strikeouts) is 114 (50+27+10+27).  No one’s ever done it at the major league level.

In 52 games last year the Padre starter earned the win. I’ve made the arbitrary decision to limit this discussion to only those scoring 70 or higher.

The Table:

Pitcher wins 2013

Unsurprisingly Andrew Cashner‘s complete game 1-hitter tops the list.  He also made the list for his early May effort against the Marlins.  Cashner’s one-hitter was far and away the best pitching performance by a starter last season.  Tyson Ross checks in at #2 for his 8-inning dominance against the D-Backs, and Eric Stults is a close third, also dominating Arizona.  Stults actually led the staff in Game Score efforts, with three of his starts breaking the 70 barrier

Funny that Jason Marquis  joins Cashner and appears on this list twice.  Marquis got lit up a lot, but also pitched very well on occasion.  Edinson Volquez squeaks in under the cut-off, which I think nicely summarizes why he still gets to pitch at the Major League level and why fans of that team get driven to distraction watching him pitch. The rest of the list is a who’s-who of potential for 2014 and beyond Padre success – Robbie Erlin, Burch Smith, Ian Kennedy.

Note that every pitcher on this list made it through seven.  They deserved the Win.

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  • Speaking of deserving the win, I looked up Volquez’s Game Score for his last start as a Padre on Aug 23: 18.
    But this is what blew my mind from that game: The Win Probability Chart.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/SDN/SDN201308230.shtml#wpa

    • One of my favorite games from last year. I think the club was genuinely PISSED at how bad Volquez pitched, and took our their frustrations on the Cubs.

  • USMC53

    Thanks for the post. A good read.
    One comment, though… Baseball-Reference.com says that you deduct one point (not two) for each walk issued.

    • As did my source, but I typed it wrong. Fixed – thanks.

  • USMC53

    Interestingly, the Padres’ second highest Game Score of 2013 did not result in a win for the starting pitcher. Stults pitched an 84 against the Mariners on May 29 (8.0, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 12 K). A masterpiece, but we won it in extra innings, so he didn’t get a decision.
    In total, Padres’ starters threw 19 games with Game Scores of 70+, resulting in 12 Wins, 6 No Decisions, and 1 Loss. The loss was Cashner v. Greinke (Sept. 22, Dodgers won the game 1-0). Cash gave up one unearned run in the 7th.

    Great post, PT. I love looking into this kind of stuff.

  • USMC53

    In 2013 (by my quick count on Baseball-Reference.com), there were 88 games in which Padres’ starters pitched a Game Score of 51 or better.
    In those games, the Padres went 61-27, or about .700 baseball.

    2013 Average Game Scores for our 2014 rotation:
    Ross: 58.4
    Cashner: 56.5
    Kennedy: 51.8
    Stults: 50.7
    Johnson: 43.3 (53.3 in 2012, last time he was in the NL)