A closer look at some of the most improbable pennant race comebacks and collapses in baseball history.
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While we wait to see whether any teams complete an improbable late-season comeback in 2012, revisit some of the unlikeliest playoff teams ever in the piece reprinted below, which was originally written for the paperback edition of It Ain't Overbut instead was published at BP on October 4th, 2009.
Buster Posey is having an extraordinary season, but he's not the first position player to improve after recovering from a serious injury.
When I was a kid, I broke my collarbone. Doctors told us that bones that break tend to grow back even stronger. “You are not broken,” the doctor might have said, as if he were merely a narrative device to be used many years later, “you are getting structural reinforcement!”
Man does that sound like a scam, but here we are in September, and look at Buster Posey. As I write this, he has a 170 OPS+. (If it goes down this weekend, I will probably leave it as “As I write this.” If it goes up, I will update it with the higher figure before publication. Pro tip!) A 170 OPS+ is insane. Mike Trout has a 170 OPS+. Remember how good Mike Trout is? And he’s only 21? Buster Posey is not 21, but he is a catcher. As you know, “And he’s only 21” and “But he’s a catcher” are extremely close to each other on the Factoid Scale:
A look at the greatest comebacks in pennant race history. Has there been a recent addition to the list?
I've had kind of a lucky year. The PECOTA projection I made in the offseason that gained the most notoriety is that the White Sox would finish 72-90; that turned out to be their actual finish. After that, the next most controversial projection was that Dustin Pedroia was going to have a very good year; now he looks like a shoo-in for the Rookie of the Year Award. And in a July article for Sports Illustrated, we noted that the Secret Sauce predicted that the Red Sox would meet the Cubs in the World Series, an outcome that now looks entirely possible (though incrementally less so after the Cubs' loss last night).
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Dan discusses booting a probability, historic comebacks brought back by readers, and discusses the dampening damp of baseball at altitude.
Every fan knows that Babe Ruth struck out over 1,300 times to go along with his 714 home runs. Pete Rose made almost 10,000 outs in his career. And last week SABR members enjoyed a lively discussion on the their listserve discussing the players who made the most outs in a season (a hint: "Omar the Outmaker" takes three of the top ten spots).
It's 11:49 p.m. EDT, and I'm sitting here staring slack-jawed at a 13-inch television set. In St. Louis, the remnants of what was a crowd of 47,000 people are going nuts, and the Cardinals are jumping around as if they've won the World Series. Edgar Renteria has just hit a three-run home run to cap a six-run ninth inning, giving the Cards a 10-9 victory.