15 May 2009

Game 36 Unfair Win Shares

Every start Chad Billingsley has made this year has been a quality start, according to both the official definition of quality start and any other reasonable definition one might come up with. Chad's lowest game score of the year so far is 50. Every time out he gives the Dodgers a chance to win, and usually they do, with a record of 7-1 in his starts. Billingsley pitched slightly better than a resurgent Cole Hamels yesterday, and he picks up a well deserved unfair win share. It might even have been two, if things had turned out otherwise at the end of the game.

Another player who loses a share is Loney. He was all set to get one a second consecutive day, but then Broxton blew the save, and everything changed. What Loney's home run was didn't change --- it was still a deep home run off of a tough left-hander that broke a 1-1 tie --- still a terrific clutch home run. That would always have been true even if the Dodgers had gone on to lose 7-2 after that home run. But the story of the game changed. The place, and importance, of the home run in context of the game changed. Unfair win shares are all about doing the right thing in the right time, and then hoping someone doesn't screw it all up later.

What if Broxton had given up three runs in the ninth inning, causing the Dodgers to lose 4-3? Would he get two unfair loss shares? He probably should have, in that case. But this is where other games bleed in, where the 35 previous stories interfere, even though they shouldn't. The narrative of the season so far pushes me toward mercy: Broxton has been so good all year that he should be cut some slack, and maybe given only the one unfair loss share. Yet that kind of thinking is against the rules. It violates the laws and customs of unfair shares.

Broxton did not give up three runs, though. He got that last strike out to preserve the tie, and that moment was itself a kind of save. Not the kind of save we were looking for when the inning started, but the kind of save that we needed in that moment. Things change, contexts change, and you have to keep battling. Manny is suspended, and well, tough luck, but keep scoring runs, keep winning. The game is tied, so now strike out this guy and get it to the tenth where the great offense will win it. Kuroda is out, so bring in Stults and back him up with lots of bullpen arms. Keep fighting. Broxton does. He has what it takes.

Martin was the hero, on base four times ( really three since he threw one back by being picked off ) all day and driving in the go ahead run in the tenth. That's an unfair win share for him. But heroes can't do it all: you need insurance too. You need fire men and fire insurance. So if Martin was the hero, then Kemp was the insurance man. For a two run lead call Kemp. He insured the Dodgers against disaster in the ninth by setting up the third run with his triple. He insured me and most other fans and probably Joe Torre from even more stress in the bottom of the tenth when he doubled in the fifth run. It was bad enough to have Howard come up as the tying run in the bottom of the tenth, but as the potential winning run? No thanks.

Unfair Win Shares ( Dodgers )

Billingsley -- 1
Martin -- 1
Kemp -- 1

Unfair Loss Shares ( Phillies )

Durbin -- 1
Werth -- 1
Victorino -- 1

No comments: