For the first 100 years or so of baseball’s history, there was a near widely held belief in the keys to winning baseball games. On the defensive side, it was the starting pitcher who was central to team success; he was credited with the win or loss. Over time, the starting pitcher increasingly turned the game over to the bullpen and the last pitcher in the game on the winning team was credited with saving the game for his starter. As starters began exiting games even earlier, a stat was created to credit other relievers with holds. Pitching was 90% of defense as the old axiom held.
Over on the offensive side of the equation, the key to victory was scoring runs. Stats kept track of who scored the run and who batted in the runner. Common wisdom was that the critical element to the scoring of the run was the action that immediately preceded the run, which was usually a hit which enabled a runner or runners to cross home plate. The home run was king to the run scoring action as hitter drove himself in. It didn’t hurt that chicks dug the long ball. Continue reading