With Tony La Russa retired and Albert Pujols weighing other offers, we look back at a historic manager-player partnership.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
In a piece that originally ran as an "Inside the Park" column on December 8, 2010 and which will also be appearing in the soon-to-be-released Best of Baseball Prospectus, Bradford Doolittle wrote about the special La Russa-Pujols era in St. Louis.
A humor-tinged recap of one of the most exciting World Series of our generation
Track #1: Iron Maiden: “The Duelist” “Ready to start the duel begins the best man wins in the end.
A lunge and a feint, a parry too late
A cut to the chest and you're down
Seeing the stain then feeling the pain
Feeling the sweat on your brow.”
With Albert Pujols, the Cardinals should be a NL Central favorite next season
Kiss 'Em Goodbye is a series focusing on MLB teams as their postseason dreams fade—whether in September (or before), the league division series, league championship series or World Series. It combines a broad overview from Baseball Prospectus, a front-office take from former MLB GM Jim Bowden, a best- and worst-case scenario ZiPS projection for 2012 from Dan Szymborski, and Kevin Goldstein's farm-system overview.
If you tuned out when the Rangers led 7-5 in the ninth, you missed quite a finish
It was the best worst World Series game—or perhaps the worst best World Series game—I've ever seen. Four and a half hours, 11 innings, 42 players, 19 runs, 23 men left on base, six home runs, five errors, two final-strike comebacks, a handful of bad relief performances, some managerial howlers including a cardinal (not Cardinal) sin… and it all ended with the much-maligned Joe Buck giving a fitting nod to history by emulating one of his father's most famous calls. As David Freese's game-winning blast landed in the grass beyond the center field wall of Busch Stadium, Buck exclaimed, "We'll see you tomorrow night!" Game Six of the 2011 World Series will be remembered as a classic—a Game Six that can sit alongside those of 1975, 1986, and 1991, among maybe a couple others—as the Cardinals staved off elimination to beat the Rangers 10-9, forcing a Game Seven.
The Cardinals head back to the World Series for the first time since 2006 on the strength of their bullpen, offense, and Milwaukee miscues.
On Saturday night, the Rangers advanced to the World Series thanks to some early offensive fireworks and a deep bullpen that helped to overcome a shaky start. On Sunday, the Cardinals used that same blueprint—one to which they had returned time and again throughout the series—to do the same thing. The Cardinals piled up four first-inning runs against Brewers starter Shaun Marcum, survived a wobbly, two-inning, four-run effort by starter Edwin Jackson, and rolled to a 12-6 win as their lineup kept piling runs while manager Tony La Russa continued to pull all the right levers.
While no one would have predicted it a mere month ago, the Braves have collapsed and hold a single game lead over the Cards.
As sports fans, we all love a good collapse. This may be because inherent to all good collapses are also good comebacks, and everyone loves a good comeback. Combine the nature of these dual concepts with the stakes of making it to the playoffs for a chance at the World Series, and you have an intriguing storyline to follow at the end of an otherwise dull 2011 stretch run. The Atlanta Braves were 8.5 games ahead of their closest Wild Card competitor, the St. Louis Cardinals, at the beginning of September. CoolStandings had them at a 97.8 percent chance of making the playoffs (96.4 percent chance of winning the Wild Card) that day using their “smart” mode assumptions. The Cardinals, on the other hand, had just a 4.3 percent chance of making the postseason. Flash forward to the present time, and the Braves and Cardinals are in drastically different situations. Since September 1, the Braves have gone 8-15 while the Cardinals have gone the opposite direction, posting a 15-7 record. The reversal of fortunes has put the Braves just one game ahead of the Cardinals for the Wild Card lead with only three games remaining.
This drastic change is reflected in the Playoff Odds Report. Through September 24, the Braves had an 88.8 percent chance of moving into the postseason, while the Cardinals were up to 11.2 percent. This change was most drastic during the past week—a week in which the Braves went 2-4 versus the three lower-ranked teams in the NL East while the Cardinals won five of seven games. Atlanta lost almost seven percent on their odds to make the playoffs this past week, while the Cardinals gained eight percentage points in their quest to thwart the previously untouchable Braves.
B.J. Upton and Colby Rasmus had sky-high ceilings as prospects, but their up-and-down performances in the majors has led them to the trading block.
The July 31 trading deadline traditionally turns the spotlight on pending free agents that can shore up a contender's roster for the stretch run. Carlos Beltran and Hiroki Kuroda are the belles of the quick-fix ball this year, and if they don't sound tremendously enticing, it helps explain why so much talk is focused elsewhere, on younger and more affordable players still under club control. Ubaldo Jimenez and Hunter Pence fit that bill, even if their respective teams' willingness to trade them is something of a head-scratcher. More puzzling is how B.J. Upton and Colby Rasmus have arrived at this juncture, particularly given the big things projected for them just a few years ago. On the other hand, maybe that explains exactly why they're here.
Pegging BP's favorites in both leagues, both in the standings and for the major awards.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division with first-place votes in parentheses, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that has been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.