Kill the win?
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Watch out. Brian Kenny has an axe to grind.

The bushy-haired MLB Network analyst looks about as harmless as a Tickle-Me- Elmo. But when it comes to sabermetrics, he can be vicious.

His latest tirade involves the hashtag "kill the win" (or in Twitter-verse, #killthewin).

Kill it. End it. Send it to Abu Dhabi in a box with Ryan Braun's apology note, Brian Wilson's beard and the last five Adam Sandler movies. We don't need them anymore.

Let me demonstrate.

Meet Player X and player Y. Both are starting pitchers in the American League. Before we reveal their identities, let's look at their statistics.

Player X: 2.97 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, .226 AVG, 9.54 K/9 IP, 4.98 K/BB

Player Y: 3.71 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, .243 AVG, 7.52 K/9 IP, 2.32 K/BB

Clearly, Player X is the better pitcher. Yet, Player X is Chris Sale, owner of a 10-12 record in 26 starts for the White Sox.

Player Y is Chris Tillman of the Baltimore Orioles. His record is 15-5.

What gives?

Here are two more examples.

Player A: 2.85 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, .204 AVG, 9.55 K/9 IP, 3.48 K/BB

Player B: 3.22 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, .250 AVG, 7.71 K/9 IP, 4.09 K/BB

So both players are pretty good, right? Player A is Stephen Strasburg, All- Star starting pitcher for the Washington Nationals. B is John Lackey, arguably Boston's most consistent pitcher this season.

Strasburg's record sits at 6-9. Despite pitching for one of the highest scoring teams in the league, Lackey has managed only an 8-12 record in 25 appearances.

Kenny's argument is getting stronger by the second.

Strasburg can reach back for that triple-digit fastball. He can fool you with the change. Waiting in bumper-to-bumper traffic is more appealing than having to face one of his loopdy-loop curve balls.

But none of it matters when your team can't score for you. Only two pitchers in the majors, San Diego's Eric Stults and Philadelphia's Cliff Lee, have received less run support than Strasburg in 2013 (3.15 runs per game).

Sale, Strasburg, Lackey and New York's Hiroki Kuroda (11-10, 2.99 ERA, 1.11 WHIP in 177 2/3 innings) all rank in the league's bottom ten in terms of run support. Former World Series MVP Cole Hamels (6-13, 3.50 ERA for the Phillies) is 11th-worst at 3.34 runs per game.

Max Scherzer (19-2, 2.88 ERA) is the only pitcher in the majors with a real shot at 20 wins this season. Think it's a coincidence that he's second in the league in run support (5.79)?

Turn the clock back to 2012. That year, Cardinals starter Lance Lynn produced an 18-7 record despite posting a 3.78 ERA, 45th-best in the major leagues. To the surprise of nobody, Lynn led the league in run support by a wide margin (5.9).

Thank you, Carlos Beltran.

A year earlier, we saw the same thing happen with Derek Holland (16-5, 3.95 ERA), Ivan Nova (16-4, 3.70 ERA) and Zack Greinke (16-6, 3.83 ERA). Again, all three had inflated records because of the incredible run support they received. Holland (6.34), Nova (6.00) and Greinke (5.11) were first, second and eighth respectively in run support that season.

Greinke's been on the other side of it, too. In 2010, his last season in Kansas City, his run support was ninth-worst in MLB (3.45).

Sometimes there's no rhyme or reason to it. Most of it's just luck. How else could you explain the fact that Boston is averaging 6.19 runs per game for Ryan Dempster but only 3.28 for Lackey?

Truthfully, this debate has little bearing on the fantasy community. Sale (eighth) and Strasburg (18th) are still miles ahead of Tillman (36th) on ESPN's player rater, as they should be.

And maybe it has no consequence on real life, either. Earlier this week while playing his usual role of bubble-burster, Fox's Ken Rosenthal wrote an article suggesting that Kenny might be a little late to the party.

In his article, Rosenthal says the win debate ended in 2010. That was the year "King" Felix Hernandez won the Cy Young Award with a 13-12 record. He beat out CC Sabathia, who posted 21 wins with an ERA of 3.18. Felix's ERA was 2.27.

What makes Hernandez's win even more significant is that he won the award while playing for a non-playoff team. That used to be unheard of. Now it's happened four times in the last five seasons (Hernandez, David Price, Greinke and Lee).

Rosenthal is right. It's over. The sabermetricians won already.

Too bad Sale and Strasburg don't have anything to show for it.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Jesse Pantuosco at jpantuosco@sportsnetwork.com.

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