Baseball is literally the only sport where the numbers really do mean everything. In other professional sports the context of the team often means more than the final numbers, but not in baseball.
American League All -Star manager Jim Leyland, doesn’t seem to agree.
In what came as a head scratcher of a move, Leyland left Yankees hurler Hiroki Kuroda off of the American League All-Star team, despite Kuroda having some of the American leagues best pitching numbers.
When asked by a reporter why he chose Baltimore’s Chris Tillman over Kuroda, Leyland said it was because of Tillman’s 11-3 record.
OK, so are you ready to laugh?
While win/loss record does have some significance the shift towards advanced statistics has shown us that wins and losses are only a very small slice of the pie. The only way to really put in perspective just how big of a snub Kuroda being left off the All-Star roster is, would be to go to the numbers, where there is a massive difference between the two starters.
You can see from the statistics just how big of a difference there has been between Tillman and Kuroda this season, and that’s when looking at their MLB ranks. When you look only at American League pitchers, Kuroda is second in ERA (2.65), fifth in WHIP (1.053), and seventh in WAR (3.2). His 8-6 record is not indicative of the season he’s having, as surprisingly enough, All-Star Mariano Rivera’s only two blown saves this season have come after Kuroda tossed seven shutout innings.
Through an interpreter, Kuroda told reporters that he was “not really” disappointed about being left off the American League roster and mentioned that he understood that the complex selection process often leads deserving candidates to be left off the team.
The unfortunate part of this story is that Kuroda, who has been rumored to be returning to the Hiroshima Carp of Japan Central League next season, may now never get his chance to earn the All-Star designation, that the veteran pitcher so blatantly deserves.
Since coming to the Major Leagues six seasons ago, Kuroda has been one of the MLB’s most consistant starters. Seeing the veteran make an All-Star team in what many believe will be his last season pitching in the United States would have been a fitting reward for a very good Major League career.