Introducing “Win Score”

Pitchers in Group 1 have a record of 0-10 with a 2.69 (ERA+FIP/2) vs. pitchers in Group 2, with a record of 7-0 with a 5.08 (ERA+FIP/2)…

Historically, the “Win” has been a steady metric that has been simple to understand and commonly used to judge how good a pitcher was.  Over time we have come to realize that it is not nearly as important in judging a pitcher, and may even lead you to judge pitchers incorrectly.  I have gathered some data from the start of the MLB season to further show the ridiculousness of the “Win” statistic.  

Looking at 13 starting pitchers: Jacob deGrom, Huascar Ynoa, Brandon Woodruff, Tanner Houck, Sandy Alcantara, Taijuan Walker, Aaron Nola, Aaron Sanchez, Kevin Gausman, John Gant, Kyle Hendricks, Dylan Bundy, Austin Gomber.  In a total of 167 ⅓ innings pitched they have 186 strikeouts and a 2.69 (ERA+FIP)/2.  These pitchers have a combined record of 0-10!

Here is my excuse to put a deGrom video:

In comparison, we can look at 10 other starting pitchers: Jack Flaherty, Bruce Zimmermann, Mike Minor, Matt Shoemaker, Ian Anderson, Jordan Lyles, Drew Smyly, Rich Hill, Dallas Keuchel, Matt Moore.  In a total of 112 innings, they have 108 strikeouts and a 5.08 (ERA+FIP)/2.  These pitchers have a combined record of 7-0!

You may have noticed I used (ERA+FIP)/2 for the comparisons.  I did this because at this point many of these pitchers just have 2 starts, and their ERA and FIP may be quite different, so the average of the 2 is a better estimate on how they have been performing thus far.

Yes, these pitchers were cherry-picked to fit my narrative and were not picked at random by any stretch of the imagination.  That is not the point, the point is that if the “Win” stat was a strong indicator of a pitcher’s performance; you would be unable to cherry-pick stats like those mentioned above.

These statistics were updated as of the evening of April 14th, 2021.  This comparison is not at all meant to put down the pitchers who have a higher ERA, but strictly meant to show the troubles with the current system of “Wins” and “Losses”. 

How do we deal with this problem? Well here is my solution:

Create a new “Win” stat that measures a pitcher’s productivity without relying on factors the pitcher cannot control like how much runs his team scores when he pitches.

Win Score = [(League average runs-(ERA+FIP)/2)*5 + .75(innings) + .5(strikeouts)]/Games Pitched

*Used 4.52 as the average amount of runs scored by team in a game so far in 2021 (from Baseball References)

Here are the rankings of the 23 pitchers above based on the Win Score Statistic

Here is an example of calculating Win Score using deGrom’s numbers:

ERA: 0.64

FIP: 1.50

Innings: 14

Strikeouts: 21

Games Pitched: 2

League Average Runs: 4.52

Win Score= [(4.52-(0.64+1.50)/2)*5 +.75(14)+.5(21)]/2

Win Score= [(3.45)*5+10.5+10.5]/2

Win Score= [38.25/2]

Win Score= 19.13

You may have noticed that the top 12 on this list all happen to be part of the group with no wins this season and the bottom 6 are all in the group that has no losses.

To show a larger sample size and the effectiveness of this stat I looked at the top 15 pitchers from 2020 based on “Win Score”

*For 2020 I used 4.65 as the average runs per team in a game (Baseball Reference)

2020 top 15 Starting Pitchers in Win Score

The top 2 pitchers on this list are no surprise at all, as these were the two Cy Young Award winners from 2020. Going through this list each pitcher had a very good 2020 season. The “Win Score” statistic really highlights guys like: Jacob deGrom (4-2), Dinelson Lamet (3-1), Lucas Giolito (4-3), and Aaron Nola (5-5). These pitchers had dominant 2020 seasons, but you would never know that by looking at their win-loss records.

Some pitchers that surprised me to not make the list were: Max Fried, Hyun Jin Ryu, and Dallas Keuchel. Max Fried’s 2020 season was very good, but he pitched about 20 innings less than most of these pitchers in the top 15. This is the reason he did not make it due to the lack of innings and strikeouts that come with innings pitched even though he went “7-0”. Hyun Jin Ryu and Dallas Kuechel also had great 2020’s, but they had fewer strikeouts than some of the top guys, which kept them barely out of the top 15.

Please feel free to let me know what you think about the current “Win Score” calculations, and if you have any questions or recommendations for making it more accurately show pitcher performance.

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