Commentary

Playing With Numbers: Complete games out, vulture wins in

Updated: May 27, 2008, 2:34 PM ET
By AJ Mass | ESPN.com
I'm often asked about what categories are the most useful for a fantasy league to determine which team is truly the best. My usual response is that it generally doesn't matter as long as there's an equal balance between hitting and pitching categories and there are an equal number of earned stats (like home runs, where once you hit the ball over the fence, that stat can't be taken away from you) and ratios (like ERA, which can fluctuate both positively and negatively over the course of a season). And of course, that all the owners are in agreement as to what these categories are before the season starts. After all, if you're happy with batting average and another league prefers to use on-base percentage, it's not for me to say that one is "right" and the other is "wrong."

However, one statistical category that continues to have a lot of widespread use boggles my mind, and that is the complete game. I don't understand why anyone would be happy using this stat, which is slowly but surely sliding into complete irrelevance. It wasn't all that long ago when scores of starting pitchers would pitch upwards of 20 complete games each season. But we haven't seen a single pitcher reach double-digits in the category since Randy Johnson has 12 back in 1999, and at the present rate in which we are headed, we might not see another pitcher whose name doesn't rhyme with Boy Malladay reach that plateau anytime soon.

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