5-0 Indians after the top of the first. 7-0 Indians in the bottom of the eighth. 7-4 no outs later. 8-4 in the bottom of the ninth. 8-9 Indians lose.
Before the game I wrote of Adam Dunn’s inability to drive in his teammates and of his teammates’ in ability to be on base when Adam Dunn bats. Well, both of those worlds came crashing together with spectacular results when the Indians sent in Bob Wickman to pitch the bottom of the ninth against the Reds tonight even though, with a four run lead, it wasn’t a save situation. Wickman has difficulty appearing focused when he’s in to save a ballgame, so it doesn’t surprise me much that Wickman was unable to muster anything resembling good pitching when the game wasn’t on the line. And by the time the game was on the line–after he’d given up one run, two hits, and two walks and had loaded the bases for (guess who!) Adam Dunn–Wickman was too far entrenched in his laboring patheticness to do anything to prevent a walk-off grand slam. Seriously, does anyone combine a look of sheer panic with the actions of total indifference in a more befuddling way than Bob Wickman?
Oh, and Philips went 4-5. And Wickman has gone from attractive trade bait to the scrap heap. Bob Wickman on June 7th: 1-0, 2.12 ERA. Bob Wickman on June 30th: 1-4, 4.88 ERA. At least we aren’t paying our closer $5 million when we are 19 games out of first place. Good times.
If only to make the darkness of this game appear darker, there was a bright spot: With two on and no outs in the seventh, Perez came in to pitch for Paul Byrd and faced the three-four-five hitters and got out of the inning without giving up a run. Damn impressive. Perez has not given up a run this season (granted, in only 5.2 innings). He’s done his part to keep the bullpen from being 27th in the majors in ERA. This after being 1st in bullpen ERA last season. Of course, the year before that the Indians were 26th, and the year before that the Indians were 9th, and the year before that 27th, and the year before that 5th.
Which in a roundabout way brings me to NFL quarterbacks. In the Wages of Wins there is a chapter on how NFL quarterbacks are like mutual funds, which is to say wildly inconsistent. The NFL rates quarterbacks with a convoluted formula that is not only too complicated but also incomplete–it doesn’t factor fumbles or rushing–and is a very poor tool to predict both how much a quarterback contributes to his team winning and how well he might do in the next season. For example, passer rating explains only 10% of what a quarterback does from season to season, which is to say if you know a quarterback’s passer rating for one season you won’t be accurate if you use it as a measure of what he will do in the next season (good news for McNabb and Culpepper fans). A consistent quarterback, such as Peyton Manning, is the exception and not the rule. And the fluctuations from season to season are often wild, like what we are seeing from the Indians bullpen over the past few seasons. Another interesting fact is that while quarterbacks are assigned win-loss records, quarterbacks are–at most–about 30% responsible for whether their teams win. This is because the play of the quarterback and ultimately of the team is dependent, in part, on the play of his teammates (linemen, running backs, receivers, etc.).
If you want a better measure of quarterback success–and by better I mean less complicated and more complete–then you’d be wise to use QB Score, which can be calculated by this formula: QB Score=Yards – 3(plays) – 50(turnovers). For reference, an average NFL quarterback will have a QB Score of 40.