The Twins and Yankees meet yet again in the first round of the postseason but Minnesota has home field advantage this time.
As they did last year as well as 2003 and 2004, the Twins run squarely into the Yankee juggernaut in the first round. Unlike those other three meetings, they have home field advantage this time around, as they won the AL Central going away thanks to a league-best 48-26 second-half record. The defending world champion Yankees, who held the majors' best record for most of the season, were forced to settle for the wild card due to a sluggish 13-17 showing against a very tough schedule in September and October. Despite the relative temperatures of the two clubs, it's important to remember that late-season records aren't predictive of October success—or failure.
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Digging deeper into some good and bad of the American League East's power trio.
When the pitching matchup for Sunday night's Yankees-Red Sox game was initially announced, I joked that I would fake my own death to avoid watching the potentially plodding affair of New York's Dustin Moseley facing off against Daisuke Matsuzaka. As it turns out, the joke was on me, because even having attended three games at Yankee Stadium over the past week (two in the press box, one in the cheap seats) while watching the Yankees duke it out with the American League East's other two heavyweights, I somehow managed to miss out on the best one. With the Yankees riding their second four-game losing streak in a two-week span coming into Sunday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi went to the whip and started Phil Hughes—who was set to be skipped in accordance with efforts to manage his innings total—in Moseley's place. Hughes gave the Yankees his best outing in more than a month, and the same can be said for Matsuzaka. The result was a taut 10-inning thriller worthy of the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball hype.
Jay Jaffe checks in with a WBC report after taking in some exciting games in Puerto Rico.
But as the first round revealed, even the hardest heart is capable of being warmed once the games begin. The sudden presence of baseball in early March--not the lazy exhibition walkthroughs in front of somnolent audiences of sun-worshippers but tooth-and-nail battles between bitter rivals in front of frenzied fanatics--trumps all. Either find a way to enjoy the first (relatively) meaningful baseball in four and a half months, or fill out your bracket and kiss Andrew Jackson goodbye.
As of five weeks ago, I had been planning my own sun-worshipping Florida pilgrimage when my brother-in-law Adam upped the ante by suggesting a couple of second-round WBC games in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Though mindful of my own reservations about the tourney, I've got enough experience in marquee event attendance to know that even the most pilloried events--such as the birthed-in-scandal 2002 Winter Olympics in my hometown of Salt Lake City--look much better when you're holding a fistful of ducats. As my wife, Andra, likes to say, we're "event people"; it doesn't take much arm-twisting to induce us to hunt big games. So with her blessing, we procured a quartet of tickets for the Pool D winner versus Pool C winner matchup on Monday, March 13 (Adam's girlfriend Nicole would also be accompanying us), and a boys-only pair for the previous night's matchup pairing the Pool D winner and the Pool C runner-up. With the Dominican Republic and Venezuela likely to come out of the D bracket and Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Panama vying for the C slots, we were virtually assured of a pair of high-end Latin-flavored ballgames.
Nate finishes up his PECOTA-driven look at prospects with a few rankings, and some final thoughts.
Since the All-Star Game was first played in 1933, there have been 519 players who have been named to participate in the event at least three times. This constitutes a reasonable, if slightly arbitrary, definition of what we might consider to be a "star" performer; our apologies in advance to relatives of Tim Salmon and Bobby Abreu. If we divide that 519 figure by the number of seasons covered during this time period (73), we come up with 7.1 players that "graduate" to star status per year. That is, if we took a typical amateur draft class, we'd expect--give or take--seven players from that draft class to develop into stars.
Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' predictions for 1998. We'll go division by
division and each of our staff members will tell you what they think about the
races. Remember, there's a reason we don't print this stuff in the book; there
is no good way we know of to predict what a team will do before the season
begins. Consider these teamwide WFGs, take them with a grain of salt, and