Tag Archive | "Ace"

Field of Streams: Fantasy Pitching Options

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Field of Streams: Fantasy Pitching Options

Posted on 20 May 2013 by Will Emerson

Yes, yes, yes, it is that time again! Time to take a look at some fantasy pitching options for the upcoming week. The following pitchers have a great chance of being available in your league and may just be the key to fantasy victory.

edwin

Edwin Jackson, CHC- E-Jax has had a bumpy 2013 with the Cubbies so far, but I have always been a fan of his work. Jackson is not an ace, by any means, but should certainly be a solid fantasy option at the SP slot. Well, E-JAx is 1-6 with an ERA over five on the season, but he really has not pitched that poorly. Really, I’m serious! The K/9 is over eight and the xFIP and SIERA are both under four. The struggle has been with men on base, as Jackson’s LOB% is under 60 right now. Jackson will pitch at Pittsburgh this week, which is no gimme match up for him, but I like the odds of him righting his ship so to speak in this one.

Brandon McCarthy, ARI- After a slow start with the D-Backs, McCarthy is really starting to settle in. In McCarthy’s last two starts he has thrown 17 scoreless innings, 17?! Now those innings were against the Phillies and the lowly Marlins, so let’s not go too overboard with these outings. McCarthy should be much better than his early season numbers, and a solid three or maybe four, fantasy starter. But this week McCarthy has the Padres, so you can expect another ace like outing from him this week.

Tom Koehler, MIA- Do I know a ton about Koehler? No. What I do know is he has rattled off back-to-back decent starts for the Fish. On Saturday, against the D-backs, he hurled six strong innings allowing one earned run on three hits, while walking only two and striking out seven. Do I think Koehler is as good as those numbers indicate? Eh, not really. However, TK has had back-to-back solid starts and he draws the White Sox this week. The ChiSox have struggled producing runs this season and while they have cut down on the Ks, they are still striking out with great aplomb. Now the one drawback is the Marlins are not known for providing run support, so this may not be a great chance at a “W”, but you should get some help with your peripherals.

Travis Wood, CHC- Travis Wood, much like life (according to Madonna), is a mystery. I like Travis Wood, always have, but I am still a bit on the fence believing in his early season numbers. Wood is 4-2 with a 2.38 ERA and a WHIP of .92. I can’t imagine Wood can keep these numbers up, and judging by the percent he is owned in most fantasy leagues, I am not alone. Wood is more likely to have an ERA in the high threes. Wood has a LOB% of 80% and a ground ball rate below 40% and is not a strike out pitcher. Some sort of regression should be on its way and I feel like a start against Wood’s former mates in Cincy this week, may be where it begins.

Felix Doubront, BOS- It should be widely known that Doubront is a favorite of mine. I was high on Felix in the preseason. With a solid xFIP and K-rate, Doubront was high on my sleeper list. Now the numbers have not been great for Felix this season, although the xFIP, SIERA and K/9 were not terrible, until a clunker against Texas and a bad relief outing. The biggest issue has been the walks. Doubront has been all over the place, walking almost six batters per nine innings. This is a wild card stream for sure, but you can count on the Ks, especially against the White Sox. The White Sox have struggled to score runs, so while I can’t fully support this stream, I do think there is a 50-50 shot Doubront gets a quality start in the Windy City

Wandy Rodriguez and Francisco Liriano, PIT- I am lumping these two Pirate southpaws together. Both are similar this week in streaming. Both pitchers face the Cubs this week, at home. Liriano has looked sharp in his first two starts since returning from the disabled list. Sure they were against the Mets and Brewers who have not been world beaters at the plate, as both are towards the bottom of the league in runs scored in May. Wandy’s last two starts have been just as good, lacking the strikeouts, also against the Mets and Brewers. Now the Cubs have actually started to score a few runs here and there over the last couple of weeks, but nevertheless I would say roll the dice on both Bucs starters this week.

Jason Vargas, LAA- Jason Vargas is far from a flashy fantasy pitching option, to say the least, and the numbers pretty much back this statement up. Vargas is solid however. and I like him this week, because he is matched up against the Royals. The Royals are in the bottom third of the league in most offensively productive categories, so I think you may see one of Vargas’ best starts of 2013.

Scott Kazmir, CLE- There are still plenty of seats available on the Scott Kazmir bandwagon folks. Sure Kaz was roughed up by the Phils in his last outing, but most of his starts have been excellent. Kazmir’s velocity has been good as has K-rate and he has two starts this week. The first one is a no-brainer start for Kazmir as he faces the punchless Mariners, but the second start is against the BoSox and this one is iffy. I would take the first start against the Ms and hold off against the start against Boston.

Andrew Cashner, SD- The K-rate is lower than I would expect from Cash-money thus far, but the ERA has been solid. Cashner’s xFIP, SIERA and strand rate point to bit of an ERA regression, AC heads out to the desert this week to face the D-backs. This match up is tough to gauge for Cashner, but I think, if I had to, I would say roll the dice on this one.

Hector Santiago, CWS- Santiago has been up and down as a starter in 2013. The up? 12.1 innings pitched against the Mets and Twins, allowing one earned run, striking out 14. The down? 3.1 innings pitched against the Angels on Saturday, in which he allowed four earned runs. Ups, downs, what have yous, bottom line is Santiago starts against the Marlins this week and frankly that is really probably all I had to say because the Marlins offense is not even close to good right now.

Justin Grimm, TEX- Seems like “Reaper” has appeared here quite a bit and with good reason, he is not quite worth rostering year round. Plus Grimm is still outpitching his projections, but his ERA and WHIP thus far are about on par with how he is currently pitching. In other words, Grimm’s ERA and WHIP seem accurate thus far. Love him or hate him, Grimm faces the Mariners this week, and while they are not the Marlins, this is more or less a great match up for Grimm.

Bronson Arroyo, CIN- Arroyo has always been a middle of the road, reliable, innings eating pitcher. You will not get a lot of strikeouts, but Bronson also rarely gets completely rocked when he takes the hill. Arroyo has given up more than four earned runs in only one start this season and has only gone less than six innings in one start this season. In the one start Arroyo did not go six innings, he went five. There is never anything spectacular about Arroyo’s numbers, but he does manage a lot of quality starts, Arroyo faces the Cubs this week and for some reason I like this one. Cubs are putting runs on the board, but I like the chance for a QS and a “W”.

Well, that’s all I got this week, good luck, godspeed and happy streaming!

Comments (0)

Yovani Gallardo And The No “K” Corral

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Yovani Gallardo And The No “K” Corral

Posted on 08 May 2013 by Will Emerson

Sometimes you may not notice certain things about certain players because you don’t pay attention to their every at bat, inning pitched, or whatever. Even in this wonderful age, where so much information is at our fingertips at virtually all times, things can slip past and go unnoticed to the baseball-loving masses. I mean, sure, if it is a “superstar” that is struggling mightily or a mighty struggler producing like a “superstar” then, yeah, the media and talking heads will notice and sort of force feed this information down our proverbial throats. However, for the majority of players, you know the tweeners or those on the cusp of stardom or, for that matter, mediocrity, certain statistics or information can be widely missed. All of this, as you should have guessed from the title, brings to me to the ever talented, Yovani Gallardo.

Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers, must frustrating pitcher ever?

First, let me set the scene, even though many of you reading this are probably familiar with YoGa’s tale. Yovanni Gallardo broke into the majors with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2007, with ace-like potential. A young stud ready to become the Brewers’ ace of the future. Well, Yovani has never quite made the jump from very good to superstardom. Gallardo has been very solid in his almost six (he missed almost all of 2008) major league seasons with Milwaukee. Gallardo has not posted an ERA over four since coming onto the scene, however he also has not posted an ERA below 3.52 in the majors. Okay, well, YoGa did have an ERA of 1.88 in ’08, but that was in only four starts, so I am not really going to count that, if you don’t mind. Of course, as you may also know, I don’t hold complete faith in the statistic that is ERA, so to really paint you a picture, his SIERA has fallen between 3.22 and 4.08 in those seasons. Surprisingly, that 4.08 SIERA was during that extremely short ’08 season, so again, I don’t hold much stock in that year’s numbers. Regardless, you can kind of see that Gallardo was decent, solid, or any number of synonyms for decent or solid, but never quite made the leap to stardom. Many probably thought of Yovani as an ace coming into 2013 and, to be fair, he is the Brewer’s ace. Gallardo, definitely was thought of as a guy who was very close to becoming that breakout stud picther. Gallardo has been better than a great deal of starting pitchers in his career, that is for darned sure. Gallardo’s, ERAs, WHIPs, FIPs and K/9s have regularly been a good deal ahead of the league averages each season that he has pitched. Still, Yovani was not quite in that first tier of starting pitchers and there were still folks waiting for a big breakout season from the Brewers’ ace.

The Brewers tried to stack the cards in their favor, by adding Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to their rotation, which would definitely take some pressure off of young Gallardo, where he would not be expected to carry the rotation on his back. Now those guys are gone and the “ace” label was now, without question, affixed to Gallardo in Milwaukee. So would this be the breakout season? Sure, Yovani does have control issues and little lapses at times, but every picther does, at least every now and then, right? Well, fast forward to today. Gallardo, possibly poised to take the next step, has struggled a bit in this young 2013 season.  Gallardo’s current ERA is 4.25, with a WHIP of 1.47, which of course will not tell us the whole story. The SIERA at 4.48 does give one pause here though. Seems like his ERA is pretty much an accurate depiction of Gallard’s season thus far. Now, it is early in the season, so generally I would not be ready to push the panic button on Yovani just yet. However, here is the thing, regardless of those fluctuating ERAs or WHIPs, bits of wildness here and there, or anything else that could be simply attributed to a slow start, my main concern falls more with Gallardo’s strikeouts, or lack thereof.

See, a lot of mistakes can me covered up/ fixed by a good strikeout picture and this tried and true mantra has certainly applied to YoGa throughout his career. Yovani Gallardo is a strikeout pitcher. Well, perhaps it should be was? Yovani Gallardo, was a strikeout pitcher. Below are YoGa’s K/9 numbers for his career coming into 2013:

2007- 8.24

2008- 7.50*

2009- 9.89

2010- 9.73

2011- 8.99

2012- 9.00

So basically throught his career Gallardo could generally be counted on to strikeout roughly a batter per inning pitched. That, right there, is a good strikeout pitcher, folks! So, what the heck (pardon my French) is happening now?

Gallardo, went into Monday night’s start not only having been very hittable in his first five starts, but posting a K/9 of 5.28. In fact in four of his first five starts, Gallardo struck out three or fewer batters. Could this be a cause for concern? Well, kind of depends on why this is happening, I suppose. First place I look, when I notice a big strikeout drop is  velocity. in 2010, Gallardo’s average fastball was clocked at 92.6. It was the exact same in 2011. In 2012, it dropped almost a mile per hour, to 91.7. This year? Another drop of about a mile per hour on his average fastball, to 90.6. All of his other pitches have also dropped roughly the same amount in velocity. I am not sure this drop should be a huge concern just yet, as it is still early in the season and YoGa may need to still work the arm out a bit. I am not entirely sure, in that regards, but here is another interesting nugget, Gallardo’s four seam fastball percentage thus far in 2013 is 31.9%, which is almost ten precent less than his percentage last year. Gallardo has instead been going to the two seamer much more than he has in the past, 25.4% in ’13 as opposed to 14.5% in ’12.  So, is it possible, that Gallardo is not as confident in the four seamer and or is not fooling many hitters with his two seamers? Or maybe he is just not fooling hitters, much at all? With any of his pitches? Batters are making contact on just about 75% of Yovani’s pitches they chase out of the zone. Now, I don’t have any data with how hard these balls have been hit, but considering this percentage was 65% last year and has only been higher than that once in his previous six seasons, I think we can make the general assumption that Yovani is just not baffling hitters nearly as much as he has been in the past.

Now, again, it is early and maybe this is absolutely something that can be worked on and adjusted. Heck (there’s that potty mouth of mine again), maybe it is just an early season slump that is not indicative of how the season will pan out for Gallardo. The sample size is very small and it is always dangerous to read much into early season numbers, but I think you can see some things that may bear monitoring with Gallardo as the season progresses. Gallardo did put together a very good outing on Monday, against the Pirates, and while I don’t see updated pitch data from that game, it should be pointed out that in his previous start against the Padres, his average fastball was the fastest it has been all season, at 91.4%. Interestingly, in the Padres start, Gallardo threw far more changeups than any other previous 2013 start, but also only struckout two batters, while walking five, so not sure what is really going on with Yoga. Hopefully Monday’s outing, in which he finished by striking out three of the last five batters he faced, will be more indicative of things to come for Gallardo, even if those three batters were Gaby Sanchez, Clint Barmes and Jonathan Sanchez.

Comments (0)

The Triumphant Return of John Lackey…Sort Of

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Triumphant Return of John Lackey…Sort Of

Posted on 06 March 2013 by Will Emerson

There is talk, as there so often is around Spring Training camps, of John Lackey being in the best shape of his life (I am being a bit hyperbolic, but you get the point) and ready to return to his old self.

109238526RM016_BOSTON_RED_S

The bulldog, big game winning, innings eating, ace-like pitcher of yore. Obviously the Red Sox would love that. Well, sort of. I mean, they would be glad take anything better than Lackey’s 2011. To say John Lackey’s 2011 was atrocious would be, well, pretty accurate. In 28 starts with the BoSox, Lackey was 12-12 with an ERA of 6.41. Although, managing 12 wins with an ERA like that is impressive, even if it was mainly due to having a very good offense behind him. His FIP of 4.71 was also, well, terrible, but it does show that he was tad better than the ERA would indicate. Would be hard to be worse, wouldn’t it? Once you close in on an ERA around five or higher though, the difference is somewhat negligible, in my mind. Now, if Lackey was making the league minimum in 2011, the Red Sox could just be like, “Oh well, moving on”, but Lackey was not making the league minimum in 2o11, was he? No, he was not, in case you were actually unawares of his salary. Lackey made $15.95 million in 2011 or exactly $15.95 million more than what I will make writing about him in this little post. Now the Red Sox won’t have to pay him nearly as much as that in 2013, so rest easy Red Sox fans. No, no, he is only due $15.25 million in 2013 or roughly $15.2498 more than I have in my savings account. So, needless to say, the Red Sox are hoping to get something out of that chunk of change, preferably what they thought they were paying for. But what exactly did the Rouge Hose pay for?

The Sox backed up a Brinks trunk to get Lackey in a Boston uniform, shelling out loads of cash for a pitcher who was one of the big names on the free market back in ought nine. (It may have technically happened in 2010, but I just wanted to type ought nine.) Lackey certainly had an aura around him. Big game pitcher? Check. Yankee killer? Check. The latter being the biggest reason the Sox would pursue him…that and not letting the Yankees get their greasy mitts on him. You see, back in the olden days of the early 21st century the Red Sox and Yankees would play the free agent market like a game of poker at Teddy KGB’s. If one showed interest in a big-ish name free agent, the other would as well. The team to show initial interest may not have even wanted the player, but they knew they could bluff the other into making a move. So if the Yankees showed interest in John Lackey the Red Sox would do the same, even though the Yankees may not have really wanted him in the first place, but rather wanted the Red Sox to throw money at him, when the Yanks really only had mild interest. Got all that? Sort of, maybe? (That is not the proposed sequel to the Ryan Reynolds vehicle Definitely, Maybe…yet) Well, anywho, the Sox went out and threw money at Lackey. Lackey was considered to be a workhorse, innings eater as well a previous mentioned big game pitcher and Yankee killer. Or so everyone thought.

I guess Lackey just has that bulldog mentality and because he pitched well in big games, he was a gem. A gem worth $18.7 million to the Red Sox in 2010. I recall severall pundits and what-have-yous, having their mindholes blown by the contract the Red Sox doled out to this thirtysomething hurler. Why? Lackey was ace like or at the very least a serviceable number two starter, right? In the words of Willy Wonka, “WRONG! Wrong sir!” In ten major league seasons Lackey posted an ERA below 3.44 just once and below 3.66 just thrice! All three of those seasons were in his mid to late 20s. Now of course you should know by now, that ERA is a flawed statistic and should not be the number to completely judge a pitcher at all. So try these numbers on for size. In his career Lackey has posted an xFIP below 3.83, exactly once. Once! In that season he had a 3.59 xFIP. Even his regular ol’ FIP was high, only coming in under 3.50 twice! Surely they advanced stat mavens in the Sox front office looked at these numbers, right? Oh wait a tick! Lackey is a Yankee killer, that’s why the Red Sox gave him the big bucks, right?

In 2009, Lackey had a 2.57 ERA when he pitched against the Bronx Bombers in the regular, posting a K/9 of 7 and a WHIP of 1.29. Well, that’s pretty darned good, isn’t it? It sure is! He dominated the Yankees in that one regular season start. Well obviously the Angels and Yankees did not meet much during the regular season, but it was Lackey’s ’09 postseason performance against the Bombers that basically earned him his 2010 contract. It had to have been, right? In two ALCS starts against the Yankees in 2009, Lackey threw 12 innings, allowing five earned runs on 15 hits, striking out ten, and walking six. That’s an ERA close to four, folks, which I guess against the Yankees could be considered pretty good. But $82.5 million over five years pretty good?  Although conversely, Lackey’s last three postseason starts against the Red Sox for very good. In those starts Johnboy tossed 21 innings allowing four earned runs on 15 hits, stymieing the Sox. So, maybe they just wanted to spend that money to avoid seeing Lackey in the postseason? That’s a lot of money to insure you don’t have to face a certain pitcher in the postseason, but the Sox have deep pockets, so to each their own. I know, I know, all of this is hardly new information and something that could not have been written back in 2009-10, but I am going somewhere with this, I swear. You see, many fantasy players are certainly eyeing Lackey as a possible sleeper, hoping he can return to form. But what form is that and is it really sleeper worthy form?

First off, there is no way in heck (I sometimes look at John Lackey and feel he says “heck” and “shucks” a lot, but that’s neither here nor there) you should expect him to return to the form of his career season in 2007. That 19-9 campaign with a 3.01 ERA was a big anomaly (Big Shucks? I think I just found John Lackey’s new nickname). As in a season not to be repeated by John Derran Lackey. So what is Lackey’s “form”? Well, just for craps and giggles, let us take a look at Lacker’s three best seasons. In those three seasons Lackey averaged a 3.86 xFIP, but a respectable 3.33 FIP. Coincidentally his overall ERA for those three seasons was also 3.33. Of course that season with the 3.01 ERA in there certainly helps. Lackey also posted a K/9 close to eight! Wow, a solid three seasons it seems, even though his overall ERAs were a bit lower than they should have been. So if, if, he were to return to that form he would be a sleeper for sure. Unfortunately in the four seasons Lackey has pitched since then, he has not really quite approached that level of goodness, so the three seasons prior to that disaster of a 2011 season are more likely your best case scenario for Lackey in 2013. That translates into a borderline sleeper at SP, I suppose. You would probably get 12 wins, with an ERA right around four, WHIP of about 1.30 and a K/9 in the mid sixes. That’s sleeperish if not for just the wins, I would think, but remember that is the best case scenario for Lackey in 2013.

What you are more likely to get out of Lackey, still eight to ten wins, sure, but an ERA closer to 4.50, with a WHIP of about, well 1.30-1.40 and very few Ks. Hey, look at that! Not too far from the best case scenario I just laid out for you, huh?! For fantasy purposes though, you are in luck, because unlike the Red Sox, you will not have to pay big bucks for Lackey, so he could very well be worth a late round, or $1 bargain bin auction, pickup.  I don’t foresee myself drafting Lackey in any format, but at the very least, in shallow mixed or AL-only leagues, he could be a viable streaming option from time to time. So keep John Lackey in the back of your mind (and start calling him Big Shucks) as the season progresses, but don’t expect anything ace-like that is for darned sure.

Comments (0)

Believe It Or Not

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Believe It Or Not

Posted on 27 February 2013 by Will Emerson

That’s right folks, it’s time for a bit of “Believe it or not?”! Excited? No? What’s that? You have no idea what ”Believe it or not?” is, exactly. Oh. Well, then allow me to elaborate here.

“Believe or not?” is when I take at a look at some numbers from last season and see if I believe them or…..not. Not, people. I really thought you would get that. Anyways, what I have done is picked a few pitchers to look at and see if we should believe in their 2012 numbers. So, away we go!

Wade Miley

First up is Wade Miley. Mr. Miley actually could have won the National League Rookie of the Year Award had it not been for that no-name, out of nowhere Bryce Harper. Of course that could also speak to the weak rookie class outside of Miley, Harper and Todd Frazier. Nevertheless Miley was very solid, going 16-11, with an ERA of 3.33 and a WHIP of 1.18. Not too shabby, right? You’re darned tootin’, right. Miley is by no means an ace and no one seems to think he is either, as evidenced by his general preseason ranking in the 90s. So let’s say you’re in a 12 team fantasy league, Miley barely ranks as rosterable. Is rosterable a word? Ah, no matter. According to RotoChamp, Miley was just inside the top 25 fantasy starting picthers last season, so his current rank and general draft positions seem to show that know one believes in Miley’s 2012. But should they? Well outside of the those superficial numbers you’ve already seen, let’s look into some other numbers. Miley posted an xFIP of 3.75, which points to a good ol’ regression in ERA.  Well, if that doesn’t, that 6.66 K/9 combined with a 43.3 ground ball rate certainly should. Wins are obviously a crapshoot, but with that low amount of Ks and lowish amount of groundballs, in a hitter’s park, nonetheless, that WHIP and ERA are sure to shoot on upward. So I would tend to agree with the masses in the case of Wade Miley and say that I do not believe in his 2012 numbers.

Next up is Reds “ace” Johnny Cueto. Ya see how I put ace in quotation marks? Looking at Cueto’s 2012 numbers, he was ace-like. He was 19-9, with an ERA of 2.78 and a WHIP of 1.17. Dems right there are Cy Young type numbers. Based on Cueto’s 2011 numbers, it does not appear the 2012 numbers were completely out of nowhere. In 2011 Cueto was 9-5 with an ERA of 2.31 and a WHIP of 1.09, so the 2012 numbers were not completely unprecedented, although you will notice the slight increase in ERA and WHIP. However, while those numbers are great and all, he also posted a 3.90 xFIP in ’11 and a 3.65 xFIP ’12, well above his ERAs for those respective seasons. Cueto’s ERA and WHIP are due for a sizeable regression and with a career K/9 under seven, I don’t see him being a top 20 fantasy pitcher in 2013. So I guess I am saying I do not believe in Cueto’s 2011 or 2012 numbers. I’m not saying that he will be a flop in ’13, but I tnink he should be drafted as a three or four SP, instead of a one or two, which is where it appears he is being taken in early fantasy drafts.

Next up, we have former Cy Young Award winner, Timmy Lincecum. Lincecum had, without a doubt, his worst season in the majors, in 2012. An ERA over 5?! What?! That’s right the former Cy Young Award winner who posted a sub three ERA in 2011 had an ERA over five in 2012. However, his xFIP was 3.82 which is not great, but much, much, much better than his actual ERA. Plus, he still posted a K/9 over nine, so he was still striking guys out in 2012. The biggest problem for Lincecum in 2012 were walks and the longball. Lincecum had a 4.35 BB/9 and a HR/FB of 14.6%. Timmy’s fly ball rate was about the same as it has been over the past few seasons, but when batters were putting balls in the air against Lincecum in 2012 they were putting them over the fence at almost twice of his 2011 rate. Now there was a slight increase in hard hit balls for Lincecum, so expecting the Cy Young Award winning Tim Lincecum to show up in 2013 may be a bit of a stretch, but I would say you can expect much better than 2012. So when it comes to Lincecum’s 2012 numbers, I would say I do not believe in them that much. You will see a stat line in the middle of Lincecum’s 2011 and 2012 numbers.

So there ya have it kids. What did we learn this week? Well with regards to these three pitchers, I guess I don’t believe in any of their 2012 numbers. Maybe I should have just called this article, “Three Pitchers Whose 2012 Numbers I Just Plain Don’t Believe In”? Eh, seems a bit wordy, don’t ya think? Anyways, to be fair, it’s not like I was being all negative in my disbelief, right? I did not believe in Lincecum’s 2012 numbers, but in a good way. Unlike with Miley and Cueto, I do believe Lincecum’s numbers will improve over his 2012 campaign. So for now, take a tip from Journey and don’t stop believin’. Or, I guess, based on this post, don’t start believin’?

Comments (0)

You’ve Done It Again Mr. Selig

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

You’ve Done It Again Mr. Selig

Posted on 11 October 2012 by Will Emerson

So we have officially been through Bud Selig’s first ever one-game, Wild Card games and I have to say, as something of a baseball purist, I was a bit iffy going in. But here’s the thing, I actually kind of like it. Now sure, the inaugural games did not go off without a hitch, as they say, but slightly more on that to come since I know you’ve probably heard very little about that already. The natural argument against a one game, winner take all, match-up for a right to head to the LDS is that it is just one game. That is to say that many feel that boiling down a 162 season into one do or die situation, to put it eloquently, sucks.

Well there is no arguing against that point, I guess. Does it suck? Well, yeah. A team works hard through 162 games to get a Wild Card birth only to have their season end just like that. The point of the Wild Card games and adding the extra Wild Card team is to put more emphasis on winning the division. Which you have to admit, makes sense, right? Not only that, it adds a layer of advantage to the team with the best record in each league. The wild card team they face will already have had to fight through a draining game and hopefully have burned their ace or at least their bullpens before facing them. Now Chipper Jones, among others, said it stinks that a season could come down to a blown call or miscue or anything of that sort, so it should be at least a best-of-three series. But this is where we could start down a slippery slope.

From there the LDS could become a best-of-seven series and who knows, we could end up back to the early 20th century with a best-of-nine World Series. Here’s the thing, would it be different if the Braves were down one game to none and the bad call came in game two and it ended the season? The bottom line is, win your division and you don’t have to worry about that at all. Now I’m sure Chipper was just mad that his career, more than his season, could be decided by one game or one call. The thing is, to say that call cost the Braves the game is a bit simplistic. They still loaded the bases after that and failed to plate a run against arguably one of the worst closers in the game. So to have this point to argue against the one-game Wild Card does not quite hold water with me. I mean that could happen in a game seven, but would that make a team feel better about being on the wrong end of the call? I highly doubt it. It was a big game and there was a blown call. We’ve seen it before, but you know what, good, mentally tough teams can overcome this during a game and fight back into the game. If you still have your chances after the bad call then don’t blame the call. Do not use this to argue against the one-game playoff. Move on and let it be. What you should really be mad about is the change Bud Selig slipped into the equation while no one was looking.

You see, when baseball went to three divisions and added a playoff round, the higher seed would actually start the playoffs on the road. A 2-3 format, where the higher seed would play games one and two on the road and the next three at home. Which at the time I found ludicrous. I guess they were trying to lay this out like the best-of-seven series’ as if it stopped at five? I’m not really sure, but I was certainly opposed to it. But then, finally, one of my strongly worded letters must have reached the commissioner or something as the 2-3 format was abolished and more reasonable 2-2-1 format was adopted and all was good with the world. But then lo and behold, what do I notice this season? The gosh darned return of the 2-3 format!

This seems even more ridiculous now then it did in the early 90s. Now, as opposed to then, the Wild Card winner gets to come off a win and host, yes HOST, the first two games of the LDS round. Say what? First off, if you subscribe to that sort of thing, you’ve given a Wild Card team (you know a non-division winner) momentum launched right into a home game to start a series. Now if you are, like me, more of the momentum-shmomentum side, there is also the fact that the two teams who earned home field advantage, are only guaranteed one home playoff game. One? That hardly seems fair.

Of course, a good team should be able to win on the road and beat the lesser team regardless, this is true. But as we have seen time and again, anything can happen in a short series in baseball. So, yeah, the higher seed should still be able to win the series, but it think about the home team fans, concessions, street vendors, etc. Even if the home team sweeps the series, they are losing out on one game they should be guaranteed. Playoff tickets, for instance are sold by series, right? So if you’re team clinches home field advantage, you think, “oh cool, I have tickets to the second LDS game!” Cool, except if there’s a sweep and now you miss out on a playoff game. Is this a bit extreme to argue my point? Sure, but I still stand by the fact that the 2-3 format is rubbish.

So Mr. Selig, I’m okay with the Wild Card games and will have your back should people doubt these new playoff games, but I implore you sir, return to the 2-2-1 format in the LDS! Don’t make a step forward and then step back at the same time, Bud! Give the teams and fans that deserve it, another guaranteed playoff game. It’s one game, I understand, but think about the little people in all this and do it for them. Do it for the little people Bud before my strongly worded letters start hitting your desk again.

Comments (0)

Advertise Here
Advertise Here