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October 29, 2012

Playoff Prospectus

World Series (and Postseason) Recap

by Sam Miller

You could be forgiven for thinking this was a boring postseason. I believe I noted once or twice that few of the games lately have been close. The numbers confirm this. If we use the average leverage index of each game and then average all those games together, we find that the average leverage index of this year's postseason was but 0.97; last year's postseason games had an average leverage of 1.01. For the Giants, the difference between this year's championship path and the 2010 run is even starker: 1.12 two years ago, 0.78 this year. To put that into perspective, 0.78 is roughly the leverage for the batter who hits in the bottom of the eighth trailing by four, whereas 1.12 is roughly the leverage for the batter hitting in the top of the seventh of a tie game. 

But none of that matters for the Giants, and none of that should matter for us, because we actually got a great postseason. Thirty-seven games, and nearly every single one was interesting for some reason, other than Game Three of the Cardinals/Nationals series. That game was basically worthless. Otherwise, though. 

What follows is a ranking of the 37 baseball games we just watched, including a terrifying barrage of GIFs. I wish your browser luck, and I wish us all a 2013 postseason as entertaining as this one was. 

***

37. NLDS Game Three: Cardinals 8, Nationals 0
Memorable because: Edwin Jackson got bombed, so everybody brought up the Strasburg decision again.
Average Leverage Index (aLI): .5275 (32nd highest out of 36 games*)

36. NLCS Game Four: Cardinals 8, Giants 3
Memorable because: Tim Lincecum started and immediately reverted to the bad regular season Timmy.
aLI: .605 (29th)

35. NLCS Game Six: Giants 6, Cardinals 1
Memorable because: Ryan Vogelsong struck out a career-high nine batters to force a Game Seven.
aLI: .3975 (35th)

34. NLCS Game Two: Giants 7, Cardinals 1
Memorable because: Matt Holliday wrecked Marco Scutaro then made an error on Scutaro's bases-clearing hit later in the game.
aLI: .6775 (27th)

33. ALCS Game Four: Tigers 8, Yankees 1
Memorable because: The Tigers so thoroughly dominated the Yankees (and Alex Rodriguez, who popped out in a pinch-hitting appearance during this game) that everybody forgot their flaws and picked them to crush the Giants in the World Series.
aLI: .5615 (31st)

32. NLDS Game Two: Reds 9, Giants 0
Memorable because: Bronson Arroyo junk-balled a no-hitter into the fifth, and Tim Lincecum briefly enlivened the crowd with his first dominant relief performance.
aLI: .401 (34th)

31. NLDS Game Two: Cardinals 12, Nationals 4
Memorable because: Carlos Beltran homered twice, giving him (comfortably) the best postseason OPS in history.
aLI: .5665 (30th)

30. NLCS Game One: Cardinals 6, Giants 4
Memorable because: Madison Bumgarner lost his spot in the rotation after a terrible start, setting up the third-act redemption to come.
aLI: .811 (24th)

29. NLCS Game Seven: Giants 9, Cardinals 0
Memorable because: "It started raining all of a sudden, and it was raining so hard—it was raining as hard as it rains in California," said my father, who got soaked with the rest of them.
aLI: .4665 (33rd)

28. NLDS Game Four: Giants 8, Reds 3
Memorable because: Tim Lincecum threw 4 1/3 innings of relief, salvaged his season. 
aLI: .7575 (25th)

27. ALDS Game Three: A's 2, Tigers 0

Memorable because: Coco Crisp stole what would have been a game-tying home run from Prince Fielder.
aLI: .892 (22nd)

26. NLCS Game Five: Giants 5, Cardinals 0
Memorable because: Barry Zito had his biggest (good) start as a Giant and snuck a bunt single toward third base.
aLI: .710 (26th)

25. ​NL Wild Card Play-in Game: Cardinals 6, Braves 3
Memorable because: The infield-fly call, the fans flipping out.
aLI: .9415 (21st)

24. NLDS Game One: Reds 5, Giants 2
Memorable because: Brandon Phillips bullet-dodged a tag, came out of nowhere to back up a wild throw to first, and crushed the worst pitch Matt Cain has ever thrown.
aLI: .8485 (23rd)

23. World Series Game Three: Giants 2, Tigers 0
Memorable because: Vogelsong lowered his postseason ERA to 1.09, probably some sort of record or another.
aLI: 1.024 (17th)

22. AL Wild Card Play-in Game: Orioles 5, Rangers 1
Memorable because: Josh Hamilton played (probably) his final game as a Ranger and was terrible. Also: the Orioles.
aLI: 1.049 (16th)

21. ALDS Game Five: Tigers 6, A's 0
Memorable because: Justin Verlander (Game Score: 89) pitched the best game of the postseason.
aLI: .6335 (28th)

20. NLDS Game Five: Giants 6, Reds 4
Memorable because: Buster Posey hit a grand slam off Mat Latos, who hates the Giants.
aLI: .9955 (19th)

19. ALDS Game One: Tigers 3, A's 1
Memorable because: Justin Verlander entered the game with a 5.57 career ERA in the postseason and allowed a leadoff home run to Coco Crisp... and then was about as dominant as he can be, with 20 swinging strikes.
aLI: .9465 (20th)

18. ALCS Game Two: Tigers 3, Yankees 0
Memorable because: Robinson Cano got booed by Yankees fans.
aLI: 1.0685 (15th)

17. NLCS Game Three: Cardinals 3, Giants 1
Memorable because: Carlos Beltran got injured and his replacement, Matt Carpenter, hit the winning home run.
aLI: 1.085 (14th)

16. ALDS Game Five: Yankees 3, Orioles 1
Memorable because: Nate McLouth hit a ball that may have scraped the foul pole; a Yankee Stadium usher told the man with the garish jacket that it did, but the umpires concluded it didn't, paving the way for the Yankees to be totally miserable one week later.
aLI: 1.097 (13th)

15. ALCS Game Three: Tigers 2, Yankees 1
Memorable because: Joe Girardi absolutely refused to let Alex Rodriguez or Nick Swisher pinch-hit, up to and including Raul Ibanez's game-ending strikeout against lefty Phil Coke with the go-ahead runs on base.
aLI: 1.1135 (12th)

14. ALDS Game One: Yankees 7, Orioles 2
Memorable because: The Orioles' pythag-crushing bullpen allowed a five-run ninth.
aLI: 1.264 (8th)

13. World Series Game Two: Giants 2, Tigers 0
Memorable because: Prince Fielder got thrown out at home.
aLI: 1.12 (11th)

12. ALDS Game Two: Orioles 3, Yankees 2
Memorable because: Ichiro avoided the tag at home.
aLI: 1.356 (7th)

 

11. NLDS Game Four: Nationals 2, Cardinals 1
Memorable because: Jayson Werth hit a walk-off home run on the 13th pitch of an at-bat. Below, the eighth pitch of that at-bat:
aLI: 1.207 (9th) 

10. NLDS Game Three: Giants 2, Reds 1
Memorable because: Homer Bailey might have pitched the best non-Verlander start of the postseason.
aLI: 1.4505

9. NLDS Game One: Nationals 3, Cardinals 2
Memorable because: Ryan Mattheus entered with the bases loaded and nobody out; he got three outs on two pitches.
aLI: 1.649 (3rd)

8. World Series Game Four: Giants 4, Tigers 3
Memorable because: Miguel Cabrera took a called third strike to end the World Series.

7. World Series Game One: Giants 8, Tigers 3
Memorable because: Pablo Sandoval batted with a chance to hit his fourth home run of the game.
aLI: .3875 (36th)

6. ALCS Game One: Tigers 6, Yankees 4
Memorable because: Raul Ibanez homered to tie it in the bottom of the ninth; Derek Jeter broke his ankle in the 12th; Jose Valverde never danced again.
aLI: 1.4125 (5th)

5. ALDS Game Four: Orioles 2, Yankees 1
Memorable because: In 13 innings, the two teams combined to use 16 pitchers.
aLI: 1.708 (2nd)

4. ALDS Game Four: Tigers 4, A's 3
Memorable because: Facing elimination, the A's scored three off Valverde in the ninth.
aLI: 1.1395 (10th)

3. ALDS Game Two: Tigers 5, A's 4
Memorable because: Three lead changes in the final three innings, plus a walk-off, plus a kissed baseball.
aLI: 1.78 (1st)

2. NLDS Game Five: Cardinals 9, Nationals 7
Memorable because: The Nationals blew a six-run lead; the Cardinals did the "down to their final strike" thing again.
aLI: 1.0175 (18th)

1. ALDS Game Three: Yankees 3, Orioles 2
Memorable because: The game Joe Girardi figured out how easy it is to put Alex Rodriguez on the bench.
aLI: 1.3755 (6th) 

Could have been worse, except for Alex Rodriguez. For him it was pretty much as bad as it could be. 

*out of 36 games because, as I make this, I don't have the aLI for Game Four of the World Series. All aLIs from Baseball-Reference.

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

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