Thursday, October 11, 2012

Friday Baseball Post (Thursday Edition)

Amazing, amazing series: the Giants survive to reach the NLCS, but just barely.

Truth is the Giants were lucky; the Reds got one out from their best pitcher instead of two starts, and Singles-Hitting Votto, while still a pretty terrific player, is nowhere near as scary as regular Votto. And, yeah, the Giants were outscored by several runs. Still, a win is a win, and this was a win.

The weird thing is that the teams were oddly matched, since the Giants are actually the hitting-based team and the Reds are a pitching-based team, which goes against both the ballpark biases and the image of both teams over the last few years. It's hard to get a sense of how good a team the Giants are because it's hard to quite believe the rotation is as bad as it's been this year (ERA+ down the rotation are 125, 103, 103, 84, 67, and both Vogelsong nor Bumgarner looked terribly tired over the last six weeks)...but it's also hard to believe that this team is really the best hitting team in the league (team OPS+ was tied with the Cardinals for the top spot). I don't think it's just a park illusion, either, that makes me pretty skeptical of that.

At any rate: a great performance by everyone to beat the Reds. Bruce Bochy continues to be an excellent postseason manager (although I still don't get the roster construction, but it's not as if there was any fearsome pinch hitter who was left home, just a third catcher or a pinch runner). Romo was awesome. Buster Posey really does seem to be the best player in the National League right now. Lincecum's long relief appearance was awesome.

So, on to the LCS, either the Nats or the Cards -- I have no idea which one I'm rooting for right now, other than the obvious one of rooting for a Game 5, as long as neither one has Bob Robertson and Candy Maldonado won't be in right field. Either way, it should be fun!

1 comment:

  1. A little while ago I argued that Dusty Baker was a good manager cause he treated his players as (flawed) human beings, not the black box that sabermetrics sees. Two things happened in this series that made me rethink that.

    The first was Brandon Phillips' terrible attempt to go first to third on a shallow hit with none out early in game 3. Its not sabermetrics; its the oldest saw in the sport: never make the first or third out of the inning at third base. Its not that Dusty ordered Phillips to try for third; however, whatever his other flaws in the clubhouse, you have to figure that a Bill James managed team would, over the course of a season, never make the first or third out of an innning at third. Phillips' gaffe ostensibly cost the Reds the game, and eventually, the series.

    The second was Latos staying in to face Posey in the 5th inning today. I was listening on Reds homer radio (700 WLW), and I can't off the top of my head recall a home-biased radio crew so verbally alarmed that a pitcher had totally lost his stuff. The announcers were bewildered; all they could figure was that Dusty was leaving Latos in until the end of the fifth because...they were buddies, or something? Now they'll have five months to hang out!

    Indeed, the biggest rap on Dusty Baker is that he threw out Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, et als arms. That's what a manager responsive to player idiosyncrasies does, though - you can't figure that Strasburg is on the bench of his, or his teammates', volition.

    In summary, what you want in a manager is a guy who is totally versed in the principles of sabermetrics but also smart enough to know when to elevate individual players' idiosyncratic interests over "the book". I admit I've no idea how you interview candidates for such skill sets.


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