Travel Day

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?

The Playoffs

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.

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About Michael P.

I am a Saratoga Springs, Ny resident whose been sports obsessed since I was 5 years old.

Posted on October 4, 2012, in Travel Day. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. This postseason is crucial for Nick Swisher. It might decide whether or not he’s back in pinstripes next season. Wish I could say the same for A-Rod and Teixeira but…both of them can’t be moved. Especially Teixeira.

  2. The “Three Zombies” is just pure gold of a name for those 3.

  3. who needs WAR to determine value? offense + defense = most valuable. winning the counting stat award is awesome… no one’s done it since dinosaurs roamed the earth… i get it. unfortunately winning the TC has nothing to do with being a complete player. there’s a reason there is a Hank Aaron award, and that’s so fat guys that can hit and can’t play defense worth a lick have something to put on their mantle at home.

  4. if the Cardinals being in the playoffs is offensive then i imagine the Tigers making it in brings about tremors and the urge to vomit. i know it does for me. 7th best record in the AL playing in a joke of a division and they end up clinching days ago.
    someone get me a shoe so i can lose my lunch in it.

  5. I like the Cards chances and they thoroughly deserve to be there.
    Here it is for me:
    Cards over Braves in WC
    Cards over Nats
    Giants over Reds
    Cards over Giants

    Orioles over Texas (will the real Josh Hamilton please stand up)
    Yankees over Orioles
    Tigers over A’s
    Tigers over Yankees

    Over and out dudes.

  6. I like the Yanks this year.

    Braves over Cards
    Nats over Braves
    Reds over Giants
    Nats over Reds

    Ranger over O’s
    Yanks over Rangers
    A’s over Tigers
    Yanks over A’s

    Yankees Win!

  7. Funny it seems that GMs like the formula of good pitching, good defense, and power. I heard 3 GMs talking and they all liked those components in a team. Yanks might have the right model to get to the playoffs after that it’s random!!!

  8. fishjam, the Braves are the best defensive team in the league, but not tonight! Random!

  9. There are some factors that effect teams in the playoffs that might not effect them during the season. First the falling temps help the pitchers because the ball doesn’t carry as well. Today it is hot, but by Sunday the East will cool off. Teams have different players injured during the year that can be absorbed in the regular season, not so in the playoffs. Example- Yanks got Tex back which will help their defense, but he has only had two games back hitting. In a short series some players are in their hot streaks while others are in a slump, this is a big factor. Some pitchers pitch well agains;t other teams they are playing in the playoffs. Some hitters hit well agains’t some pitchers they are playing in the playoffs. Lastly one mistake can cost you the series!

  10. One game playoffs are fine to break a tie in a division or a wildcard. But this expanded system is garbage and insulting to those who actually watch baseball all year. In one game, ANY team can beat any team.
    The Minnesota Twins had the worst record in the AL this year and had only 66 wins. This season they took 3 of 7 games against the Yankees, 4 of 9 games against the A’s, 8 of 18 games against the Tigers, 2 of 7 against the Orioles, and 2 of 10 against the Rangers. They took 19 games against the 5 AL playoff teams this year in 51 attempts. That means they won about 40 percent of the games they played against these opponents. You’d have to assume that the Twins would win a “tournament style” one game playoff 40% of the time against these teams.
    The Houston Astros were the worst team in the NL this year and the worst team in baseball, winning only 55 games total.
    The Astros took 1 of 7 games against the Nations, 5 of 15 games from the Reds, 1 of 9 from the Giants, 2 of 6 from Atlanta, and 4 of 15 from St. Louis. The Astros won 13 times against the 5 NL playoff teams. So almost 25% of the Astros wins this season were against the playoff teams. The Astros won 13 times in 52 attempts vs. these teams. So you could assume that the Astros would have won a one game tournament style playoff game against these teams 25% of the time.
    If you look at the season series though, neither one of these teams took a season series from any of these playoff teams.
    A one game wildcard playoff is the worst idea Selig ever had, and he’s had a LOT of terrible ideas.

  11. Well if thats not the biggest joke in the history of sports i dont know what it. Thank you Bud Selig. I don’t know what I would be doing if I was a Braves fan right now lol.

  12. Selig changed the wild card to put a premium on winning your division. I agree, anyone can win one game. I don’t like the idea of playing 162 games and being eliminated in one game.

  13. Joe Saunders was 0-6 in his career again’st the Rangers before tonight. Texas was 3-8 in it’s last 11 games. O’s are a confident bunch, Buc is a great manager, the O’s didn’t even use their best pitcher today!

  14. Braves deserve to lose. They stunk. Can’t let the game be affected by bad call. Woulda coulda shoulda. Rangers just really collapsed! Like a house of cards! What happedened to this supposedly bullet proof team?!!! And I’m free…free falling….

  15. Bottom li me is if you can’t win the one game, then you only have yourself to blame. Texas deserves to go home. The way they collapsed they weren’t winning any five game series. Win or go home. Fair to me. You lose, can’t cry.

    • Nice attempt at changing the issue. Again, noone has a problem with what happened to Texas. That is because under the old 4 team system, Baltimore and Texas still would have played a one one game playoff, in Texas. Nothing changed about that this year due to the way the regular season ended. If two teams are tied for a playoff spot at the end of 162 games, there has always been a one game playoff, even when only two teams made the playoffs from each league(Yankees beat Boston in one of these in 1978) and even when only one team made it from each league(Bobby Thomson’s “Shot heard round the world).
      What you fail to address is the shameful and disgraceful way that the Atlanta Braves were eliminated, by a crooked or incompetent umpire, to a rival that was 6 games inferior over a 162 game season.
      MLB gambled on this new format and lost, as the publicity that the Atlanta-St. Louis game generated was all negative.

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