Today for the pregame I want to start thinking about the field we play in (no, and not whether or not 5'5" centerfielders would have big problems with scoreboard doubles like the one a couple of days ago) and why, in my opinion at least, there's still a failure to understand what constitutes adequate or exceptional performance therein - especially for pitchers. For example, last night Byung Hyun Kim gets praised for his five inning outing where he rode close to the brink of disaster several times but still managed to pull through with only one run against him after it's all finished. Meanwhile Chen Hui Tsao is made the goat after he comes in to close the victory in the ninth, gives up a foul-pole homer early, then gets two quick outs before Rafael Furcal gets a weak bloop single to extend things and a couple of hits and an intentional pass later, Tsao gets out of the inning with the Rockies down five to four.
Now here's what I suggest: despite the results, Tsao's and Kim's performances were nearly equal in per inning value at Coors Field. Unfortunately, I have no way to prove that right now, I'm not a math major and stats aren't my thing, maybe I should ask Marc Normandin how to go about proving this. But after watching and or pouring over the logs of several hundred Coors Field matchups, I am intuitively drawn to pitch counts as the primary indicator of whether or not a pitcher was successful, or more precisely, how many pitches per inning it took them. Shouldn't we count for runs? Sure, but had Kim had the misfortune of an illtimed Coors bloop like Tsao, maybe he'd be the goat today.
So, let's make the simple measurement like this: pitches per innings plus runs allowed. Tsao would come in at a 21 and Kim at a 19 with the low score being best. Jose Acevedo by this standard had the best outing of anyone, using only seventeen pitches to record six outs, letting one run in for a score of 9.5. John Smoltz would have had a decent score of 17.75 (16.75 if we take only earned runs into account). The benefits of this measurement (besides being easy enough to figure out) are that it rewards quick outs (saving on the strain of pitching at altitude), punishes walks and inefficiency and somewhat negates the luck of Coors hitters. Anyway, I want to discuss what people think of this idea, and hear other ideas to more accurately measure pitching performance in our totally unique environment.