Willie’s Double Standard
Are pitchers graded on different scales, based on what’s expected of them?
In the SNY postgame after the Mets win over the Phillies, Adam Rubin asked Willie Randolph if judging a performance is specific to the pitcher, and why Pelfrey’s 100-pitch, 5-inning effort was being celebrated while Oliver Perez’s 6-inning, 91-pitch performance was termed “inefficient”. Willie’s explanation was that “it was a different feel”, and that Perez “struggled” during his game while Pelfrey “never struggled”.
Not sure I agree 100%. I think that a pitcher who doesn’t struggle at some point in a game, simply hasn’t been in the game long enough or has been lucky. Averaging 20 pitches per inning, as Pelfrey did, is far from efficient. I think he was lucky that he had an early six-run lead that took the air out of the Phillies’ offense. Had it been a closer game, the Phils might have been more focused and worked Pelfrey a bit harder. But that’s speculation.
Personally, I would have (silently) agreed with Rubin — that you grade Perez on a different scale than you do Pelfrey, because you expect Ollie to give you six good innings at minimum, while you have your fingers crossed that Big Pelf can make it past the fourth. At the same time, if I’m Willie Randolph, I can’t say that publicly, because lowered expectations can mess with a kid’s confidence — plus, every player must be handled individually. Pelfrey is a kid who needs positive reinforcement more than anything else, while Ollie is a guy who responds well to being pushed toward perfection. Willie is doing right by both pitchers — Perez needs a push, Pelfrey needs a pull.
There’s a lot more to this game than the numbers.