Ryota Igarashi picked up his second win last night, both of which he received after retiring just one hitter (he almost had a third earlier in the season, but the stars didn’t line up that night). This served to remind me that nothing highlights the uselessness of pitcher wins as a statistic more than the one-out win. Think about it: the other pitchers on the staff combined to get 26 (or more) outs and one pitcher comes in, records one out, and gets all the credit (and I didn’t even mention the offense’s role, which is obviously more important as well). It’s a loophole, but boy does it highlight how silly the stat is.
That being said, let’s take a look at one-out wins using Baseball Reference’s Play Index tool. First, the obvious: the one-out win is much more common than it once was, most likely due to the heightened focus on pitch counts and increased specialization in the bullpen. There were 545 one-out wins from 2001 through last night, 431 in the ’90s, 233 in the ’80s, 144 in the ’70s, 142 in the ’60s, and 150 prior to that (the Play Index goes back as far as 1919, so that’s a little more than 40 years). Seeing as how there were more one-out wins in the past 20 years than in the previous 70, it should come as no surprise that most of the leaders in this fluky stat are all from that era. In an interesting coincidence, quite a few of them have ties to the Mets.
11-15 (tie, six one-out wins): Hector Carassco, Alan Embree, Al Hrabosky, Scott Schoenewies, Mike Stanton.
8-10 (tie, seven one-out wins): Buddy Groom, Joe Hoerner, Dan Plesac.
2-7 (tie, eight one-out wins): Paul Assenmacher, Dennis Cook, Pedro Feliciano, Goose Gossage, Felix Heredia, Scott Radinsky.
1 (nine one-out wins): Jessie Orosco.
Quite a few LOOGY-types up there, which makes sense when you think about it. They tend to come in two face a key lefty hitter late in close games, so it figures that they’d be the pitcher of Even Jesse Orosco’s one-out wins (largely) fit this pattern: eight of the nine came in the ’90s after he’d transitioned from closer to LOOGY. Even the one that he got with the Mets came in 1986, a year he split the closing duties with Roger McDowell. Goose Gossage and some of the others don’t fit this usage pattern, but I think it’s safe to say that luck played as much of a role in their one-out wins as it did for the LOOGY’s
One final point for the record: only one of Pedro Feliciano’s one-out wins came on a Ryan Howard strikeout. I would have bet money that the number would have been higher given that he’s faced Howard in 38 plate appearances, but I guess that’s why I shouldn’t gamble. I was in attendance at CBP that day, so that was sweet.