Starting Your Best Player, Third

I wanted to get this post out before the start of tonight’s game 6 game consisting of New York trying to force a game 7 against the Texas Rangers. There was an article on Fangraphs (that you can find here) last week discussing the effects of starting Cliff Lee (the Ranger’s best starting pitcher option) in games 3 and 7 (in game 7, if the series goes that far). A lot of writers have been chiming in discussing how starting Cliff in those games puts Texas at a disadvantage, since the game 7 start is not guaranteed. Thus the disadvantage stems from sending the best pitcher in the postseason out only once.

To summarize the article, Dave Cameron points to the idea that, assuming Cliff can win both his starts, the Rangers need to find ways to win at least two non-Cliff Lee games. Winning these games is independent of when Cliff Lee starts. Albeit, pitching match-ups are important, the message is still clear and simple: the Rangers still need to win two non-Cliff Lee games.

This discussion got me thinking more broadly about the psychology behind 7 game series.

The fact is most people view the goal of a 7 game series is to win 4 games first. Through the first 4 games of both championship series, teams were up 3-1. And then in game 5’s, both series went to 3-2. While most fans believe there’s bad history in clinching a series, the fact is the order of games won doesn’t matter. Each game is independent. For example, coming back from a 3-1 deficit to win a series would be the same as teams alternating wins to force a sudden death game 7. Maybe hearts are broken in the former, but the outcome is the same. All I’m trying to say is if New York or¬†Philadelphia¬†end up going to the world series, don’t be too sad, Texas/SF fans that your team couldn’t just win one more game. The order of the games won shouldn’t matter.

I think to prove my point, series would have to be played through 7 games, no matter if a team wins the first four (or any other combination of wins-losses that doesn’t force a game 7).

But the mentality of being one win away from advancing can be pretty heart-breaking when you still don’t advance. But I just don’t see the necessity in calling it ‘bad history’ when games are won independently of each other.


The World of Baseball…Without Baseball…

So baseball season is over, and I’ve been pretty flakey in writing since the post season. So what to write about when no baseball is occurring in the majors? Hopefuly I can keep you entertained..

Despite first impressions, I find the offseason just as interesting as the baseball season. A lot goes on that will affect next season, just like any other professional sports league. But there’s more to it than just free agency. Here’s a rundown of things to look forward to:

Rule 5 draft: The rule 5 draft is different from the regular amateur draft in that teams select players from other teams’ minor league rosters. That’s right, it’s like stealing players from other teams. Why do this? If a team doesn’t select a player onto their 40 man roster (basically what they view as the top 40 players in their system), they are unprotected and can be selected by another team to be put on their top 40 list. It’s beneficial to players because they are given a chance to play when their original club is stockpiled in resources.

Arbitration: There are two forms of arbitration. The first occurs when young players are given raises due to their past season performances, once they have reached a three or four year mark with a team. Kids like Tim Lincecum fall into this category, where he’s been with the Giants for about 4 years and is able to get a raise from them. Due to his stellar performances the past two years, it’s evident he’ll get a bloated raise from about $650K to at least $10 m+…

Free Agency: The other form of arbitration occurs where a player has completed a contract with a team, and that team can offer a raised salary for one year that the player can either accept or deny. If he chooses to deny, he’ll become a free agent and can sign with whoever he wants. If he does so and is classified as a top free agent, the team he leaves usually will be given draft picks as compensation for him leaving. You can see a pattern here, where a balance of power is continual and a sort of fairness equilibrium occurs. If i lose a player, I can select another young player in the draft next year. If I’m a good baseball player but my club has two other shortstops in front of me, I can get selected by another team and be given a chance.

Trades: Just like during the busy trade deadline at the end of July, the offseason can see quite a bit of movement in the trade market. Teams will want to trade up for a star, or if you’re like the A’s will trade down. Say I have a player who has one year left on his contract, but I know he’ll leave through free agency. I don’t want just two draft picks, I’m gonna want more for my product. I’ll try and get up and coming players, or a mixture of major/minor league players in order to compensate my loss of one of my top players. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. Bartolo Colon (an ace, for a couple years) was traded for 3 minor leaguers at the time: Cliff Lee (who won a Cy Young), Brandon Phillips (an all star 2B) and Grady Sizemore (an all star CF). Talk about bang for your buck…The trade tree can grow to be pretty big.