Kay: Randy Johnson won 17 games last year in the toughest division in baseball...People say he didn't win in the playoffs. Neither did Mike Mussina and we signed him to a two-year extension. He's well worth the money he has on his contract....16 million. He won 17 games...please don't forget that.
Chris: You keep saying that it's important that Randy Johnson won 17 games, but equally as important is, he had a five ERA.
Kay: Why does that matter? Only thing that matters is the W.
Chris: The win is the function of the team. But the ERA is more indicative of how he pitched.
Kay: How come Mike Mussina didn't win 17 games?
Chris: This isn't about Mike Mussina. How many pitchers in the AL would win 17 games if they pitched behind the Yankees. With that run support?
Kay: But...but...It doesn't matt...I again I tell you I understand what you're saying that it's a function of a team but I also say it's a function to a...You're a Yankee fan right? They scored eight runs he gave up six...they won, so what....he's a veteran pitcher that knows how to pitch to the score so his ERA is going to be higher. It doesn't matter. All that matter is if he wins and loses.
Chris: Any pitcher who gives up six runs a game under your scenario would win 17 games.
Kay: Pitchers pitch to the runs they are given. Good pitchers do that.
Chris: That's not true. Pitchers are going out there to give up the fewest runs possible.
Kay: No. If the Yankees score 8 runs in five innings he's not going for the shutout!
Chris: What about the year Jason Marquis won 15 games and had a 6.21 ERA. Are you impressed with that?
Kay: No, not in the National League.
Chris: What if he did it in the American League?
Kay: Yeah. I would [be impressed].
Chris: So you would take someone like that over Kevin Millwood in '04 who went 9-13 in and won the ERA title with Cleveland.
Kay: I'm gonna tell you why, and you are bringing up good points so I am not going to say that you are 100% wrong here. I believe by watching baseball my whole life and being involved with it for 25 years is that there is nothing harder to do in sports than to win a game by a pitcher.
[Ken inserts the following comments on FJM - "Nothing harder, save for the fact that in every major league game that has ever been played it has happened exactly one time."]
Kay: That's why the era of the 300 win pitcher is going. It's not easy to win games. And there is an art to it. So if the art is to win 17 games and have a 5.00 ERA I don't care. All these sabermetricians get locked up with all of these stats and I don't. You know what stat I care about? Did he win the game?
Would you rather have a guy really lose a good game. "Wow, he pitched well -- we only lost 2-1!" I always said this about those pitchers, "Oh, the Yankees only scored one, then you have to give up zero." In twenty years you're going to look back on Mike Mussina in game 2 against the Tigers...had a 3-1 lead and we lost 4-3....That's not that bad...yeah, it is bad! He gave up runs he shouldn't have given up!
I don't care that his ERA was 5. It was good enough to win 17 games. Mike Mussina didn't win 17 games.
[Kay closes the exchange with Chris, who has remained silent during the former's diatribe.]
Kay: You are wrong in that sense...dead wrong.
"Watching baseball my whole life and being involved with it for 25 years." Just precious. As a commenter asked at the BTF, I wonder why Johnson didn't "pitch to the score" in 2004 when he went 16-14 with a 2.60 ERA for Arizona? He must have forgotten how or perhaps the 43-year-old veteran of 19 big league seasons just learned this skill in the past two years.