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Madison Bumgarner and the Game 7 win

Bumgarner MVP

Madison Bumgarner is a World Series Champion – check
Madison Bumgarner is the deserving MVP of the World Series – check
Madison Bumgarner’s tears can cure cancer – maybe
Madison Bumgarner won Game 7 of the World Series – NOT SO FAST!

There was some confusion during the game when the broadcasters mentioned that if he finished the game, he’d get a five inning save. Some time later, they amended that saying they had been told that he would, in fact, be credited with the win. And when the Giants held off the Royals, he was given the win, and several times it was mentioned that he won three games in this World Series.  This didn’t sound right, as Jeremy Affeldt was the pitcher of record when they took the lead in the 4th inning.  So, I asked around on twitter, and well-intentioned people pointed me to rule 10.17(b), and specifically the comment which says

If the first relief pitcher pitches effectively, the official scorer should not presumptively credit that pitcher with the win, because the rule requires that the win be credited to the pitcher who was the most effective, and a subsequent relief pitcher may have been most effective

Ok, nobody will argue that Bumgarner’s 5 shutout innings were more effective than the 2+ that Jeremy Affeldt threw.  But that rule does not apply.  (Look at the scoring rules here for the full text of rule 10.17 dealing with winning and losing pitchers, I’m only putting highlights here)

The rule says: “.. the winning pitcher is that pitcher whose team assumes a lead while such pitcher is in the game…and does not relinquish such lead”.  Note that in the bottom of the 4th inning, Affedlt was pitching with his team winning 3-2, which was the final score, so this condition was met. It then adds: ” unless (1) such pitcher is a starting pitcher and Rule 10.17(b) applies; or (2) Rule 10.17(c) applies.”

Rule 10.17(b) is the one I quoted above and talks about the most effective reliever. BUT, that rule does not apply. It clearly only applies if “such pitcher is a starting pitcher”.

So we are left with rule 10.17(c).  I’ll quote it in it’s entirety

The official scorer shall not credit as the winning pitcher a relief pitcher who is ineffective in a brief appearance, when at least one succeeding relief pitcher pitches effectively in helping his team maintain its lead. In such a case, the official scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher the succeeding relief pitcher who was most effective, in the judgment of the official scorer.
Rule 10.17(c) Comment: The official scorer generally should, but is not required to, consider the appearance of a relief pitcher to be ineffective and brief if such relief pitcher pitches less than one inning and allows two or more earned runs to score (even if such runs are charged to a previous pitcher). Rule 10.17(b) Comment provides guidance on choosing the winning pitcher from among several succeeding relief pitchers.

Hhmmm…. so, the official scorer CAN at any time decide to take a way a win from a relief pitcher if he deems him to be “ineffective in a brief appearance”.  Affeldt came in with runner on the corners in the 2nd inning, worked out of that jam, and didn’t allow a run in the 3rd or 4th. He may have not been as impressive as Bumgarner but it’s a stretch to say he was “ineffective”.

The only thing I can think is that it makes for a nice narrative for Fox and MLB to show Bumgarner as some kind of superhuman hero.  The thing is, whether his record in the WS is 3-0 or 2-0 with a 5 inning save, they are equally impressive. But one of these is legitimate, the other one is a farce.  Come on MLB, please have this corrected before tomorrow morning’s papers are printed.  Thank you.

 

UPDATE: So, minutes after I posted this I see on twitter that MLB has fixed the scoring for this game, and did in fact give Affeldt the win, and credited Bumgarner with a save. Of course, nobody will know because the TV broadcast had finished by then. I half suspect this was intentional so they could sell this “Bumgarner as hero” storyline.

Why pitcher wins are NOT the worst stat ever

It’s Cy Young time, and this year it looks like we’ll have a good battle on our hands in both leagues.  Luckily members of the BBWAA are much better educated than in previous generations, and they no longer automatically grant the award to the pitcher with the most wins.

I don’t think I need to rehash why it’s an awful stat.  Very briefly, pitching 5 innings and leaving with a 10-9 lead, may give you the W, but pitching 9 and leaving in a scoreless tie won’t get you anything.  And then there’s the reliance on your bullpen to hold your lead and/or your team to score runs, giving up unearned runs that aren’t your fault, relief pitchers getting wins without having to throw a pitch… I could go on, but I think most knowledgeable baseball fans know you don’t measure a pitcher’s value on wins.

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