Sunday, October 31, 2010

Can the Rangers come back from 3-1?

There have been 3 previous World Series where a team has come back from being down 3-1, winning the final 2 on the road: 1979, 1968, 1958.

Not surprisingly, a common thread running through all of those series is that the winning team allowed very few runs over the final three games.

1979 Pirates (Orioles): 2 R, 27 IP, .67 ERA
1968 Tigers (Cardinals): 5 R, 27 IP, 1.67 ERA
1958 Yankees (Braves): 5 R, 28 IP, 1.61 ERA

Can the Rangers pull this off?  Unlikely, but they have the right guy pitching in Game 5.  Even though Cliff Lee was knocked around in Game 1, he still has great career numbers in the postseason and it's easy to imagine him shutting down the Giants in Game 5, just like he did with the Rays and Yankees. 

C.J. Wilson would start Game 6, and he pitched decently against the Giants in Game 2 (6 IP, 2 ER) despite the 9-0 final score.  In Game 7, the scheduled matchup would be Jonathan Sanchez v. Colby Lewis, and it's hard to see how that favors the Giants too much.  They would be at home (the home team has won the last 8 Game 7s), but the Rangers would have the momentum, and Sanchez has struggled recently.

Even though the Giants have been hitting well in this series (especially at home), they're not a great offensive team, so it's not out of the question for the Rangers to keep the score low.  Unfortunately for the Rangers, they have to face Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain in Games 5 and 6, so they're going to have trouble scoring too. 

The Rangers will be lucky to send the series back to San Francisco, but they have the pieces to go deep into the series too, as long as Cliff Lee starts pitching like Cliff Lee again.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Tommy Hunter

The Rangers gave themselves a chance by winning the must-win Game 3, and now they have to win Game 4 as well to have a legitimate shot at winning the series.  Unless Cliff Lee starts game 4, it's going to fall on Tommy Hunter.  Hunter went 13-4 in 2010, but he wasn't called up from AAA until June 5th.

First 10 starts: 8-0, 2.31 ERA, 32 SO, 15 BB, 7 HR
Next 8 starts: 4-3, 6.39 ERA, 21 SO, 14 BB, 13 HR
Next 6 starts (including 2 postseason starts): 1-2, 3.45 ERA, 26 SO, 4 BB, 2 HR

Another important stat:

2010 (not including postseason)
Home: 7-0, 3.06 ERA, 41 SO, 13 BB
Away: 6-4, 4.48 ERA, 27 SO, 20 BB

Home: 6-3, 3.36 ERA 
Away: 3-3, 5.01 ERA

Despite his gaudy 13-4 record (he led the majors in W-L %), he has been inconsistent and probably won't shut down the Giants in Game 4.  The good news for the Rangers is that he is a much better pitcher at home and has dramatically cut down on allowing walks and home runs since mid-September. 

They probably can't expect more than about 5 or 6 innings out of him, but Hunter seems likely to keep the Rangers in the game and give their offense and bullpen a chance to win it.

World Series Sweeps

This might not be as relevant later tonight if the Rangers win, but the Giants have a chance to join an exclusive list of NL teams that have won the World Series via the sweep.

World Series Sweeps: National League Winner
1990 Cincinnati Reds (A's)
1976 Cincinnati Reds (Yankees)
1963 LA Dodgers (Yankees)
1954 NY Giants (Indians)
1922 NY Giants (Yankees)
1914 Boston Braves (A's)
1907 Chicago Cubs (Tigers)

World Series Sweeps: AL Winner (not Yankees)
2007 Boston Red Sox (Rockies)
2005 Chicago White Sox (Astros)
2004 Boston Red Sox (Cardinals)
1989 Oakland A's (Giants)
1966 Baltimore Orioles (Dodgers)

World Series Sweeps: (Yankees)
1999 (Braves)
1998 (Padres)
1950 (Phillies)
1939 (Reds)
1938 (Cubs)
1932 (Cubs)
1928 (Cardinals)
1927 (Pirates)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Franchises in their 1st World Series Appearance

Franchises in their 1st World Series Appearance (Since 1961)
1969 New York Mets: Won 4-0 (Orioles)
1980 Kansas City Royals: Lost 4-2 (Phillies)
1982 Milwaukee Brewers: Lost 4-3 (Cardinals)
1984 San Diego Padres: Lost 4-1 (Tigers)
1992 Toronto Blue Jays: Won 4-2 (Braves)
1997 Florida Marlins: Won 4-3 (Indians)
2001 Arizona Diamondbacks: Won 4-3 (Yankees)
2002 LA Angels: Won 4-3 (Giants)
2005 Houston Astros: Lost 4-0 (White Sox)
2007 Colorado Rockies: Lost 4-0 (Red Sox)
2008 Tampa Bay Rays: Lost 4-1 (Phillies)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Coming back from 3-1 (and winning the final 2 on the road)

Teams that have come back from 3-1, winning Games 6 & 7 on the Road
1958 Yankees - WS (Braves)
1968 Tigers - WS (Cardinals)
1979 Pirates - WS (Orioles)
1985 Royals - ALCS (Blue Jays)
2003 Marlins - NLCS (Cubs)
2004 Red Sox - ALCS (Yankees)

As rare as it is, the Yankees have a good shot at pulling it off.  Phil Hughes will face off against Colby Lewis again, and it's a toss-up.  The Rangers knocked Phil Hughes around a bit (7 ER, 4 IP), while Lewis was decent (2 ER, 5.2 IP), but the Yankees are unlikely to go quietly against Lewis. 

Then the only thing standing between the Yankees and a historic comeback and the Series is Sandy, Cliff Lee.  No, he's not Sandy Koufax, he's just a former Cy Young award winner who pitches like Koufax in October. 

The Rangers need to avoid feeling comfortable in Game 6 because Lee is waiting in the wings.  He's human, and he's bound to have a bad game eventually (he did allow 5 ER over 7 innings to the Yankees in Game 5 of the 2009 WS).  The Rangers are probably still going to the Series, but they need to get ahead early in Game 6 if they want to avoid being lumped in with the '03 Cubs and '04 Yankees.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Colby Lewis vs. Phil Hughes

The starters in Game 2 of the ALCS will be Phil Hughes (Yankees) and Colby Lewis (Rangers).  Phil Hughes did go 18-8, but he had a 4.19 ERA and inconsistent most of the season.  Colby Lewis was in his first season in the ML since 2007, after having played in Japan the last few seasons, and he had a rollercoaster season as well.

Lewis' final numbers (12-13, 3.72) were worse than you would have expected a few months into the season (8-5, 3.33 at All-Star Break).  He had some ugly outings late in the season, particularly against Minnesota on September 4th, when he allowed 9 ER over 3.2 IP.  The good news for the Rangers is that Lewis rebounded in his final 5 regular season starts, going 3-1 with a 2.39 ERA  He also pitched 5 scoreless innings against the Rays in game 3 of the ALDS.

Colby Lewis
Overall: 12-13, 3.72 ERA, 196 SO, 65 BB
Home: 6-4, 3.41 ERA, 30 SO, 7 BB

Phil Hughes had a sterling 18-8 record this season, but he struggled in the 2nd half, going 7-6 with a 4.90 ERA.  The Yankees have to be feeling good about Hughes now because of his excellent start against the Twins in the ALDS clincher, where he had 7 scoreless innings in his first postseason start (after 11 postseason relief appearances).  It was the first time he had at least 7 innings since July 9th, covering 13 starts.

Phil Hughes
Overall: 18-8, 4.19 ERA, 146 SO, 58 BB
Road: 7-4, 3.46 ERA, 63 SO, 19 BB

Who has the advantage?  They seem to be pretty even right now, but a lot of pressure would fall on Lewis after what might be a devastating loss tonight for the Rangers (it's not a good sign when you make 4 pitching changes in the 8th inning before getting an out, although they are still only down by 1 run). 

Lewis has gone through a lot in his career and succeeded (including a good postseason debut), but facing the Yankees in a must-win game in the ALCS is another story.  If the Rangers come back tonight, they'll still feel like it's must-win, but so will the Yankees (especially with Cliff Lee waiting for them in Game 3).  It should be a good battle between two pitchers with a lot to prove.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Former Playoff MVPs still in the 2010 Playoffs

Former LCS, World Series MVPs currently in the playoffs

Mariano Rivera, 1999 WS (Yankees)
Derek Jeter, 2000 WS (Yankees)
Andy Pettitte, 2001 ALCS (Yankees)
Mariano Rivera, 2003 ALCS (Yankees)
C.C. Sabathia, 2009 ALCS (Yankees)

Roy Oswalt, 2005 NLCS (Astros)
Placido Polanco, 2006 ALCS (Tigers)
Cole Hamels, 2008 WS (Phillies)
Ryan Howard, 2009 NLCS (Phillies)

Everyone Else
Troy Glaus, 2002 WS (Angels, Braves)
Matt Garza, 2008 ALCS (Rays, Rays)

Troy Glaus (Braves) might not be in the playoffs a few minutes from now (Giants up 3-2 going into the 9th), and Garza could be out if the Rangers win tomorrow.

Update: The Braves put up a good fight in the 9th, but ended up losing, so Glaus is out and Garza is the only player outside Philadelphia or New York left in the playoffs to have an LCS or WS MVP award.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Losing Game 1 to the Yankees

The Twins have lost Game 1 to the Yankees at home (they had a 3-0 lead in the 6th inning).  Add to this their dismal recent postseason history (losing in the ALDS to the Yankees in 2003, 2004 and 2009), and things are not looking good for the Twins (although if the Yankees revert to 2001-2007 postseason form, they'll have a shot).

Teams that have won series after losing Game 1 to Yankees at Home
NY Giants, 1921 WS (5-3)
Cardinals, 1942 WS (4-1)
LA Angels, 2005 ALDS (3-2)

Teams that have lost series after losing Game 1 to Yankees at Home
Pirates, 1927 WS (4-0)
Cubs, 1938 WS (4-0)
Phillies, 1950 WS (4-0)
Giants, 1962 WS (4-3)
Royals, 1976 ALCS (3-2)
Royals, 1978 ALCS (3-1)
Brewers, 1981 ALCS (3-2)
Braves, 1999 WS (4-0)
Mariners, 2001 ALCS (4-1)

This seems kind of short considering how many times the Yankees have been in the postseason, and the main reason is that the Yankees usually have had home field advantage in the Wild Card era..

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Regular Season Wins: World Series Champs

Regular Season Wins: World Series Champions: Since 1962 (after both leagues switched to the 162 game schedule)
  • 63: 1981 Dodgers
  • 83: 2006 Cardinals
  • 85: 1987 Twins
  • 87: 2000 Yankees
  • 90: 1974 A's, 1995 Braves
    • 2010 Rangers, 2010 Braves, 2010 Reds
  • 91: 1980 Phillies, 1985 Royals, 1990 Reds, 2003 Marlins 
  • 92: 1982 Cardinals, 1996 Yankees, 1997 Marlins, 2001 D-Backs, 2008 Phillies
    • 2010 Giants
  • 93: 1964 Cardinals, 1972 A's (*1981 Dodgers)
  • 94: 1973 A's, 1988 Dodgers
    • 2010 Twins
  • 95: 1991 Twins, 1993 Blue Jays
    • 2010 Yankees, 2010 Rays
  • 96: 1962 Yankees, 1992 Blue Jays, 2007 Red Sox
  • 97: 1965 Dodgers, 1966 O's, 1971 Pirates, (*1972 A's)
    • 2010 Phillies
  • 98: 1979 Pirates, 1983 O's, 1999 Yankees, 2004 Red Sox
  • 99: 1963 Dodgers, 1989 A's, 2002 Angels, 2005 White Sox
  • 100: 1969 Mets, 1977 Yankees, 1978 Yankees
  • 101: 1967 Cardinals, (*1995 Braves)
  • 102: 1976 Reds
  • 103: 1968 Tigers, 2009 Yankees
  • 104: 1984 Tigers
  • 108: 1970 O's, 1975 Reds, 1986 Mets
  • 114: 1998 Yankees
*1972 A's (93-62), 1981 Dodgers (63-47), 1995 Braves (90-54) played in strike shortened seasons; adjusted win totals based on W-L% over 162 game season

With their division-clinching win today, the Giants moved into the most prevelant win slot on this chart with 92 wins.  The Phillies (97 wins) are also in a good position, but that position is slightly worse than the Giants' based on one of those teams (1972 A's) having their W-L% adjusted in a strike shortened season and the fact that it hasn't happened at 97 wins since the early 70's. 

It's not much, but the Giants need everything going in their favor to win their first World Series since moving to San Francisco in 1958.

The 2010 Padres' Incredible Bullpen

5+ Pitchers, 30+ IP, 2.00 ERA or lower (Since 1880)
  • 2010 Padres
    • Mike Adams, Heath Bell, Ernesto Frieri, Tim Stauffer, Joe Thatcher
  • 1906 Cubs
    • Mordecai Brown, Orval Overall, Jack Pfiester, Ed Reulbach, Jack Taylor
  • 1907 Cubs
    • Mordecai Brown, Orval Overall, Jack Pfiester, Ed Reulbach, Carl Lundgren
  • 1909 Cubs
    • Mordecai Brown, Orval Overall, Jack Pfiester, Ed Ruelbach, Rip Hagerman
This is subject to change because not only do the Padres play today, but there is the possibility of playing not just 1, but 2 (!) tiebreakers if they win and the Braves also win today, and then they also lose against the Giants on Monday.  All five of them are susceptible to going over 2.00 with one bad inning, but it's amazing they're gotten to this point.

The comparison isn't exact either, because the early 1900's Cubs' pitchers had at least 100 IP, and often more than 200.  Even with evolution of the modern bullpen, the Padres might still be the first with 5 such pitchers since 1909.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Who should win the NL MVP Award?

There's a very good chance that Albert Pujols will not win the NL MVP Award for the for time since 2007.  It's probably going to be Joey Votto, and it will be well-deserved. 

Jayson Stark picked Votto in his recent year-end awards article, and after going through all of his excellent stats, put that one of the key reasons is that Votto has carried the Reds to the playoffs.  The Reds, as in the franchise that hasn't made the playoffs since 1995 and shocked the baseball world by winning the NL Central this year.

Despite a relatively low batting average (for him), Albert Pujols leads the NL in R, RBI and HR, and he would be the first NL player to do that since Mike Schmidt in 1981.

Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies) has amazing numbers too, but in a year when it's this close, it's probably going to someone on a playoff team.  That's not entirely fair (a team could falter down the stretch because of pitching while the MVP candidate is scorching), but it's a factor. 

               Votto    Pujols    Gonzalez
BA        #2 (NL)    6              1
OPS          1          2              3
OBP          1          2              14
SLG          1          1              1
HR            3          1              4
RBI           3          1              2
R               4          1              2
H               6          5             1
BB            3           2             79
RC            2           1             3 
TB             3          2              1
SB             26        29           11
RISP         2           4             3
BA: RO     1          14            6     

It could go to any one of these three players and be deserved, but it's probably going to be Votto.  He'll be seen as the key player in resurrecting one of baseball's great franchises, and he's the only one of the three that will be heading to the playoffs. 

Should he win? All three of them have the numbers, but Votto was also in the right place at the right time and took advantage.  It'll be tough for Pujols to lose if he leads the NL in R, HR and RBI, but he'll still be the favorite to win it next year.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Managers and the Hall of Fame

2400+ Games Managed (32)
  • Hall of Fame (20)
    • Connie Mack, John McGraw, Bucky Harris, Sparky Anderson, Casey Stengel, Leo Durocher, Walter Alston, Bill McKechnie, Joe McCarthy, Tom Lasorda, Dick Williams, Clark Griffith, Fred Clarke, Wilbert Robinson, Miller Huggins, Earl Weaver, Ned Hanlon, Al Lopez, Whitey Herzog, Lou Boudreau 
  • Active (6)
    • Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre, Jim Leyland, Dusty Baker, Bruce Bochy
  • Elgible, never elected (5)
    • Gene Mauch
      • sub-.500 record, 0 Pennants
    • Jimmy Dykes
      • sub-.500 record, 0 Pennants
    • Bill Rigney
      • sub-.500 record, 0 Pennants
    • Chuck Tanner
      • sub-.500 record, 1 Playoff Appearance, 1 Pennant, 1 World Series (1979 Pirates)
    • Ralph Houk
      • .514 W-L%, 3 Pennants, 2 World Series (1961, '62 Yankees)
  • Retired, not yet eligible (1)
    • Lou Piniella
There are a number of other managers in the Hall of Fame with less than 2400 games managed, but almost all of them are in for their playing careers (Frank Robinson, Rogers Hornsby, Billy Terry) and probably the only modern manager in primarily for managing is Billy Southworth (managed the Cardinals from 1940-1945 and Braves from 1946-1951 with a .597 W-L% and 2 WS; elected in 2008).

As of today, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa are the only active (or recently retired) managers that are definite Hall of Famers.  Lou Piniella might be elected eventually, but his overall lack of postseason success will make it more difficult. 

Jim Leyland has a career W-L% under .500 and some agonizing postseason losses (1991, 1992, 2006), so he will probably have trouble too.  Dusty Baker needs a World Series win (it might be weeks away) in order to have a shot.  Bruce Bochy also needs multiple World Series titles to get into the discussion (his first might also be weeks away).
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