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The rarity of double-digit wins and losses

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Wednesday, November 10th, 2021

You know something that always sticks out to me about modern baseball? The lack of pitchers who lose 10+ games while also winning 10+ games. We all know about pitcher usage and how it’s changed, but something (the only thing, arguably) good about it is it creates some pretty interesting statistical footprints when compared to how the game was played five, ten, fifteen years ago, never mind thirty or beyond.

It’s no surprise, then, with starters pitching less than ever, that they also get less decisions than ever before. It’s not just that MLB had one lone 20-game winner this season (Julio Urías, who went 20-3), it’s also that nobody else won even 18 games, the only time that’s ever happened in MLB history, aside from shortened campaigns. But that’s not the only thing we’re here to discuss.

We’re also here to talk about the rarity of a pitcher both winning and losing double-digit games. In 2021, only six pitchers did it: Cole Irvin (10-15), Marcus Stroman (10-13), Zack Wheeler (14-10), Sean Manaea (11-10), Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-10), and our very own Germán Márquez (12-11). How low is that number? Well:

That right there is the percentage of all MLB starters with at least 100 innings who got at least 10+ wins and 10+ losses, in five-year spans (I skipped 1981 and used 1980 instead for obvious reasons), since the start of the integration era. There was already a decline starting in the mid-2010’s, but 2021 represents an absolute nosedive, with just 6 of the 115 starters who qualified for this pulling it off.

Some more nuggets of information here:

  • Nolan Ryan lost 292 games. Only three active pitchers (Verlander, Greinke, Lester) have at least 292 decisions period.
  • Tom Seaver lost double-digit games in 14 of his 20 MLB seasons. Clayton Kershaw’s done it once, and it was exactly 10 losses (13-10 in 2010).
  • Roy Halladay got a decision in 77.6% of his career starts (200-103 across 390 games). Jacob deGrom has received a decision in just 65.6% of his career starts (77-53 across 198 games).

That’s pretty incredible stuff, and it makes perfect sense. Take Blake Snell, the posterchild for early hooks, as an example: he’s made 61 starts since 2019 began, and he’s gotten just 33 decisions. 33! In fact, not even 60% of all pitcher decisions in 2021 belonged to starters in 2021. Without counting 2020, I don’t even have to do the numbers to say that never before in MLB history has that ever happened before. Does that change moving forward? We’ll see what happens, because the new CBA negotiations might generate some new rules that affect pitcher usage. I’m not holding my breath, though.

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On The Farm

Arizona Fall League: Rafters 1, Desert Dogs 5

Not a particularly great showing for the Rockies prospects who took the field yesterday. Ezequiel Tovar did go 1-for-3 with a walk, but he was also picked off at first, and Michael Toglia and Ryan Vilade both went hitless, combining for an 0-for-7 with four strikeouts. The Rafters went quietly in this one, striking out 14 times as a group and leaving 19 combined runners on base off the strength of a 1-for-8 performance with RISP.

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An Earnest Plea to Get Rid of K-Zone | Baseball Prospectus

Yes, please. I despise that box they put over the plate on every broadcast. It’s inaccurate, distracting, and it only further fuels the “umps are horrible” discussion. It serves no real purpose.

Vlad, Harper named Aaron Award winners | MLB.com

Vlad Jr. winning the Henry Aaron Award was pretty easy to predict. The NL, however, was likely split between Harper and Juan Soto. Does Harper winning it give us a hint that he’ll take the MVP award home as well? We’ll have to to wait and see.

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