The Cardinals play the Braves in Atlanta for a spot in the Division Series
The last time the Cardinals met the Braves in the postseason, in 2000, St. Louis swept a three-game series by outscoring Atlanta 24-10. Only six players from that series remain active and two, Rafael Furcal and Chipper Jones, will attend this one. Fresher on the minds of both squads and their fans is what happened last year, when the Cardinals made a late-season surge and stole away the Braves’ postseason ticket on the season’s final night. Consider this Atlanta’s opportunity for revenge.
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Bill revisits a question raised on this site earlier in the season, and asks whether Heyward's excellent two months give us a more definitive answer.
There needs to be a catchy two-word phrase, along the lines of “gambler’s fallacy” or “winner’s curse,” for the understandable but generally ill-advised thought pattern that gets applied to guys like Jason Heyward. The rule underlying the fallacy is something like: the more hype a prospect receives upon his debut, the more overlooked and underrated he will become as soon as (inevitably) it turns out that he can’t immediately become Willie Mays or Albert Pujols.
It’s an exceptionally clunkily-worded rule, which is why we need the title phrase.
Jason Heyward gets an earful from Yankees fans in right field after an Alex Rodriguez homer.
Interesting things happen when home runs are hit to the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium. In Game 4 of the 2010 ALCS, Robinson Cano hit a home run there, just beyond the reach of Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz. That home run made the score 1-0, Yankees. The Rangers went on to win the game 10-3, so the home run itself was meaningless. (Well, it might have had meaning for Cano). But the aftermath of the home run made animated GIF history:
A brutal eight-game losing streak has taken the Atlanta Braves from first to worst in the NL East.
The Weekend Takeaway
It’s not all that hard to go from first to last in nine days this early in the season. To do so as resoundingly as the Braves have, though, takes a special kind of awfulness.
At the end of play on May 20, Fredi Gonzalez’s team was 26-16 and enjoyed a 1 ½-game lead in the National League East. At the close of shop last night, the Braves had slipped to 26-24 and sat in a last-place tie with the Phillies, four games behind the first-place Nationals.
Jason Heyward takes a step forward, while Mat Latos and Gio Gonzalez are looking to get the ball rolling with their new clubs.
The Wednesday Takeaway
The Braves are counting on bounce-back campaigns from their corner outfielders and contributions from their high-ceiling pitching prospects as they look to return to the top of the NL East standings for the first time since 2005. If Wednesday night’s 6-3 victory over the Astros is any indication, they may get them.
Starter Randall Delgado earned the win for Atlanta, tossing five innings of two-run ball and striking out six. But the bigger story was right fielder Jason Heyward, who made his presence felt throughout the game and might be ready to resume his rise to stardom.
Though they're down two stars, the Phillies believe they have the support they need to make it through the season.
The Phillies certainly aren't going to begin the season with a bullpen-by-committee approach. They are paying Jonathan Papelbon $50 million over the next four seasons to serve as their closer. It is the largest contract ever given a relief pitcher and a deal that been criticized for overpaying someone who will likely pitch no more than four percent of the team's innings this season.
Counting on a player to transition from teeny bopper to Bash Brother at age 27 isn't a good fantasy strategy.
Twenty-seven. Oh, the age of 27. As you might be aware, age 27 gets a lot of attention in fantasy baseball circles, often cited as a “magic” number when a hitter reaches his physical peak and is most likely to break out. It doesn’t take much effort to stumble upon a fantasy writer who discusses this theory, heraldingtheupcomingseason’scrop ofage-27ers.
The theory goes that because a player is reaching his physical peak, he is most likely to have a career year during his age-27 season. Unfortunately, most of the support offered for this theory comes in the form of conjecture or anecdotal evidence. I wrote an article last offseason at THT that examined whether age 27 actually is the prime age for breakouts. Unsurprisingly, I found that it wasn’t. Of course, this won’t stop people from continuing to write about it, as they see a player like Rickie Weeks post a 29-home run season in 2010 at the age of 27 and assume that the age is somehow magical. But these people ignore the age-27 players who stumble, such as Adam Lind in 2010, and the players who break out at other ages, such as Jose Bautista at age 29. Anecdotal evidence is never sufficient and can often lead to season-sinking assumptions.
Hamels' inconsistency has been greatly exaggerated, John Mallee suffers a fate he didn't deserve, and more.
The Philadelphia Phillies bounced back from a poor week two weeks ago, including a four-game losing streak to the likes of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Washington Nationals, to pick up five of seven games since last Sunday. This was partly due to the continued success of Cole Hamels, who has turned in one of his best seasons so far in 2011, recording a 2.58 ERA and winning eight games for the NL East leaders.
Of course, this has brought up conversation about Hamels once again regaining “consistency” or “growing up into a man,” the same sort of commentary people were making when he became the 2008 World Series MVP. Hamels’ consistency, or lack thereof, has always been a point of contention. If you look at his career in terms of ERA, it certainly does seem to have been a wild ride, but as Baseball Prospectus author and resident Philly Phanatic Bill Baer has repeatedoften, Hamels has been a very good pitcher with some varying streaks of luck over the last four seasons:
Pegging BP's favorites in both leagues, 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. Picking favorites for the Wild Card for the respective leagues initially might have seemed easy, since the selections universally favored the second-place team in the AL East, while all but two voters picked their second-place teams in the NL East to earn the non-division champ playoff team, but a tie in the rankings had to be broken in favor of the team named the Wild Card winner on the most individual ballots, which is sure to upset some people.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that's 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.