Monthly archives: October 2006
A slippery field and another errant throw by a Tiger pitcher and we are at the doorstep of an unprecedented World Series victory. I don't think anyone is considering how bad a team the Cardinals are based on the regular season record and how unique their winning a World Series will be.
Sure, there have been mediocre teams that have won a World Series beforethe Twins won just 85 games before a dome-aided championship year in 1987but none have been this mediocre.
Let me demonstrate. First here are the worst baseball champions by winning percentage including the 2006 Cardinals:
Now, here are the ones with the least wins:
So the Cardinals won't have the fewest wins, but they trail (or tie) just a champion from a strike-shortened season, one from a war-shortened season, and two from the nineteenth century when far fewer games were played. Consider that in 1994, when about forty fewer games were played due to a season-ending lockout, the Expos with the best record in baseball had just 9 fewer wins than the '06 Cardinals.
But I think the kicker is the fact that the Cardinals were the 13th best team in baseball this season based on winning percentage. No prior World Series comes close to that sort of mediocrity:
Detroit could still come back. Teams trailing 1-3 have won the given playoff series ten times in baseball history. The last was the Bartman-aided 2003 NLCS victory by the Marlins over the Cubs. The last team to do it in a World Series was the 1985 Royals.
However, teams leading 3-1 have won their playoff series fifty out of sixty times. Given the Tigers luck, especially on balls hit by David Eckstein tonight, I wouldn't bet on it.
Wake Me When It's Over
Yawn, so that's all we get for a World Series game? Two interesting plays?
First, Albert Pujols pulls a Roy Hobbs and goes after a pitch a half-foot off the plateor "platter" as the puckishly annoying Tim McCarver jovially referred to home when Pujols is battingand drives in a couple of runs.
Next, Joel Zumaya, on another Pujols-batted ball, turns an easy 1-4-3 double play into a an E-1 with two runs allowed on an ill-advised throw to third in an inexplicably bad defensive play. The ever-quotable McCarver kept harping on the difficulty of a 1-5-3 double play when clearly Zumaya was just going for the lead runner. Either he lost count of the outs or he thought that trading a two-out, man on third situation for a one out, men at first at second was a good deal. Or he just reacted. Or maybe he's justy a fallible rookie. Maybe they should stop talking about Jim Leyland's cleats and his friendship with Tony LaRussa, and ask why his pitcher doesn't know what base to throw to on a pretty basic play in a huge game.
Whatever the reason, it was a most egregious play.
OK, those were pretty interesting, but when the lead sports story on local New York news is the Yankee Santa Claus airplane ornament controversy, you know it was a slow game. As for Santa-gate, it's another non-story. The Yankees are trying to merchandise like crazy to defray the costs of their elephantine payroll. No one intentionally tried to disrespect Corey Lidle, the Yankee pitcher who was recently killed in a plane crash in Manhattan. I'm sure they planned the Christmas crapfest months ago. Besides, what are airplanes now taboo because of Corey Lidle?
So TV ratings are at an all-time low. We have the 13th best team in baseball (by regular-season record) leading the AL wild card two games to one ..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
What Is That Stuff on Kenny Rogers's Hand?
(A variation on the song "What is That Thing on Aaron Neville's Face?")
Kenny Rogers can't leave good enough alone. Last season, he was having the season of his life and was in the thick of the Cy Young hunt. So what does he do? He shoves a cameraman or two and oddly enough, it's all on videotape. He ends up suspended for twenty games (but was later reinstated by an independent arbitrator) and is fined $50K, later is charged with misdemeanor assault, and then slinks off to Detroit as a free agent in the offseason.
After a solid year in Detroit, there were allegations that he grabbed a fan near the ballpark when the man's son, with an injured leg yet, asked for an autographshades of Mr. Scrooge and Tiny Tim?
Now, he is being transformed into a cult hero by helping to shut out his ex-teammates, the Yankees, in the pivotal game three of the Division Series. He then pitches 7.1 innings of shutout ball against the A's in game three of the ALCS en route to a four-game sweep. Next up, he pitches eight innings of a shutout of the Cardinals in game two of the World Series, a game that the Tigers, down one game to none at home, very much needed to win. Rogers is now sixth on the all-time consecutive scoreless postseason innings list:
So Rogers should be on top of the world, right?
There's a little problemyou may have heard. The FOX cameras picked up some sort of substance that looked very much like pine tar on Rogers's pitching hand in the first inning. They even intimated that the Cardinals, who presumably would have someone watching in the clubhouse, should look into it. Next, Tony LaRussa came out and discussed an issue with the homeplate ump between innings. Then, when the second inning started, the substance, whatever it was, was gone. FOX ran a side by side comparison which made the difference clear, thereby justifying their existence with or without the otherwise execrable coverage (and multiple foistings of former American Idol losers on the American public whenever a song is needed in the game).
Rogers did go on to pitch seven more shutout innings, but the controversy today is whether he cheated in the first place. The situated was apparently complicated by the umpiring crew's reluctance to investigate the substance followed by their request that Rogers wash it off, which he did. So if the substance needed to be removed, wasn't it illegal? And if it wasn't illegal, why did he need to wash it off? The logic will is dizzying.
There are reports that Cardinal batters reported that the ball was moving in unexpected ways. Did the umpiring crew follow up on the complaint or did they just attempt to sweep it under the rug?
The story seemed to change from there not being any inspection whatsoever to the umps finding that it was dirt. But they never really inspected it. Then again, they looked enough to ask him to wash up.
Whether there was an out-an-out cover-up or the non-inspection was conducted due to the umps' incompetence is hard to say. But it's another black eye for a sport that doesn't need one in a game that is on a national stage, especially after two Midwest teams that choked down the stretch and backed into the playoffs (one as a wild card and another with just 83 wins) are meeting in the World Series. Reportedly, a similar substance was found on his hand upon review in all three of Rogers's playoff starts.
If this series reaches game five, Rogers' next turn in the rotation, the coverage of his left hand will surpass that of the Rally Monkey in 2002. If Rogers pulls a Jack Morris and pitches a complete-game shutout, wins the World Series, and simultaneously breaks Mariano Rivera's consecutive shutout record, it will be the highlight of his career but the talk will be about the "substance".
I blame the umps for losing control of the situation, but most will probably blame Rogers, and I can't say that I would feel sorry for the guy given his past. I guess it makes a rather bland Series a bit more controversial and potentially interesting for the average fan. I guess that's something, but if I were Bud Selig I would rather have the fans interested in the game itself. Then again, Bud probably wouldn't mind if it helps the ratings.
Anyway, I wondered if Rogers's was the most unexpected postseason for a pitcher given his regular-season performance, so I looked it up. I ran the numbers for the expected earned runs for a pitcher in a postseason based on his innings pitched and his regular-season ERA. Rogers came in fourth, but had the highest total for a pitcher who did not allow an earned run:
As for the pitchers who performed well below expectation, I'm proud to say former Phillie Tommy Greene leads the modern pitchers in postseason putrescence:
Have You Ever Been Experienced?
My article on the importance of playoff experience is up at the Baseball Prospectus site.
The World Series starts tonight with the Detroit Tigers returning from a weeklong hiatus. Given that the Tigers and superior to the Cardinals at the plate and on the mound, some may say that the extended downtime might make them rusty and susceptible to a few quick losses in the World Series.
Personally, my prediction for the Series, to quote the estimable Mr. T, is "Pain." I think the Tigers will outclass the Cards so badly that they will cal the series after three games out of mercy. Then again, I picked the A's to win it all.
The only thing more distasteful in this series than having to survive McCarver's remembrances of the 1968 World Series is that I have to root for a wild card to beat the worst team in the Series since the 1973 Mets. I'm too young to remember that Mets team, but I remember the Kirby Puckett Twins team in 1987 (85-77), and I don't want to go through that again.
Anyway, as far as rustiness is concerned, I looked at all playoff teams that had at least a six-day break between series, and I don't think there's much of a concern. Here they are with the gap between each series and their playoff results:
Note that these teams have a .641 winning percentage in the postseason, they won three quarters of the playoff series they played, and 56% won the World Series.
Game 7—Seventh Heaven or Severe Hype?
As the Mets and Cardinals prepare for game seven of the National League Championship Series, I am left to wonder if we will get more magic game seven moments like Aaron Boone's 11th inning home run in the 2003 ALCS, two balls skipping over Fred Lindstrom's headone in the twelfth inning that lost the gamein the 1924 World Series, Jack Morris's ten-inning shutout in the 1991 World Series, Snodgrass's muff in the 1912 World Series, Maz's homer in the bottom of the ninth in the 1960 Series, and Francisco Cabrera's two-out game-winner in the ninth in the 1992 ALCS.
Great moments all, but no one ever mentions the Braves 15-0 drubbing of the Cards in the seventh game of 1996 NLCS or the Royals anticlimactic 11-0 game seven win over the Cards in the 1985 Series. How about Johnny Kucks and the Yankees pummeling Don Newcombe and the Dodgers 9-0 in the 1956 World Series, the Bums last playoff game in Brooklyn? Nope, it never gets a mention even with Yogi Berra hitting two homers and Moose Skowron hitting the first grand slam in World Series history.
So does Game Seven live up to its billing or is it just another playoff game that gets over-hyped? I know the "winner takes all" quality adds another layer to the game, but does game seven actually live up to those expectations? Let's call it the Chuck D theory. You know, "Don't believe the hype."
Well, how does game seven compare to other playoff games? Does it produce closer, and therefore, more exciting baseball games? One would assume that the teams are more closely matched given that they have to go to the full slate of games to determine a winner. They should be the closest games of a series, at least on average, right?
Let's put it to the test. Below are the average scores for each game in a five-, seven-, and nine-game playoff series. For each the average margin of victory and number of games are also listed. At the bottom are the overall averages, the average in the final game of series in which the full slate were played (i.e., 5 games in a 5-game series, 7 in a 7-game series), and finally the average in deciding game in all series:
(Note: * = includes two tie ballgames, **=includes three ties)
Apparently, game seven has produced the largest margin of victory on average (3.57 runs) of any game in a seven-game series. It's the only game of the seven in which the losing team scores less than two runs on average.
The average margin of victory in a "full slate" game is slightly closer overall than the average deciding game (3.14 runs vs. 3.21 runs), but that is largely due to game five numbers in a five-game series. In those games on average, the winning team just nudges past the loser by 2.38 runs (5.19-2.81). That's the lowest average margin of victory for any game in a five- or seven-game series.
So Game Seven has created some great moments, but there's no reason to expect anything more than any other playoff game. That might especially be the case when Oliver Perez and Jeff Suppan constitute the pitching matchup.
Also, the Mets should be happy to have the homefield advantage for game seven, but if history means anything, again, homefield means nothing more in game seven than in any other game. Actually, game one has been the one most dominated by the home team:
Finally, I leave you with the all the one-run wins in a game seven. Let's hope tonight's game is good enough to join the list:
Never Tell Me the Odds!
As the Mets return home to Shea for game six, they face the threat of elimination at the hands of Cardinal ace Chris Carpenter. The Mets threadbare rotation turns to rookie John Maine, who last just four innings in a 9-6 game two loss.
It may be an understatement to say that it doesn't look good for the Mets. They have two win the last two games of the series at home, and they don't even know who the starter might be tomorrow if they end up winning tonight.
But given the general oddness of this entire postseason, I am reluctant to count the Mets out just yet.
I would rather look at the historical record to determine what it says about the Mets' odds. I looked up all seven-game playoffs series in which the team trailing three games to two played hosts for game six.
There were 82 such series. Of these, the trailing team won game six 46 times. That translates into a .561 winning percentage. So the odds are in the Mets favor for a win tonight, but what about the entire series?
Of the 46 teams that won game six, 26 won game seven. (Note that one series switched hosts for game six and seven, the 1912 World Series, which the once 3-2 leading Red Sox won. I choice to keep them in the study even though game seven was in Boston.)That's an even better winning percentage, .565.
So it looks like the odds are in the Mets favor, right? Well, no.
They have a slightly better than a 50-50 shot in each game, but overall they have about a 1-in -3 chance (31.71% to be exact). That's considerably better than the 1-in-4 chance they would have if all things were equal (i.e., 50-50 for each game).
My next question is if the winning percentages in game six and seven above are just a result of having a home field advantage. What is the home field advantage in the postseason anyway?
I looked it up. From the 1903 World Series through this year's ALCS (but omitting the yet complete NLCS), the home team has won 625 games while the visitors have won 534. That's a .539 winning percentage, which is almost midway between the percentages we see in game six and seven when the home team initially trails two games to three.
It seems that for some reason the added pressure almost doubles the home field affect. It may have to do with the fact that the home teams in game six and seven are typically the higher seeded team, at least in intraleague series. However, that has no bearing on World Series games which until very recently alternated the homefield for games six and seven between the two leagues.
So there may be something to a slight advantage for the Mets in each of these two games. But remember that the overall effect is still in the Cardinals favor.
I hope that clears it up.
By the way, here are the 26 series in which the team trailing two games to three went home in game six and won the series. The last instances were both LCS's in 2004:
The Mets Are Gettin' Upset!
When the League Championship round began, I expected that the result would be a replay of the 1973 World Series. I may have guessed wrong when I tabbed the A's and Mets, but I may have been correct with the '73 Series replay.
In 1973, the Mets with an 82-79 record beat the 99-win Big Red Machine to face and lose to the A's, who owed a 94-68 record and beat the 97-win O's. The two worst teams that made the playoffs in 1973and this was without the aid of the wild cardgot to World Series. This is largely forgotten given how bad the Mets were that year and given that the A's were in the midst of their dynasty.
This year the Tigers won 95 and were the fourth seed in the AL playoffs, but they would be heavy favorites over the 83-78 Cards. I wouldn't even predict a four-game sweep. I think the Series would be mercifully called after three. Carpenter will again face AL batters, Yadier Molina will go back to hitting like his brothers, and if the Pujols injury worsens, it could get really ugly.
Can we get the old nineteenth-century 21-run rule put back in effect? That was the one that stipulated that a game would be euthanized after one team got a 21-run lead. I think they still use it in little league games. It's called the Buttermaker codicil.
If the Cardinals win, it will be the fifth greatest upset in playoff history (based on winning percentages). The differences between the Mets' and Cards' winning percentages (.599 and .516) would be more than two and half standard deviations from the norm for a postseason series (std dev= 0.0328).
The greatest upset using this method was the no-hit 1906 Whie Sox World Series win over the crosstown Cubbies. Here are the biggest upsets in playoff history:
But before we label the Tigers and Cardinals potential World Series matchup as the biggest mismatch in postseason history, keep in mind that the winning percentage differential (0.071) would be the 43rd biggest mismatch in playoff history, just fractions of percentage points ahead of the '73 A's/Mets Series matchup. And if the Tigers cream the Cards, it wouldn't come close to the biggest non-upset in playoff history
Below are the biggest non-upsetsthat is, the biggest mismatches in which the "better" team wonin baseball history. It's dominated by the '98 Yanks and 2001 M's historically good teams:
Quien NO Es Mas Macha?
What wizard by yon holy tree
In a surprise move today, the A's let go their manager of four seasons, Ken Macha, citing problems dealing with players. Macha owns a 368-280 record which translates into a .568 winning percentage. He has won the division twice in his four years. In the other two years, his teams finished second, one game and seven games out of first. He also got them over their supposed first-round jinx by sweeping the Twins in the first round.
At that point it seemed inconceivable that Macha would be let go. Then, the Tigers swept the A's in the ALCS, and two days later he is unemployed.
The thing is as sweeps go, it wasn't that great a beating. Of the 57 sweeps in the postseason (including the three this year), the A's come in tied for 29th in average margin of victory, or rather loss here. On average the Tigers beat the A's by 3.25 runs per game. The A's were basically in every ballgame, losing once by 4 runs and three times by three runs.
Here are the most one-sided sweeps in playoff history:
At the other end of the spectrum, the closest sweeps were both in the World Series. In 1950 the Yankees beat the Whiz Kid Phils by an average of 1.5 runs, and last year the White Sox beat the Astros by the same average margin.
I think that instead of blaming Macha's apparently poor communication skills, I think the A's would have been better served in pointing to how he handled his pitching staff in the playoff especially game four. There seemed to be no immediacy in his moves even though it was an elimination game. Then there was the fact that he had no answer to Mark Ellis's injury--D'Angelo Jimenez killed the A's offensively and defensively, but that might have been more of a Billy Beane issue. And Macha had no control over the anemic offense of Frank Thomas, Nick Swisher, and Marco Scutaro, not to mention Eric Chavez's inability to complete an easy play.
Whatever the reason, Macha becomes the ninth manager all time to lose his job after a postseason sweep:
With the Phils enlisting ex-managers en masse to serve as Charlie "I Need a Friggin'" Manuel's heirs apparent on the coaching staff (i.e., Jimy Williams, Art Howe, and Davey Lopes), I expect Macha to be enlisted as a bat boy or a bullpen pitcher before the season starts.
Perez and Reyes and Pray the AL Champs Don't Kill Us
The matchup in tonight's NLCS is arguably the worst for a playoff game all time. The Mets sent Oliver Perez (3-13, 6.55 ERA) up against the Cards' Anthony Reyes (5-8, 5.06). Much was said about the matchup by FOX and the other press, but the result was that neither pitched that badly. The Mets led 11-5, but the overrated Cardinal pen has been the culprit.
It did make me wonder how the duo falls in the list of worst record for a playoff game starter, however.
Here are the worst by winning percentage. Note that Perez (.188) would top the list and Reyes (.385) would make it in the bottom 25 as well:
(How did the 2001 D-Backs win it all anyway?)
Here are the worst by ERA. Again Perez would be the worst and Reyes would make the list:
For WHIP, Perez is fourth worst (1.75) and Reyes (1.38) misses the list:
They fail to qualify for the worst K:BB ratios:
Nor do they make the strikeouts-per-nine-innings list:
This has been an odd postseason. I never thought Detroit could dominate like they have. I never expected the Cardinals to score nine runs in a game. I didn't expect the Tigers to score eight runs in a game in which Neifi Perez and Alexis Gomez started. And I never expected the home run feats by Alexis Gomez, So Taguchi, and Jeff Suppan.
Suppan homered tonight to help put the Cards up two games to one in the NLCS. Suppan's last (and only other) home run came on September 10, 2005, and it came off ofyou guessed itSteve Trachsel. In 260 previous regular-season and playoff at-bats, Suppan had hit just that one home run.
Gomez may be even odder. He had a home run and four RBI in game two of the ALCS after amassing just 6 RBI and one home run this season and 11 RBI and 1 homer in the 28-year-old's four-year career (158 ABs).
Suppan and Gomez join a short list of players who matched their career home run total with his production in one playoff series. The last was Melvin Mora in 1999, though I remember George Vukovich's unexpected homer in the 1981 division series against the Expos. You'll notice that a bunch of these guys were pitchers:
Gomez came up short, but if he had matched his career total of 11 RBI in the ALCS, he would have joined this exclusive group:
As for men that have matched or exceed their home run totals for the regular season in a playoff series, there were 57 previous men to do so (Suppan, Gomez, and Taguchi joined them this year). Here are the last ten:
As for RBI, there were 36. Here are the last ten:
Now, Taguchi might be the oddest of the three. He has two at-bats this postseason and in both he homered. He hit a home run, his second, to put the Cardinals ahead to stay in game 2. His two homers this postseason after collecting just two all year (in 134 games and 316 at-bats).
Taguchi is on a short list of men who hit multiple homers in the postseason while matching or exceeding his regular-season home run total. Oddly, Willie Randolph (1981) is the only player on the list to homer at least three times:
Taguchi joined another exclusive list when he hit a homer in his only at-bat in the division series, men who homered in every at-bat in a playoff series:
If he can keep it up for the entire postseason, he will join an even shorter list. Right now he is the only man on the list with more than one home run:
Notes from a Game 2 Opener at Shea
When my friend Mike offered me a ticket for game two of the NLCS with a projected matchup of Jeff Suppan and John Maine, little did I know that it would turn into the series opener with a future Hall-of-Famer pitching seven innings of a shutout. I was more worried that the ballgame would be postponed given the weather forecasts at the beginning of the week.
As a matter of fact, I don't think I could have expected a nice day for a ballgame. It turned out to be a beautiful day with a perfectly clear sky. I completed my three hour and forty-five minutes commutedon't askto arrive at the ballpark a good forty-five minutes before game time. That was just enough time to grab some food and settle into our seats. Unfortunately, the line the continually wound out the door of the only men's room in our vicinity was not as accommodating. No wonder they are replacing this tin can.
Which reminds me, as I exited the 7 train and sited the ballpark, the first thing I heard was a mock argument between two Mets fans: "It's the worst ballpark in baseball." "No, it's the best ballpark in baseball." Meaningless banter, but it was full of festive spirit and blissful enthusiasm for the game. That set the tone for the night.
The Mets fans, with whom I have had my share of unpleasant run-ins in the past and of whom I have not had the nicest comments, were in fine form. Yes, the still cheered for every fly out to centeris something off with the site lines there?and they continually stood for every two-strike count to a Cardinal, no matter the situation or path taken to get to that two-strike count. My impression of most Mets fans is that they are displaced Bruce Springsteen fans in mismatched jerseys, which did not change. But it was all in convivial abandon. (By the way, the jersey of the night was a #66 Rick Ankiel special on a putative Cardinals fan.)
I guess it didn't hurt that I was, for once, rooting for the Shea men. Being a National League fan, I can't stomach any NL team but the Mets facing the rep from the superior AL. But it wasn't only that. They had their moments. I have to say the "Jose, Jose Jose Jose" chant for Jose Reyes is enjoyable. I had to laugh when the fans greeted their former closer with "Looper sucks!" chantsI wonder how that played on TV. It even got my nose out of my scorecard to laugh and join in (though I changed it to "Hooten sucks", my homage to the 1977 NLCS). And a pair of Cards fans, father and son, wearing Pujols jerseys were left completely unmolested even when Pujols was doubled off of first on a line out.
Watching the game last night, it's shocking to me that the Cards lineup could score nine runs in a game as they did tonight. Glavine was masterful, but when a team has Juan Encarnacion batting cleanup, they are doing you a favor. The Cards did the Mets a favor as well in letting themselves get doubled off on a line drive to end an inning in two consecutive innings, the third and fourth (Pujols). The Pujols one in particular was inexcusable.
Recriminations fester. The past can never change Expectations come from both ends of the range.
The panic continues to set in for the most successful team in sport. Now, George Steinbrenner denies the rumor that Yankee manager Joe Torre is on his way out. (Could Brian Cashman have been deflecting criticism by casting aspersions on Torre?) Lou Piniella is not headed back to the Bronx to replace Torre.
Today, that is.
Of course, how the Yankees expect to address their deficiencies on the field is an open question. Some blamed Alex Rodriguez and demanded he be traded. Some blamed Yankee captain Derek Jeter for never embracing A-Rod, letting some ancient comments by him create a supposed rift on the team. Then there are the real holes, starting pitching and middle relief, which are on the back burner.
As a Phillies fan, all I can say is "Waaaaah!" (to quote Artie Lange) So the Yankees have lost in the postseason for six straight yearshey, I am still waiting for my team to make it to the postseason in six straight years, or even one straight would be welcomed. The most consecutive postseasons appearances for the Phils was three, and that was almost thirty years ago (1976-78). They have only made two straight appearances one other time (1980-81).
But is this a particularly arid period for the Yankees? In a word, yes. Before 2001, the Yankees had never lost in more than two straight postseasons, and in those instances the Yankees had at least one World Series appearance in the mix:
Of course, losing in six straight postseasons is merely a measure of success in the three-round era of the playoffs. The only two clubs to even reach the postseason in six straight seasons are the Yankees (1995-2006) and Braves (1995-2005) and both started their runs after the introduction of the division series.
The Braves, coincidentally, are also the only club besides the Yankees to be get ousted from the playoffs in six straight seasons (actually, 11 straight, 1996 to 2005, and twice to the Yankees in the World Series, 1996 and 1999), earning the nickname Atlanta Bills.
Here are the clubs that lost in the postseason 6 straight years:
Now 5 straight:
Finally, three straight (with a cameo by my Phils):
Does Pitching Beat Hitting?
Well, almost everything went according to plan in the first round. The Mets swept the Dodgers just as I predicted. Oakland and St. Louis won though in one fewer game than I predicted. However, I was way off on the Yankees-Tigers series, and I am not the only one.
When the series started, the broadcast crew was hailing the Yankees as a modern "Murderers' Row and Cano" (as McCarver dubbed them). Meanwhile, the Tigers were reeling as the playoffs approached, losing five straightnot to mention the division on the last day of the seasonand being swept in their final series by the execrable Royals.
The series opened as expected, with an 8-4 Yankee win, but after rain delayed game two the next night, the Yankees never seemed to be in the final three games. After going ahead 3-1 in the fourth inning of the rescheduled game two, the Yankees went the next 20-2/3 innings without scoring a run. Their next run came when they were already down two games to one and were losing 8-0 in game four, with a little under three innings remaining.
So what happened?
Obviously, the Yankees offense was the most salient issue. Of course, not scoring runs in the playoffs will end with the other team drinking the bubbly, but anyone who watched the Yankees this season, or over the last couple of seasons, knows that their problems have been pitching. Indeed it's been the problem at least since the ill-advised signings of Carl Pavano and Jaret Wrightwho lost game four? And their middle relief has been worsening for years, from a great asset about a decade ago to an Achilles heel today. Pitching should be their focus in the offseason.
Some will say that the Yankees were doomed because of the adage that pitching always beats hitting. The great Yankee offense was held at bay by the Tiger staff while the sub-par Yankee pitching staff could not overcome the Detroit offense. That's what conventional wisdom would say.
But I have to ask whether we actually know this to be true, as in can it be tested by the historical record. So I tried
For each playoff series, I compared the winning percentage of the winner with a variety of statistics to determine which had he biggest connection to winning. I looked at the regular season winning percentage of both teams as well as the expected winning percentage based on runs scored and allowed. I took each team's ERA to test the pitching and the batting average, on-base percentage, slugging average, and OPS (on-base plus slugging) to test offense. For each, I took the ratio of the playoff series winner's value to the loser's.
First, let me say that none of these values correlate to postseason success very well, which is blanket indictment for any theory generalizing why some teams beat other teams in the postseason. However, looking at how well these various statistics correspond to postseason success, I think the adage about pitching beating hitting is on less sure footing than almost any other one can dream up.
The stats that correlated best to postseason success were, not surprisingly, regular-season winning percentage (coefficient of .280) and expected winning percentage (.242).
Actually, OBP is slightly ahead of expected winning percentage (for now), but the other stats aren't even close:
From these results, ERA, our representative for pitching prowess, correlates worse to postseason success than anything except batting average, which it beats out by a hair. In this series, though, the Yanks came in with a major-league leading .363 OBP while Detroit was 24th in the majors at .329. Keep in mind that Detroit's ERA (3.84) led the majors while New York was 12th (4.41). There must be something more to this correlation.
Could it be that taking the stats at face value misrepresents their actual meaning? Remember that for decades the postseason consisted solely of a World Series between two leagues that had totally separate sets of data. The stats would then be taken out of context.
I reran the numbers with the stats adjusted for the league average. The results weren't much better:
The offensive stats did a little worse, but OBP was still the victor. However, it became clearer that regular season winning percentage and expected percentage were by far the best means to predict a series winner.
I think the Yankees' woes had more to do with the shortcomings of the playoff system itself, and that's something I will be exploring in a piece with Baseball Prospectus.
As I watched the Mets shellack the Dodgers, 4-1, tonightif you're entire offense is Wilson Betemit, you've had a bad nightand inch closer to my prediction of a sweep, I couldn't help but notice, being a Phils fan and all, that there seem to be more ex-Phils strewn across the various playoff rosters than Phils on their current roster, given that half the team is one the way out of the revolving door that constitutes the team's short-, middle-, and long-range plans. The Mets had Endy Chavez start in right, called in Billy Wagner to close, and pinch-hit with Julio Franco while the Dodgers (inexplicably) started ex-Phils second baseman Marlon Anderson in left.
There are actually four former Philly third basemen peppering the various playoff rosters: Franco (who was mostly a shortstop when the Phils promoted him three decades ago), Nick Punto in Minnesota, ex-"Clubhouse Cancer" Scot Rolen, and Placido Polanco. In total their 16 ex-Phillies still active in the postseason. Besides the ones already mentioned there are Carlos Silva, Michael Tucker, Bobby Abreu, Sal Fasano Corey Lidle, Todd Jones, Josh Hancock, Gary Bennett, and the infamous Robert Horrendous.
I wondered if this was some sort of "record". Was there ever another team that had more ex-teammates playing in the postseason while that team sat at home and watched the playoffs on TV?
It turns out that the Phils don't hold the "record", but they are up there:
You might think that this preoccupation with ex-Phils is rather odd, but if you followed the team, you would know that seeing an odd Nick Punto or Gary Bennett make it to the World Series, it's as if the Phils made it there. That's as close as we get besides the occasional Series lambasting every decade or so. It's like cheering for your team's sole All-Star rep even if it is Wayne Twitchell.
I Don't Know—Third Base!
By now you've seen the replay a dozen times. Heck, with the rainout last night, you've seen Bobby Meacham and Dale Berra tagged out by Carlton Fisk in those ugly mid-Eighties Chisox unis at least three times. You may have even seen Carlos Cerrano and Willie Mays Hayes from "Major League" actually pulling off the unlikely play. However, I still have to comment on one of the worst baserunning plays I have ever witnessed.
After both Jeff Kent and J.D. Drew were both tagged out at home on the same play, some blame has to be assessed. According to the incessant Baseball Tonight assessment (by the way, looking at Eric Byrnes's Michael Irvin suit, I have to ask where these athletes get these crazy pinstripe suits), Kent was the only one to blame. At least that was Tim Kirkjian's takeKent should have known that Shawn Green had no chance to catch the ball. I beg to differ. In my opinion it should be doled out thusly:
First and foremost, Drew is to blame, and I don't say that just because I am a Phillies fan. Anything can happen on the basepaths. Kent could have tripped, could have misses a base, came up lame, etc. The trailing running has to have some sort of idea of where the lead runner is to determine is baserunning strategy.
Kent should have scored easily but apparently from Kent's vantage point at second base it was difficult to determine whether or not the ball would be caught. At first, Drew had a completely different angle and could tell right away that Green had no chance to get to the ball. That's, of course, what caused the problem in the first place. But once the play was underway, it was apparent that there would be, or at least could be, a play at the plate on Kent. Given Drew was a good 25 to 30 feet behind Kent, I am not sure what impelled him toward home a second or two after Kent was already tagged out. It's difficult to determine from the replay angles, but Drew seemed to have enough time to least attempt to return to third.
Also, according to third base coach Rich Donnelly, he would have preferred to hold Kent at third after he hesitated at second but he was forced to send Kent home or risk having two men at third. So he forced the Dodgers into a position which caused the first out.
In Donnelly's own words: "As I was about to hold Jeff up, I said, 'Uh-ohhh,' " Donnelly said, "because here came J.D., about 10 feet behind him. So what am I supposed to do? I can't hold them both. And I can't send them both. So I said, I'd better send Jeff and hope they screw up the relay or something."
Then inexplicably he followed Kent home, directly causing the second out.
The only explanation was that Drew ran from first to home with carefree abandon, as if he were the only runner on the play on a team that had no third base coach. Drew is entire trek on the basepaths is inexplicable to me. He deserves the bulk of the blame for he botched play.
Next, Donnelly deserves some blame for not doing his part in holding Drew up at third. Maybe he couldn't have stopped the rampaging Drew, but he could have at least attempted to signal the trailing runner.
Continuing Donnelly's quote above after he sent Kent home, "But then, all of a sudden, I look up, and there goes J.D. right by me."
We did he have to look up? OK, he sends Kent home. Drew was a bit more than the ten feet Donnelly claimed behind Kent. Donnelly should have gone on to signal to Drew as vehemently as possible to hold up at third. Kirkjian said that it appeared Donnelly was looking at the play at home. Why? Other than a ball getting kicked free and allowing the trailing runner to score, there was no information that Donnelly could have obtained by watching the Kent play at home.
Maybe Donnelly could not have stopped the debacle, but it's his job to try. Fielders routinely back up bases on plays that may never come to fruition. Batters run to first even on plays in which it is apparent that they will be out. Coaches have to do their job and signal the runners even if it is apparent that they should know what to do.
In my opinion, Donnelly, though less blameworthy, deserves to be fired in the offseason for his inactivity on the play.
Hong-Chih Kuo crashed the ex-Brave Hall-of-Fame party (Maddux vs. Glavine) by drawing the starting pitching assignment today for the Dodgers based largely on his September 8 win, his only career major-league win so far, at Shea Stadium. Kuo was just 1-5 with a 4.22 ERA and only five games started in the regular season.
Kuo will becomes the first pitcher since 1886 to start a postseason game with one or fewer win. This seems like a lot to ask of a young player, especially when a loss puts the Dodgers in a deep, deep 2-0 hole. However, given how inexperienced starters have fared in the past, it may not be as bad a gamble as one would expect.
Here are all of the pitchers who have started a postseason game with fewer than seven career wins at the time of the start. For each, first the postseason stats and then the career-to-date stats appear. Note that they are 9-6 overall with a 3.65 even though their career record was 115-117, 3.85 overall:
Yankee-Tigers Game One Running Log
Pregame: What the frig is this? Rock Star Supernova doing the opening credits?
Oh, Audioslave...Remember when Rage Against the Machine was actually cool. Yeah, you're old, too.
Jeannie Zelasko has been shellacked for the occasion. Nice. Kevin Kennedy! Jeannie Zelasko! Let the pain begin!
I'm feeling good because two of the teams I picked in this round actually won, and both did it on the road. That's the worst indictment of this playoff system...If the home team loses game one, they are in deep doodoo.
El Duque is out. That's a bigger blow then Pedro in my opinion, since no one knew what Martines would be able to do anyway. Glavine may move up on three days rest. Damn, there goes the dream matchup in game 2.
Those Fox bastards are putting House on tomorrow directly against the Lost premier and a playoff game ostensibly on ESPN. Dang!
Ah, the obligatory A-Rod choke analysis. Remember when they did the same thing with Bonds?
Speaking of Bonds, there's an entry on SABR-L saying that Bonds was overlooked for the NL OBP crown. He fell a few plate appearances short, but if unsuccessful plate appearances were added to his totals, he would still have won, the argument goes. The only problem is the rule has no provision for OBP just batting and slugging average:
MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
To assure uniformity in establishing the batting, pitching and fielding championships of professional leagues, such champions shall meet the following minimum performance standards:
Joe Buck AND Timmie Mac! Oh joy of joys. And I thought Chris Berman calling the ESPN games was bad.
Grunderson flies out
Polanco--Oh mercy, there are three ex-Phils thirdbasemen in the playoffs. tapped to Wang.
Casey--slow roller to second. Why is this guy batting third? Then again, why is Grunderson leading off?
Wang looks good.
By the way, the "pundits" are making a big deal of Sheffield playing first. Does anyone rememebr he came up as a shortstop.
A-Rod batting sixth. Kind of odd given that a lefty is pitching.
Damon--slow roller to Polanco.
Jeter--Lines to left. You know, Big Popup was very quiet down the stretch as his team sank to third, but that should not count against him in the MVP vote.
Abreu--I love this guy, miss him. Buck is going over the Yankees payroll and explaining how deep a hole the Yanks were in at the corner OF position. Odd after he said their making the playoffs was a fait accomplis all season in the pregame. grounds to first--FC.
Sheffield--I love watching this guy swing. Flies out to straightaway center. Bad pitch--Pudge set up inside, pitch was outside and high.
Ordonez--Nice slider to start him. Wang threw same pitch and Ordonez clocked it. Double to Left-center wall.
Guillen--why is he batting fifth with Casey at third?
Ordonez looks like Damon circa 2005 with that hair. Ridiculous. Where's Oscar Gamble?
3-0. Guillen just missed a hittable high fastball. Ooph.
Wang wisely goes away on next pitch, 3-2. Low. Walks him.
Ooh, we get a Weekly Reader map of Taiwan. Nice way to know the audience! Americans can't find Detroit on a map.
Runners go on second pitch... Swing and a miss. Out at third. That's the way to play microscopic ball. Way to help the pitcher!
1-2, man on second.
2-2. Pudge swings at a sinker on the ground.
Timmie Mac--Sinker feels like a bowling ball--what does that mean?
Monroe--grounds to short to end it. Nice inning!
A-Rod--Nice hand from the crowd. Classy. 2-1. High late call--strike. Next pitch, the same, but a ball.
Robertson missed his spot again. Outside, fouled off. Next pitch, the same. Lined to Polanco. Giambi gets back.
Matsui--flies out weakly to left.
Posada--soft grounder. Boy, Guillen has no range. 1st and 2nd.
Cano--"Mudrerers Row and Cano"--Ha ha ha, rhyming is so fun! Dribbler to third.
OK, let's see if Wang settles down after a gift in the second and with the bottom of the lineup up.
Thames--bloop single right inside (3") the left field line. Matsui dogs it. Thames who had stopped goes to 2nd. Matsui is looking for fan interference which replays show doesn't exist. That's called a double?
Inge--grounder between short and third. A-Rod. Out at first. The runner has to hold.
Granderson--"It's October" sign--thanks I'll reset my calendar.
Single past Cano. Lamont holds up Thames at third. Surprised they are not challenging Abreu's arm.
Polanco--Timmy Mac explains hitting to the rightside to us baseball idiots.
Nice DP. Jeter deep to his right. Very close at first. Wang gets lucky again.
"Asmanex"--my second favorite medicinal name behind "FloNase".
Damon--Robertson blowing bubbles on the mound. Bob Gibson would throw at ballplayers who blew bubbles.
Timmy Mac, "I'm not one of those 'Back in my day'...but the pitcher would have handled that (guy on deck too close to home)" classic!
Dribbler past Robertson. He should have used some of that gum. Single.
Jeter--0-2 on very high heat. High. Low. 2-2. Robertson seems worried about Damon. Low.
Damon goes. Ball right past lunging Guillen. Could very easily have been doubled off, but Guillen was headed to 2nd. 2nd and third.
Abreu--Spike Lee sighting. Gapper to right center. 2-0. Abreu to second.
Robertson looks very shaky. Leyland to mound. They should get someone up pronto.
Sheff-liner to right. Looks like BP. 3-0 NYC.
Robertson is throwing high with nothing on it. Even I, or at least Steve Jeltz, could hit it.
Giambi--I don't see anyone up yet. 0-2.
Robertson very worried about Sheffield at first. Very high fly ball to the stands in right but thirty feet foul. Another foul, still 1-2.
Giambi hits a very high HR, just clears RF wall. Looks like the foul one, just straightened out a bit. 5-0 Yanks. He just turned on that. Robertson missed spot again--should've been outside.
A-Rod--strokes one off the shoetops. single. So what, is Leyland throwing in the towel on game one?
Matsui--pitch in the dirt. Grilli finally up in pen. Why now?
High fly ball that Granderson gets under, 1 out.
Posada--3-0, hit down the right field line. Ordonez catches it on the fly, bounces off wall. 2 out.
Cano--flies to left.
Casey--Why is this guy batting third. 0-2. Tino sighting. Mistake pitch by Wang--Casey flies weakly to left.
Ordonez--flies on first pitch to Abreu.
Guillen--ducks on outside pitch. These guys seem shellshocked.
Lines down third base line. Single.
Replay of the April 17 Leyland tirade. Nice.
Pudge--0-2. This guy gets skinnier every time I see him. Gets a piece of sinker a foot off the ground. Denzel sighting. Way outside and in the dirt. 1-2. Donald, Regis, and Dick Ebersol--Hello! Hello! Hello! Hello. Those knuckleheads.
2-2. Big swing and miss. End of the inning.
Crestor?!? How many drug ads are we going to have to witness during this sporting event?
Damon--flies to right.
Torre-Cam--Jeter singles to right as Buck asks inane, taped questions. Guys, there's a game going on!
Abreu--2-0. Looked close. Makeup call, 2-1. Buck calls it 3-0. Just realizes it's a strike. Pitch up and in on a hit and run. Jeter out in a rundown. Phils fans would have vilified this guy for that. Flies to left.
It's 9:42. This has been quite a quick ballgame.
I'm sick of commercials in which people languidly sing pop songs. Shut up.
Monroe--Deep to center. Damon can't get it. HR. 5-1.
"Speaking of mother's, Craig Monroe's mother must be very pround. And what is her name? Marilyn...Marilyn Monroe"--yuck yuck---YUCK!
Inge--singles. Timmy Mac is no longer watching.
Granderson--Flies out off his shoetops to left.
Polanco--slicing ball to right. They say it's fair and I have to take their word for it since Fox misses the camera angle. Looks foul on the replay. Let's see that again. Guess not. 5-2.
Casey--Wang needs to get this guy.Likes and dislikes--Dave Matthews, Will Clark, Pro Wrestling, and the Bible--he must have studied at the Crash Davis school of cliches.
Gapper to left-center. 5-3. Troublesome. McCarver obsesses over daylight play missed.
Bruney up in pen.
Nice play by RF ball boy. SIgn him Up!
Ordonez misses a ball inside and low by a mile. Big inning though.
Remember when Robin Williams was funny? Then you are really old. "Dobbs for President"? That's the RV from his last film, right?
Sheff-2-1. Another late call. Pops out on 3-1.
"Wang--7 of his 15 outs by grounders"? With 3 Ks, That's 5 flies to 7 grounders. Big deal.
Giambi plunked for second time as Buck converses with a taped Jim Leyland.
A-Rod--Out on another delayed call.
Mastui--turns on a pitch but foul.
Giambi stumles into second for a stolen base.
Mastui taps to the mound.
Johnny Cougar sighting! He should be Sean Casey's favorite performer.
Guillen--"He's a good ballplayer"! Thanks, Timmy Mac.
Proctor up. 3-0. Ground 3-2 pitch 43.
Wang-"Likes hip hop. Does not believe in the Maddon curse. Likes pasta." Too precious.
Pudge--63. Wang seems to have settled in after 3-0 start.
Monroe--53. It's fielding practice evidently.
Cano--dribbler past Robertson, Inge gets him.
Buck is concerned about Johnson and Mo as they continue to play a game. Hello!
Damon--Buck asking field reporter about star sightings. Now, Denzel. There's a friggin ballgame going on! Damon plunks one to left.
Jeter--turns on a pitch. down the line. Double, Damon draws throw to third. Jeter's 4-for-4.
Abreu--singles past Polanco. 7-3. Looks like he hurt that shoulder. Robertson finally gone.
What happened. Back from a commercial and a ball was evidently thrown away. Grilli in, threw a ball to first wide, Abreu to second.
ThamesBlows a pitch past him.
Inge--Myers up. Taiwan map up again for Kuo mention.
Mike Jorgenson, Mike Squires sightings!
43. Nice play Cano.
Pitching change. This could be double-guessed.
Slash sighting. In A VW commercial...Ancient Chinese secret huh?
Granderson--Myers in. Seems to be having trouble with sidearm stuff. Homer. Myers out.
"You call that relief?"--Bob Shepherd
Polanco--singles over second.
Casey--Proctor all over the place. 2-0.
Why is Buck so worried about postseason games.
Lines to right. Men at the corners. (Buck called it a "fly" for some reason.)
Ordonez--flies to center.
Ronan Tynan Time! He's Dr. Tynan now? He might be getting full of himself, but I love this guy. The bald head, the Alfred Hitchcock profile...it all works. The last "Home" is the best.
Why am I supposed to know how Tyler Florence is? To quote Tom Petty, he's jammin' me.
Jamie Walker in.
Farnsworth up in the pen.
Giambi--Timmy Mac explains to us how to alternate lefty and righty batters in a lineup, great stuff!
Giambi walks on a 3-2 call. I'm still expecting McClellan to make a late call.
A-Rod--Fly ball down the RF line, out of play.
Time for Fox to do the closeups of the losers.
Lined to Ordonez.
Matsui--Hit hard but foul. Grounds to second, force, too late to turn the DP.
Posada--lines a single to center, Matsui safe at third.
Cano--Ugly on 0-1 pitch outside in the dirt. flies to right.
Phillips at first, Farnsworth pitching--Torre can pull a double-switch better than Charlie "I Need A" Manuel and he's in the AL!?!
Guillen--taking, 3-0. Losses him.
Pudge--Misses again. Posada to mound. 2-0. BIg cheer for first strike. Pudge turns on pitch but just missed by a bit, flies to Matsui.
Monroe--Mo Cam up again. "I love you Johnny Cakes" sighting.
Late call on borderline high slider (looked like a change to me). 2 out.
Thames--2-0. "Longest in duration in postseaon history"--Timmy Mac in Frank Thomas waiting 13 years between postseason homer. Somneone explain what duration means to this guy.
Full count. Foul. Again to left. Kid in "I'm with Stupid" shirt misses catch. Pops to short.
Top of the order
Damon--called on 2-2 pitch at knees.
Jeter--tags one over the center field fence. 5-for-5. 8-4 Yankees. Curtain call. MVP chants.
Phillips--(Replaced Sheffield) Lines just foul. Flies out.
Inge--Full count. Rivera flips the ball to himself and loses it on the mound. Pops straight up. Phillips has it.
Granderson--drops one in front of Matsui.
Polanco--way inside. 1-1. DP 463. Start spreading the news...
Like Judge Reinhold in Stripes, I can't take the postgame again (actually he said basic training, but you get the idea.)
Fearless Playoff Predictions…That Are Invariably Wrong, 2006 Ed.
First, some very quick analysis and then some predictions that will seem laughably bad by the end of the month.
Since September 16, the Cardinals went 4-10 en route to a text-book example of backing into the playoffs, topped by a 5-3 clinching loss to Milwaukee on the final day of the season. The Cards were up by 6-1/2 games on the Reds and eight on the Astros on the sixteenth. At the close of the season, they were 1-1/2 ahead of Houston and 3-1/2 ahead of Cincy.
In the other historic near-collapse, the Tigers were two games ahead of Minnesota on September 16 and hadn't spent a day out of first in the previous four months (since May 15). They went 6-8 down the stretch including a five-game losing streak to end the regular season to loss the division on the final game. Unfortunately for the purists like me in the world, they had the wild card to fall back on. Imagine how the '64 Phils would be remembered if they had the wild card to ease their collapse.
Anyway, I've run the numbers for the just about everything, but the one thing that occurred to me was a team that not only backed into the postseason as these two did but that had a collapse leading up to the anticlimactic clinching. I took the record for the last 14 games, or roughly two weeks, for every first-place or wild card team and compared it against the team's postseason performance.
The results were that there is very little correlation between success in the last 14 games and the postseason for game winning percentage (correlation coefficient of .074) and for series winning percentage (.044). It had less to do with postseason success than did the team's overall winning percentage (.229 coefficient with postseason game winning percentage and .173 postseason series winning percentage) or did the team's expected winning percentages (.219 and .173).
That said, what the Tigers and Cards did down the stretch has less bearing on how they will do in the playoffs than their overall performance.
Okie dokie, now let's make with the prognosticating:
ALDS: NYY 3-DET 1, OAK 3-MIN 1
I picked Oakland coming out of spring training, and I will pick them now. I might as well stand behind this clinching research and take the average clinching A's over the early clinching Yankees, or at least take the A's pitching.
To paraphrase the King of Cartoons, "Let the playoffs Begin!"
Here We Go Again
It's the end of the season, and the Phils end up exactly where every Phillies fan knew they would end up at the start of the season, eliminated in the last weekend of the season with something in the vicinity of 86 wins (actually, 85).
Last year, they were eliminated minutes after winning their final game of the season down in DC, and I was there to witness. I couldn't travel down to Miami to watch the carnage this year, but again the Phils win (4-3 yesterday) only to find out later that they were eliminated. Last year, the Astros beat the Cubs as the Phils hit the showers. This year the Padres and Dodgers both won, thereby making a postseason in Philadelphia mathematically impossible.
And again there are equal parts promise and foreboding in the team's makeup. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley had fantastic seasons. Other youngsters like Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino showed a lot of promise. Jimmie Rollins had some great moments and some real low points, but remains a number six hitter in the leadoff spot. Pat Burrell's as enigmatic as always. As was Brett Myers who showed promise again for a time but was also embroiled in huge scandal that was a black eye for the entire franchise. They again seem to have a set staff for next year, but it's a staff rife with mediocrity. What do you do with John Lieber and Randy Wolf? Tom Gordon looked tired, old, and like a non-closer down the stretchall of which is true but he has two years left on his contract. There are huge gaping holes at third and behind the plate.
And worst of all the Phils remaining in contention for so long because of a highly mediocre National League ensures that Charlie "I Need a Friggin'" Manuel keeps his job for next season. The Phils brass leaked rumors of his returning to work with the youngsters for 2007, but as the Phils resurfaced in the Wild card hunt and inconceivably, stories of Manuel being laughably considered for the NL Manager of the Year, they no longer needed to justify the fait accompli of his return.
So what's my prediction for 2007? More of the same: 86 wins, staying in the race for a time but no postseason appearance again.
Since 2001, the Phils have had three 86-win seasons, and have had just one season (2002) un which they were not within two wins of 86 (they had 80). Only a handful of teams have remaining that consistent over the course of six seasons, and only of them were successful (the 1947-57 Yankees):
Note that there are five 86-win teams on that list.
Finally, with the Phils getting eliminated this year with one game left to play and last year after they had played their full slate, I wondered if that was some sort of record. Had any other team been eliminated with no meaningless games over the course of two seasons? Actually, two have. Here are the teams that failed to reach the postseason two straight years with the most games remaining at the time they were eliminated for both seasons combined:
I've got an article running at Baseball Prospectus. Please check it out.
This is my site with my opinions, but I hope that, like Irish Spring, you like it, too.
About the Toaster
Baseball Toaster was unplugged on February 4, 2009.
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