Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Wins: the most enigmatic of fantasy stats

I was discussing Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain (two pitchers who were far better than their records would indicate in '07 and who represent draft day bargains) with a buddy, and he mentioned a hard luck pitcher named Virgil Trucks who played back in the '50s. He was even kind enough to shoot me over a link to his stats.

Poor Virgil played in 1952 for the absolutely dreadful Detroit Tigers (50-104). If you think Cain had it tough last season, listen to this: Virgil "Fire" Trucks had a 3.97 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP -- respectable numbers to be sure, particularly when you consider how godawful that team must have been. He tossed eight complete games in 1952, though he only managed to strike out 129 guys in 197 innings. So far, Virgil Trucks sounds like a serviceable, if not stellar, fantasy starter. How about if I tell you that he threw two no-hitters, a one-hitter, and a two-hitter that year? Clearly, if you benched him for a few bad matchups, he would have seriously outperformed his season averages. What was his win/loss record, you ask?

Poor Virgil Trucks went 5-19. Five. And. Ninteen. And four of those wins came from the no-hitters, the one-hitter, and the two-hitter. I'm amazed his psyche didn't shatter at the unfairness of it all. The next year, he was traded to the White Sox and went 20-10. Virgil went on to have a pretty good career, but his 1952 campaign summarizes quite nicely the ephemeral nature of fantasy's least predictable category.

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