BACK TO THE ROOTS OF FJM

FJM is derived from the now-dormant website FireJoeMorgan.com, the focus of which was baseball, not politics. If you think regular journalism is bad, you ought to see the cabbages that make a living writing about sports. Since the original authors of Fire Joe Morgan covered baseball so thoroughly, I borrowed their concept and applied it to opinion writing outside of the world of sports. I've never actually applied the technique to baseball as the original website did so well. Today that changes. It changes because I have seen something so stupid that I can't help myself. It changes because someone gave this asshead a column in which to regularly share the fruits of his intellect with the world:

His name is Tom Jones. I will strain mightily to avoid making any "What's New, Pussycat?" type jokes, but no promises. Folks, what you are about to see Mr. Jones drool onto his keyboard is so stupid that you will not even need a passing interest in baseball to appreciate it. In short, he is incredulous that Felix Hernandez of the Mariners was awarded the Cy Young Award on Thursday, the award given annually to the league's best pitcher as voted by sportswriters. Real ones, not Tom. Don't get me wrong, most of them are morons too. But after you read the following, Woody Paige will seem like Wordsworth in comparison. Are you read to learn why "Cy Young voters got it wrong"? Let me put it this way: if this guy is qualified to write about baseball, there's a rugby commentator job out there waiting for me.

FJM, this is for you.

Sorry, but I don't see how a pitcher who goes 13-12 can win the Cy Young Award as Seattle's Felix Hernandez did Thursday.

Here is a quick primer on how to tell if someone's opinions about baseball (and presumably anything else they'd want to talk about) are worth listening to: if they think Wins and Losses are the way to identify good pitchers, they are operating on about a 3rd grade level. If you show them two cars, they will insist that whichever one is larger or shinier is better.

Wins, to be blunt, are for stupids. To be credited with a win, a pitcher must throw at least five innings and leave the game with a lead. Great pitchers on horrible teams don't win many games. Bad pitchers on great teams often win a lot. Rick Fucking Helling won 20 games. So did Matt Morris. And Russ Ortiz. And Esteban Loaiza. Jose Lima. Bill Gullickson. Jamie Moyer (twice!). Winning 20 games means a guy can stay healthy enough to make every start, pitch league-average, and play on a team that scores a lot of runs. Some pitchers who win 20 are great, but they are not great because they win 20.

Tom Jones, you are a stupid person.

It means, essentially, that win-loss record is no factor.

That is exactly what it means, because Wins are for stupid people who don't understand how baseball works.

A 13-12 record is so mediocre that it could not have been considered at all by those who chose Fernandez. So does that mean he still would have won the award if his record was 12-13 and all of his other numbers were the same? The answer would have to be yes. What if he went 9-15?

Well the 13-12 record clearly wasn't "considered" by the voters, at least not in any manner that Tom Jones would like, but if King Felix managed to go 9-15 with the kind of stats he put up this year…yes, he'd probably get the award anyway.

Again, it would have to be yes because 13-12 was apparently eliminated from consideration.

What?

It's true that Hernanez is a heck of a pitcher. It's also true he pitched on a lousy team that lost 101 games. He shouldn't be penalized for that.

Well, it's "Hernandez". And that's mighty big of you to point out that this guy's team went 61-101. And Hernandez won 13 of those 61 games, which someone who thinks Wins matter should probably note.

But he can't be rewarded for it either.

It's not a "reward" to note that FIVE of his 12 losses were in starts in which he gave up two or fewer earned runs. Like when he pitched 8 innings on Sept. 23, surrendered one run, and lost 1-0 because Seattle couldn't score one goddamn run on Toronto.

No one can think or assume he would have posted a better record on a good team. You can't speculate or estimate that he would have gone, say, 20-10 if he had played for the Yankees or Rays or Rangers.

Can we assume that he might have gone 20-10 if he played on any team other than the one that scored ONE HUNDRED FEWER GODDAMN RUNS THAN ANY OTHER TEAM IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE. 513 runs in 162 games, and the next worst offense scored 613. The Yankees (more on them in a minute) scored 859. The Mariners were dead last in the AL in hits, runs, home runs, on-base, and every other statistic you could possibly use to prove offensive ineptitude.

And I still contend that it's much easier to pitch when your team is 25 games out first place in September with no hope of a playoff spot than it is when you're pitching must-win games in the heat of the pennant race. You could argue that after the first few weeks of the season, Hernandez didn't pitch in a game that truly meant anything. Meantime, Tampa Bay's David Price and the Yankees' CC Sabathia pitched in critically meaningful games all season long.

Ah, yes, King Felix wasn't Gritty and Grindy and Clutchy enough because his team sucked. He must have been too busy trying to scratch out a few wins with THE WORST RUN SUPPORT OF ANY PITCHER IN BASEBALL. In Felix's 34 starts, the Mariners deigned to score a mighty 3.75 runs per game, absolute dead last in all of the majors. That he managed to win 13 is like the miracle of loaves and fishes.

It's one thing if there were no viable candidates besides Hernandez (13-12, 2.27 ERA), but certainly Price (19-6, 2.72) and Sabathia (21-7, 3.18) had worthy Cy Young numbers.

Ah, yes. Sabathia (Look at his magical 20+ wins), for whom the Yankees scored a ridiculous 7.31 runs per start. Almost exactly TWICE Hernandez's run support. Boy, I bet it's easier to win games when your teammates are swinging Wonderbat to the tune of almost 7.5 runs every time you take the mound. Price: 7.03 runs per start. Both pitchers run support was in the top 20 of all starters in baseball. Which is considerably higher than Hernandez, who was DEAD LAST.

What this proves is that the stat geeks — those who consider Moneyball to be the bible of baseball and sabermetics to be their gospel — have taken over the baseball world.

No, this proves that Tom Jones is a mouthbreathing jackass who has absolutely no concept of how dumb Wins are as a measure of a pitcher's ability. It proves that some sportswriters, neanderthals as they are, are slowly starting to realize that Wins are a measure of how many runs one's team scores.

It's all about WHIP and OPS and a bunch of other abbreviations that no one knows how to figure out.

If you can't "figure those out", you probably need help dressing yourself. Anyone beyond the most casual fan can explain basic statistics like this. WHIP (Walks and Hits per Inning Pitched) is a measure of baserunners allowed. OPS is On-Base plus Slugging. It means you add the two fucking numbers together. Tom, did you not feel somewhat like an asshole typing out this sentence? "Guhhhh. Snort. What the hell does "RBI" stand for? You eggheads and your statistical mumbo-jumbo."

It's not about baseball, where games and awards are won on the field with bats and gloves. It's about fantasy baseball, where games and awards are won on paper with a calculator and slide rule.

No, it's about the fact that Hernandez was a better pitcher and the games are won on the field with bats and gloves, and it is not Felix Hernandez's fault that the Mariners can't field or score any goddamn runs. Is it Hernandez's fault that Chone Figgins toed the Mendoza Line for 4 months? That Russell Branyan couldn't hit an off-speed pitch if he was given 15 strikes to work with per at-bat? That the Mariners routinely started lineups in which 7 of 9 players hit below .240? That Jose Lopez last took a walk in 1962?

Sabathia and Price, on the other hand, had to shield their eyes from the horror of their teammates beating the hell out of the opposing pitcher to the tune of SEVEN RUNS per start.

Things such as ERA and opponent's batting average and strikeouts and walks per nine innings, of course, should be considered when picking a Cy Young, but shouldn't a pitcher’s record count, too?

Yes, it should count. So let's total up the stats in which each pitcher prevailed:

Hernandez: strikeouts, walks, WHIP, innings pitched, opponent batting average, opponent OBP, opponent slugging pct., K/9 IP, BB/9 IP, K/BB, hits/9 IP, ERA, IP per start, average Game Score, P/PA, P/IP, Tough Losses (8), Cheap Wins (0), Quality Starts, Complete Games, Shutouts

Sabathia: Wins, body fat

Well, I'm sold.

In fact, shouldn't victories count as much or more than most numbers?

Sure, let's count it equally. To any of the 20 other stats in which Hernandez was far and away the better pitcher.

The issue I have is victories apparently were not counted at all.

No, you blathering jackass. The issue you have is a lack of basic reading comprehension skills and knowledge of baseball. Are wins supposed to be more important than every other stat, all of which prove that Felix was by far the best pitcher in the AL this year?

How else can you explain a starting pitcher with the fewest victories in a full season and a pitcher who was one game over .500 winning the Cy Young Award?

JESUS TAP-DANCING CHRIST, TOM. HOW SONOFABITCHING HARD IS THIS TO UNDERSTAND? IT IS EXPLAINED BY THE FACT THAT WINS ARE ONE STAT – AND A CRAPPY STAT, BUT WE'LL IGNORE THAT FOR A SECOND – COMPARED TO THE MOUNTAIN OF STATISTICAL EVIDENCE SHOWING HERNANDEZ TO BE THE SUPERIOR PITCHER. I FEEL LIKE I AM HAVING THIS CONVERSATION WITH A GARAGE DOOR.

It's a new day in baseball. A sad day.

I am sad about how stupid you are, and I can see why the original FJM guys got sick of dealing with this nonsense after three years.

Tom, please, I mean this sincerely: you need to find a new line of work. This is the dumbest argument I have ever seen, and I grade the work of 18 year old Georgia public high school graduates for a living.

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30 Responses to “BACK TO THE ROOTS OF FJM”

  1. whetstone Says:

    Oh, I dunno, man. This is Nate Silver + Bill James x Bertrand Russell compared to Murray Chass:

    "Both Carlton and Dickson had more run support than Hernandez, but both found ways to win in spite of the teams they played for."

    Alternately, it's a powerful argument, if you think about it. Steve Carlton somehow WILLED the Phillies to win ON DAYS HE WAS PITCHING. That's AMAZING. Hernandez is just a good pitcher, and lacks the extrasensory powers of Carlton.

    Tom Jones is just, like, "wins, dude." And I respect that sort of honesty.

  2. Entomologista Says:

    Off topic, sorry. I saw this in the Chronicle of Higher Education and it seems like something you'd find interesting. This guy makes more than most professors by writing essays for lazy, cheating students.

  3. KC45s Says:

    I'm glad Tom only charges two cents for those thoughts. Still too high, but affordable. Excellent takedown. Tom is the kind of moron who calls sports radio … and is the cousin of the moron who calls talk radio. Thank God these people are about to take over the country. I can't wait until my local franchise follows Chassian philosophy and runs nine clones of David Eckstein out there because he's a "gamer" and they don't need no stathead darlings.

  4. HoosierPoli Says:

    Right up there with "Marino never won a Super Bowl" argument. Grading individuals by team success is how Troy Aikman got into the HoF without ever once throwing for 4,000 yards in a season.

  5. bb in GA Says:

    My friend Zeb died last year. He is the last geek in the Western world who was still using a slide rule. I am one of the few calculator jockeys left…

    Mr. H is pretty gritty if he has an ERA starting w/ a 2 followed by a decimal point followed by most anything else.

    //bb

  6. displaced Capitalist Says:

    The stupid! It burns!!!

    (that's the problem I've always had with FJM treatments, Ed. I like your commentary a lot, but the original writer is just SOOOO stupid, I have to stop reading by the 3rd quote so my blood pressure can go down.)

  7. bpasinko Says:

    At least Murray Chass makes fun of VORP, counting WHIP and OPS as advanced statistics is absolutely ridiculous at this point.

    Also, can someone sit these guys down and explain them what Moneyball was all about? Either they've never read the book or have no reading comprehension.

    I'm a Yankee die-hard and I don't recall CC (or Price) pitching in a must win game in the pennant race. The Yankees essentially chose to get their players healthy down the stretch over trying to win the division. With that team mindset it's pretty hard to say that these guys were pitching in higher pressure situations, if that even exists.

    I agree with his last line though, "It's a new day in baseball. A sad day." It will be sad when we can't argue with these idiots anymore.

  8. jdb Says:

    Bravo, sir. Bravo.

  9. mojidoji Says:

    bb,

    I often use a slide rule when my calculator's batteries are low or I don't feeling pulling out the maths sledgehammer that is the Ti-89 Platinum.

  10. JohnR Says:

    In fairness, Mr. Jones is writing for all the other morons out there. We're a nation that values the opinions of dipshits. (cf Juggalos and Blazing Saddles, etc.). There is no reality, only belief.

  11. moe99 Says:

    As a long suffering Seattle resident, all I can say gentlemen is: WORD.

  12. bpasinko Says:

    Check out this guy:

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/sports/blogs/Cheers-and-Jeers/It-just-doesn_t-add-up-1613819-109102409.html

    He spells Clay Buchholz, Buckholz.

    It's amazing how all of these guys preface their stories with how good Felix was followed by a but. It's like they are setting themselves to sound stupid from the start.

  13. jazzbumpa Says:

    Tom, please, I mean this sincerely: you need to find a new line of work. This is the dumbest argument I have ever seen, and I grade the work of 18 year old Georgia public high school graduates for a living.

    Fucking Awesome!
    JzB

  14. Erin Says:

    Congratulations to Felix Hernandez. At least Mariners fans have something to hang their hat on for what can only be described as a woefully dreadful season. I'm honestly surprised people aren't coming out of the woodwork claiming that King Felix got sympathy votes for the recent passing of Dave Niehaus.

  15. Uncle Omar Says:

    This is the same argument Dick Vitale was making during the Butler-Louisville basketball game Tuesday night. It's a hell of a note when you come off as ignorant as Dick F. Vitale.

  16. bb in GA Says:

    mojidoji:

    I honor you for your diligence and greeness.

    I have my K&E log-log, duplex, deci-trig stored away in the dinosaur shrine. I'm not even sure that I could muster any operations beyond multiplication and division after about 40 years of storage.

    //bb

  17. DB Main Says:

    When Felix won, I was happy for a moment, and then realized that it would unleash a torrent of stupid.

    I thought immediately of the FJM guys. Ken Tremendous tweeted yesterday: "I feel as proud of the BBWAA as I would of my own son, had he actually won the Cy Young Award."

  18. JM Says:

    And I still contend that it's much easier to pitch when your team is 25 games out first place in September with no hope of a playoff spot than it is when you're pitching must-win games in the heat of the pennant race.
    I think you missed a load of dumb in this, although to be fair you were understandably overwhelmed. How is it easier to go out and perform better than everyone else in the league when you have every right to be worn down by the incompetence of your team, there is nothing to play for, and everyone around you has already packed it in than playing on a team full of amped all-stars who are going all out to get to the post-season?

  19. rob Says:

    god, this dork reminds me of that asshole earlier this year saying that derek jeter wasn't a washed up old handbag because he still had a high amount of Runs Scored (as though that wasn't the product of hitting in front of fucking granderson, texeira, a-rod and cano).

    also, can you believe they actually DID fire joe morgan?

  20. eau Says:

    What JM said.

  21. buckyblue Says:

    Whetstone: That's what I was thinking when I was reading. What about Steve Carlton's 27 wins on a team that won, what, 57. I think the Phillies didn't want to face Steve in the clubhouse after they only score, oh a Felixesque, 3 runs.

  22. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    I think this dumfucke doesn't understand what the fucke the fucken Cy Young award is for.

  23. Jeffrey Kramer Says:

    I've got a new (I think) stat which may put this in some perspective: Impact Won-Lost record. The idea is to go through the pitcher's outings game-by-game, and separate the ones in which his pitching was most relevant to the outcome.

    For 2010, the average runs per game in the AL was 4.45. Let's round it to 4, which is probably the median for all games. So if the pitcher gets four runs, you would expect an average pitcher to win half the time. So we give the pitcher a half of an impact win for winning 4-3, 4-2 etc., and half of an impact loss for losing 5-4, 6-4 etc. He gets a full IW for winning 3-2, 3-1, 3-0, 2-1, 2-0, 1-0. A full IL for losing 6-5, 7-6, etc. Winning 8-0 or losing 8-0 doesn't count either way. You don't have to be the pitcher of record (e.g., you pitch seven innings, the game was tied 1-1 when you were taken out, then your team scores the winning run for a 2-1 win: you still get the IW).

    Here's how Hernandez and Sabathia break down (see the Game Logs in baseball-reference.com):

    Won with four runs: Hernandez 6, Sabathia 5 (3 IW for Felix, 2 1/2 for CC)
    Won with less than four runs: Hernandez 6, Sabathia 1 (6 IW for Felix, 1 for CC)
    Lost with four runs: Hernandez 1, Sabathia 1 (1/2 IL for both)
    Lost with more than four runs: Hernandez 0, Sabathia 1 (1 IL for CC)

    Hernandez IWL record: 9 – 0.5
    Sabathia IWL record: 3.5 – 1.5

    On a game-by-game basis, it looks like Hernandez was much, much more valuable to the Mariners than Sabathia was to the Yankees.

  24. Comrade PhysioProf Says:

    That is a very interesting stat, but it is not really germane (or, at least, shouldn't be) to the Cy Young. The award is for the "best" pitcher, not the "most valuable". The "best" pitcher is the pitcher that keeps the fewest earned runs from scoring. Period.

    Your stat penalizes Sabathia because he got awesome run support, and thus he did not add so much "value", because the Yanks would have won even if he pitched worse. The only reason Hernandez pitched in so many close games is because the Mariners batters sucked asse. This is an interesting analysis, but is not what the Cy Young is about.

  25. Jeffrey Kramer Says:

    I wouldn't make this my Cy Young criterion either; but for those who insist that the pitcher is out there to help his team win, dadgummit, not to put up these other fancy-dan numbers, I think it might have some impact.

    I also wouldn't say that E.R.A. is the measure, period; some degree of luck goes into that. If two pitchers were equally good in terms of opponents OPS, one might be the beneficiary of better defense, or one might give up a different amount of runs because more of the homers against him came with men on base.

  26. I'm Just a Bill Says:

    This is the dumbest argument I have ever seen, and I grade the work of 18 year old Georgia public high school graduates for a living.

    OUCH! (No, seriously this was the best sentence in the whole post. I am an Orioles fan & read every word.)

  27. Nate Says:

    To begin: I am a Yankee fan (I know, I feel your hatred. I grew up in upstate NY with a father that came from a long line of rabid Yankee fans, deal with it.) I loved this post almost as much as the FJM boys, it was like coming home, Ed! I also agree that there is no compelling argument for Sabathia to have won the award over Felix Hernandez. Hernandez would have won 25 games with the Yankees this year. Minimum. He was that good. He was clearly the deserving Cy Young winner. This admission from a guy who LOVES CC Sabathia, watching him pitch, watching the way he competes. Loves him.

    That said: Picking on his weight was a touch of a cheap shot.

  28. RJP Says:

    Oh yeah smart guy? Well who is the Cy Young award named after? Hmmm? That's right, CY YOUNG. And what did Cy Young do? That's right. He won baseball games. He didn't VORP or OPS or WHIP or any other lame stat, he WON. He was a wins machine, not a Dungeons and Dragons character. I mean duh.

    But so anyway, I am pretty sure that's the most I've ever laughed at a baseball piece not published by one of the FJM dudes (KT and Junior mostly) or Conanson. Loved it. FJM is indeed sorely missed–at least there's always Parks & Rec.

  29. Rick Massimo Says:

    "The issue I have is victories apparently were not counted at all."

    This is the sportswriting version of the teabagger attitude of "I'm not represented in Congress because my policy preferences (that Sean Hannity told me to have) were not followed to the letter."

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