Sergio Romo Got Nearly the Dumbest Win Ever

Pitcher wins are a silly statistic, for all the reasons you know, and additional reasons you don’t. So we pretty much never talk about them — there was a time, once, when the analysts would rail against wins, but that battle is over. The analysts won. Wins carry less value than they ever have, and there’s a part of me that wonders why I’m even bothering to write this post in the first place.

But I just can’t not do it. For one thing, it’s Friday. Leave me alone. It’s August, and the trade deadline just passed, so, again, leave me alone. And even though we don’t talk about them, wins do still exist. Somebody hands them out, and they remain a part of the official records. So I want to take a few minutes of your time to discuss really dumb wins. Sergio Romo just got one Thursday. It was one of the very dumbest.

There are different types of dumb wins, of course. In 1932, Eddie Rommel won a game in which he allowed 14 runs. In 1928, Pete Donohue won a game in which he had a Game Score of 1. And in 1964, Jack Baldschun won a game in which he had a Win Probability Added of -0.862. For a more recent example, in 2014 Luis Avilan won a game in which he had a WPA of -0.815. These are tremendously dumb wins, all of them. There are so many ways to try to find the dumbest win ever awarded.

Everything that goes into the awarding of a win is remarkably complicated. If I might say something, though: One could recommend that a pitcher not qualify for a win unless he records at least one out. Sure, Avilan in his one inning might’ve turned a 5-1 lead into a 6-5 deficit, but Avilan did at least record three outs. It’s bad, but it’s something. Avilan fulfilled something of his own duty. Avilan did something to move the game along. Imagine if there were a pitcher who didn’t.



Perfectly normal-looking info box. The Giants won in extra innings, with Romo earning the decision. What’s suggested here is that Romo either worked a scoreless ninth, or maybe he blew a save in the ninth. In the case of the latter, that would be a dumb win, but a sort of familiar one. What actually happened was out of the ordinary. Let’s go in deeper:


A third of an inning. Well, okay, at least he didn’t allow a baserunner. He threw four pitches. But, wait, what’s that?


Does that say-


Sergio Romo got the win. He did so while facing, officially, zero batters. This is not unprecedented. The recipe tends to be a baserunner getting caught stealing. Romo was on the mound when Cesar Hernandez was thrown out trying to steal second. This all last happened in 2009, when Alan Embree got the win after simply picking off Austin Kearns. In 2008, Brian Shouse simply picked off Kosuke Fukudome. In 2007, Chad Paronto was on the mound when Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw out Rafael Furcal. That’s the last time this happened without the pitcher being directly involved. In all, in addition to Romo’s game, I found 22 cases of a pitcher getting a win while technically not facing anyone. (Thank you, Baseball-Reference Play Index.)

These are all sort of dumb wins. But a game where the pitcher records a successful pick-off? That’s as good as any other out. Nice job by the pitcher. And as you presumably know, when it comes to stolen bases, pitchers have more to do with outcomes than catchers do, because running is a timing game. Runners don’t really run on catchers — they run on pitchers. So if a runner is thrown out, the pitcher was at least some kind of factor.

Here’s Sergio Romo on the mound with Cesar Hernandez getting thrown out:

I can’t speak to the other instances I found using the Play Index. I don’t know what those events looked like. I know only what this event looked like, and, Cesar Hernandez wasn’t thrown out cleanly. Hernandez sort of successfully stole second base off of Romo. But then, for what wasn’t his first time, Hernandez over-slid. Here he is getting in in advance of the throw:


Good steal! A split-second later:


The Phillies’ broadcasters were in utter disbelief. I’m given to understand this has happened way too often. I haven’t watched very much Cesar Hernandez this season so I’m going to take their word for it. Anyway, the point: Because the Giants scored in the top of the next inning, Sergio Romo was given credit for the win. He faced zero batters, and he was successfully stolen against. Cesar Hernandez just couldn’t stop himself. Hernandez over-slid, and now Romo is 1-0. Last year he went 0-5.

I get why Romo wound up with the win. It’s just silly when you step back and consider what the statistic is supposed to reflect. Romo did nothing to win the game at all. He wasn’t in any way helpful. He wasn’t in any meaningful way unhelpful. He might as well have not been in there. The win went to maybe the least-important player. But while I’m here, I mentioned I found 22 other cases where a pitcher won without facing any hitters. One of those cases stands out, because the winning pitcher somehow still managed to record a negative WPA. Behold Tyler Johnson. Behold September 27, 2006.

The Cardinals and Padres were tied at 1 in the top of the eighth. Johnson relieved Braden Looper, and he inherited two outs and runners on second and third. Mark Bellhorn was pinch-hitting for Russell Branyan, which is a very 2006 sentence, and the count ran to 2-and-2. Then Johnson threw the pitch that won him the game.

Wild Pitch; Greene Scores/unER; Gonzalez out at Hm/C-P

Johnson threw a wild pitch, allowing Khalil Greene to score from third. That put the Padres in the lead. But the play wasn’t finished. Johnson wound up with the win because he got credit for an out, and he got credit for an out because Adrian Gonzalez tried to score all the way from second. He was tagged out at the plate. And, in fairness, it was Johnson who did the tagging. But now look at what we have: Tyler Johnson won after recording his one out on a wild pitch. The pitch was so wild that literally Adrian Gonzalez thought that he could score from 180 feet away. And he must’ve gotten mighty close since he didn’t end up in a rundown. Do you know how unusual it is for a runner to try to score from second on a wild pitch? Do you know how unusual it is when Adrian Gonzalez is that runner? Do you know how unusual it is for a pitcher to throw a pitch that so evades Yadier Molina in the first place?

Tyler Johnson, technically, recorded an out. In the bottom of the inning, Albert Pujols slugged a go-ahead, three-run dinger. Johnson got the win. It was the first big-league win of his career.

Sergio Romo on Thursday was awarded with a very dumb win. It wasn’t, at least, quite as dumb as Tyler Johnson’s win. And I haven’t even touched on the rare pitchers who wound up with wins while recording their only outs on outfield assists. There are many ways to end up with a dumb win. It’s one of the reasons why we don’t use wins. And I don’t quite know how to rank which wins have been officially the dumbest. Sergio Romo, though, is in the conversation. He walked in, did nothing, and came away the victor. I don’t know why this is still a statistic.

Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.

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6 years ago

No, this is not the first time. Aside from being a fast guy, Cesar Hernandez is easily one of the worst baserunners in baseball.