Won-loss record can be misleading

The last place you should probably look to measure a pitcher's performance is the won-loss record.

Updated: March 9, 2004, 11:49 AM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
As it is with so many endeavors in life, in the end, it's who you know that will help you get ahead. For pitchers, it's the company they keep that could make or break them. As we get ready for the 2004 season, it is important to keep this in mind when looking at a pitcher's won-loss record. Personally, I gave up the practice a while ago. Yes, it's cool to see a guy with an outlandish winning percentage or root for pitchers to win 20 (or lose 20 if you're a big fan of schadenfreude), but there is so much more of the story to be learned elsewhere in their stat sheet. In fact, the last place you should probably look is the won-loss record -- at least, not without considering what kind of run support the pitcher is getting from his mates.

It's one thing to be on a bad team that doesn't score a lot of runs and look longingly at the situation of a peer who plays for a team with a potent lineup. It's another thing entirely when your teammates buck up your own colleagues better than they do you. That's got to hurt. Today we are going to discuss the pairs of pitching teammates who had the most diverse run support in 2003. These are the men who must have felt like they were pitching for two different teams; one a lineup of world beaters and the other a collection of banjo-hitting patsies. That they are the same group of people has got to be puzzling and frustrating for the second men named in the following pairs:

1. St. Louis Cardinals: 2.69 difference
Woody Williams: 6.97 runs per 9 innings
Garrett Stephenson: 4.28 runs per 9 innings

Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at bottlebat@gmail.com.

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