Baseball fans and analysts, though, are way past the point of putting much emphasis on pitcher wins. Many good starting pitchers collect plenty of wins, but starters are also reliant on their teammates to score runs and the bullpen behind them to shut the door. Anyway, the war over pitcher wins has already been fought and won by the sabermetric community (basically acknowledged by Melewski), so let's move along.
Later in the post, Melewski sums things up this way:
At a time when pitcher wins are valued less than ever (and probably rightfully so), can we deny that stellar win-loss percentage with Tillman on the mound? He probably flies under the national radar, but in Baltimore, we have seen that his starts consistently outperform the team as a whole.I'm not sure what he means by denying how much Tillman has won, but it's definitely possible to put too much emphasis on it. And instead of focusing on how much Tillman has won, we can do a better job of comparing his performance to other starting pitchers.
Since 2013, which includes the four seasons in which Tillman has thrown at least 100 innings, here's how he ranks against 76 qualified American League starters:
- t-37th in ERA
- 56th in FIP
- 51st in K/9
- 64th in BB/9
- t-45th in HR/9
- 9th in IP
- t-3rd in wins
Those are the numbers that a sturdy, but perfectly decent starting pitcher would accumulate. So if you think Tillman "flies under the national radar," then you're probably just talking about the Orioles in general, who somehow have stockpiled the most wins (444) in the American League since 2012 (and the fourth-most overall).
Tillman gets credit for pitching against formidable AL East lineups. He gets credit for being the team's best starting pitcher in the Buck Showalter era. And he gets credit for staying relatively healthy and throwing a bunch of innings. Those things, though, don't make him an ace, or even a great pitcher. With Kevin Gausman's rise, Tillman may not even be the best starter in the O's rotation now (and Gausman was arguably better last season).
But Tillman is a good pitcher, and that's important. The Orioles could use more competent starting pitchers, especially since Tillman and some others are impending free agents. But stop building up Tillman to be more than he is just because the Orioles have been one of the most successful teams since Showalter and Dan Duquette joined the organization. Tillman gets credit for a slice of that success, for sure, but let's not go overboard.