I tried to think of some clever way to start this recap; something about Ned Yost, Billy Beane, or Moneyball. Nope. None of that would do justice to a game that was, at its heart, baseball in its purest form.
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What to watch for in this postseason? Things three standard deviations away from the mean, obviously.
There’s a toy over at Brooks Baseball—well, he probably wouldn’t call it a toy, but I use it as a toy—that I just love. For each pitch thrown by each pitcher, it assigns a “scouting scale” number for certain characteristics and results: velocity, movement, release point, whiff rate, groundball rate, etc. As you know, on the 20-80 scouting scale, 50 is average and each standard deviation represents 10 points up or down the scale. For instance, Aroldis Chapman’s average fastball velocity is a bit more than three standard deviations from the average left-hander's, so, per Brooks, his fastball velocity is assigned an 84 (lol) on the scouting scale. Dallas Keuchel’s groundball rate on his sinker is nearly three standard deviations higher than the typical lefty sinkerl in that specific aspect, it gets a 79. It’s a toy, of course, because that’s not to say Keuchel’s sinker is an 80 pitch, or that a scout would put an 80 on it, or that you should put an 80 on it; it’s just that, statistically, in this one aspect of it, compared to other pitchers, in the period of time surveyed, his was thatfar from normal.
The Giants and the Pirates play at 8:07 Eastern on Thursday; the winner gets the Nationals.
Thanks to the Milwaukee Brewers’ second-half collapse, the playoff picture was pretty clear in the National League in the last few weeks, the only question being whether the Pirates could steal the division from the Cardinals with a late push. The Cardinals held on, so for the second year in a row the Pirates will host the NL Wild Card game at PNC Park, this time against the San Francisco Giants. (Note: Neither team's Wild Card roster is set, so we'll update the article when the names are officially announced.)
Is there any good reason not to take the Orioles as seriously as the other contenders?
With their victory on Tuesday, the Orioles clinched the American League East for the first time since 1997. By any measure, the O's are a top-five team. Baltimore ranks second in the majors in wins, fourth in run differential, and fifth in third-order and Pythagorean winning percentages. Consistency? April was their only sub-.500 month. Peaking late? Doesn't matter, but they've won 39 of their 57 post-break games. It's enough to make even stolid Buck Showaltersmile—well, almost. Yet impressive credentials notwithstanding, few seem to consider the Orioles a legitimate World Series contender.
St. Louis' slump, and some final musings on Mike Matheny.
The story of the Cardinals’ loss, both in Game Six and in the World Series as a whole, is simple: they didn’t hit, recording only a collective .224/.273/.299 line. And when you come right down to it, that’s not a very interesting story.
The Cardinals try to force a Game Seven while the Red Sox attempt to seal the deal.
One would think that it’s very difficult for a team to go on the road and win the final two games of the World Series with their backs up against the wall, as the Cardinals are facing right now. However, history tells us otherwise. If you make an assumption that most World Series teams are somewhat evenly matched, you’d expect a specific team to win two games in a row around 25 percent of the time. Throw in the heightened atmosphere and lack of home field advantage, and you might expect that number to go down, but it turns out it’s exactly 25 percent. In World Series history, there have been 24 teams facing a 3-2 deficit as they went on the road for Game Six. That road team has prevailed six times. Can the Cardinals make it seven? They’ll turn to their rookie sensation to get them there.
What history says about the likelihood of a Cardinals comeback.
After Monday night’s 3-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox, the St. Louis Cardinals head back to Boston tonight to try to win two consecutive road games to clinch the 2013 World Series. Given how evenly matched the teams’ talent levels are, their one-game deficit and home field disadvantage qualify the Cardinals as underdogs.
Between fourth grade and eighth, we’re all at least once where the Cardinals are. There are 10 of us on the field or the court, and as we’re dividing up into two teams we’re all too aware that one of the 10 is so much better than the rest that the game is settled as soon as he is chosen with the first pick. He’s six feet; we’re four. He’s shaving; we still secretly have a teddy bear. He’s on a traveling team; we’re on our church choir. He will never, ever lose.
How the Red Sox sent the series back to Boston with a one-win lead.
This series has been compelling from the start, but it took until Game Five for it to look like a contest between two of the best teams in baseball. Game Five was the first without an error. It was mercifully free of egregiously bad baserunning, and it didn’t end with a debatable call. With the memory of Dana DeMuth's floating strike zone still fresh, it felt well-officiated behind home plate, aside from this third-inning strike three to Matt Carpenter.