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October 31, 2012

Pebble Hunting

Tying Up October Loose Ends

by Sam Miller

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This article includes a variety of postseason leftovers, including: 

  1. Players whose statistics for the season need to be reevaluated
  2. Things Fox broadcasters wanted us to know about baseball
  3. A comparison of two parties with which you are now familiar
  4. The utter unpredictability of it all
  5. MLB.com Headlines.

1. Updated season lines
There are two ways we usually treat postseason stats: We ignore them completely (the all-time home run record is 762, not 771); or we obsess over them (“Barry Bonds continues to struggle in clutch situations, to the point where failures now are almost expected,” wrote the San Francisco Examiner in a widely quoted 1997 piece.) But what if we did neither of these things? Some revised 2012 season statistics, given the extra information we now have.

Miguel Cabrera
Before: .330/.393/.606
Now: .325/.391/.595

Pablo Sandoval
Before: .283/.342/.447
Now: .294/.348/.485

Prince Fielder
Before: .313/.412/.528
Now: .302/.398/.504

Robinson Cano
Before: .313/.379/.550
Now: .298/.363/.525

Adam Jones
Before: .287/.334/.505
Now: .279/.325/.488

Ryan Vogelsong
Before: 14-9, 3.37 ERA
Now: 17-9, 3.11 ERA

Phil Coke
Before: 4.00 ERA, 2.83 K/BB
Now: 3.48 ERA, 3.20 K/BB

Jose Valverde
Before: 3.78 ERA, 1.78 K/BB
Now: 5.02 ERA, 1.93 K/BB

Trevor Rosenthal
Before: 2.78 ERA, 3.14 FIP, 9.9 K/9
Now: 2.01 ERA, 2.38 FIP, 11.5 K/9

Most notably, Miguel Cabrera’s batting average for the entire season is now lower than Mike Trout’s.

2. Things about baseball that Fox broadcasters explained during the World Series for the benefit of viewers who aren’t as knowledgeable about baseball as you are, ranked in order of how unknowledgeable about baseball one must be to appreciate this explanation:

  • 6. Why facing a lefty-righty-lefty-righty lineup makes it harder to manage a bullpen against it.
  • 5. That an out recorded as 7 to 4 to 2 refers to the left fielder, second baseman, and catcher.
  • 4. Why teams sometime bring the infield in with a runner on third.
  • 3. Why, when the runner is trying to steal, a catcher wouldn’t want to throw a ball down to second on ball four.
  • 2. That you don’t need to tag the runner when there is a force play on.
  • 1. What the Triple Crown is.

Real things.

3. Parties
There were two parties going on throughout the postseason. One was going great until some dude forgot to bring the guac. The other was going great until the Dip ‘ems ran out. Which party is your kind of party?

Dip ‘ems party is clearly crowded; dozens of different partygoers can be spotted, and early on, when the Dip ‘ems arrive, the party is so crowded that whoever brought the Dip ‘ems must lift them high into the air (Lift ‘ems?) to cut through the mass.

The No Guac party, on the other hand, is much smaller: 14 people are visible, and the mise en scène does not suggest any party flow between rooms. Allowing for folks in the bathroom, maybe there are 16 people here. Except that the baseball game showing on television is also able to interact with the party from within the room; that suggests thousands and thousands of people at this party, if we include all the participants and attendees at that game. There’s also no boundary established between the party and whatever is showing on other channels, which indicates that all worlds real and imagined are able to speak to this party’s partygoers. If you have ever been on TV, or could reasonably be on TV, you were at the No Guac party. Was it fun?

Edge: No Guac.

The No Guac party has chips, but no guac. Nobody in the No Guac party is eating anything else; there do seem to be bowls that might be filled with mixed appetizers (nuts, Chex, etc.) on the table where there are chips (but no guac). Also, the catcher in the No Guac party loudly proclaims his disgust at “burgers and dogs with no avocado,” and because he can see more of the party than we can, we must assume there are burgers and dogs. So burgers, dogs, chips, Chex mix.

The Dip ‘ems party has Dip ‘ems. One single tub of Dip ‘ems, many of which have already been taken by people who aren’t even eating them and just want to hold them while they dance.

There are also five types of dip for the Dip ‘ems. (Originally there are three types of dip, but two were added later.)

No other food is visible at this party, and the Dip ‘ems table is otherwise empty; if there were other foods (like Trader Joe’s taquitos, or bruschetta) they would likely be at the “food” table with the Dip ‘ems. 

Edge: No Guac.

There is not one beverage of any kind visible at the Dip ‘ems party. What an awful party. We don't have to drink to have fun, by any means, but all that dancing and I can't even get a Sprite?

Meanwhile, there is one red cup visible at No Guac party, so there’s a good chance that folks are drinking jungle juice or have a keg. Just one red cup, though, so maybe not. There is also a bottle of water. Considering the controversy over the guacamole at No Guac, we can assume No Guac is primarily a potluck/BYOB party. Considering that the people on the television are directly addressing the people at the No Guac party, we can more safely assume all those guys are screwed up on something very potent and very toxic. “You didn’t bring the mescaline? That’s bush league, bro.”

Edge: No Guac

At No Guac, 10 of the 14 partygoers (not including hitter, umpire, and catcher) are male. At Dip ‘ems, I generally count slightly more females than males. There are a lot of shots of women dancing with other women, though, suggesting that there are actually many more women than men and that’s why they have to dance with each other.

Edge: Dip ‘ems

Super Cool Staging

Dip ‘ems: All the clocks, unsynchronized

No Guac: A plant

Edge: Dip ‘ems

There is loads of dancing at the Dip ‘ems party, which hints at the possibility of a live DJ. At the No Guac party, they are watching a baseball game. Can you imagine anything more boring than baseball?

Edge: Dip ‘ems

Final tally: Three each. I guess we just have to go to both of these parties. Don’t forget the guacamole, bro.

4. The unpredictability of it all
It sometimes seemed like these playoffs were hard to predict? Like, that if you tried to predict, your prediction probably wouldn’t come true? You know what I’m saying? As though the things that happened were unpredictable?

Indeed, the link between the teams’ regular-season performances and their postseason performances were worse than weak. Limiting it to the eight teams that played at least one full series, the correlation between

  • Teams’ True Average during the season and teams’ runs scored per game in the playoffs was -.13, a weak negative correlation.
  • Teams’ Fair Run Average during the season and teams’ runs allowed per game in the playoffs was -.74, an extremely strong negative correlation.

Which is to say that the postseason performances we observed were nearly the opposite of what 2,430 games had suggested would happen.

5. The five best or worst headlines on mlb.com

  • 5. 
  • 4. 
  • 3. 
  • 2. 
  • 1. 

Sam Miller is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Sam's other articles. You can contact Sam by clicking here

Related Content:  Playoffs,  October,  Postseason

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