In his final game as a manager, Bobby Cox went with his gut, and it steered him wrong.
Five-game series have a different dynamic when compared to their seven-game brethren, in particular when it comes to stress management. One loss represents 50 percent of your series-recommended allowance, so teams find themselves in desperation mode much quicker. After getting a gift win in Game Two to tie the National League Division Series, the Braves gave one right back to the Giants on Sunday in equally, if not more heart-breaking fashion. With his season (and career) on the line, manager Bobby Cox did not hesitate to make major overhauls to his Game Four approach on Monday night.
Two teams that took interesting rides to the postseason meet in the first round.
Those of you who root for chaos and the eventual heat death of the universe were no doubt disappointed that the season did not end with a series of one-game playoffs. To the Braves and the Giants, however, the outcomes of Sunday’s games were more than welcome. Their starters will receive an additional day of rest each, and they won’t entirely foreclose the possibility of pitching their Game One starters on short rest in Game Four. The condensed schedule of this series (potentially five games in seven days, rather than the eight allotted to the other NLDS) means Bobby Cox and Bruce Bochy will have tough decisions to make should the series go to four or five games.
Hot Spots finishes the 2010 season with some of the top fantasy surprises up the middle.
As Hot Spots colleague Michael Street alluded to yesterday, BP will be finishing up Hot Spots for the 2010 season with a bright note, with fantasy baseball's surprises of the season. Again, these surprises will be based not only on judgment of the individual authors but also differences between projected values from before the season and their current 5x5 roto league value. The up-the-middle positions were ravaged with various injuries to key names, but quite a few players that were available in the waiver wires early in the year surprised more than a few people on the way to excellent seasons. To those of you lucky enough to have grabbed one of these names in the early parts of the season, I hope you're riding them to playoff victory now.
The chances of someone leading the league in batting avearge, homers, and RBI have grown long in just a week.
Over the last two weeks I have utilized a neat simulation I built in order to assess the likelihood that a Triple Crown occurs this year. Simulations are the best way to make such a determination, as the three stats involved—batting average, home runs, and RBI—are intertwined. They might not always be connected, but it is more accurate to operate under this assumption than it is to multiply together the probabilities that a player leads the league in each category. When I ran through the rest of the season 10,000 times back on September 1, the feat was only achieved 777 times even though Albert Pujols and Joey Votto ranked either first or second in all three categories. Pujols won the Triple Crown in a whopping 663 of those 777 seasons, suggesting that the feat was unlikely to be achieved, but that Prince Albert was the heavy favorite.
Someone has replaced Prince Albert as the most likely to make history.
As September kicks into gear and the playoff races begin to heat up, another race is piquing the attention of a large population of baseball fans. The difference is that the race to which I am alluding is not assured of producing a winner. In fact, it has not produced a winner since 1967, when Carl Yasztremski led the American League on the mighty triumvirate of batting average, home runs, and runs batted in. Leading the league in each of these categories in the same season is referred to as the Triple Crown, and for the first time in quite a while, there exists a strong possibility that the feat will be achieved. Say what you will about the relative merits of the batting average and RBI stats, but cliché saber-oriented rants aside, leading the league in all three is incredibly impressive.
What should the Braves do absent their third baseman, and should they do anything?
There's something very wrong with the picture: the Braves, in a pennant race for the first time in five years, Bobby Cox's last stand, and Chipper Jones is out. Not just out, but out for the season, and depending on how he feels about trying to come back, possibly out for forever.
One of the more unlikely scenarios three weeks ago comes to fruition, as the Cardinals and Tigers meet for all the marbles.
Not that this World Series is without its own compelling angles. For two teams that neither play in the same league nor share any obvious geographic connection, the Cardinals and Tigers have a fair amount of shared history. Detroit and St. Louis have tended to rise and fall together, both as cities and as baseball clubs, and this becomes one of a bare handful of World Series matchups that have occurred at least three times and haven't involved the Yankees: