(Photo: TOM LYNN/AP)
Last weekend, the Brewers won two games thanks to several timely errors by the Cubs. In games started by Edwin Jackson and Scott Feldman, the Brewers took the lead on unearned runs both times. It seems like a shame for Jackson and Feldman to get tagged with losses in those cases (as much as the Cubs losing can be a “shame” anyway).
It got me thinking about different ways to categorize wins/losses in terms of earned runs…and once the hamster wheel started turning I thought up some other obscure pitching stats that it might be fun to keep track of. Of course, there are so many extra-specific statistics in baseball, these metrics might already be analyzed by some pundits already – but for simplicity’s sake I’m going to assume I’ve invented them.
Unearned Losses (or Position Player Losses)
Feldman gave up the lead in Sunday’s game on a three-unearned-run-homer by Ryan Braun. In my estimation, the loss would be recorded as Unearned for Feldman, or it would be assigned to the position player who committed the relevant error (which happened to be Feldman, so he loses either way). Sabermetric stats like Defensive Runs Saved and others are useful for analyzing defensive contribution, but it might be interesting to see how many actual losses a position player is responsible for – particularly in Derek Jeter’s case.
There is an ERA+ stat that attempts to account for the ballparks a player pitches in. An ERA- stat would adjust for the pitcher’s offensive contributions (National League only, natch). Last week, Gallardo hit a two-run homer against the Giants, while only giving up one earned run. Those two runs would be subtracted from his earned run total for the year. To complicate this statistic even more (what would be the point otherwise?), a pitcher’s earned run total would be adjusted to account for cases when he’s clearly been left in to save the bullpen.
Hit batters could be broken down into those hit by fastballs, and those hit by off-speed pitches. It might be a useful way to gauge how erratic a pitcher is. Or it might be a way for batters to know when they can crowd the plate.
If a batter hit by a pitch is injured and has to leave the game, they would be recorded as a Casualty. These could be broken down further depending on severity. I assume most casualties would be to the hands and arms, but every now and then you’d get a Casualty+, like when Matt Wise hit that guy in the face.
We already keep track of Blown Saves, so this one isn’t too outlandish. Blown Starts would account for situations where a pitcher gets good run support early, but either can’t go six innings or leaves with only a three-run lead. Wily Peralta’s recent outing against the Giants would be a perfect example. I presume Manny Parra and Braden Looper would be other leaders in this category.
In the post-sabermetric era, it’s not easy to come up with new, useful ways to analyze player performance. It’s not even easy to come up with new ways to analyze player performance that aren’t particularly useful – but any excuse to take a shot at Manny Parra is always good fun.