The Reason Pitching Losses Were Invented

Pitcher wins and losses are poor statistics to use when evaluating pitchers, as many readers here surely know. Wins and losses give full credit to the pitcher for the performance, or lack thereof, of the whole team. As such, it can often miscredit pitchers, such as the 5 IP, 6 ER performance in a 17-8 victory or the CG, 1 ER loss when the offense is shut out.

In Colorado last night, however, the loss was completely deserved – or at least 99% deserved. Cardinals closer Ryan Franklin entered the ninth inning with one out and two on but a 9-4 lead. Despite the threat of runners on base, the leading team will win this game 99% of the time – even a home run leaves the trailing team with a mere 5.5% chance of winning the game.

That means that even after Chris Iannetta, the first batter Franklin faced, went deep, the Cardinals were still in good shape. Dexter Fowler doubled to keep things interesting, but a Brad Hawpe groundout seemed to signal that the end was near for the Rockies, who had already plated one run off of reliever Dennys Reyes before Franklin entered the game. A Carlos Gonzalez single scored Dexter Fowler and made the game 9-8, but with two outs and Gonzalez out of scoring position, the Cardinals, even after allowing four runs in the inning, were still sitting pretty, with an 88.9% chance of victory.

Given the lead of the story, what follows is obvious. Jason Giambi singled, and an error allowed Gonzalez to score, tying the game and giving the Rockies the upper hand, with a 57.2% win expectancy. Miguel Olivo singled to push that number up to 64.2%. The Cardinals could’ve gone on to win the game in extra innings, but Seth Smith squashed any such thoughts with a three run blast to end the game.

Ryan Franklin managed to get one out. He faced seven batters. The Cardinals went from an all-but-assured victory to a loss. Ryan Franklin earned the loss on his record tonight.

We hoped you liked reading The Reason Pitching Losses Were Invented by Jack Moore!

Please support FanGraphs by becoming a member. We publish thousands of articles a year, host multiple podcasts, and have an ever growing database of baseball stats.

FanGraphs does not have a paywall. With your membership, we can continue to offer the content you've come to rely on and add to our unique baseball coverage.

Support FanGraphs

Jack Moore's work can be seen at VICE Sports and anywhere else you're willing to pay him to write. Buy his e-book.

newest oldest most voted

So the bases were loaded and ianetta goes deep. Shouldn’t that make the score 9-9 after fowler scores? Or am i missing something?

The Tom
The Tom

The bases were loaded when Iannetta came up but Olivo scored on a Wild Pitch so Iannetta hit a 3 run shot