Even the most hardened advocates of old-school stats admit the obvious flaws associated with wins. In the course of a career, having a lot of wins is a pretty good indication that a pitcher was pretty good, but a single win in a single game quite often means nothing. Even a bad pitcher on a bad day can get a win.
Thing is, pitchers like them. Especially starting pitchers.
Tonight CC Sabathia will try to win 20 in a season for the first time in his career. He won 17 in his first big league season, he’s won 19 twice — three times if you count this season — but Sabathia has never gotten to 20. The first time I remember it being brought up was after Sabathia won his 15th. It was August 12 in Kansas City, and it was the first time Sabathia had won 15 of his first 25 starts in a season.
“I try to stay away from personal goals to be honest,” he said. “I’d rather win a World Series than win 20 games and win a Cy Young.”
I have absolutely no doubt that’s true, but winning 20 games is a pretty solid accomplishment. Look at the list of Major League wins leaders. It’s not a perfect list of the top pitchers in baseball, but it’s not a bad place to start. One win might mean next to nothing, but 20 wins carries weight. It’s hard to get there on luck and timing.
Starting pitchers always talk about giving their teams a chance to win, and few pitchers do that as well as Sabathia. Reaching 20 wins might not tell you everything you need to know about his season, but it tells you he’s given his team a chance time and time again. Even Sabathia would have to admit that’s worth something.