Big League Stew - MLB

The lead paragraph of Dick Kaegel's story at KCRoyals.com asks a question that's provocative, if also preposterous, in nature.

"Can a pitcher win the Cy Young Award without winning a game?"

If Zack Greinke's season continues like this, he would make for quite a test case for the BBWAA.

Greinke made the mistake of allowing a solo home run to Evan Longoria on Sunday, and it cost him and the Kansas City Royals a 1-0 decision to the Tampa Bay Rays. Tough as that result sounds, it is not atypical for pitcher or team.

After six starts, Greinke is 0-3. He's on pace to finish with 214 strikeouts, an 0.98 WHIP, an ERA of 2.27 ... and a record of 0-19.

As long as his health holds up, Greinke will win his share of games this season. He is too skilled and no one is that unlucky. Plus, the Royals are 10-15 overall, which is bad but not awful. Yet. They're obviously capable of providing some form of support offensively.

Greinke is aware he won't go 0-19. Probably.

"By the end of the year things will even out like they always do," Greinke said.

Oh, I hope not. Part of me wishes Greinke would keep pitching like this without winning games. If he did it long enough, maybe we could get a debate going about why we award decisions to individual players.

With apologies to Cy Young and his amazing-sounding 511 victories, we need to stop giving pitchers wins and losses.

Were he alive, Young (right) probably would fight to keep his record. But it's a fallacy.

Back when Ted Higuera seemed to lose a lot of 3-2 games for the Milwaukee Brewers, manager Tom Trebelhorn asked if it would kill him to win a 2-1 game once in a while.

The problem wasn't Higuera, it was that Milwaukee's offense didn't score enough runs.

Attitudes like this are pretty common today. But Greinke can challenge them by continuing to dominate. Greinke dominated the Rays lineup — one run, four hits, no walks, six strikeouts with 87 pitches — but he just didn't win.

If the Royals had scored six runs, or even two runs, every story about Greinke would have used some form of the word "dominant" to describe his performance against the Rays.

When Greinke's projected totals started getting around Twitter on Sunday, ESPN's Keith Law chimed in that:

"I guarantee you he'd be left off half the Cy ballots" if Greinke kept on pace, winless and all.

Dave Cameron of Fangraphs replied that, no, 90 percent of the writers would be ignorant enough to "blame" Greinke for his own W-L record. I hope this is hyperbole.

Pitchers do not deserve decisions because the game starts with the ball in their hand or because they handle it more than other players. Catchers handle the ball a lot, too.

But so what if they do?

Does a point guard get a "W" in basketball? Hockey goalies may get wins and losses, but does anyone pay as much attention to those statistics as they do in baseball? Quarterbacks have W-L records, I guess, but it's paid such little mind. What was Johnny Unitas' record? Joe Montana's? Peyton Manning's? Nobody has much of a clue without looking it up.

As individualistic as baseball can be, it's still a team sport. Just because some people believe the game to be "75 percent pitching" doesn't make it so. It's never been like that. Not even in the 19th century, when guys like Old Hoss Radbourn were throwing 600-plus innings in a season, like they were larger-than-life Biblical characters who, it was said, lived for nearly 10 centuries.

Baseball is 50 percent hitting and 50 percent defense, with pitching taking up a large portion of defense's share. I don't know how much. Even if it's 49.9 percent, it should tell you that no one person deserves a "W" or an "L" hung on their record. Maybe a manager. Again, beside the point.

Keep it up, Zack. If you can hang on for a little while longer — maybe a couple of months — this argument (which hardly originates with me) can get some traction.

So sorry, Cy.

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