No one wants to print out a batch of Prospectus statistical reports and take them to the game. So like MacGyver, we take some mental stats and make some ugly improvised devices. My goal is to make every step something I can do while drinking a beer–a quick bit of easy mental division and a comparison, for instance. And as a friend of mine was once advised by a fortune cookie: “If you want to find an easier way to do something, ask a lazy man.”
The term “luck” is actually shorthand for a more difficult concept, that when two playoff-caliber teams square off in a best-of-five or best-of-seven series, any result is reasonably likely. Just because a particular one occurs doesn’t reflect anything other than the events that made up that series: one player’s hot week, or one pitcher’s inability to throw his curve for strikes, or a baserunner’s ill-fated decision to take an extra base. These events do not, despite the mythology of October, enlighten us about the character or fortitude of people any more than Nate Robertson’s huge last week out of the bullpen does. Those things aren’t luck, they’re performance, and using the former word to describe them isn’t helping us make the larger concept accessible to more people.
This week’s grades are based on getaways, fast, slow, or N/A, with a healthy allowance for the biases that a small sample size encourages. In other words, we can call Victor Zambrano the Cy Young award winner after just three starts and excuse it as a moment of vernally-inspired hormonal exuberance. Still, with just one week in the bag every team on this list has been possessed by Chicken Little-style paranoia or Pollyannaish optimism, and their plans are being altered accordingly. Maybe you can’t trust TEAMS this week, but you can’t trust teams either. Caveat lector, caveat emptor, and laissez les bon temps rouler!