Game On…with Rob Kriete – APRIL 14

Change is uncomfortable for most people. It always feels like jumping into a cold pool as opposed to a leisurely plunge into a jacuzzi. The same effects from change are felt by sports fans as their professional leagues evolve.

For many years, 300 wins for a pitcher in MLB was the barometer for greatness for Hall of Fame enshrinement. The ability for a pitcher to earn a “Win” has been marginalized by the evolution of the game. Protecting valuable arms includes fewer starts and pitch counts as well as analytics.  This has led to a reduction in innings for starting pitchers. Combining this with bullpens becoming stronger, more effective, and a major part of a team’s strategy, baseball fans are forced to recalibrate for pitching immortality (a.k.a. Hall of Fame.)

Last week, Jacob deGrom, two-time Cy Young Award winner of the NY Mets, did not earn a win against the Marlins after throwing eight innings while giving up four hits, zero bases-on-balls, and one earned run to go with 14 strikeouts. By every measure, an amazing outing. This type of line has become standard from the game’s best pitcher, including the lack of earning a win.

Heck, pitchers cannot control (mostly, although they do bat in the NL) the offensive output of their teams. So, logically, baseball pundits understand that deGrom is the premier pitcher in the league despite the lack of earned Wins. Surely deGrom has no chance to earn 300 wins in his career. He probably has no chance to earn even 200. However, is he on a Hall of Fame trajectory?

There is no current barometer for enshrining pitchers into Cooperstown. We are at a spot in MLB history where that barometer needs to be calibrated. Additionally, as statistics become clearer and more telling, which numbers speak the loudest for fans and pundits? Walks plus hits divided by innings pitched is a common replacement for the earned run average. And quality starts have become more important than wins for most. So, how do we create a measuring stick? I leave it to you. Let me know what you think.

Be safe, everyone.