Thursday, May 24, 2018

A Postseason for the History Books (literally) 5/24/18

Hey baseball fans!

The 2018 MLB season is still in its infancy, but it's still fun thinking ahead to October. Rather than give a playoff prediction, though, here is a playoff scenario. What if the teams with the most World Series championships made the playoffs this year? How would the playoff bracket look and, ultimately, who would win the 2018 World Series? Here are my two cents on the subject:

First off, before we get to my predictions for this playoff scenario, here are the participating teams:

AL East champion: New York Yankees (27 championships)
AL Central champion: Detroit Tigers (4 championships)
AL West champion: Oakland Athletics (9 championships)
AL Wild Cards: Boston Red Sox and Chicago White Sox (8 and 3 championships, respectively)*
*The Twins and Orioles also have three Fall Classic trophies, but the ChiSox have a better winning percentage than both of them in the World Series (60% compared to 50% and 42.9%, respectively)

NL East champion: Atlanta Braves (3 championships)
NL Central champion: St. Louis Cardinals (11 championships)
NL West champion: San Francisco Giants (8 championships)
NL Wild Cards: Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates (6 and 5 championships, respectively)*
*The Reds also have five Fall Classic trophies, but the Pirates have a better winning percentage than Cinci in the World Series (71.4% compared to 55.6%)

Ok, now here are my predictions:

AL Wild Card Round: White Sox vs. Red Sox
Winner: Red Sox. The best team in baseball would absolutely annihilate their footwear brethren and, honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if the run differential was in the double-digits for this game.

NL Wild Card Round: Dodgers vs. Pirates
Winner: Pirates. As much as their season is surprising me right now, Pittsburgh is doing much better than I thought and the Dodgers are doing much worse. Sorry LA, but you're not getting World Series redemption in this scenario if the season ended today.

ALDS 1: Red Sox vs. Yankees
Winner: Yankees. This one would go five games, for sure, but New York has an unbelievable lineup right now.

ALDS 1: Tigers vs. Athletics
Winner: Athletics. The A's have an interesting team this year and could make a surprising run at the AL Wild Card in real life, but in this scenario, considering they're facing one of the worst teams in the AL, this series isn't going longer than four games.

NLDS 1: Pirates vs. Cardinals
Winner: Cardinals. It seems that the Cards' eerie 2017 is over and the Cards are playing up to the hype. I think this series would be close, but St. Louis would take it. Pittsburgh being good still doesn't make a whole lot of sense for me right now.

NLDS 2: Braves vs. Giants
Winner: Braves. It's an even year, yes, but the geriatric Giants would be no match for the upstart and young Atlanta squad. Braves take it in four or maybe even a sweep.

ALCS: Athletics vs. Yankees
Winner: Yankees. The A's, to be frank, will slow down eventually in 2018, while the Yankees will only continue to soar.

NLCS: Braves vs. Cardinals
Winner: Cardinals, for basically the same reasons as the ALCS outcome. The Braves' luck will run out and St. Louis will, literally, only rise (get it? Birds) in the wins column.

World Series: Cardinals vs. Yankees
Winner: Cardinals. This Fall Classic would be extremely close, but the Baby Bombers just don't have the high-pressure experiences that the Cardiac Cards don't even need to win. Just look at the past Cardinals championship squads: all underdogs.

Obviously, the Tigers and White Sox will not be playing October baseball in 2018, but this was a fun little experiment. What other playoff scenarios would you like to see me analyze? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Derek Jeter's Season that Wasn't Really a Season 5/12/18

Hey baseball fans!

So I recently learned that Derek Jeter holds the record for the most postseason games played at 158. This number is pretty interesting because there are 162 games in a season, so it's almost as if Jeter played an entire season over many Octobers (and Novembers). This got me thinking: how well did Jeter do in his postseason-season, if you will? Well, I have your answer and it turns out, he did pretty well, as he did in most of his actual MLB seasons.

In 158 games, Jeter batted .308 with 200 hits on the dot, 20 home runs, and 111 runs scored. To put those numbers into perspective, thinking about Jeter's 158 postseason games as a full season, the .308 batting average would be the twelfth-best single-season batting average of his career, the 200 hits would be his ninth-best seasonal hits total, the 20 home runs would rank fourth, and the 111 runs scored would be tied for eighth. So, in conclusion, I'd say Jeter was just as consistent in the last months of the season as he was in the first several. No wonder the Yanks won so many World Series championships during his career (five, to be exact).

Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, May 5, 2018

ML"what would"B: What if the D-Backs and Rays Never Existed? 5/5/18

Hey baseball fans!

1998 saw the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Rays join the MLB, but what if their efforts to join the league had failed? What if they folded before ever playing a game? That's what this edition of ML"what would"B is going to look at. This long-running series looks at some of the biggest "what-if's" in baseball history, so let's look at a what-if scenario where Major League Baseball opened the 1998 season with 28 teams instead of 30.

Let's start with the divisions. They don't look much different, except for a couple of notable changes. Basically, the Astros and Brewers stay in their original leagues, the Tigers stay in the AL East, and the AL and NL West divisions have four teams each. Considering the Yankees are in the middle of a dynasty, the playoff results stay relatively the same, that is, until 2001. Remember: the Diamondbacks rolled through the National League playoff bracket in '01 and eventually downed the Yanks in the World Series in seven games. This time around, however, the Braves get to the Series to face the Yankees for the third time in six years and just like in the previous two times, New York wins handily. They still lose to the Angels in the 2002 ALDS, but the Angels don't face the Giants in the World Series that year. They instead go up against the Astros. How, you ask? Well, the Diamondbacks had two key pitchers on their roster when they got good: Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling. Johnson, instead of getting traded to Arizona prior to the 1999 season, stays in Houston, who trades for Schilling midway through 2000.

So the 2002 Astros win the NL Wild Card with 90 wins, then take care of the Giants and Cardinals in the NLDS and CS to reach the '02 Fall Classic. Johnson, Schilling, and company are able to survive the Angels and their rallying ways by winning the franchise's first World Series. Johnson has a bad year in 2003, but Schilling picks up the slack to help the 'Stros win the 2003 NL Central title by one game over the Cubs. Without the Curse of the Billy Goat, the Marlins get eliminated from the '03 postseason in the NLCS by the Braves, who finally break their World Series drought against the Yankees by winning the Fall Classic in six games. But the Yankees get their redemption in 2004, where they do not meet the Red Sox in the ALCS because Curt Schilling's league-leading 21 wins are still in Houston. The Yankees win the '04 ALCS against the Angels and get to the World Series to face... the Astros! Houston gets its second Fall Classic trophy in three years by downing the Yanks in five games.

It's around this time that the Expos have decided to move. Because there is a vacancy in the desert, they switch divisions and time zones to become the Arizona Diamondbacks. Besides that shakeup in baseball's standings, nothing really changes in 2005; Johnson and Schilling have declined, so the Astros still get swept in the '05 World Series by the White Sox. In 2006, the Tigers don't beat the Yankees in the ALDS because back then, a Wild Card team couldn't face a division rival in the division series, so they instead lose to AL Rookie of the Year Chad Billingsley and the A's, who go on to the World Series to face the Mets. The Mets managed to beat the Cardinals in the NLCS with the help of their new breakout pitcher... Justin Verlander? Yeah, with a mixup in the 2003 standings, the Amazins get Verlander in the 2004 Draft, who gives the Mets 17 wins in '06 and helps them beat the A's in the World Series in five games.

The 2007 season still saw the Red Sox sweep the Rockies in the Fall Classic, breaking the Curse of the Bambino, but 2008 sees a crazy change in the standings. The Brewers manage to win the AL Central by a game over the White Sox and Twins, but lose to the Yankees in the ALDS, who lose to the Angels, with the help of their midseason trade acquisition C.C. Sabathia (because the Indians wouldn't deal C.C. within their division to Milwaukee), in the ALCS. The Halos go on to win the franchise's first World Series against... the Cubs? Yeah, the Cubs and their 2008 Cy Young Award winner, Tim Lincecum, who they drafted in 2006. The Cubs soar past the Dodgers and Phillies to make their first World Series since 1945, but as said before, lose to the Angels.

In 2011, the Marlins are thinking of switching stadiums, when they instead switch cities altogether. The Fish move to the nation's capital and become the Nationals. Now, Florida has ridden itself of its toxic MLB franchises. You're welcome, Sunshine State. But now DC will be forever in pain due to the Marlins-turned-Nationals' failures. Some things stay constant, even in the ML"what would"B. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Monday, April 30, 2018

These HoFers Have Long Resumes, Too 4/30/18

Hey baseball fans!

There are plenty of names in baseball that are defined by one statistic or important fact, but baseball players have accomplished way more than just one specific thing. I know, that was some bad explaining, but here are some examples of what I mean:

Lou Gehrig and Cal Ripken, Jr.
Baseball's iron men. The top two hitters in consecutive games played. But so what? It's not like they did anything during their respective games played streaks, right? Wrong. Gehrig is one of the best first basemen in baseball history, averaging 29 home runs and 117 RBIs a season during his 17-year career. Oh, and he also batted .340 lifetime. Ripken, on the other hand, homered 431 times in his 21 years in the bigs, made 19 consecutive All Star Games from 1983-2001 and, oh yeah, is 15th on the all-time hits list with 3,184 career knocks.

Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby
These trailblazers broke the color barrier in the National and American League, respectively, but if only they were actually HoF-worthy. Psych! They were! Robinson won the 1949 MVP and went to six All Star Games during his ten-year career. He stole almost 20 bases a season and even batted .311 lifetime. Doby led the league in home runs twice, hit 20+ homers in eight consecutive seasons, and even made seven straight All Star Games from 1949-1955.

Joe DiMaggio
56 straight games with a hit is surely an accomplishment, but you know what else is an accomplishment? Making an All Star Game every single year of batting at the major league level. That's right; DiMaggio played for 13 years from 1936-1951 (he missed 1943-1945 due to military service) and made 13 Midsummer Classics. The Yankee Clipper batted .325 during his illustrious career and is tied for the most MVPs in AL history with three (1939, 1941, and 1947).

So yes, Gehrig and Ripken will always be known for their determination; Robinson and Doby will always be known for their resilience; and DiMaggio will always be known for his streak of consistency. However, these guys are enshrined in Cooperstown because they were great ballplayers, not one-trick ponies. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The True Win: Another BwM Advanced Statistic 4/25/18

Hey baseball fans!

ERA and WHIP are, in my opinion, the easiest measurements of a pitcher's ability. You'll notice that I didn't say wins. That's because the "win" statistic can be extremely misleading. In some cases, a pitcher can get a ton of run support, allow a lot of earned runs, and still win the game; in other cases, a pitcher can go eight scoreless innings only to leave the game in the ninth with the contest still tied at zero. So, in order to make the calculation of wins seem a bit more correlated to a pitcher's skill, I present to you my new statistic: the true win.

The true win is calculated as follows: if a pitcher allows less earned runs than the average annual league ERA during a start, that pitcher is awarded with a true win. A pitcher can even earn a true win in cases where his bullpen blows (and loses) the game. On the other hand, if a pitcher allows more earned runs than the average annual league ERA during a start, that pitcher is awarded with a true loss. Here's an example: the average league ERA for 2017 was 4.35, so if a pitcher goes six innings and allows three runs, which equates to an in-game ERA of 4.50, then he gets a true loss. Some FAQs: a pitcher's true record can only be recorded at season's end; a pitcher is in line for a true win only if he pitches for at least five innings, which is the same rule for real wins; true wins and losses only apply for starters.

In 1968, Bob Gibson's real won-loss record was 22-9, which is impressive, but what's even more impressive was his 1.12 ERA that year. Because the 1968 average league ERA was 2.98, Gibson's true record was 27-7, meaning some real losses turned into true wins for the Hall of Famer. 1963's average league ERA was 3.46, giving Sandy Koufax (pictured below) a 1963 true record of 31-9 in his 40 starts that season, compared to his real record of 25-5. Like I said before, the average league ERA in 2017 was 4.35, so the 2017 Cy Young Award winner, Max Scherzer, had a 2017 true record of 23-7, but a real record of 16-6.

What are some faults with this new system of determining wins? What are some faults with the old system? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Friday, April 20, 2018

Famous Home Runs That Didn't Actually Matter 4/20/18

Hey baseball fans!

We all remember Joe Carter's walk-off, World Series-winning home run in 1993 because it, well, won Carter's Blue Jays the World Series. The same goes for David Freese's walk-off, Series-tying home run in Game Six of the 2011 Fall Classic because it set up a Game Seven that Freese's Cardinals would end up winning. But what about the home runs that didn't lead to anything, that are just famous for the moment that they were in?

Carlton Fisk walks off the Red Sox in Game Six of '75
In arguably the greatest World Series in baseball history, the Red Sox entered Game Six of the 1975 Series down three games to two to the Reds and the sixth game required extra innings to be resolved. Luckily, Carlton Fisk came up clutch in the twelfth for the BoSox, sending the Series-tying home run off the left field foul pole. This has become probably the most famous home run in Red Sox history, but it actually didn't matter in the long run; the Reds won Game Seven and, thus, the Series, making the Hall of Fame catcher's walk-off dinger the previous night completely obsolete.

Chris Chambliss sends the Yankees to the 1976 World Series
The very next year after Fisk's temporary heroics, the Yankees were on the cusp of making their first World Series in 12 years, but they first needed to get past the AL West champion Royals. The 1976 ALCS went to five games (the maximum at the time) and Game Five was tied at six runs apiece entering the bottom of the ninth at Yankee Stadium. Chris Chambliss led off the half-inning with a home run to send the Yanks to the promised land. There was only one problem, though: once New York got to the Fall Classic, they were swept by the same Reds that beat Fisk's Red Sox in '75. Once again, another home run that didn't really do much to change the course of history.

Bobby Thompson's "Shot Heard Round the World"
This one is the saddest of the bunch, only because this home run is probably the most famous in baseball history, at least in my opinion. Let me set the scene: the Dodgers and Giants were tied at the top of the NL standings at the end of the 1951 season, so a best-of-three playoff series was implemented to decide the NL pennant winner. The two teams split the first two games, but the third game looked to go to the Dodgers, who were leading 4-1 entering the bottom of the ninth at the Polo Grounds in New York. A run was driven in for the Giants, which brought up Bobby Thompson to the plate with two runners on and one out. Miraculously, he hit a home run! To use Russ Hodges's famous call of the play, "the Giants [won] the pennant!" Everybody was going crazy in the stadium because the Giants were headed to the World Series! Too bad they lost the 1951 World Series to the Yankees in six games.

What other famous moments in baseball history are overrated because they didn't really matter in the end? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

BwM's Consistency Index 4/16/18

Hey baseball fans!

So there's always this talk about which team is the greatest in baseball history and there are always these comparisons made that aren't applicable for most teams. For example, how can you judge a team's success based on World Series championships when some teams have never been to the World Series in the first place (I'm looking at you, Nationals and Mariners)? With this in mind, I wanted to come up with a definitive way to define a team's success with the one stat that is measurable among all MLB teams: regular season success. After doing some calculations, I came up with a sort of consistency index, a score that measures a team's year-to-year success during the MLB regular season.

Here's how the index is calculated. To be fair to all teams, I took the total number of wins of every MLB team since 1998, the last year of MLB expansion, and averaged them out to get an average wins per season. From there, I took the absolute value of the change in wins from season-to-season for all the teams and I averaged those numbers out to get a volatility score. From there, I subtracted the volatility score from the average seasonal wins total to get the consistency index. There are several numbers that caught my eye that are worth mentioning. First of all, it's no secret that the Yankees had the best average seasonal wins total at 94.75 wins a season, but they also had an extraordinary volatility score; their wins total from year-to-year only changed by 5.84 wins a season, meaning they were consistently good. In fact, their consistency index of 88.91 was the best in the majors. On the opposite side of the spectrum, the Diamondbacks averaged 79.80 wins a season from 1998-2017, but their year-to-year difference in wins was an average of 14.95. Their MLB-low consistency index of 64.85 means that they were consistently mercurial, meaning that their season-to-season win total is completely random and void of any trend.

Other teams with good consistency indexes include the Braves, Dodgers, A's, and Cardinals, among others. To see my calculations, click here. Would you change any of my math? What other ways could you objectively determine a team's success? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."