"Targeted" Baseball Stats
17 ... 18 ... 19 ... ?!


By the way, was everybody here aware that Felix got his nickname from the M's blog-o-sphere?  Specifically, U.S.S. Mariner.  You could call that a blogger's dream, I think.  Imagine if Tuner made up the reference to Russell Wilson as "First Name Russell" and then for the next 20 years listened to ESPN call him that.  :- )

As you might have noticed, Felix won his 18th game on Saturday.  With 12 games left, the Mariners could easily massage their intentions to get Felix three opportunities to win two more, rather than what he'd usually get, which is two more chances to win two more.  Will they?

Normally, we don't interact much with Anonymouses.  However, in this case the Anonymous is Biology Rick or Silentpadna or somebody almost as important, like a baseball scout or Bernie Sanders or somebody.  In the Shout Box, Anonymous sheepishly argued:


I hope Felix can start on the 25th and 30th. That way if he's still short on wins or Ks, he *could* pitch on th 4th on short rest, or they could have Taijuan or Nuno start and bring him in in the 4th to get a vulture win --- isn`t that how RJ got his 20th?

Normally I wouldn't be in favor of those shenanigans... But in Felix's case, he's been cheated out of so many W's, I'd be totally fine with it.


More than "totally fine," apparently, since you made the motion, seconded it and presented a convincing argument to "close the circle" on your idea's toughness.  ... Hold it.  Anonymous is Mojo?

First of all, yep yeppity yeppers.  In 1997, the Unit made a 2.0 IP relief appearance on Sept. 27th to win his 20th.  The shenanigans have faded; the baseball card has not.  And nobody complains about the Unit backing into the Hall of Fame.  You want to blow on a little almanac smudge and wipe it off with your shirt to create 20 wins in 1997, the back of Unit's baseball card won't complain.  Hey, nothing wrong with a little lipstick and eyeshadow, even if you are Evangeline Lilly.

OR ... is that kind of a LIE?  To manipulate the situation to produce 20 wins in the stats, when the "natural" outcome would have been 19?


Anyway, funny you should mention, since at BJOL they just now discussed this ... Whoop, they just now discussed it in Dr. D's frame of reference (senility), because he saw it in the 2007 archives there.  The article is titled The Targeting Phenomenon.  James asks the question, Do teams really push a player towards 20 wins, or 200 strikeouts, or 40 homers?  And if so, do they do it more (less) since the big-bucks free agency era?

He comes up with an elegant thought experiment.  "Do you suppose there are more pitchers who win 15 games in a year, or who win 16?"  Of course, the answer is 15.  And there are more SP's who win 7 games than who win 8.   And more who win 3 games than who win 4.  The most common number for wins is 0; the second-most common number is 1, and so on.

Except that there are more pitchers who win 20 games than who win 19.  We knew that; we're just stopping for a second to realize the implications, Bill articulately points out.  The implication, of course, is that teams make contortions to get a pitcher his 20th win.


Bill examined this for every stat.  He found that teams do, in fact, massage situations to get pitchers two kinds of stats:

  • Wins, and
  • Strikeouts in a season, the very stat that Anon had mentioned.

They don't massage pitcher opportunities to get them a 2.99 ERA, or 250 IP, or anything like that, and never have done so.  And, there is no targeting in the Saves stat.  Interesting, no?


If a hitter wants to make a Happy Meal out of a nice round stat figure, guess which stats a team will provide a booster seat for?

  • HITS - there are 49 players who have 200 hits exactly, but only 27 who finished with 199
  • RBI - many players have been helped by their teams to get 100 RBI
  • STOLEN BASES - every 10-level of SB's gets targeted
  • AVERAGE - Teams routinely sit players out, late, to protect a .300 average

But there is no targeting of HR, SLG, OBP, or .... Runs Scored!  There is no bubble around 100 runs whatsoever.  Odd.  It would be relatively easy to manufacture that, right?  With a pinch-run?

Home runs don't show "targeting" because there are massively more 39-HR seasons than 40-HR seasons, far more 29s than 30s, etc.  You've noticed that when players are trying for homers, they don't hit them.  Even Nelson Cruz was on 39 for quite awhile, wasn't he?

And, teams do not target more now than they used to do.  Considering SportsCenter, that surprises Dr. D.


Since it's a 2007 article, Bill won't mind a relatively substantial excerpt, I'm sure.  It's still only $3 per month for the second-best baseball reading on the interwebs.


In 1964 Tony Cloninger won his 19th game of the season with a couple of days left on the schedule.   On the last day of the season the Braves led  innings.   The manager, Bobby Bragan, asked Cloninger if he would like to go in and pitch a couple of innings to pick up his 20thwin.   

“No,” said Cloninger.   “When I win 20 games, I want to do it on my own.”  He did win twenty the next year—24, in fact. - James


[Dr. D] Now, that's justice, is it not?  That smile you got, right there, is probably the best argument against helping Felix get his 20th.  (One argument against WOULD be that 20-win seasons are huge in Hall of Fame voting.  It WOULD be, except that there isn't going to be any vote in Felix' case.)


Brooks Robinson used to tell this story on himself, don’t know if he still does.   He had a miserable year in 1963, and went into his last at bat of the season hitting exactly .250—147 for 588.   If he made an out, he wound up the season hitting under .250—but he got a hit, and wound up at .251.   He said it was the only hit he got all season in a pressure situation.   

That’s my point.. .players WANT to wind up the season hitting .250, rather than in the .240s.   They tend to make it happen.


In 1959 Bob Allison had 27 homers by the end of July, on pace for 40+, but hit only two in August and one in September, and missed the record.  Again, his manager (Cookie Lavagetto) talked openly about how disappointed he was that Allison had failed to break the record.   Allison, Callison.  When Johnny Callison was at .301 with two days left in the season in 1962, his manager, Gene Mauch, gave him only one at bat over the last two days of the season so that he would stay at .300.  He explained to the media that he wanted Callison, a young player, to go through the winter thinking of himself as a .300 hitter.


I remember a story about Rocky Colavito stealing a base.   It was a nothing game, sort of getting out of hand, and Rocky took off for second, and they gave him a stolen base (the defensive indifference rule was virtually never applied in those days.)  Asked about it after the game, Rocky joked that he liked to get into every category sometime during the year, and he had stolen bases taken care of now.

So you see, targeting could effect the distribution at any level.  That’s targeting, too.   Rocky’s target was one stolen base. - James


Back to Felix:  if Mauch wanted Callison "to go through the winter thinking of himself as a .300 hitter," maybe it could help the M's for Felix to start thinking of himself as a 20-game winner.  The lad could do with a little confidence.

More to the point, perhaps, who said 20 W's had to come from games started?  Or 40 points in the NBA had to come from outside the key?  Or five rushing TD's had to come in a close game?  There used to be many pitchers who were "swing men," contributing to their teams as starters and relievers.  It's maybe a bit artificial, in the year 2015, to get him a relief opportunity for the sake of a stat, but don't we do that routinely with closers?  It's a 3-run lead, they come in.  Lead goes to 4, they sit down.  

As Lou said, "I like my starters to get W's, and my closer to get saves."  Throwing Felix a bouquet wouldn't be the worst thing the M's have done all year.


Dr D



First, if Felix doesn't already think of himself as a Cy Young winner and a perfect game pitcher, then maybe someone should jog his memory. He was the one who helped make wins a meaningless stat by winning the Cy on a terrible team.

I doubt it, but are 20 wins part of a performance bonus for Felix? I seem to think 200 IP is more likely, which would be something to talk about if he can't get through 5 next time out (heaven forbid). What message does it send to put him in in relief for an inning to pick up that 200.1 innings bonus?

What I can't decide is what type of message it send to the rest of the team. Does it give Taijuan or Roenis something to strive for when their work can be cut short to pad the stats of the team's superstar, or do feelings of entitlement create rifts between players. I don't think Felix is going to claim his own corner of the locker room and install private tvs and a recliner any time soon, but you get the feeling egos don't play well on this team.


Last I heard, it was fine to put 150 IP or 450 AB into a contract, but wasn't okay to put 10 wins in there.  The players' association gets very nervous about the idea of having to be a good player just because you're making $2 million per month.


Heh, whoops, that was me with the "shenanigans" comment. The one above that was someone else, not me.

I'm quite sure Felix would decline the opportunity to vulture a win like that, if given the chance. He seems too proud, IMO. One of the reasons I love the guy. I'd have absolutely no problem with it, however. How many times has Felix pitched his heart out, get taken out with a lead, have a RP blow it, and then we scratch out the W in the end. The way the W is applied is totally illogical at times, and so I have no problem using those illogical bits for our guy's own gain :)


I think this plank will fit nicely into the platform amigo.  If Chris Sale had only 2 wins blown by his bullpen, and Felix had 5, then what'samatta with a "makeup" game?

I like eeet...


And that was me with the original 25th and 30th comment - thinking on exactly the same lines as OKDAN. If 20 still has some connotation, Felix deserves it.


Only reason it wouldn't have connotation is because it's too unlikely anymore, I bet ... 5-man rotations, pitch counts, ... no, checking the last few years there have been 2-4 such starters per season, including Jered Weaver's 20-5 record in 2012.

I hadn't been noticing anybody get it ... no idea why ... and thought it had faded from consciousness for that reason.  But, hey, if Jered Weaver gets to brag about 20 W's (and you can be sure he does) then you can sympathize with Felix wanting one ...


You're a good year behind in medical science, Mojo.  But legal study will do that to the other aspects of your life.

Sore elbow late in the year, yowch.  That makes me nervous.  Hope they're just being extra careful, as they are wont to do with Felix.


I'm not interested in the 20 for Felix.  Shut him down iin a bit.  However, if it is a big deal for him....well then, one must consider it.


Per MLB.com --- http://m.mariners.mlb.com/news/article/150701624/felix-hernandez-leaves-early-with-stiff-elbow --- Felix really does want the 20. He is into the part of his career and this season where his individual record is important for the future.

I don't know whether the Ms could have done anything different for Edgar, but I'm sure Felix doesn't want to sit waiting for years to get in the HOF. If the Ms can do anything to make this year relevant, it would be to get Felix his IP/K run and 20 wins to keep his name in lights for the future.

And who knows, if the BP stays fixed and all the post-AS >.800 OPSes carry over to next year, he could go on a run of 20s. But it is crazy hard in this day of 32-34 starts than it was when 38-40 starts was routine. Nolan Ryan made 39 starts and 2 relief appearances to get 21 in 1973, and then 41 starts and 1 relief appearance to get 22 in 1974. Felix winning 20 in 32 starts, or in 32 starts and a relief appearance would still be outstanding by historical standards. Being so close, I hope they can get it for him.

I don't think Felix will get the Cy Young. But finishing at .500 as a team and getting him 20 are still achievable goals that would shine like stars after the way the season has played out for the Ms. Send the boys home hungry for the next step.


Oh, and in paragraph three you got my back on my own impressions about 20 W's.

On the Cy Young ... with your permission lemme fertilize the Baseball Shout Box a tad ...

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.