Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee earned his first win of the season when he and his teammates defeated the New York Mets this week. That win helped to underscore the common sense understanding that pitching wins always have mattered, do matter and always will matter. New age baseball brains believe that the previous statement is false.
It has been somewhat comical and very reaffirming to see the reactions that Lee's season has created among the baseball population.
Many will understand the following message, while others won't and that's the point. But, time will eventually reveal the following truth to everyone.
No one is saying that a pitcher's win total fully defines what his career has been like, how his current season is going or how his future may unfold. All statistics combine to offer a nearly complete picture of who every mound man actually is.
From 2004 through 2006, he went a combined 46-24. His WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) average was 1.370 during that three-year period.
In 2007, he was 5-8 with a 1.521 WHIP.
In 2008 and 2009 (which was split between the Indians and Phillies) he went a combined 36-16, with a WHIP average of 1.178.
From 2010 through his most recent start this week, Lee has a combined record of 30-22 and a WHIP average of 1.047 with the Mariners, Rangers and Phillies.
When we break off his 2012 numbers he is 1-5, with a 1.192 WHIP.
Lee, who has a 120-74 career record and a 1.221 WHIP, has been prone to severe streaks over the years. Most pitchers and most baseball players are streaky during their careers as well. The extension of those positive, or negative stretches, often separate the good from the great.
The 11-year veteran doesn't win as often when he is pitching through one of his down periods, which makes perfect sense. One of those down periods now includes significant portions of this season.
Slice the numbers anyway that you want and then react to them however you like. The fact remains that Lee has one win because he hasn't pitched that well this year.
This statistically outlying season reflects mostly upon Lee, not his team, his manager, the opposition, whether he's growing a beard, or some other off course direction.
It's natural for all younger people to truly believe, with a juiced shot of emotional bravado heavily mixed into their minds, that they know things middle-aged and older 'folks' don't.
Whenever any of us who have lived awhile recognize old-fashioned naivete masquerading as new insight, we all collectively chuckle. That's not because we think that we are smarter, it's just that we recall having looked at our elders back in the good old days ('back in the day') in the same way.
Don't worry about it though ('no worries'), there is plenty of life left to live and lessons for all of us to continue learning during every baseball season.
Whether Lee gets back on track this season, or not, won't change one last fact. He's an excellent major league pitcher who rightfully has won over fans of all ages through the total of his career numbers that appear on the back of his baseball card (video game graphic).
Sean O'Brien's professional writing career began in 1990, when he first began working in the Philadelphia Phillies farm system. He was a freelance sports writer for five years and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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