When many baseball fans and analysts try to determine a starting pitcher's worth, they always immediately point to wins.
"Pitcher X had 17 wins, so they're dominant."
However, this is not always the case. In fact, there are many reasons why this is a flawed view.
A pitcher can total a high amount of wins but could have terrible peripherals. For example, last season Livan Hernandez was in the Twins rotation. While talented Francisco Liriano sat in AAA, Hernandez amassed 10 wins for the Twins, to go along with a 5.48 ERA.
Twins General Manager Bill Smith defended his pitcher by saying he’s given the team wins and infamously added he’d rather have a pitcher with more wins and a bad ERA than a pitcher with fewer wins and a good ERA.
Another example is Jason Marquis. Marquis tallied 14 wins with the Cardinals in 2006. However, that went along with a 6.02 ERA and a putrid 74 ERA+.
Wins revolve around the team backing the starting pitcher. A pitcher can have a good outing and only allow two runs.
However, if his team only puts one run on the board, he gets the loss. Matt Cain went 8-14 with the Giants last season. However, he had a 3.76 ERA and a 116 ERA+. This is because the Giants went 72-90.
A pitcher can also be credited with a loss if the team behind him is terrible at fielding. Unearned runs lead to losses, even when the pitcher is not at fault.
It’s all circumstantial. Yes, wins can be a factor in determining a pitcher’s worth. Fantasy baseball fans love the stat.
However, wins shouldn’t be anywhere near the top of the list of best ways to evaluate a pitcher.