There are a few conversations I’ve been privy to over last weekend that got me thinking about jobs that each player has when he took the field. One conversation was a Twitter conversation between Moshe and friend of the blog @TomZig. The other was a conversation I heard on Saturday morning on MLB Network between Greg Amsinger, Mitch Williams, and recently HOF member elect Bert Blyleven.
Amsinger asked if we were getting away from wins and losses being the most important of the pitcher stats. Blyleven more or less side-stepped the question, but said instead that consistency was the best thing a pitcher could have. I’d venture that he meant consistency in terms of going out and pitching a lot of innings, putting the team in a position to win.
The conversation between Moshe and Tom was, of course, about when to assign blame and credit for wins and losses in football. Quarterbacks, like pitchers, are credited–or docked–because of something the team does: Win and lose.
Many in the mainstream will say that the pitcher’s job is to win the game, since we assign wins and losses to pitchers only. As I’ve made it quite obvious in my time here, I despise the practice of judging a pitcher by his wins and losses. My theory can be summed up as such: pitchers aren’t good because they win a lot of games; pitchers win a lot of games because they are good (most of the time at least).
The pitcher’s job is not to win the game. That is the team’s job. The team wins and the team loses. The pitcher’s job, quite simply, is to prevent runs from scoring. He cannot help it if his team scores runs. All he needs to be concerned with stopping the guys in the other shirts from crossing home plate. Likewise, the hitter’s job isn’t just to get a hit. The hitter’s job is to avoid making outs. Like we’ve all come to realize, a hitter does not fail because he does not get a hit. As for the fielders, they’re there to assist the pitcher in preventing runs by attempting to turn batted balls into outs.
We always hear that if all the players on a team “do their Jobs,” then the team will succeed. It’s obvious analysis at best, but sometimes the obvious things are the ones that ring most true.