Here’s our obligatory comment: I’ve been more-or-less totally MIA in 2021. I apologize for that. There’s no excuse, no fancy reasoning. Life is just hard. Hoping you did read my review of Joe Posnanski’s The Baseball 100. And now, with only lockout news to “comfort” us baseball fans, let’s try to keep things positive. It’s awards season! We need something to vote on before the COG elections in January, am I right?
In 2020, I did not run an awards post. The season was too short, things crept up too fast… it just didn’t happen. But I don’t want that to continue in 2021.
Look, I’m going to be the first to acknowledge: I think the vote-for-pitchers, don’t-vote-for-pitchers debate really muddied the waters in some of our last few discussions; I was thinking that, this year, we would switch from a mixed vote to separate awards for the pitchers and position players. But then, along came a player who screwed the whole thing up. So this year, my initial plan was to do separate awards for pitchers and hitters. Unfortunately, there’s one big reason we just can’t do that. So I’m not going to ask us to do so this year. Okay; without further ado, I believe we should start on the senior circuit this year, as well. So who are our candidates? (As always, description after the jump; rules at the bottom of the post.)
I’m going to start with melancholy. On the antepenultimate page of The Baseball 100, I started feeling a profound sadness. Now, you don’t get 820-odd pages into a book if you don’t like it; it wasn’t a sadness of disappointment. It was a feeling that has accompanied me a handful of times in my life (near the end of the Harry Potter books, during the movie Black Panther, right near the end of Pride & Prejudice, the end of Ron Chernow’s Hamilton biography… surely there’ve been others, though) when I start to mourn the loss of a thing that’s not yet over. I was reading those words about the #1 ranked player, and I was sad to leave the world of the book. I didn’t want to stop reading Posnanski’s prose. I didn’t want to stop hearing the stories of ballgames and childhoods and the way the game has changed and the ways it’s remained the same. I wanted just to be in the moment… which took me, rather profoundly, out of the moment.
But, damn it all, I couldn’t help myself. I couldn’t shut the book to let it drag out. Posnanski’s writing is just too good.
OK, so all the mea culpas here – I’ve been pretty absent from the site for a few months. Life is busy, what can I say? Sometime after the World Series, I will get some season-end awards vote posts up. But first, I want to share my review of this book with you all.
How many pitchers in MLB history have thrown a shutout in the only game they ever started? I might have guessed that the answer was none. If a pitcher threw a shutout on his debut start, why would you not give that player a second opportunity?
I was wrong. The answer is four. Four players have started one MLB game, and thrown one MLB shutout. Here are their stories:
Last September, Baseball Reference added the Championship Win Probability Added (cWPA) statistic to their website. The stat, developed by Dan Hirsch, assesses the impact of each play in improving a team’s chances of winning a championship. It’s an intuitive concept: a go-ahead home run in a World Series is more impactful than one in mid-August. Consequently almost all of the biggest single plays by cWPA have come in October.
But what of the humble regular season? Less consequential than the playoffs, for sure, but still full of dramatic moments that can pave the way for postseason success. Here, then, are the plays that have had the biggest positive effect on each team’s chances of winning the World Series, going in order from the least to the most pivotal.
Everything in baseball is rated. Players are rated according to their abilities, but also by their contract value. Managers are rated by their tactical nous, and also by their handsomeness. Ballparks are rated by their beauty, but also by the level of traffic encountered when leaving them.
Of course, no one agrees on these ratings. Thus almost everything is ripe for being under-, over-, or massively overrated. Fans, players, coaches, writers; everyone has an opinion, and we have over a century’s worth of evidence documenting that fact.
Here, then, is an examination of the many things that have been overrated in the world of baseball. I looked through the pages of The Sporting News from 1920 to 2000, and found approximately 150 instances of something or someone being overrated. Let’s get to the highlights: long preambles are overrated.
So that not all of my posts are “A Look Back,” this is a new feature I thought of. I thought it might be fun to relive one of our most popular features (from a long time ago) – but with a twist. We’ve done Mount Rushmore posts for individual teams. But, in order to give us something else to do (especially in light of no Circle of Greats election, due to a Hall of Fame shutout by the BBWAA), I thought we could vote on a Mount Rushmore for each position.
Hello, everyone! Long time, no write. Sorry about that; I’d like to make a complaint about being busy, but, A.) aren’t we all? and B.) so’s everyone else, so I’m sure there’s little sympathy for that. So let’s get to it.
This is a post about baseball. But it’s not a post about games or players. It is a post about teams, but probably not in the way you’re thinking. I want to talk about how many teams there are, and how many teams there should be in Major League baseball.
With this bizarre season wrapped up, I figure it’s probably a pretty good time to talk about all of this, while there’s nothing else going on. So here we go!
Welcome to our post of the World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays. We’ll start with a preview of the series, and then we can continue the conversation in the comments throughout the week.
As per most of my previews, unlike Doug’s which are interesting and relevant, this is just a pile of random information on baseball history. So I hope you enjoy.
I posted this in the comments of the last thread, but this year was the fifth time in history the two LCS series have both gone the distance, joining 2004, 2003, 1973, and 1972. The latter two were best-of-5 series, so this is just the third time with two best-of-7 series both going the distance. In both ’72 (A’s over Reds) and ’73 (A’s over Mets), the World Series also went the limit. That did not happen in either ’03 (Marlins over Yankees in 6) or ’04 (Red Sox sweep Cardinals). So if this goes 7 games, we’ll have our first ever 21-game postseason wrap-up. 2003 was 20 (a 6-game World Series). So were the first two years of the best-of-7 LCS format: 1985 and 1986 featured a 6-game NLCS, a 7-game ALCS, and a 7-game World Series.
The Rays enter the series having been outscored in the Division Series by the Yankees, 24-21. But that doesn’t matter when you win the most games. Particularly impressive was the Rays’ ability to silence the New York bats in the decisive Game 5. The Rays allowed only three hits and four walks against one of the most potent lineups in the game. The question becomes, can their pitchers continue to silence the defending AL Champion Astros?