I'd like to think that most people would see Cliff Lee's and Cole Hamels' 2012 seasons as a kind of death knell for the pitching "win" as a thing. One (it doesn't even matter which) threw 215 ? innings, another 211; one gave up 79 runs, one 80. One posted a 131 ERA+, one 127. In runs-allowed terms, it's hard to find two more similar pitchers; by the various advanced stats that try to remove luck and defense (FIP, xFIP, etc.), Lee came out just a bit better.

Two left-handed pitchers have the same performance for the same team, and Hamels goes 17-6 while the at-least-equal Lee goes 6-9. It seems clear that these divergent records can't tell us anything. One reader of Bill James' site (laughed off by James -- a friend of his, he explains in response to a later e-mail -- but picked up and tossed to his readers by Tom Tango) disagreed. The gist of his argument was that Lee and Hamels were pitching in different run contexts. They pitched for the same team two or three days apart from one another, yet the reader was convinced that Cliff Lee's numbers look better than they were because he pitched in games that, for some reason, it was harder to score runs than on days when Hamels pitched. His argument was that won-lost record was, "the only stat automatically adjusted to game conditions and environment, etc," and thus "had some value," because it reflected the fact that Hamels pitched better (and in tougher conditions) than Lee.