“Hmmm. Apparently, Max Scherzer can also win when he doesn’t get great run support. Funny how good pitchers can do that.
Scherzer received the third-highest run support in the majors — nearly six runs per game — during the regular season, leading some critics to complain that his 21 wins were as much a testament to his teammates’ bats as his pitching. That is, if they gave any credence to wins at all.”
- 0-2 Runs = 30.2% of occurrences
- 3-5 Runs = 39.8%
- 6 or more = 30%
Scherzer’s were indeed skewed as his same percentages were: 15.6%, 40.6% and 43.8% respectively. While his 3-5 run games of support were near the norm, he only had five starts with two or less and fourteen with more than six. But again, he beat the norms in every category. Here are the league winning percentages in those splits:
- 0-2 runs = .121 winning percentage
- 3-5 runs = .534
- 6 or more = .915
Scherzer’s winning percentages in those same splits were: .250, 1.000, 1.000. Those wins were no accident. And let’s for a moment, compare them to the great season Verlander put up in 2011 in his Cy Young Award winning season. Verlander’s occurrences 17.6%, 50% and 32.3%. So Verlander also received a lot of run support in 2011. I do not remember that being so hotly debated during that season as far as his winning percentage. All of Verlander’s losses that season were in the six (and only six) occurrences of when the Tigers scored zero to two runs in a game. That is basically the same as what happened to Scherzer this season.
Was Scherzer’s season up to Verlander’s 2011 standard? No, I don’t think so. I don’t think many seasons like Verlander’s in 2011 come up very often in one lifetime. But Scherzer was clearly this year’s best pitcher in the American League and run support had little to do with it.
But now perhaps with this playoff win, people can stop saying Scherzer’s name without having to include the run support thing in the same sentence or paragraph. The win statistic is not the most important statistic to rate a pitcher. I get that. But for a starting pitcher, it is far from meaningless. Scherzer was the winningest pitcher in the American League. But he was also the best.