If you have read Omega Wolf’s game recap of NC State’s 1-0 loss to Georgia Tech you now know that Wolfpack ace Carlos Rodon’s win/loss record sits at 3-7. After the game throughout various social media I noticed North Carolina fans and some NC State fans ask "What's wrong with Carlos Rodon?" At first glance his record would lead you to believe that Rodon was having a subpar season, when in reality he has pitched very well this season. Last year Rodon finished with a 2.99 ERA, while this season Rodon currently sports a 2.03 ERA. So even though his win/loss record was far better last season, Rodon is for the most part, pitching better this season. Most fans will alter their perceptions based on the win/loss record even though the run prevention statistics indicate Rodon has been superb.
In this start against Georgia Tech, Rodon allowed 1 run over 9 innings while striking out 15 batters. That is downright dominant but, the NC State offense was shutout for the fifth time this season. Unfortunately run support with Rodon on the mound has been a constant problem for the Wolfpack this season. In his start against Duke, Rodon went 7 and 2/3 innings, allowed only 1 earned run, and struck out 12. Once again the Pack were shut out. Those are only two of his 7 losses this season, but these were clearly two of his best outings this season, his fastball reached 95 miles per hour and his slider was at it’s devastating best. Even with his dominance Rodon was not rewarded with a win.
If you have turned on MLB Network in the last year, you have seen Brian Kenny arguing with Harold Reynolds and Mitch Williams about the value of the "win" statistic. Mitch and Harold will argue that is an accurate measure of a pitchers performance and that some pitchers just have "a will to win." This argument is just nonsense. Too many "old school" baseball statistics fail to recognize context or isolate specific player performance. There is no pitcher at any level of baseball who has more of a "will to win" than Carlos Rodon. He also has a high strikeout rate and allows very few runs, which is far more important than "grit" or whatever Mitch Williams thinks makes a pitcher win baseball games. A pitcher can only control so much and for a win/loss record to be used as an indictment on a players skill or overall fortitude is ridiculous. Sometimes a pitcher loses just because he is unlucky. As the fantastic Social Psychology professor at NC State Dr. Rupert Nacoste likes to say "Sometimes you can do everything right, make no mistakes, and still lose!"
We as fans often fail to notice things until they happen to our team. I just wanted to use this current situation with Rodon to illustrate the flaw in the "win" stat. The advanced stats movement has permeated front offices but somehow it is slower to take hold in mainstream sports media. Relying on wins to judge the success of a pitcher is no longer intelligent analysis. Carlos Rodon has been one of the best pitchers in NC State history and his junior season should not be viewed as a failure because his offense could not score runs.
The readers on this site are highly knowledgeable fans so I assume most of you had already come to this conclusion yourselves. I just hope that the rest of college baseball understands how brilliant Rodon has been over his entire college career and does not overlook his dominance just because of a flawed statistic.