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Playoff stories

Posted by Andy on October 6, 2010

Here are some random thoughts I have on this year's playoffs:

  • The Phillies have a chance to become the first team in a while to appear in 3 straight World Series. The Yankees did it 4 straight in 1998-2001 and the Athletics did it 1988-1990.
  • If the Phillies win it and Roy Halladay has a few games of note, he probably becomes a lock for the Hall of Fame. With all those wins and a perfect game, major post-season success puts him over the top for sure.
  • The Yankees and Twins meet for the 4th time in the ALDS, having done it previously in 2003, 2004, and 2009. The Twins look stronger this year than in years past and probably have their best shot of eliminating the Yankees. It's amazing that one of their two best starting pitchers is Carl Pavano, a guy who spent 4 very-injured seasons with the Yankees 2005-2008.
  • The Rangers and the Rays have a shot at their first franchise World Series win. For the Rangers, this is their 4th time in the playoffs (having never made it as the Washington Senators), first time since 1999, and first time facing a team other than the Yankees. They have won just 1 playoff game in history. I personally think it's a shame that these teams play each other in the first round--I'd love to have seen them play in the ALCS with a chance to go to the World Series.
  • Bobby Cox will manage his final playoff run.
  • The Giants are looking for their first championship since 1954.
  • The Reds are in the playoffs for the first time since 1995 and looking for their first championship since 1990.
  • All 8 playoff teams have between 90 and 97 regular-season wins. This is a very tight field. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I feel that any of the 8 teams can win the World Series.

22 Responses to “Playoff stories”

  1. Djibouti Says:

    Not declaring the Phillies dead yet? (I kid, I kid)

    Something kind of somewhat interesting I heard on the radio yesterday: if the Rangers and Twins win it will be an all Washington Senators ALCS

  2. Andy Says:

    Oh don't get me wrong. The Phillies are done. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. John Autin Says:

    As great as Roy Halladay has been and may be in the future, he would have to have one of the greatest postseasons in history to lock up a spot in the HOF at this point in his career.

    Halladay has 169 wins. Just 3 SPs have been inducted with fewer than 180 wins:
    -- Dizzy Dean, 150 wins. Elected on the basis of a few dominant years and one iconic WS, and because the Hall was young then. Probably would not be elected today.
    -- Addie Joss, 160 wins. Great career cut short by fatal illness; technically, he didn't even qualify for the HOF, with just 9 seasons. Elected by the V.C. 67 years after his death.
    -- Sandy Koufax, 165 wins. Sui generis. Greatest 4-year run since, what, Lefty Grove? Plus WS heroics.

    Many pitchers have had as many wins as Halladay through age 33, with other positive markers towards HOF induction, but ended up not making it:
    -- Wes Ferrell had 193 wins, including 20+ wins in each of his first 5 seasons (and 7 of his first 9), a .601 W%, and completed over 70% of his starts. He was also perhaps one of the best-hitting pitchers in history. But he was already washed up at 33.
    -- Dwight Gooden, 185 wins, .642 W%, 2,150 Ks, Cy Young Award, WS championship, no-hitter. He won just 9 more games.
    -- Bert Blyleven had 197 wins and over 3400 IP (half again as much as Halladay), with a 127 ERA+, 46 shutouts and 2,669 Ks. He still hasn't made it.
    -- Bob Welch, 176 wins, .618 W%, 1,714 Ks (same K total as Halladay), Cy Young Award, WS championship. Finished 212-146, got 0.2% of the HOF vote in his only year on the ballot.
    -- Ed Reulbach, 182 wins, .634 W%, 2.28 ERA, 123 ERA+, went 60-15 for the 1906-08 Cubs' dynasty, 2-0 in the WS. He never won again.
    -- Carl Mays, Lon Warneke, Dave McNally ... all had more wins than Halladay by age 33, with W% over .600.

    We should never forget the possibility of a sudden, career-ending injury. If that happened to Halladay, he *might* still be inducted on the strength of what he's done so far, but it's far from certain.

  4. Andy Says:

    Yeah, I'm with you John. I'm assuming that Halladay continues to pitch after this year at a decent clip.

  5. The Iron Horse Says:

    Andy-interesting playoff info. One other interesting note. I believe the Phillies are bidding to become the first NL team to make the World Series 3 years in a row since the NY Giants of 1921-23.

    The Phillies do seem to have the edge, but let's remember that the Reds rank first in the NL in the following categories:
    Runs, Hits, Homers, total bases, RBI's, batting average, slugging percentage and OPS.

    Pitching usually wins in October, it will need to if the Phils are to make history.

  6. barkfart Says:

    Andy, I'm not so sure about the Twins looking real good. Mauer's out for the playoffs and I just saw the most uninspired looking Twins get schooled by the Tigers a week ago (who then went out and lost a week's worth of games- thereby revealing their true stripes). I love the Twins, but I'm worried.

    Hey, I made a joke... Tigers, stripes, get it?

  7. Andy Says:

    Mauer's not out, Morneau is, and they've been playing without him for a long time already.

  8. The Iron Horse Says:

    Correction. Giants went to four in a row from 1921-24. Sorry for the mistake.

  9. Ian W. Says:

    Iron Horse, the 1942-44 Cardinals were the last NL to make it three years in a row.

  10. Ian W. Says:

    Last NL team, that is.

  11. Brett Says:

    The Rangers history page makes me giggle. From it you can find that Will Clark was the 1B in the lone postseason win. Always loved him by the Bay and then when he was part of the BAL-TEX deal that swapped first basemen. Also you can see that #26 is retired by Texas for Johnny Oates. Really? I mean, really? He was fired mid-season 2001. That's a great fact.

  12. John Autin Says:

    Ian W. -- Thanks for noting those wartime Cardinals. They not only won 3 straight pennants (and 2 WS), they were just a few wins shy of 6 straight pennants: 2.5 GB the Dodgers in 1941, pennants in 1942-44, 3 GB the Cubs in '45, pennant in '46.

    In case anyone's wondering, the Cards were also the last NL team to play in 3 straight NLCS, 2004-06. The Braves were in 9 straight NLCS from 1991-99 (no NLCS in '94).

  13. John Autin Says:

    Brett -- Give Oates some credit; he managed the franchise to their only 3 postseason appearances. He has the 2nd most wins in franchise history, but unlike #1 Bobby Valentine, Oates had a winning record.

    Speaking of Rangers managers, what's the story behind Billy Hunter's brief tenure?
    He took over midway through 1977, and was let go with 1 game remaining in 1978.
    The team did pretty well under Hunter:
    -- In 1977, he took over a 34-35 club and went 60-33 the rest of the way (yet lost ground in the race, as KC went 67-26, a .720 W%).
    -- In '78, the Rangers were 86-75 under Hunter, and had won 14 of 16 when he was replaced by Pat Corrales.

    Hunter never managed again in MLB. He went on to coach baseball at Towson University and later was athletic director.

  14. Brett Says:

    @13, I have no problem with Oates. My (weak) point is that there are a lot of guys with records similar to Oates and on most franchises it wouldn't even warrant consideration for number retirement.

    I'm a Brewers fan, so I think 3 1st place finishes would be AMAZING! And that is the other point, on "lesser" franchises, you have to start somewhere and rewarding that success is a necessity.

  15. DoubleDiamond Says:

    There seems to be a decent number of first-overall June draft picks on the playoff teams this year. I count six active players plus one who is injured but had a decent season before getting hurt to no doubt help his team make it to the postseason eventually. And there was one more whose team was eliminated on the last day of the regular season. So, those overall #1's aren't totally useless!

    Working backwards, the active players are:
    2007 - David Price
    2003 - Delmon Young
    2001 - Joe Mauer
    1999 - Josh Hamilton
    1998 - Pat Burrell (I have not checked to see if he made the Giants' NLDS roster, however.)
    1993 - Somebody whose name has slipped my mind, maybe because I haven't read it here in a while, like, oh, maybe a day or so.

    Also referred to here:
    1990 - Chipper Jones - injured
    2000 - Adrian Gonzalez - eliminated on the last day of the regular season

  16. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    For the 49th straight year, the World Series will not be a matchup of two expansion teams. (Okay, 48th straight year if you want to exclude 1994.)

  17. More Random ALDS Notes » Baseball-Reference Blog » Blog Archive Says:

    [...] Tacking on to Andy's playoff thoughts from earlier today... [...]

  18. BobBobson Says:

    Well, there you have it. Halladay's Hall case has just been bolstered enormously.

    First postseason start tooโ€“the guy's an animal.

  19. DoubleDiamond Says:

    @15 You forgot the second half of the message you were planning to post somewhere here in the past few days:

    The only triple play that has ever occurred, was properly called as such, and remained as such in postseason play was an unassisted triple play. (There was a play originally called a triple play in the 1980 NLCS, but it was overruled by another umpire. There was also a play in which the would-have-been third out of a triple play was incorrectly, as shown in replays, called safe in either the 1991 or 1992 World Series. Deion Sanders, then with the Braves, was one of the players involved.)

    The only no-hitter that has ever occurred in postseason play the World Series was a perfect game.

  20. DoubleDiamond Says:

    And what I was also going to do was predict that one (or even both) of the statements I made would no longer be true after the end of this postseason.

    Really I was. I really did think there'd be a triple play in the Rangers/Rays game today, maybe to get Cliff Lee out of trouble. Yeah, sure. No such luck, though.

  21. John Autin Says:


    ... the sound of Halladay's HOF ticket being punched.


    ... the sound of me eating my words (@3 above).

    But at least I did say, "he would have to have one of the greatest postseasons in history to lock up a spot in the HOF."

    Good start. But what can he do for an encore? ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    "-- Sandy Koufax, 165 wins. Sui generis. Greatest 4-year run since, what, Lefty Grove? Plus WS heroics."

    At the time probably, but a few guys have done about as well since. All 4 of the guys in the last generation who have inner circle credentials have either done pretty close or better over a 4 year span, in addition to having much longer overall careers. Maddux roughly equaled him, and Pedro was even better. Randy Johnson and Clemens came very close. Tom Seaver as well.

    It's instructive to compare the best of this generation to Koufax using adjusted stats. They have 4 year stretches that compare, and 7-8 year peaks that are definitely better. Which tells you just how good these guys are and what a rare treat it's been to have them pitching at the same time.

    I just did a play index search similar to Andy's WAR/PA, of WAR/IP for pitchers with more than so many IPs.

    I used a cutoff of .02 and 1500 IP, and got most of the all-time inner circle guys, along with some current players who will probably make the hall, and a few guys whose careers were too short to make the hall.

    It's missing Greg Maddux, who I consider inner circle, but it's because he stretched his career with 6 years of relatively average pitching. If you cut him off at 20 years instead of 24, he makes the .02 cutoff easily. So there may be a couple guys with long careers that unfairly miss the inner circle cut at .02, but .18 puts a fair number of guys on there who were great, but not really inner circle pitchers (perry, jenkins, blyleven).

    Note that both Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling make the .02 cut. Basically, B-R WAR thinks they played pretty close to the level of the inner circle guys just for not as long. Not that I had either of these guys out, but that definitely upped my opinion of them a bit.