There is a Baltimore Orioles pitcher leading a major statistical category. And it's not even one of the less desirable statistics like home runs allowed or losses. Jake Arrieta is tied for the major league lead in victories.
Let that sink in. An Orioles pitcher is leading the entire league in wins.
Now, before christening Arrieta the second coming of Jim Palmer, or even Mike Mussina, it would be wise to look at the way in which Arreita has collected his league-leading nine victories.
Arrieta has been decidedly average while racking up his victories. He has given the Orioles a total of nine quality starts in his 16 turns taking the mound and pitched to an ERA of 4.50. For those good with numbers, this is the ERA a pitcher would have if he pitched to the minimum requirements of a quality start each time out (six innings, three earned runs).
In his four losses, Arrieta has registered only one quality start. It seems when Arrieta loses, he does not give his team a chance to win.
What Arrieta has benefited from is the second-best run support in the major leagues. For some reason, the Orioles offense loves hitting when Arrieta is on the hill. With the offense putting up over nine runs a game for him, Arrieta has been put in situations where all he has to do is pitch passably to get the victory.
The fact that Jake Arrieta is leading the majors in wins with an ERA much higher than others at the top of the list would lead some to devalue the win as a pitching statistic even more than they had previously. With Felix Hernandez winning the Cy Young last year with a paltry 13 wins, there are certainly better indicators of a pitcher's overall value, but for this Orioles fan, it is just fun seeing one of the Birds leading the majors in some meaningful category.