Meche and Pineiro
In life, we like to categorize. We lump things together to lessen the amount of thinking we have to do. Generally, we do this by how much we value certain objects. I might lump Chick-Fil-A, Photoshop CS2, and my Mazda Protege5 into the same “things I’m quite fond of” category, even though there’s no relation between terrific fast food chicken, photo editing software, and my fun new(ish) car.
We do this with baseball players too. I have a group of “my guys”, players like Beltre, Reed, and Soriano, guys I’ve said good things about and who I enjoy watching. We all do it. If you think about it, I’m sure you’ll find that you’ve categorized most of the players on the Mariners, too.
Which brings me to the point of this post. Almost every Mariner fan, it seems, has put Joel Pineiro and Gil Meche into the same category. They’re both perennial disappointments, guys who frustrate with their inconsistencies and who have failed to live up to a level of potential that we established for them. You’ll often see people talk about how the Mariners are counting on rebound seasons from Meche and Pineiro, almost like they’re one entity. As one goes, apparently, so does the other.
Well, I’d like to try to free Joel Pineiro from the clutches of Gil Meche, as much as I can, anyways. It’s odd that I’m now going to bat for Pineiro’s reputation, considering I’ve never been a big fan and always felt that the hype far outweighed the actual talent. But, at this point, it’s pretty much undeniable; Joel Pineiro is underrated by most Mariner fans, and his guilt-by-association pairing with Gil Meche is simply unfair.
Basically, Gil Meche sucks and Joel Pineiro doesn’t.
Lets just take a look at their 2005 seasons, when Pineiro’s ERA was higher than that of Meche, and see just who pitched better.
Innings: Pineiro-189, Meche-143. Winner, Pineiro.
BB/G: Pineiro-2.6, Meche-4.0. Winner, Pineiro.
K/G: Pineiro-5.0, Meche-5.0. Tie. This is as good as its going to get for Meche, by the way.
G/F: Pineiro-1.38, Meche-0.99. Winner, Pineiro.
Pineiro threw more innings, had vastly better control while maintaining a similar contact rate, and managed to induce way more groundballs. Those are all big advantages for Pineiro, yet somehow, Meche posted the lower ERA, and thus, in the eyes of casual fans everywhere, he gets more credit. How did he do it? Simple.
Joel Pineiro didn’t allow an unearned run all season.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone mention this, but it’s staggering. All 118 runs that crossed the plate against Pineiro were charged to his ERA, but 12 percent of the runs Meche allowed (11 of the 92) were ruled unearned, thus keeping his ERA superficially low. As most of you probably know by now, RA actually predicts pitcher performance better than ERA, and letting Meche off the hook for 12 percent of his runs allowed isn’t a very good way to evaluate his pitching ability.
You know that I love Fielding Independant ERA as a way to determine a pitcher’s real value, and the difference here is clear:
Pineiro’s not a great pitcher. He’s not even good. But he’s not terrible. He might even be described as occassionally useful. Gil Meche is terrible. They don’t belong in the same category.
The M’s do need Joel Pineiro to pitch well this year. But they need Gil Meche to just go away.