Today was an off day for the Chicago Cubs, and as we all know by now, off days are rather boring. So I decided to have some fun on our FaceBook asking random questions surrounding around various aspects of baseball, though not necessarily centering around the Cubs. As I expected and hoped, I got a mixed bag of answers, especially in regards to the hypothetical situations which had next to no chance of happening. Let’s take a quick look at the four random questions that were asked, and see how people responded.
The first question I asked, which was inspired by current Cubs closer Carlos Marmol, was “If a closer has an ERA of 18.00 but was 60 for 60 in save chances, is he a good closer. This question was mainly asked because several people were up in arms about Carlos Marmol always making things far more interesting than they needed to be when he takes the mound. A percentage of Cub fans believe that despite closing the door with ease on games he is called upon to save, that he is a horrible closer because he always brings the tying or winning run up to the plate instead of getting them with an easy 1-2-3 inning.
I freely admit that I was trolling our page trying to get a reaction, but I was fairly surprised at the discussion that was started. A lot of our responders made some excellent points, a more than I thought said that yes, he is a good closer, though not a good pitcher. How can you say much else about a closer who is perfect in 60 save opportunities? The inflated ERA, shows that he is far more lucky than good, but if he is perfect in save opportunities, despite his ERA, is he not doing the job he is asked to do and secure the win? Is that not all he is asked to do, make sure the game ends with our team in the lead?
Again, anyone with an ERA of 18.00 is not a good pitcher, not even close. Giving up two runs an inning likely means that you are absolute crap. The fact that this pitcher was named the closer, only means that the rest of the bullpen is even worse than the man holding what many fans deem to be the most important role in the bullpen. So the age old question is would you rather be lucky or good? Sure, eventually luck does run out, but all sports rely on luck, no one does everything on talent alone. A lucky bounce here or there means the game, and there is usually at least one in every game.
The second question, was partially inspired by current Cubs ace Ryan Dempster, and like with the first question, was highly exaggerated. Here was the question that was asked; “Would you rather have a starting pitcher 2-18 with a 2.32 ERA or a starting pitcher who was 23-4 with a 5.79 ERA. This is a debate a friend and I have all the time, and I wanted to see what the masses opinion was on this matter.
On one hand, you had a pitcher who always kept you in the game giving you every chance to win, but his offense never scored any runs for him. He was the hard luck loser, but like Dempster has been for the majority of this season before he decided to stop giving up runs all together. On the other hand, you had a pitcher who threw beach balls up to the plate and allowed more runs than you would like to see your starter give up, but the offense always bailed him out. Many fans agreed with my friend, who has always said that he would want the pitcher who wins games instead of the pitcher who rarely wins, despite keeping the other team off the board.
Personally, I would take the guy who always keeps his team in the game, because he gives the team the best chance to win a ball game. With him, the offense does not need to work as hard as with the pitcher who gives out runs like they are going out of style. Wins are a very misleading statistic in baseball, as they are a team statistic and do not reflect fairly on how good a pitcher is. But, this was an opinion question which started some great conversation.
With the two very unlikely hypothetical questions out of the way, I decided to ask a legitimate question. One which could actually take place, though the instances of are rare. The question was “Would you rather have a triple crown winning hitter or pitcher”. Much like the other questions, this started a great conversation between the level of importance between a starting pitcher and a every day hitter. I have always said that an every day player is more important than a starting pitcher, much like a starting pitcher is more important than a relief pitcher. But this question added a different degree of difficulty to the equation.
A triple crown winning pitcher means that you likely have one great pitcher, though the rest of the staff might not be that great. You do not really know how good the rest of them are, or what the team’s record is outside of the number of wins your star pitcher received, which would in all likely hood would be in the 20s. But his value is limited to the days in which he pitched, with unless you have a four man pitching staff, is only once every five days. The other four days he can do nothing to help you win a game.
With a triple crown winning hitter though, chances are very good that you have a powerful offense with men getting on base quite frequently for the hitter in question to knock them in. With an offense that powerful, the odds are in your favor that you are a playoff team. You do not need to see the record of the team to see that they have likely won a majority of their games. While MVPs have come from last place teams (see Andre Dawson) that is a very rare feat.
In the choice between the two, personally I would take the triple crown hitter as he can help your team win every day as opposed to once every five days. A majority of our followers agreed, though a few made solid arguments for the pitcher. Sure, they can start three games a series for you in the playoffs or World Series (if you reach either) but again, they only help your team once every five games. Another good discussion was had, and my boredom was cured once again.
The final question asked, was “Would you rather see the Cubs make the playoffs every year, only to be swept out of the first round every time, or to never reach the playoffs at all.” This question had no purpose at all, and was just done to generate discussion on a day with little to discuss.
This was split fairly evenly, with some fans opting to miss the playoffs so their hopes were not raised every year, only to be cut down immediately. There was some entertainment though as World Series Dreaming’s own Rice Cube used the law of averages to have the Cubs win the World Series eventually, despite my bizzaro universe situation of always getting swept.
What can I say, off days are boring and we need to do something to entertain ourselves, as well as our followers. If you have not answered the four questions, feel free to do so! Thank God baseball is back tomorrow, as even bad baseball is better than no baseball at all; and the fact that the Cubs are the best team in baseball since June 25 makes things all the more enjoyable!