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I think the fixation on Smith's brain freeze may have led the author to understate what Morris accomplished. Look at it this way: if that game 7 had been played in the outfield configuration the Twins were using a few years later - no plexiglass - Pendleton's double would have bounced into the stands and Smith would have had to stop at 3rd regardless of how befuddled he was.
Now focus on the jam that Morris was in. The Braves had runners at 2nd and 3rd with nobody out and the heart of the order coming up. There was every reason to believe that the first team to score would win the World Series. Morris had to keep Gant in the infield - and he did. After walking Justice, he had to get a DP out of Sid Bream - and he did. To remain in the game, he had to keep the Braves off the bases in the 9th and 10th - and he did.
On the biggest stage, with the championship on the line, Smith's mistake gave Morris the opportunity for greatness, but he still had to seize it. Give him his props - he did it. On that night, at least. There's a good case to be made that Morris' HOF candidacy is built on an attempt to project the attributes he displayed in that game onto his entire, marginal career. But I don't think we have to downplay his game 7 performance in order to show that his HOF case is weak.
Regarding Hicks, were any scouts encouraged by his AFL performance?
Nolasco is the perfect case study for this question - thanks for going into depth on him. On the other side of the coin, I'd love to see a similar analysis of Johan Santana, a pitcher who has consistently beaten the league average LOB% and (correspondingly?) his DIPS projections.
I can't believe Colin wasted all that time researching and writing about a situation that didn't actually take place last night. In the 4th, Washington elected to face the pitcher with 2 out and a man in scoring position rather a position player. Carpenter struck out pathetically on 3 pitches. I don't think anyone should be afraid to pitch to Punto, but I can't argue with the results of choosing to pitch to Carpenter instead.
I don't think there was anything wrong with pitching around Punto in the 6th, either. There's some value in getting a pitcher like Carpenter out of the game. Ogando has the stuff to get the PH out. He overpowered Craig on the first two swings. They were set up to go up the ladder - the 1-2 pitch should have been neck-high, not down and away. The Rangers lost because Napoli called for the wrong location - not because of any decisions Washington made.
With respect to the Span play, I don't really see the ambiguity as far as what to do with the baserunner. Whatever you think of Span's arm or Jackson's speed, there is no case to be made that, had the umps made the correct call, there would have been a close play to double off Jackson at first. That's because, you know, Span dropped the ball, and by the time he picked it up off the warning track, Jackson, Cabrera or even Jim Leyland would have made it back to first safely. Had a replay official ruled that a catch was made, I doubt the Twins would have had much of a beef with Jackson being placed at first with 2 outs. They would have been a lot better off in that situation than with what actually happened.
I guess the answer is to build a mechanism into the replay rules that would allow the umpires to have some discretion as to where to place baserunners after a call has been overturned. I don't think it would be too much different than the dead ball rules they have now for overthrows and ground rule doubles. Managers could waste time arguing about that if they wanted, but it seems like it would lead to more accurate calls more often than not.
Right now you have the Twins at 1497 IP, where other teams' depth charts project them for something in the 1450s. That would be closer to last year's MLB IP average of 1442. Dropping one of the Manships would bring this depth chart in line with those others. Would that also effect the projected total runs allowed?
Are you counting Manship twice?
Thanks for giving props to Span. But the number that sums up the Twins' season for me is .500, since they spent all but the final 2 weeks within a few games of break-even.
I'm in favor of the tiered 5-star system like in Future Shock. It might be easiest to tie those ratings directly to the standard categories, so that a guy who mashes but never steals any bases tops out as 4-star (relative to the other eligibles at the position, of course).