Team statistics applied to individual players

Few statistics are as hotly contested these days as Wins are for baseball pitchers. Every thread involving post-season awards or post-career awards that involve pitchers seem to devolve into an effort of providing alternative measures to take the place of wins - a team statistic that is being used to measure individual performance.

I’ve asked the question multiple times of why a team statistic is relevant to evaluating individual talent, but have yet to get a reply. Maybe it’s an unfair question. Maybe I’m framing it incorrectly. I don’t know.

Either way, are there any other sports out there that use a team statistic to measure the talent of the individual player?

(And I’m not looking for stats that require involvement from another player. QB rating and completion % rely on receivers being able to catch the ball, baseball assists rely on another player recording an out, soccer/baseball/hockey assists rely on another player scoring, etc. But only Wins AFAIK rely on the entire team.)

I’ve seen won-loss records for quarterbacks in football, though it tends to be a pretty peripheral stat.

Stats based on team performance when a player is in the game vs when he isn’t? Record in big games?

Saves is close. But you’re already in the game in a save situation, and everything except defense is reliant upon you - your offense doesn’t have to do jack. When a starting pitcher begins the game it’s tied and you have to rely on your offense to score at least one run, as well as the defense to not totally suck it.

Plus-Minus, mainly in hockey, though it’s been used in basketball as well.

Very interesting. So it’s applied to everyone on the team equally? It’s not adjusted for playing time - interesting. I *like *it.

In hockey, they now credit wins to a goaltender. In addition, both baseball and hockey credit players with shutouts.

Saves in hockey is dependent on how good your team defense is – you get fewer save opportunities with a good defense.

All sports keep track of the wins by the head coach or manager, which is totally dependent on the players. If your team is 0-16, you’re out of a job, no matter how bad your personnel is.

RBIs and Runs scored in baseball are both dependent on the play of the other players on the offense.

As for your question, “why evaluate pitcher on wins” part is due to the fact that, in early baseball, yes, the pitcher was responsible for the win. There were exceptions, but the pitcher controlled the game. That’s less true today, since pitchers aren’t expected to go nine innings – 6 is plenty. That makes it less important than it does in the early days. But even nowadays, great starting pitchers have great won-lost percentages over their careers.

I really don’t understand this. Is this Dead Ball Era only, when offense was almost non-existent? Because pitchers still contributed negligibly to offense, which is half the game (and 100% responsible for providing that most important of factors for a Win - a Run).

That is a self-fullfilling prophecy.

Plus-minus is not really a team stat in basketball, though, since the point is to compare points scored and allowed while the player is on the court vs. points scored and allowed while the player is not. If it’s correctly done it isolates the impact of the individual. That’s not the way the hockey one works, though.

I think the main team stat that gets attributed to individuals is rings. “He’s never won the big one.”

I thought that was exactly the way the hockey one worked, except that players in hockey tend to be rotated in and out in groups.

Good one.

That and strikeouts were rarer as well, so defense had a bigger part on the outcome than it does now. A pitcher throwing a complete still only controls maybe, 35% of the game’s outcome and even that includes a fair amount of luck. Yeah good pitchers will tend to have better records, but they also tend to have better eras, better warps, better k rates etc. The key is finding the stats that correlate best with winning games, and wins is clearly not one of them.

The Cy Young elections of Grienke and Lincecum this year both seem to indicate that the concept of wins the #1 CY qualification is starting to fall by the wayside, and with good reason.

The weakness (especially for backups) is that you might be substituted in at times that put you at an unusual advantage or disadvantage. It’s magnified for hockey players, who tend to be substituted in groups; picture a hockey team with two decent wings and two scrubs who decide that it’s better to have all their firepower on the first line with the starting center; the back-up center is going to look like dogmeat even if he’s pretty good because he has to carry a couple of no-hopers. But yeah, an interesting stat if you take those kinds of effects into account.

I’m probably not doing a good job explaining. In hockey, as I understand it, +/- is the difference between goals my teams scores when I’m out there and goals the other team scores when I’m out there. What happens when I’m not on the ice doesn’t affect anything (I’m proud of myself for remembering to say ice instead of field; that’s how deep my hockey knowledge runs).

The NBA stat measures that number (net points scored when I’m on court minus points scored by other team during the same time) and then compares that number to my team’s +/- when I’m not out there.

So if you’re on a terrible NHL team, you’re going to have a negative rating pretty much no matter what, and if you’re on a great one, you’re going to have a great one. The basketball stat attempts to correct for this such that a good player with terrible teammates can still have a positive rating even if his team gets outscored by 30 every night, because the minutes when he’s on the court are less negative than the minutes when he isn’t.

Ah, interesting. Not sure if I think the basketball system is better or not - it would kind of suck to be the guy who backs up Michael Jordan or Lebron James under the basketball system you outlined.

And thinking about it more, it would also tend to overrate, say, the only true point guard or true interior defender/scorer on a thin team; if the team struggles when you’re off the floor just because they don’t have a minimally acceptable alternative, it doesn’t mean you’re all that great.

Yes indeedy, and as you might expect, there’s more information on the attempts to adjust for those factors than you probably care to read.

So? The contributed to the win more than any other player. I don’t care how many runs you score, you still need a pitcher who allows fewer. In the dead ball era, when pitchers were pitching 9 innings routinely, it was their pitching that kept the team in the game. Teams score runs as a matter of course, even in dead ball. If you have the skill to keep the other team from scoring, then that’s something to be desired. It’s just that in the dead ball era, the pitcher was responsible for the entire game.

I know. I was trying to think like a sabrematrican.

In any case, no matter how you choose to measure a pitcher’s performance over a career, and no matter how you select your top pitchers, you’ll find your selection won a lot of games (and had a good W-L percentage – especially when compared to how well his team did without him). Over the course of a career, the times the pitcher has a hard-luck loss and the times he has a good-luck win tend to even out, so ultimately the W-L record indicates someone who can pitch well. It’s a crude measurement to be sure (and cruder nowadays), but it is a very good rule of thumb.

Have you ever seen a fielder’s glove from the dead-ball era? I wear something much more substantial when I shovel snow. If anybody ever made a play at all with one of those, it was an accomplishment. Quality fielding didn’t matter because it didn’t exist. Defense consisted of pitchers either getting strikeouts or getting hitters to hit the ball weakly enough that a fielder could drop it, pick it up off the ground, and throw it in time. Yes, pitchers quite fairly won and lost games.

With all the errors, recorded and unrecorded, at the time, at least the scorekeepers took pity on pitchers by separating earned from unearned runs.

I don’t really disagree with this. Good pitchers tend to win more games than poor pitchers. So do good 3rd basemen. It doesn’t always even out though.

The hall of fame is a pretty big honor and the line betweening deserving and not can be pretty thin. These players toils in the majors for 10+ years for our enjoyment. Don’t you think they deserve an in depth analysis of whether they deserved to be enshrined or not, and not just some crude measurement that gets it right a decent percentage of the time? At least by the people who vote.

Wins are good. Support neutral wins/losses is better. (it measures how many wins a pitcher should have won giving an average environment) We don’t have to hope it evens out, we can make it so.