Wednesday, September 04, 2013
The pitching win has been one of the most contentious baseball stats in recent years. For most of the first half of the 20th century it had been the primary stat to judge a pitcher, as pitchers reaching the 20-win plateau have been much more celebrated by writers and baseball executives than somebody with 19 wins, no matter how much better the latter pitcher may be in "secondary stats" like ERA or strikeouts. Even in the 1980s it was still a quick and dirty way to assess a pitcher. However, people soon came to realize that the pitching win was dependent on a whole slew of factors, including run and defensive support. This year has seen the rise of the #killthewin movement to completely abolish the practice of assigning a winning pitcher to the game. Somebody even made a petition for President Obama to step in to do it, even though it has since been removed. I don't think it's ever going to happen completely, but needless to say the pitching win has taken a massive hit in its reputation.
Nevertheless, the pitching win is still at the heart of baseball's golden milestone for pitchers, the 300-win club. It is still relevant because while the usefulness of the pitching win has come into the question, the measurement of it hasn't changed much since the days of the National Assocation. There have been a few changes here and there along with some subjective decisions, but pitchers today get wins in the very much the same way as pitchers from the 1870s, and there will always be the hardy few with the talent, tenacity, and luck to get to 300 wins. That is why the 300 win club had been the most consistent rate of admission of the golden milestones, more so than 3,000 strikeouts, 3,000 hits, 300 saves, or 500 home runs.