Atlanta Braves Seat

Braves manager reminds everyone that stats matter most

Thank goodness Don Larsen wasn’t on a pitch count.

For the historically challenged, Larsen was a journeyman pitcher for the Yankees and six other big-league teams. His lifetime record was 81-91. Had it not been for Oct. 8, 1956, the name Don Larsen would never have been published in anything but a phone book.

On that afternoon at Yankee Stadium, Larsen pitched a perfect game. In Game 5 of the World Series, Larsen shut down the Brooklyn Dodgers without so much as one of them reaching first base.

If someone had asked manager Casey Stengel if he were worried that Larsen might fold facing Brooklyn’s batters on his third trip through the batting order, Stengel’s response would have been unprintable.

In Game 3 of the 2021 World Series, Braves manager Brian Snitker informed his starting pitcher, Ian Andersen, that five no-hit innings was enough. Andersen asked, “Are you sure?”

“I knew he wasn’t going to budge,” Andersen said. “It’s hard to. You’ve got guys like Tyler Matzek and (A.J.) Minter and Luke (Jackson) and Will at the back end coming in, you can’t blame him for going to those guys. Those guys, time in and time out, get it done, and they did it again tonight.”

Good lord. The brain-scrubbing by baseball’s analytical gurus has taken such a firm hold on the game’s soul that someone with a chance to make World Series history shrugs it off.

Those guys at the back end always do a great job. The words were spat from a digital heart.

It is the crystallization of baseball’s abiding relationship with statistical preeminence. If a 23-year-old man throws five innings, his longest tenure in four postseason games, he is bound to turn into a jack-o-lantern if he trudges back the mound for the top of the sixth.

In four postseason starts, Andersen is 2-0 and has allowed nine hits and three earned runs over 17 innings.

That’s 17 innings in four starts. There was a time, not so many hours ago, that a pitcher’s log featuring 17 innings over four starts would mean he has an earned run average of 6.00 or above and no manager in his right mind would hand him the ball for another start.

Of course, that does not take into consideration such statistical flotsam as his WHIP, his exit velocity, his barrel percentage, his spin rate, or his chase rate.

Silly me for thinking that wins, losses and ERA were the most important figures on any pitcher’s resume.

 

 

 

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