World Series Preview: Astros vs Dodgers

The Fall Classic starts Tuesday matching two up-and-coming young clubs with just enough veteran presence. The Astros make their second World Series appearance, but first as the AL champion while the Dodgers carry the NL honors for the 19th time in the modern era and 22nd overall. Both teams reached the century mark in wins, the Dodgers on the strength of league leading pitching results, and the Astros with firsts in nearly every offensive category. More after the jump.

While the Astros have become the first franchise to represent both leagues in the modern World Series, their opponent can claim the same distinction for the first incarnation of the Fall Classic; the Brooklyn Bridegrooms represented the AA in 1889 and the NL in 1890, in the last two of seven post-season series between the champions of those leagues.

Both league champions topping 100 wins is a lot rarer than you might think. This is the first World Series between two such teams since way back in 1970 and only the seventh overall, the others coming in 1910, 1912, 1931, 1941, 1942 and 1969.

With their 19th pennant, the Dodgers join the Giants and Cardinals as the most prolific of NL champions. But, that hasn’t been the case recently, with a 29 year gap since LA’s last World Series appearance, a franchise record drought. That’s long enough so that none of the 1988 champion Dodgers ever played with or against any of the current crop (second baseman Chase Utley was a Phillie rookie in 2003 and might have faced ’88 Dodger Jesse Orosco playing his final season that year; but Utley was sent back down to the minors a week before the Phillies visited Orosco’s Padres in May of that season).

For the Astros, it took more than 40 years to record their first championship season in 2005, so a 12 year gap before their second is pretty short in comparison. No current Astros remain from the 2005 club, though current DH Carlos Beltran was a member of the 2004 Astro team that almost claimed the NL pennant before falling in 7 games to the Cardinals in the NLCS (that was Beltran’s first post-season, logging 20+ hits and runs incl. 8 home runs, and batting .400 with 1.500 OPS in both the NLDS and NLCS).

The Dodgers and Astros have faced each other in the post-season once before, in the 1981 NLDS with the Dodgers prevailing in the maximum 5 games, winning the last three at Dodger Stadium (by a combined 12-2 score) after dropping a pair at the Astrodome. Home field advantage could also be a big factor in this series, with both teams undefeated at home in this post-season and the Dodgers fashioning a majors-leading 57-24 record at Chavez Ravine, equaling the home record of last season’s world champion Cubs. Notwithstanding a 1-4 road record through their first two post-season series, the Astros recorded a majors best (tied with the Indians) 53-28 record away from home, a .654 clip that ranks as the best by a pennant winner since the 1986 Mets, and 11th best among all pennant winning seasons since 1913.

The Dodgers will throw mostly left-handed starters against the Astros, a split in which Houston posted an .814 OPS this season, second best in the majors. Despite that ranking, the Astros were only 21-24 in 45 games this season against a left-handed starter, with that starter collecting 15 of those 24 wins. The Dodger relief corps recorded the majors’ fourth best ERA and fourth best OPS+ against. Houston, though, feasted on relief pitching with an .828 OPS, far ahead of the .783 mark by the runner-up Nationals, that 45 point gap larger than the spread between the Nats and Dodgers in 12th place.

Dodger pitchers led the NL in strikeouts while Houston batters led the majors in fewest times striking out. On the flip side, Houston pitchers ranked 2nd in the AL in strikeouts (but ahead of the Dodgers) while Dodger batters recorded the 12th highest strikeout total. Removing batting strikeouts by Dodger pitchers, LA’s batters still struck out 170 more times on the season than did the Astros. Part of the reason the Dodgers struck out as much as they did was because of extending AB’s, with their 3.95 pitches seen per PA just a tick behind the NL-leading 3.96 mark by the Brewers. That patience yielded a majors-leading 649 walks, 140 more than the free-swinging Astros who finished third from the bottom in pitches seen at 3.79 per PA.

Houston pretty much ran the table on team offensive stats, recording firsts in runs, hits, extra-base hits, batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS (and, as noted above, fewest strikeouts). Thus, it’s not a surprise that they also led, by healthy margins, in lowest swing and miss percent (14.9% of all strikes, compared to LA’s middling 17.6%) and highest ball in play percent (30.9% of all strikes, more than a full point higher than second place and well head of the Dodgers’ 27.3%). That success is partly due to being selective about pitches they swing at, with Houston posting a 7th best 37.5% of pitches taken for balls, just a bit lower than the majors leading 38.7% mark by the Dodgers.

Both teams posted solid results in protecting late leads, with marks of 87-3 (Dodgers) and 89-4 (Astros) when leading after 7 innings. But LA was almost that good when leading at any point of the game, with a remarkable .864 or better winning percentage when holding the lead at the beginning of any inning (by comparison, Houston did not reach an .864 clip until taking the lead starting the 7th inning; see chart below).

2017 Dodgers

2017 Astros

Thus, to be successful, it would seem the Astros will have to avoid falling behind early, something they were better at than the Dodgers, trailing after the first, second and third innings in only 23, 38 and 46 games respectively, compared to 40, 48 and 55 for LA. To counter, the Dodgers will need to strike in the 5th through 8th innings when Houston has been most vulnerable, allowing 54% of their total runs; LA, though, has scored just 43% of their runs in those innings. Here’s that comparison.

Enjoy the series!

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128 Comments on "World Series Preview: Astros vs Dodgers"

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Mike L
Guest

No dog in this fight. But I’m still a satisfied Yankees fan–progress was made on youth and athleticism. I’m hoping this offseason they continue to focus on that, instead of spending on mid-thirties players.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Came a long way in 4 years.
The 2013 Yankee starters included:
Chris Stewart
Vernon Wells
Jayson NIx
Ichiro
Lyle Overbay
Travis Hafner
… all of whom were terrible
______________

Mike L
Guest

Emotional recall can be a hard thing, Voomo

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

64-6 when leading after 4? Wow.

Doug
Guest

Laz Diaz is umpiring in the World Series??? Talk about an undeserved honor.

Squeaky wheel gets the grease, I guess.

Daniel Longmire
Guest

Doug, did you feel a small amount of schadenfreude when Diaz directly absorbed that pickoff throw?

This is actually Diaz’s second World Series, so some people in the upper echelons must think that he’s worthy.

Doug
Guest

I’m inclined to think it has more to do with blunting his labor grievance than anything else. Cuzzi has also made some worst umpire lists.

Doug
Guest

Taylor’s home run is second (known) on team’s first pitch seen in a World Series. Alcides Escobar greeted Matt Harvey the same way in 2015.

At two hours, 28 minutes, this was a real throwback game, shortest in the WS since 1992, and shortest WS opener since 1983. At 211 combined pitches, it was the second lowest recorded total, more than only the 202 pitches in game 2 of the 2001 WS.

Kahuna Tuna
Guest

Before Chris Taylor and Justin Turner accomplished the feat this evening, there had been three World Series games in which the same team’s leadoff and second-place hitters homered:
— Merv Rettenmund and Don Buford, Baltimore, 1971 Game 1.
— Terry Pendleton and Lonnie Smith, Atlanta, 1991 Game 4.
— David Wright and Curtis Granderson, N.Y. Mets, 2015 Game 3.

Each of these three teams won the game but lost the Series.

Kahuna Tuna
Guest
Opponent reaching base three or fewer times in a World Series game: 0: Yankees over Dodgers 2-0, 1956 Game 5. Don Larsen perfect game. 2: Cubs over Tigers 3-0, 1945 Game 3. Claude Passeau shutout. 2: Red Sox over Cardinals 5-0, 1967 Game 2. Jim Lonborg shutout. 3: Red Sox over Phillies 2-1, 1915 Game 2. Rube Foster complete game. 3: Yankees over Pirates 8-1, 1927 Game 3. Herb Pennock complete game. 3: Athletics over Cardinals 3-0, 1931 Game 4. George Earnshaw shutout. 3: Yankees over Reds 4-0, 1939 Game 2. Monte Pearson shutout. 3: Yankees over Phillies 1-0, 1950… Read more »
Doug
Guest

New WS record with 8 home runs in tonight’s game. Five of them in extra innings is also, of course, a record, three more than in the famous Rangers/Cardinals game 6 in 2011.

CursedClevelander
Guest

I believe David Schoenfield noted there had only been 17 extra-inning HR’s in WS history before tonight – and now 5 in one game. Yowch.

Verlander has now given up 16 postseason HR’s. Kershaw is at 17. That’s 4th and tied for 2nd (John Smoltz also has 17) among pitchers to never play in the postseason with the Yankees – only Tom Glavine (21) has more.

no statistician but
Guest

Bravo to Houston for winning away. They had 14 hits and 5 walks, scored 7. Dodgers had 6 hits and 3 walks and scored 6. A strange disparity.

Kahuna Tuna
Guest

It’s just the second time in World Series play that a team with more runs than hits has lost the game. The other time was in Game 3 of the 1997 Series.

e pluribus munu
Guest

I’m sorry about the outcome — but what a terrific game!

Mike L
Guest

Apropos of nothing statistical, but Joe Girardi was dropped today. That’s three playoff managers (Dusty and Farrell the other 2) who are looking for new work. I remember some famous firings (I’m a Yankee fan, so of course) but I don’t recall this level of carnage amongst playoff teams.

Doug
Guest

Dusty was overdue. But I don’t get Farrell and, especially, Girardi. But, if they wan’t to keep managing, I’m sure they will get the opportunity.

Mike L
Guest

I always suspect there’s another story out there that may leak out over time. Ten years with any time is impressive. Ten years with the Yankees is a near-miracle. He looked tired at the end of the season.

no statistician but
Guest

Mike L:

Historically, ten years with the Yankees is close to the norm:

Huggins 12
McCarthy 15
Stengel 12
Houk 10 in two stints
Torre 12
Girardi 10

I doubt any other franchise except maybe the Dodgers comes close to having so many long reigns. Someone with more time could look it up.

Mike L
Guest

From 1954 to 1996, Walter Alston and Tommy Lasorda managed 6691 games. Since Lasorda retired there have been eight Dodger managers for 3487 games.
And then, there’s Connie Mack, 7466 Games over 50 years (but he didn’t have to deal with a pushy front office)

Doug
Guest

Excluding mid-season replacements, the Cardinals have had only 4 managers since 1981, and only 7 since 1965.

Scary Tuna
Guest

The Twins have had three managers since September, 1986.

Mike L
Guest

I’m still dizzy from the early George Years. Virdon, Martin, Howser, Martin, Howser, Lemon, Martin, Howser, Michael, Lemon, Michael, King, Martin, Berra, Martin, Pinella, Martin, Green, Dent, Merrill, and Buck…

Doug
Guest

Three managers have had 10+ year stints with two franchises. Two are TLR and Bruce Bochy. Who is the third?

Richard Chester
Guest

It’s been reported that Game 2 was the first time in the WS that a team’s first 2 hitters hit HR in the first extra inning (the 10th). I found 4 regular season such occasions since 1930: Dodgers, 6-7-1966; Twins, 8-20-1966; Orioles, 8-4-1968; Giants, 4-15-1969.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest
Rob Manfred: “He maintains that he did not intend to be offensive, but he understands that it was, and that’s what’s important.” The Grand Doosh of MLB summed up in one sentence the madness that has engulfed our society. We will still spend years in a courtroom dissecting evidence to determine whether an unfortunate death was murder or manslaughter, but in the verbal (even non-verbal!) arena, intent makes zero difference as long as Somebody claims that they were hurt. It is all murder. … I am happy to be the pariah on this one, and say that someone using chinky… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
Voomo, I understand your reaction. Hypersensitivity on matters of race, gender, body-type, and so forth can sometimes feel as if we are living in a latter day era of puritanism, where new rules catch us off guard and subject us to public shaming, while humor, nuance, and moral complexity are being purged from culture. At the same time, this trend is a reaction against another cultural framework, one I grew up in, where racial and gender stereotyping were pervasive and socially sanctioned, and racial and religious minorities, women, and a host of other people in some way construed as non-normal,… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Thank you. That was a solid and acutely intelligent response.
I’m currently quarantined with the flu in a man cave deep in the mountains of Appalachia, perhaps a bit pent up.
Very helpful to hear a sane voice.

And I hope you’re right that we are in a transition phase that will trend towards something better.
Not feeling that optimism at all.

Mike L
Guest
Voomo (and EPM) without getting into the specifics of the politics of it (which is admittedly very hard) I think that the management of professional sports is driven mostly by business considerations. Ownership (here and in the NFL on the kneeling issue) are acutely aware that we’ve moved into an era in which many people are all too willing to act on their political beliefs (or their sense of being insulted) with their feet and their wallets. They want a homogenized, family friendly product in which all are welcomed and no one is offended. Of course, that’s unrealistic, but these… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest
Voomo: Manfred obviously decided to play it safe, have his cake (the suspension)—and eat it, too (but not till next season). Knowing there was no way he could come out a winner with everyone, he decided to weasel out of the issue with half portions all around, keeping a careful eye on his own keister to make sure he wasn’t seen as condoning any racism, a performance, to my mind, far more offensive that the offense it was meant to address. But that is the way in most situations of this type: the punishment turns the offender into a second… Read more »
oneblankspace
Guest

By suspending him for regular season games, there is a loss of salary that would not have been there had he been suspended for a postseason game. And any potential postseason suspension would probably have been appealed, and might not have taken effect until April anyway. Some have also asked why punish the team for the acts of one player — at one point, high school field hockey had a green card to send off a player with replacement for such an unsportsmanlike act. Recall the Roberto Alomar suspension for spitting on the ump in 1997-98.

Doug
Guest

It was only a footnote to game 4, but this is the first time in Kenley Jansen’s career allowing home runs in consecutive appearances, when facing the same opponent (Jansen allowed homers in consecutive games in 2015 against different opponents; like tonight, both were AL West foes).

Houston tonight became the first team in the post-season to hit multiple home runs and record no other hits.

Richard Chester
Guest

Two starting middle-infielders, Altuve and Correa, have been batting in the number 3 and 4 positions in their team’s batting order during the WS. I could find only 2 other such pairs, Lou Boudreau/Joe Gordon for the Indians in the 1948 WS and Frank Isbell/George Davis for the White Sox in the 1906 WS.

e pluribus munu
Guest

Boudreau, Gordon, and Davis are all members of the Circle of Greats (not to mention the far less exclusive HoF): a 75% rate, which bodes well for Altuve and Correa (not that Altuve, in particular, needs much more boding . . .).

Paul E
Guest

Richard,
I might be crazy but, you probably couldn’t find too many non-pennant winners with the keystone batting 3rd and 4th, either. When I think of great hitters in those slots like Vern Stephens or Joe Morgan, there seems to be a Ted Williams or a George Foster/Johnny Bench in the other slot. I dunno

Doug
Guest

Crazy game 5.

Brandon Morrow’s six pitches thrown is a new post-season low for a reliever when allowing four runs or more, and ties the regular season mark. Old records were 12 in the post-season and 14 in the WS.

Five Astro home runs (through the 8th) ties the WS record by the 1928 Yankees (game 4) and 1989 A’s (game 3).

Doug
Guest
Some more WS records from game 5. – Longest 10 inning game (5 hours, 17 minutes) in the regular season or post-season – 12 players in the game with an extra-base hit – 4 players in the game with two extra-base hits – 59 total bases, with both teams exceeding 25 – 7 Dodgers with an extra-base hit (3rd such game) – 3 Astros with two extra-base hits (3rd such game) – three 3-run home runs in a game (first time in WS, only 2nd time in post-season) – 5 players in the game had 0.300 WPA – both teams… Read more »
CursedClevelander
Guest
I try not to overreact in the moment – I hate the phrase ‘instant classic’ – but it’s tough not to rate that as one of the best WS games ever. Well, it’s wholly on the offensive side of the spectrum – I’d say it’s the yin to the yang of 1991 WS Game 7 – but certainly a game with about as much excitement as you can cram into just over 5 (!) hours. Poor Kershaw – just when it looked like he got over his postseason woes with a career defining performance earlier in the series, he gets… Read more »
Doug
Guest
Kershaw has surrendered a four run lead in 2 of 19 post-season starts (Dodgers lost by a run each time), but in only one of 290 regular season starts (Dodgers won that 2010 game by a run). Easy to second guess, but Dodgers’ fate seemed to be decided by a few questionable managing/coaching calls: – Bringing Morrow into the game after publicly announcing he wouldn’t pitch; tough for a pitcher to prepare himself to come into a game when he was expecting to have the night off – Playing for (and getting) only one run in a 7-7 game in… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest

Last night the pressure was on the Astros—going back to Dodger Stadium having to win two would be an enormous challenge—and it looked like an el-foldo at first, but they showed their mettle by coming back and their toughness by coming through.

In game six similar pressure is going to be on the Dodgers to win at home and stay alive as Houston did with the home field advantage. We’ll see.

e pluribus munu
Guest
I didn’t think Game 2 could be topped for drama, and now it has been, but as a Brooklyn fan, what that means is that I spent the day taking long walks through the woods, listening to music, poring over news sites I’d normally avoid out of consideration for my blood pressure, and staying far, far away from MLB.com and HHS. I’ve long subscribed to the theory — I think it’s someone else’s — that the great fan joy of a famous win, sun-filled as it seems at the time, cannot balance the black cloud of a devastating loss, even… Read more »
Mike L
Guest

As elegant a distillation of being a fan as I have ever read.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Perhaps if when Prince Guatama snuck out of the palace he had gone to a baseball game instead of wandering through the alleyways of human misery, he would not have chosen to create a religion dedicated to not-living life with passion and desire. A lot of historical a-holes would have likely chosen a more constructive course if they just had a ball team to root for.

e pluribus munu
Guest

But Voomo, given his utter naivete with regard to ordinary life, he’d surely have become a Lumbini Browns fan, and have wound up heading off to the forest after a season or two of nothing but suffering anyway.

And Mike, thanks for the kind words!

Daniel Longmire
Guest

I love how the threads here have recently blossomed and stretched out into other fields beyond sports. Just this month, we have witnessed cogent discussions on classical music, social justice and Eastern philosophies, all of which are passions of mine.

This illustrates vividly what an interesting collection of people this site has attracted, and the importance of keeping this community together. I can’t imagine finding such a good-natured and open-minded group in the comment sections at Fangraphs (although John Autin posted there yesterday), MLB.com or (shudder) ESPN.

CursedClevelander
Guest
Hah, certainly never thought I’d be held up as a paragon of being magnanimous in defeat! Thank you for the kind words, epm. Of course, I’m still only human – had this series been Yankees-Cubs, I feel like I’d be wandering around in sackcloth and ashes, too bitter and shell-shocked to even think about baseball. But seeing two fantastic young ballclubs give us a couple classic games already makes it easier to stomach the fact that the Indians will spend at least one more year wandering the desert before finding that championship promised land. (I too spent those days after… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
CC, I understand your concern about the 2017 Indians losing their rightful place in memory, like the 2001 Mariners. This relates again to the issue of the unearned winners in contemporary post-seasons. No one fails to learn about the 1906 116-36 Cubs if they study Baseball History 101, even though the team ended its season with an ignominious defeat at the hands of the Hitless Wonders from the South Side. That’s because the teams we recall for excellence are generally the pennant winners, not just the Series winners. Teams like the 1912 Giants, the ’44 Browns, the ’54 Indians, the… Read more »
CursedClevelander
Guest

And I agree about the Buddha – Siddartha may have said life was naught but suffering, but he also never got to see a 6-4-3 double play.

Doug
Guest

For those who may be interested, there is a new, (vaguely) Hallowe’en-themed quiz under the Quiz pages

Kahuna Tuna
Guest
As a child of the (baseball) 1970s, I like to think of this World Series as a tiebreaker for 1980 and 1981. Many people forget the first round. In 1980 the Astros, leading the Dodgers by three games, came to Los Angeles for a season-ending three-game series. We Angelenos knew our team had only a very slim chance. All three games were low-scoring, tight affairs, played before huge, passionate crowds. Friday, the Dodgers won 3-2, tying the game in the ninth when Ron Cey singled home pinch runner Rudy Law, then winning it on an emotional Joe Ferguson walk-off homer… Read more »
Doug
Guest

Those ’81 Dodgers were the last team (of twelve) to win two WS games finished by a reliever going 3+ IP. Now, the Astros are the 13th such team, all of them winning the series.

Kahuna Tuna
Guest

The Dodgers are 1-5 in World Series-deciding games on their own diamond. The only time they won was against the Yankees in Game 4 of the 1963 Series.

Doug
Guest

And now 1-6. That 1963 game was played in one hour, 50 minutes, shorter than all WS deciding games since, save one: the Orioles dispatched LA in another sweep three years later, with the final game completed in only 1:45.

Doug
Guest

Congrats to the Astros, who just found a way to win, taking two games the Dodgers should have won, and successfully employing unorthodox management of their pitching staff to overcome a shaky bullpen.

Yu Darvish will wear the goat horns for the Dodgers. He was perhaps an odd choice to start game 7 over Wood (or even Kershaw), given how much better Houston does against right-handers and also given his regular season record against the Astros; since 2014, Darvish started eight times against Houston, averaged less than 6 IP per start, and posted a 1-4 record with 4.11 ERA.

Kahuna Tuna
Guest

Pitchers who have driven in a run in the deciding Game 7 of a World Series:

Lance McCullers, Jr., Astros, 2017 (ground out to second)
Jesse Orosco, Mets, 1986 (single to center)
Bob Gibson, Cardinals, 1967 (home run)
Murry Dickson, Cardinals, 1946 (double to left)
Dizzy Dean, Cardinals, 1934 (infield single)

All these pitchers’ teams won. No pitcher has ever driven in more than one run in a deciding WS Game 7.

Doug
Guest
McCullers has the second shortest shutout start in a game 7. The shortest belongs to Curly Ogden of the 1924 Senators who retired the first batter of the game, but got the hook after walking the second. Like McCullers, Ogden’s game came in a winning effort that included, again like this year, a starter (Walter Johnson) closing out the game with 4 relief innings. Ogden had an unusual career in that he pitched over 1200 innings in the minors, but ALL of them came after his major league career ended. In contrast, Ogden’s brother Jack pitched over 2500 minor league… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest

Ogden is one of 10 players whose surname matches the name of the town of his birth.

e pluribus munu
Guest

Richard, How in the world did you have that insanely obscure factoid ready to deploy instantly with such splendid effect?

Richard Chester
Guest

It is listed in a book titled “The Baseball Maniac’s Almanac”. It has a lot of weird stats that are fun to browse through.

Richard Chester
Guest

And I should have mentioned that Curly’s brother Jack is also 1 of those 10 players.

Paul E
Guest

John Ogden and $ 70,000 talked Richie and Era Allen into signing with the Phillies in 1960. I believe Allen’s hometown Pirates had already committed even more $$$$ to Bob Bailey

Paul E
Guest

I have lived in Delaware County PA for the last 60 years. Ogden PA has a fire company, I don’t believe they have a post office. It’s kind of just an intersection and certainly not a municipality of its own. It is located in Upper Chichester Township which also gave us Chichester HS, Widener College, and Houston Oilers standout Billy “White Shoes” Johnson – the inventor of the endzone celebratory dance known as “The Funky Chicken” (ca. 1978)

e pluribus munu
Guest

Be that as it may, Richard, the surprise isn’t that the factoid is in some book, it’s that it popped into your head at just the right time. In my life it pops into my head the next time I re-read the book.

Richard Chester
Guest

And I just discovered that Curly Ogden holds the record for fewest batters faced by a starting pitcher in a WS game. In game 7 of the 1924 WS between the Senators and the Giants he faced just 2 batters.

Richard Chester
Guest
Here’s the scoop on Ogden’s WS start from his SABR bio. Warren Harvey “Curly” Ogden became part of World Series lore in 1924 when Washington manager Bucky Harris started him in Game Seven as a ploy to fool Giants manager John McGraw. The idea was to get McGraw to play rookie first baseman Bill Terry and other left-hand batters against the right-handed Ogden, so that Harris then could bring in lefty George Mogridge. Terry, 6-for-12 at that point in the series, had not been playing against left-handers. The ruse worked. McGraw put Terry in the lineup, and Harris watched Ogden… Read more »
oneblankspace
Guest

Has a World-Series MVP batter ever had a 4-strikeout game before Springer’s game 1 ? It doesn’t look like it. Mantle had a golden sombrero in ’53 before they had an MVP.

Doug
Guest

Three 4 strikeout games (Springer’s and two by Bellinger) is also a WS record.

That Mantle game came in the 14 strikeout game by Carl Erskine, then the WS record. Mantle had company as teammate Joe Collins also had four whiffs, the only time two players have done so in the same WS game. Despite Erskine’s domination, the Dodgers needed an 8th inning HR from Roy Campanella for a 3-2 win.

no statistician but
Guest

Despite some clutch hitting in other games, including a grand slam, Mickey was not close to being the 1953 MVP. Who was? By universal consensus, Billy Martin. Who?

Doug
Guest

Has to be Martin, 12 for 24, incl. 5 extra-base hits, 8 RBI, 5 runs. He and Paul Molitor (1993) are the only players with multiple triples and multiple HR in a WS.

no statistician but
Guest

Also, his single in the bottom of the ninth drove in the winning run of the sixth and final game.

Hartvig
Guest

My only disappointment was that Verlander didn’t come in in the 9th to close it out but other than that it was as exciting and satisfying a World Series as any I can think of in the past 40 years.

e pluribus munu
Guest

Hartvig! How great to hear from you!!

Verlander didn’t wind up with results that reflected the quality of his contributions, but he was indeed a great asset to the Astros. It was nice, I thought, that Kershaw did get to add some quality innings after his disastrous start in Game 5.

Even a Dodger fan has to recognize the poetic justice of the Astro win. These are two excellent young teams, and it wouldn’t be a shock to see a rematch next year.

Daniel Longmire
Guest

Indeed; it felt that no matter the outcome, there weren’t going to be any true losers…certainly not for the viewers. The expectations had raised the bar so much that I kept waiting for madness to break out again in last night’s game, but it wasn’t to be.

Hartvig, I would say that last year’s Series was also very satisfying, along with those in ’91, ’92 and 2001. Just an opinion, of course.

Hartvig
Guest
You won’t get any argument out of me on any of your choices- much as I hated the Homerdome in Minnesota that game 7 was easily in the top 5 most exciting sporting events I’ve seen. And after living in eastern Iowa for nearly 30 years where Cubs fans abound I was happy just to see all of them so happy. Funny thing is that if someone were to ask me maybe 5 years ago which ML team you have the LEAST connection with, Houston probably would have been #2 on the list. I’m an AL guy. I’m a fan… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Brandon Morrow joined Darold Knowles as the only pitchers to appear in 7 World Series games.

Knowles had the better showing, with one un-earned run allowed in 6.1, plus two saves, including being on mound for the final out.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Springer blew away the record for Total Bases in a WS:

29 … George Springer
25 … Willie Stargell
25 … Reggie Jackson
24 … Lou Brock
24 … Duke Snider
24 … Paul Molitor
___________________

He tied Reggie and Chase Utley for HRs, with 5 (Utley’s in a losing effort).
___________________

Cody Bellinger now dominates the strikeout leaders:

17 … Cody B
13 … Javier Baez
13 … Ryan Howard
12 … Willie Wilson

He also beat out Aaron Judge for the Playoff record:

29 … Cody
27 … Judge
26 … Soriano
22 … Pat Burrell

Kahuna Tuna
Guest

In each of the last two years’ World Series both teams have scored exactly the same number of runs (27, Cubs and Indians; 34, Astros and Dodgers). The only other time this has happened in a Series was 1948 (17, Indians and Braves).

no statistician but
Guest

While there’s still time, maybe we could have an HHS impromptu vote on the 2017 National League MVP, for which award there are, in my estimation, no standout or walkaway candidates. To get the ball rolling—if I can generate any takers on the proposition—here is a ballot:

1) Arenado
2) Blackmon
3) Goldschmidt
4) Rizzo
5) Bellinger
6) Votto
7) Turner
8) Bryant
9) Stanton
10) Tie: Rendon, Harper, Zimmerman, Murphy

I Don’t list pitchers for the MVP. As for my possibly eccentric positioning of Rizzo and others, call it whimsical.

Paul E
Guest

Great idea. BTW, is Altuve that much of a runaway over Judge or Jose Ramirez…or Lindor, that we shouldn’t consideran AL vote?

1) Blackmon
2) Stanton
3) Bellinger
4) Goldschmidt
5) Votto
6) Bryant
7) Arenado
8) Harper
9) Seager
10 Travis Shaw

FWIW, per B-Ref, Blackmon did create 30 more runs than Arenado

no statistician but
Guest

No problem there, except it’s a two-man race. The NL seems more open. The Cy Young in the NL is kind of interesting too.

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

1. Marcell Ozuna
2. Joey Votto
3. Nolan Arenado
4. Paul Goldschmidt
5. Giancarlo Stanton
6. Kris Bryant
7. Anthony Rendon
8. JD Martinez
9. Max Scherzer
10. Clayton Kershaw

Marcell Ozuna vs Giancarlo Stanton with RISP:
.356 / .444 / .619 / 1.063
.253 / .372 / .520 / .892

I give Arenado the vote over Blackmon because of defense, and because Nolan’s Home/Road splits are fairly normal:
.336 / .392 / .644 / 1.036
.283 / .355 / .531 / .886
…whereas Blackmon did this:
.391 / .466 / .773 / 1.239
.276 / .337 / .447 / .784

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

And going back to the Larry Walker debate, I’m still torn as to how to evaluate Denver performance. Because on the one hand, hitting is hitting, and learning to take advantage of your home park is good hitting. So I dunno.

Hartvig
Guest

I didn’t watch enough NL this year to have a well-informed list but I may look things over and weigh in anyways.

But what’s the story behind Eric Thames? Spent what should have been his prime struggling to reach replacement level- I have a vague recollection of him in Toronto and getting traded to Seattle- then he disappears entirely only to re-emerge as one of the preeminent power hitters in the NL 5 years later.

How on earth is this the first I am finding out about this?

no statistician but
Guest

Don’t think you need to worry much about him, Hartvig. His WAR was 12th on the Brewers, and his stats with men on base are abysmal. 31 HRs, 63 RBIs batting mostly second in the lineup. Three years feasting on Korean pitching may have honed his skills a little.

e pluribus munu
Guest
I did a few calculations to see how punchless Thames’s 31 HRs were from another perspective. Using the B-R Home-Run Log statistics, I compared him with Arenado and Blackmon (37 HRs each), Bellinger (39) and Stanton (59) on two measures: (A) Percent of HRs that either eliminated a team run deficit or put the team ahead (or both); (B) Percent of HRs hit when the teams were separated by 5 or more runs. (I suppose the results of B might differ significantly with a different threshold to indicate a “blowout”; I chose five runs because that’s the lowest gap at… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest
epm: I don’t doubt your calculations, but they fail to account for these stats to modify their impact: BA with RISP .180; with 2 out RISP .118; late and close .228. 15 HRs in innings 1-3; 9 in innings 4-6; 6 in innings 7-9. .304 BA in innings 1-3; .236 in 4-6; .182 in 7-9. 20 HRs with the bases empty (65 %) So I’m guessing that the high leverage result you’re getting has a lot to do with him homering early in the game when there hadn’t been much scoring done (6 in the first inning, 7 in the… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
Well, nsb, I started from the premise that Thames had performed terribly as a “clutch” hitter: it’s the general narrative on his year, and I actually was curious to see whether his HR record would show it to be even worse: lots of solo HRs in blowouts. It turned out to be just the opposite. It doesn’t alter any of the stats you cite (I hadn’t checked his inning-by-inning BA), but it seems to me to be an interesting new perspective that says something positive about Thames that was not obvious. It’s not a “your take or mine” situation: I… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest
epm: This is the kind of discussion, I regret to say, that used to appear here regularly but has almost ceased to occur. I am notoriously against the easy analysis—Highest WAR means Most Valuable, etc.—and prefer to dig deeper into the context of what has happened when. Your last paragraph is penetrating. I would insist, though, that the leverage aspect of hitting a solo home run in the third inning in a previously scoreless or tied game is not the same as doing so in the eighth or ninth. Famously, after Tommy Henrich’s walk-off HR in the ninth of the… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
Good post, nsb. It’s a challenging issue. I’m not sure I can do it justice, but here’s a try. There’s a basic tension between games viewed as narratives and viewed as event sequences. My feeling is that there is no right or wrong choice between them: there is truth in both perspectives. (This holds for the way we look at seasons too: I think Voomo is the HHS poster who holds that pennant races are simply 162-games long, and the late-season “race” is just an illusion.) Let’s take the Henrich game as a model (much as I would have preferred… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
nsb, I want to pursue this a little further in light of Richard’s stats below. (I apologize for the data-dump tone of this addition, but the sad fact is that I just have a lot of data to dump.) The “double vision” portrait of Thames is reinforced by looking at how he fares under the two interpretations of RDI%, one not counting the batter as an RDI, the other counting him. Under the theory of RDI that does not count the batter as a runner, Thames ties for a really mediocre rank of 224/300. Under the alternative theory, he ties… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

To clarify, as I saw my nom de electro-plume in there, the games in September, and their accompanying pressure, are indeed pennant race material. I never disputed that.
Where I’ve taken issue in the past is Managers’ tendency to treat the games earlier in the season with less urgency.

e pluribus munu
Guest

Apologies if I misrepresented you, Voomo. It may also be that I projected your name over a remembered comment that came from a different HHS poster who employed more strident phrasing.

The basic idea, though, seems critical to me: Although late-game/late-season events often entail an awareness of urgency that earlier events do not, the actual urgency of early and late events is equal. (And whether the late events do carry that sense of urgency is generally due to early events.)

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Perhaps it was me.
I do phrase stridently at times, particularly about baseball.
Regardless, I agree with you.
My girlfriend surprised me with a tickets to a Yankees game in Oakland, 11 years ago.
It was game 2 of the season.
Had I been born one day earlier, I’d have gone to opening day, and seen a delightful 15-2 drubbing.
Instead, I got to watch Scott Proctor come in to a tie game in the 9th.
Not the Greatest Relief Pitcher of All Time.
No. Scott Proctor.
Walk, Bunt, Single, Ballgame.
Lousy Birthday.
Thank you Joe Torre.

Hartvig
Guest
Just to clarify, in spite of the wonderful discussion between you and epm that appears to show that on the relatively rare occasions that Thames did manage to produce it seems to have been in an above average percentage of situations where it had significant impact, I am also fully aware of the numerous deficiencies in his game. I just never would have predicted his having produced as much as he did altho I realize there’s precedent with Cecil Fielder (not to imply that Thames was anywhere near as good as Fielder, even overrated as he was). Still, in a… Read more »
Richard Chester
Guest
This may or may not have some bearing on the MVP discussions. Sabermetrics tends to downplay or even ignore RBIs, deeming it to be a stat of opportunity. Nevertheless I don’t think that it should be ignored as it is a measure of how well a player hits with men on base and contributes to the production of runs. To level out the field I have created a table which lists the percentage of base runners driven in (%RDI) in decimal equivalents for all batters of the 2017 season with 275+ PA. There are 300 such players. I did not… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest

Richard, Please count me as requesting the entire list – I think this is great stuff. Thank you!

In light of the exchanges with nsb above, I think there are interesting ways your RDI stat could be combined with HRs (taking the batter as a runner to be driven in) and WPA to move towards a weighted figure that reflects both contributions to the production of runs and contributions that influence game outcomes.

Richard Chester
Guest
Here’s the list. %RDI ROBadj ROBtot HR PA RBI Player 0.262 … 172 … 195 … 14 … 301 … 59 … Adam Lind 0.255 … 263 … 299 … 37 … 725 … 104 … Charlie Blackmon 0.252 … 214 … 250 … 17 … 389 … 71 … Adrian Beltre 0.230 … 404 … 449 … 37 … 680 … 130 … Nolan Arenado 0.229 … 293 … 322 … 23 … 515 … 90 … Marwin Gonzalez 0.229 … 328 … 378 … 25 … 605 … 100 … Anthony Rendon 0.228 … 355 … 396 …… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest

Thanks, Richard. As a bonus I now know how to use the Text-to-Column feature (at least till my next aging short-term-memory wash).

Richard Chester
Guest
epm: I did the analysis counting the batter as a base runner and the results did change. Here they are. Remember I did not take catcher’s interference and sacrifices into account, those numbers are very small for almost all players and will have a negligible effect. ROBadj %RDI Player 742 ….. 0.140 ….. J.D. Martinez 955 ….. 0.138 ….. Giancarlo Stanton 445 ….. 0.133 ….. Adam Lind 645 ….. 0.129 ….. Justin Bour 926 ….. 0.129 ….. Nelson Cruz 937 ….. 0.128 ….. Paul Goldschmidt 1018….. 0.128 ….. Nolan Arenado 899 ….. 0.127 ….. Aaron Judge 560 ….. 0.127 …..… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
Terrific info, Richard. Thanks so much! For most of my life I did what many others do in assessing productivity through RBI: subtract HRs to substitute RDI for RBI, interpreting RDI as ROBDI. I remember reading arguments by sportswriters that allowing batters to count both an R and an RBI when they hit a home run was deceptive. But later, someone, perhaps Bill James, wrote that HRs should indeed get at least double credit, since an RBI on a base-hit or an R for a baserunner was not self-earned: both depended on a teammate to score the run, while a… Read more »
no statistician but
Guest
J.D. Matinez heads Richard’s list, and he had a spectacular 2 1/2 months with Arizona, although I’m not sure he exactly propelled then into the playoffs. Anyway, that got me thinking about other mid-season trades of high performance players. The two that came to mind right away involved Hank Borowy in 1945, who probably did propel the Cubs into the Series, going 11-2 with a 2.13 ERA in August and September (10-5 for the Yankees in the first half), and Mark McGwire who did nada to help the Cards in the last two months of 1997. I don’t count Sutcliffe… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest

Well, I can think of Ted Kluszewski for the ChiSox in ’59 (although his impact was larger in the Series than in the last month of the season); Doyle Alexander for the ’87 Tigers (9-0 after August 12 trade; Tigers won their division by 2 games); C.C. Sabathia for the ’08 Brewers (11-2 after July 7 trade; Brewers got a wildcard berth by a one-game margin) . . .

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest
Well, Rickey Henderson did it twice. The first time, he scored 72 runs in 85 games (5.1 WAR) for the 1989 Athletes, was the ALCS MVP, and then got 9 hits in the 4 game WS sweep, with this line: .474 / .524 / .895 / 1.419 … In 1993, he was actually uncharacteristically not-great (or good) in his 44 regular season games with the Blue Birds (though he replaced Darnell Coles and Turner Ward, so…) In the World Series, he got on base 11 times in 6 games, scoring 6 runs. And it was Rickey who led off the… Read more »
Kahuna Tuna
Guest

To take a very recent example, Justin Verlander made the 2017 Astros’ BRef WAR Top-12 gallery, registering 1.8 WAR in five September starts (5-0, 1.06 ERA, 0.647 WHIP). The Astros didn’t need his help to make the postseason, but he contributed mightily to their postseason success: 4-1 in six appearances (five starts), with a 2.21 ERA and a 0.818 WHIP.

True, he was traded in August, not in July.

Richard Chester
Guest

The spreadsheet that Doug is referring to demonstrates the pitfall of judging a player solely by RBIs. Joey Votto had 100 RBIs compared to Adam Duvall’s 99 which could lead one to conclude that they were equals. Also shown is that Votto had 307 ROBadj to Duvall’s 463, a huge difference. Had Votto had 463 ROBadj it would have meant an additional 32 RBIs. And it was Votto getting on base so often that provided Duvall with his excessive number of ROBadj. It makes you wonder what would have been had Votto and Duvall switched places in the batting order.

no statistician but
Guest

Doug:

I presume you’re going to enter a new post on Roy Halladay.

Doug
Guest

Yes. Working on it now.

no statistician but
Guest
In looking up Roy Halliday’s record, I came across an astounding fact that I find worrisome for a reason I’ll try to explain further on in this screed. First, the FACT: In Cy Young voting, four of the top five and five of the top ten lifetime recipients of award shares were contemporaries, all active as full-time players in the years 1992-2005 with all but one, Roger Clemens, the oldest, lasting through 2008, and all but the youngest, Pedro Martinez, in a rotation position by 1989. So, in other words, for a stretch of 20 years, five pitchers dominated the… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
What an interesting inroad into the way the game has changed — I wouldn’t have thought of Cy Young shares as an index of that. I do think it’s true that the changes in the game in recent years have been among the most dramatic since the transition to the Lively Ball Era, and, like the old timers of the 1920s and ’30s, I think most of the changes are bad. I expect it looks very different to younger generations. I do see some issues to think about with regard to using the CYA as an index in this way,… Read more »
Hartvig
Guest
I’ve always wondered if there was any rhyme or reason to how talent at a particular position seems to “bunch up” at certain periods in baseball history. It’s fairly easy to explain why pitchers from the dead ball era and before do so well by both traditional and advanced statistical measures but why were 5 of the top dozen or so shortstops almost exact contemporaries in the 1980’s (pushing the window a bit on Larkin) or 3 of the 4 greatest second basemen all active in the 10’s or center fielders in New York in the 50’s? No doubt coincidence… Read more »
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