With the rise of sabermetrics throughout baseball, there has been a sweeping movement to eliminate the pitcher win as a serious statistical category. Brian Kenny from MLB Network has even started a “kill the win” movement that has a real life petition with signatures and everything.
There are at least two pitchers in Major League Baseball that are living proof of just how unnecessary the win may be, and both of them happen to be serious Cy Young contenders in their respective leagues. One is Chris Sale. The other is Los Angeles Dodgers starter, and likely NL Cy Young winner, Clayton Kershaw.
Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball. This is something that is really difficult to debate against. His numbers on the season are better than virtually every pitcher on the planet, National League or American League. There is not a single pitcher in the National League that can challenge him for the hardware.
He finished the regular season with an absurd 1.83 ERA, best in the National League. He finished the regular season with 232 strikeouts, best in the National League. He finished the regular season with a 0.915 WHIP, best in the National League. That goes along with a 195 ERA+ (best in the National League) and a career low 52 walks in a career high 236 innings.
Yet, Kershaw has only 16 wins on the year. Five other pitchers throughout the league, three of them in the National League, boast more wins than him. None of them have anywhere near the numbers that Kershaw does this year.
This argument over wins may never gain a true winner. Max Scherzer may not have the best numbers in the American League, but he has over 20 wins and will likely take home the AL Cy Young as a lock because of it. Yet, you could make the case for three or four other guys over him, because of the other figures (not that he isn’t deserving in his own right).
The wins debate will continue to rage on into the future, there’s no doubt about that. However, with players like Kershaw or Chris Sale being limited in their win totals, despite putting up absurd numbers for an entire season, it’s getting harder and harder to ignore the fact that wins are one of the more irrelevant stats for a pitcher in all of baseball.