When Wins Mean Nothing

From today's Worcester Telegram & Gazette:

At 42 years and 11 months old, Wakefield has had the best first half of his career. This is the earliest he has reached 11 wins. In 1998, when he finished with 17, he didn’t get his 11th until July 16. In 2007, when he also finished with 17 wins, Wakefield got No. 11 on July 22.

Look, I love Tim Wakefield, as we all do (or should), and it's interesting that this is the earliest date by which he's ever reached 11 victories. But this is not the best first half he's ever had, league-leading win total notwithstanding. And that's no reflection on Wakefield. He's a very good pitcher. His career ERA in the first half is 4.25, so he's actually performing worse than his average.

Here are his actual best first halves:

  • 1995: 7-1, 1,61 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 10 starts, four complete games, one shutout, 59 hits in 78.1 innings.
  • 2001: 6-2, 2.58 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 9 starts (plus three games finished and two saves), 8.2 K/9, 77 hits in 94.1 innings.
  • 2008: 6-6, 3.60 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 97 hits in 122.1 innings.
  • 2006: 7-8, 4.05 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 103 hits in 115.2 innings.
  • 1998: 10-3, 4.29 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 110 hits in 123.2 innings.
  • 2003: 6-4, 4.10 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 110 hits in 116.1 innings.
  • 2005: 8-7, 4.05 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 116 hits in 117.2 innings.
  • 2004: 5-5, 4.17 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 108 hits in 105.2 innings.
  • 2009: 11-3, 4.31 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 113 hits in 108.2 innings.

Of the 13 seasons in which Wakefield was more a starter than a reliever in the first half, this is his ninth-best, i.e., one of the worst first halves of his career. Which just emphasizes how good he's been for the Red Sox.

Another reason why wins should be disregarded when considering how good a pitcher is or has been, and why sportswriters should be better than citing them as anything more than a stat we all are accustomed to following.

Oh, and in 1995, Wakefield reached 11 wins in 14 starts. Last night, Wakefield won his 11th game in start No. 17. So, in an arguably more accurate and telling sense, it's not the earliest he's reached this mark either.

6 comments… add one

  • Excellent, Paul.

    attackgerbil July 9, 2009, 12:58 pm
  • I really, really hope he sticks around to get the sox win record, then retires the next day.

    dw (sf) July 9, 2009, 1:26 pm
  • I really, really hope he retires tomorrow:)

    Brad July 9, 2009, 1:50 pm
  • Paul laying some knowledge on a loser sportswriter? SUCCESS!
    Also, what’s up with Alfredo Aceves starting today for the Yankees? Did something happen to a starter that I didn’t hear about?

    Atheose July 9, 2009, 2:14 pm
  • I know you do Brad, but when looking at Wake’s overall body of work, he’s been good for the sox (of course, the small sample size areas can drive one nuts)

    dw (sf) July 9, 2009, 2:20 pm
  • Yeah, I realize that, dw. But, every single time I see him, he’s getting his arse handed to him, he’s a pain in the ass to watch, he requires his own personal catcher, and I just don’t like the knuckleball.
    I’m sure he’s a great guy, in fact, I know he is, I just can’t stand when he’s on the bump!

    Brad July 9, 2009, 3:28 pm

Leave a Comment