Here in the great Northeast, the leaves are changing colors and the temperatures are falling. The MLB playoffs are set, and the last regular season games have been played. For the first time since 1967 we are celebrating a Triple Crown winner. There are also no MLB games today. The last time there were no MLB games being played was on July 12th and the division leaders were the Yankees, White Sox, Rangers, Nationals, Pirates and Dodgers. A lot can change in 2 1/2 months can’t it?
Atlanta and St. Louis will kick off the playoffs at 5:07pm ET on Friday in Atlanta. Atlanta is pitching Kris Medlen and St. Louis will be pitching Kyle Lohse in this one game playoff that will decide who hosts the Nationals.
It will be very unfortunate for baseball if the Cardinals win this game. The addition of an extra wildcard team was offensive enough, but the way the playoffs are being executed this year is a disgrace and an insult to the intelligence of fans as well as the players who had 162 games to display who the better team was.
Fortunately, I don’t think it’s going to matter in this case. The Braves are a better team in every facet of the game and should win this game. The Braves had been assured of a playoff spot for a long time, and have a rested and ready bullpen to back up Medlen, who had a sensational season. Medlen compiled a 10-1 record while posting a 1.57 ERA and a microscopic 0.91 WHIP. Converted to a starter at the end of July, Medlen has yet to lose a game in his new role, going 9-0 with the Braves winning all 12 of his starts. Medlen’s 23 BB’s vs. 120 K’s is startling. Medlen is on regular rest with the killer bullpen of Venters, O’Flaherty, and Kimbrel rested and ready to go. I like the Braves to win this game in what should be a very hostile atmosphere for the Cardinals. Smart move by the Braves organization to hand out 45,000 tomahawks at Friday’s game. I think that the Braves will advance to play the Nationals and beat them to move on to the NLCS. I like the Braves in four games over the Nationals if that matchup occurs.
Baltimore will visit Texas for their one game playoff on Friday night that will begin at 8:37pm ET. Darvish will definitely be on the mound for the Rangers and it looks like Saunders will take the mound for the Orioles, although that is not official yet.
This game would have taken place under the old playoff system in exactly the same fashion, it just wouldn’t have counted as a postseason game.
Whether you call it a postseason game, a play-in game, or a tiebreaker the bottom line is that the Rangers are the more talented of the two squads and are playing at home, which should give them the edge in this game. I like the Rangers to advance to the next round and host the Yankees, who I think will beat either the Rangers or Orioles in the best-of-five. I like the Yankees to beat the Rangers in four games if that matchup occurs and the Yankees to beat the Orioles in three games if that matchup occurs.
San Francisco will host the first of two games at home against the Reds on Sunday. Arroyo will take the mound for the Reds and Bumgarner will get the start for the Giants. The Reds have been the most complete team in the NL since the beginning of the season and I think they will take care of the Giants and advance to the NLCS to play the Braves.
Last but not least, the Tigers will host the first of two games In Detroit against the A’s on Sunday. No announcement yet on who will start for the A’s and Verlander will start for the Tigers. This is a very difficult series to break down but I’m going to go with the A’s to upset the Tigers. The Tigers do a lot of living on the long ball and their record this year against the West in pitcher’s parks was a combined 3-7(0-3 in LA, 1-2 in Seattle, 2-2 in Oakland) With the first two games taking place in Detroit, I think one Oakland win there will enable them to win the series at home where the power of the Tigers could be neutralized to some extent.
I like the A’s to win it in 5 games and advance to face the Yankees in the ALCS.
A Ridiculous Debate
No, I’m not talking about Obama vs. Romney. I’m talking about Trout vs. Cabrera for AL MVP.
Of all the metrics that currently dominate the discussion of the value of players, I think WAR is the most flawed. In my opinion, WAR makes too many assumptions and that inflated defensive metrics often affect the overall WAR too much. The debate on WAR would take a book to fill but it simply isn’t proper for anyone with a brain to vote for Trout over Cabrera for AL MVP.
What Miguel Cabrera just did hasn’t been accomplished since the great Carl Yastremski did it in 1967, before I was born. If winning the Triple Crown isn’t such a big deal, then how come the dozens of hall-of-famers who have taken the field since 1967 haven’t been able to do it even once? What makes it even harder to accomplish in the AL is the presence of the DH, which adds many good bats to the mix.
Here’s one thing that I don’t seem to read much about as far as Cabrera’s “value” is concerned. Cabrera was willing to move to third base this year so that Prince Fielder could play first base. Is it really fair to value Cabrera’s defense at an unnatural position to him the same as you would Trout’s?
Miguel Cabrera picked up the Tigers and carried them on his back while showing total unselfishness in a position change and won the Triple Crown for the first time in baseball since 1967.
Please, enough with the WAR. At the end of the day no player in baseball was even close to as valuable to his team as Cabrera was.
The Three Zombies
Last year during the postseason Brian Sinkoff, a sports radio talk show host in the Maryland area and Albany, NY, was hosting a chat on Facebook during the ALDS between the Tigers and Yankees. As I was lamenting the pathetic displays at the plate by A-Rod, Mark Teixeira, and Nick Swisher, Sink coined the phrase “The Three Zombies” in reference to this sorry trio.
The Yankees elimination from the postseason the last two seasons has been blamed on just about everything but global warming. In reality, the reason for the Yankees early exits in the postseason can be left squarely on the shoulders of these three players(with a big assist from a disgraceful job by home plate umpire Gerry Davis in game 3 of last year’s ALDS).
The combined average of Swisher, Teixeira, and A-Rod in the 2010 ALCS and 2011 ALDS was a dreadful .125 (15-112) with 2 HR’s and 8 RBI’s.
We all know that A-Rod’s 2009 postseason carried the Yankees to a title, but Swisher and Teixeira’s postseason efforts as Yankees have been nothing short of pathetic.
Swisher is 16-100(.160) in the postseason as a Yankee, with 4 home runs and 5 RBI’s.
Teixeira is 18-106(.171) in the postseason as a Yankee, with 3 home runs and 12 RBI’s.
Clearly something has to change with at least one of these guys for the Yankees to advance to a title.
A-Rod has been swinging the bat well and although his power has waned with ball after ball hit to the warning track, his ability to rap out hits is still there. With Cano and Granderson providing power, A-Rod doesn’t need to hit home runs to be valuable to the Yankees this postseason and I think he can and will have a good postseason.
Swisher has been swinging the bat well also, but needs to overcome an obvious mental block in the postseason. I’m betting on a good postseason from Swisher also.
Teixeira’s average took a plunge starting with the postseason of 2009 and he has never recovered that part of his game since then. A career .301 hitter when he signed a 180 million dollar contract with the Yankees, Teixeira has followed his great 2009 regular season batting average(.292) with batting averages of .256, .249, and .251 respectively in 2010-2012.
Including his postseason at bats, Teixeira is 431-1747(.247) since the postseason of 2009.
Still possessing power, it would appear that the best Yankee fans can hope for is that Teixeira can add to the feeble 3 home runs he has hit in 118 postseason at-bats as a Yankee.
For the Yankees to make the World Series it doesn’t matter which of three players wakes up and performs in the postseason, so long as one of them does.