With Thursday's loss to the Cincinnati Reds, Giants starter Madison Bumgarner entered the running for a most undesirable laurel. Is he the greatest 2-8 pitcher in major league history?
Despite the 21-year-old's lopsided record, his earned-run average just keeps getting lower and lower -- it's down to 3.23 (baseball's average ERA: 3.84). He's gone six innings or more in nine consecutive starts.
Clearly the Giants aren't scoring runs for Bumgarner, but a deeper look at the statistics proves this is damn near pathological. Glancing at run support per pitcher for hurlers who've tossed 60 innings or more, it turns out San Francisco is producing 3.69 runs for every nine innings Bumgarner tosses. That places him 60th in the National League -- out of 61 pitchers. Among all Major Leaguers, Bumgarner gets the 112th-best run support in a contest with 115 entrants.
(To answer your question, only Livan Hernandez of the Washington Nationals gets less support in the NL at 3.64 runs per nine innings. Dan Haren of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim has the worst support in all the realm at 3.57 per nine. This can perhaps be blamed karmically on his team for forcing all of us to write the inane phrase "Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.")
Clearly Bumgarner is the victim of a statistical anomaly. The Giants' offense, never all that shipshape, is sailing into the Bermuda Triangle whenever he takes the mound. No San Francisco pitcher is getting stellar support, but Bumgarner's particularly sour luck just shouldn't continue -- at least if you believe in the sanctity of statistics.
In the meantime, more than a few scribes have compared Bumgarner's plight to that of Matt Cain, who suffered through years of poor run support and himself turned in one of the "best" 7-16 seasons in recent memory.
Look at how much better life has become for Cain. These days, the Giants score 4.94 runs per nine for him. That's the 90th-best total in the league -- out of 115 spots.
Make your best torture joke here.
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