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September 3, 2008 at 5:20 PM

Life’s not fair dept.

For those who missed it this morning, my Talkin’ Baseball segment on KJR AM 950’s Mitch in the Morning show.
For Pirata Morado in the comments thread of the previous post, I understand what you mean by measuring consistency, which you’ve clearly done. But I think this is a case of missing some of the forest for the trees. Raul Ibanez being less consistent is not a bad thing if — aside from his worst month, which wasn’t all that horrible — his next-lowest tally is an OPS that is 21 percent above the major league average. I don’t know of too many teams that wouldn’t take that over Beltre’s offense. In Beltre’s case, he’s only had two months out of five that have been better than major league average. Being consistent means little if you are consistently below average is what I’m trying to say. Better to be a little inconsistent if your baseline is going to be well above average 80 percent of the time.
And so, yet another “quality start” goes by the wayside for the Mariners and their pitching crew. Today’s by Felix Hernandez especially hurts because it was one of those seven-inning jobs. But, as we’ve mentioned for quite some time now, the starting pitchers are upset because they feel like they will lose the game if they make even one mistake. Contrast that with some other guys around the league and you start to see why life isn’t always fair.
How about these numbers, over their last 17 starts?
Felix Hernandez: 118 2/3 innings pitched, 3.19 ERA, 11 quality starts
Jarrod Washburn: 105 innings pitched, 3.69 ERA, 11 quality starts
Glen Perkins (Twins): 106 2/3 innings pitched, 4.13 ERA, 8 quality starts
And now, their respective records over that stretch:
Hernandez: 7-6
Washburn: 3-8
Perkins: 10-1
How does this happen? Run support. Perkins is averaging close to seven per game. Hernandez and Washburn get roughly half that. Washburn has had the AL’s worst run support over the last three years, Hernandez is fourth worst.
Take the won-lost record Perkins has compiled over the past 17 starts and apply it to Hernandez, and all of a sudden he’s a 12-3 pitcher.
Give it to Washburn and he’s a 12-7 pitcher.
Talk about a change in perspectives. I mean, one guy, Perkins, has steadily given up more runs over 17 starts, his ERA rising from 3.90 to 4.08, but he gets double-digit win totals. Hernandez treads water, despite shaving his ERA from an already impressive 3.34 down to 3.18.
And Washburn takes a miserable 6.99 ERA and knocks 2 1/4 runs per game off it, but still sees his record get worse.
Yes, yes, we know. The smart people realize that won-lost records can deceive. But it’s incredibly frustrating for pitchers victimized by a lack of support.
How eager will Felix Hernandez be to sign long-term in Seattle if he realizes that even his best performances going on three months will barely get him half the wins he needs to even be considered among the top Cy Young finalists? Sure, win totals are not a very good way to gauge. But let’s get real. He isn’t going to be considered with a win total of 13 or 14.
And what about Washburn? How differently would he be perceived by Seattle fans if he was a 12-7 pitcher with a 4.72 ERA instead of one who’s 5-14? I’d say quite differently. Before some of you come back with smart aleck posts, show me where Miguel Batista was subjected to the same degree of fan venom a year ago in early September when he was 13-10 with a 4.74 ERA?
Back then, Batista was just a good starting pitcher riding a two-game losing streak. Nothing to get overly concerned about. After all, he went on to win a career-high 16.
Wins do matter.
To wannabe Cy Young hopefuls. And to improving starters trying to make a name for themselves in a skeptical market that has given up on them. On all counts, the Mariners have been failing their top starting pitchers. And it didn’t just start this afternoon, though today’s 1-0 loss for Hernandez over 7 1/3 sharp innings hurts more than usual.
Life isn’t always fair.

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