- Dumb Luck Wins
- Tough Luck Losses
- Out Prevention Percentage
- Infield Outs Prevented
Continuing our Year In Review series, this post looks at all the games this year in which pitchers got hung with a “loss” despite pitching great. I call these games “Tough Luck Losses,” or TLLs. Read on to find which players and teams pitched in the toughest luck.
In 2010, 4.8% of starting pitchers’ losses were TLLs, a bit below average historically but way up from 2008′s record-low figure of 2.8%. This year, Tough Luck Loss levels dropped back down to near 2009′s figure. Overall, there were 58 TLLs this year, down from 84 last year (but above 2009′s 48). The TLL% league-wide dropped to 3.4%, which is the 4th-lowest recorded mark (since 1950).
This drop (like the increase in Dumb Luck Wins
Okay, so which pitcher was the “tough-luckiest”? To no one’s surprise, he pitches for the Giants:
|1||Tim Lincecum||2011||3||Ind. Games||0.86||21.0||15||2||9||19||1.14|
|2||Ryan Vogelsong||2011||2||Ind. Games||1.76||15.1||13||1||2||9||0.98|
|Justin Verlander||2011||2||Ind. Games||1.62||16.2||13||0||3||12||0.96|
|James Shields||2011||2||Ind. Games||1.17||15.1||8||0||3||12||0.72|
|Bud Norris||2011||2||Ind. Games||1.29||14.0||10||0||3||12||0.93|
|Brandon McCarthy||2011||2||Ind. Games||1.69||16.0||9||2||2||16||0.69|
|Mat Latos||2011||2||Ind. Games||1.26||14.1||11||0||2||12||0.91|
|Livan Hernandez||2011||2||Ind. Games||1.29||14.0||13||1||4||11||1.21|
|A.J. Burnett||2011||2||Ind. Games||1.15||15.2||8||0||3||10||0.70|
In his 3 Tough Luck Losses, Tim Lincecum pitched 21 innings and gave up 3 runs… only 2 of which were earned. Yeah, that’s some tough luck all right. The Giants scored all of 1 run in those 3 games, and it came after Lincecum left. Two of the losses came at the left hand of Clayton Kershaw, so his teammates did have a pretty good excuse for their futility. (The third was to Mike Minor of the Braves, also a lefty.)
Lincecum’s teammate, feel-good story Ryan Vogelsong, is tied for 2nd, making the Giants the only team to have 2 pitchers earn multiple TLLs in 2011. Likely Cy Young winner Justin Verlander surprisingly had 2 TLLs in a year in which he had only 5 pitcher losses. That’s hard to do. Verlander was the only pitcher this year to have multiple TLLs and multiple Dumb Luck Wins.
Oh, and yeah… there’s A.J. Burnett. The least effective starter for a team that scored a bajillion runs also had 2 games in which he pitched very well but the offense didn’t show up. Baseball’s funny sometimes.
Speaking of teams, which ones had the most (and fewest) TLLs?
No big surprises on this list. The Giants and Padres, as expected, come out on top. These two teams had excellent pitching, poor hitting, and ballparks conducive to low-scoring games. As did many of the other teams in the top 10 (Washington, Oakland, Seattle, Minnesota, the Dodgers).
Six teams didn’t have a single TLL this year: the Braves, Pirates, Brewers, Red Sox, Orioles, and Royals. Of these, the Braves seem like by far the biggest surprise. After all, they had excellent pitching and poor hitting for much of the season. I think what did them in was that their starters–for a variety of reasons–rarely completed 7 innings, a prerequisite for TLLs. Still, I’m really kind of shocked that Tim Hudson at least didn’t have one. As a Braves fan, it seems like they lost lots of TLL-type games.
The Pirates were also the only team without a Dumb Luck Win, so they had the remarkable distinction of not having any games in which their starter was unduly rewarded or punished for his performance. Either that, or Pirates starters were just average all year, rarely putting in either a great start or a terrible one.
Six teams also managed to avoid being on the winning end of a TLL: the Red Sox, Rays, Tigers, Astros, Cubs, and Giants. So the Red Sox managed to go the whole year without participating in a single TLL. Somehow that just fits.
Perhaps more remarkably, the Giants were on the losing end of 6 TLLs but didn’t win a single one. That is some rotten, rotten luck right there. Though really, with that offense and Brandon Belt spending much of the season in AAA or on the bench, they kind of deserved their luck.
On the positive side, the White Sox won the most TLLs, with 8, far more than any other team. And they still finished under .500! The Twins won the 2nd-most, with 5. The Orioles, Angels, Dodgers, and Rangers all were on the happy side of 4 TLLs. Overall, the White Sox participated in 12 TLLs, 5 more than any other team and 12 more than the Red Sox. A tale of two Soxes, I guess.
Let’s close by naming our Toughest Loss of 2011. This is a bit tough because the two highest WPA TLLs of the year didn’t have particularly impressive line scores by these standards: both Dan Haren’s +.475 WPA and James Shields’ +.357 WPA came along with 2 runs in less than 8 innings. Great games, to be sure, but it’s not really “toughest loss of the year” territory if you give up 2 runs and don’t complete the game.
The next two highest WPAs on the TLL list came in games in which the starters (Burnett and Edwin Jackson) recorded just 2 strikeouts, so those are out, too. That leaves us with these two excellent games to choose from:
- Doug Fister (for Seattle), 7/2 vs. San Diego: 9 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, and a +.290 WPA
- Matt Garza, 7/2 vs. the White Sox: 9 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, and a +.283 WPA
Be sure to check out those dates. Yeah, these two complete-game masterpieces/tough luck losses took place on the same day. During interleague play, too. There was only one other CG TLL in 2011 (Verlander did it, giving up 2 runs vs. Texas on 4/11). Fister’s and Garza’s games are so similar that it’s hard to pick the best one. If I had to choose, I’d go with Fister, though, because he had one fewer walk.
So congratulations (or consolations) are in order for Mr. Fister*. Enjoy your booby prize, Doug.
* Nobody tell the band Train that I just said that. They don’t need my help with their rhymes.
Tagged with: 2011 Braves Dan Haren Doug Fister Giants good bad games James Shields Junk Stats Justin Verlander Matt Garza Padres Pirates Ryan Vogelsong Tim Linececum tough luck losses White Sox Year In Review
This blog is devoted to the invention and use of unusual baseball statistics. These Junk Stats are designed to reveal the not-so-meaningful quirks that make baseball so fascinating.
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