Postseason pre-mortems: Home field? Whatever

What we’ve learned from the early phase of this postseason:

  • Stressing over home-field advantage isn’t worth the trouble:

Thus far, visiting teams are 6-2. Most of the angst is over gaining home-field for the Wild Card Games. Forget it; this year’s Cubs-Rangers sweeps made visiting teams 6-2 in the one-and-dones.

  • The Wild Card scenario puts an unprecedented premium on having an Ace:

This, of course, is a Pirates perspective. Two seasons of hard work have been undone in nine innings by Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta. The Bucs themselves are in a good place here, with Gerrit Cole.

  • The NLDS has Buccos Nation pining for a best-of-3 Wild Card Series:

Seeing the Dodgers and Mets — two teams against which the Bucs went 11-1 in the regular season — is pouring salt into the Wild Card wounds. Pittsburgh is lobbying, loud, for an expansion of the play-in round.

Sorry. It’s not going to happen. The whole idea behind having two Wild Cards play-off was to give a rightful advantage to division winners. Having them sit and wait for five days would be giving them an unfair disadvantage.

  • Clint Hurdle, even better than you thought:

Seeing hungry, energetic rookies grab the stage — Kyle Schwarber in the Wild Card,  Tommy Pham, Stephen Piscotty in NLDS-1 — dramatizes what a disadvantage the Bucs have had without such young blood. Experience is not a handicap, mind you, but there is also something to be said for trusting young players and giving them a role.

Once the pain of the Wild Card ouster subsides, appreciation of how this team managed to win 98 games will grow.

2 Comments

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Mr. Singer,
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Excellent stuff, imo. Add to that yet another lesson possibly learned: namely the season-long disadvantage of getting that particular season off to a drearily slow start. Bummer. I did read your “Change is in the Air” article. Pretty darned good summary on your part. Which leads me — in the context of the slow start enigma (i.e. why do we seem to do that almost every year?) — to pose the following question —
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Your “best case” scenario for the starting rotation of Cole, Liriano, Happ, JT, and Mr. Glasnow. Man, I agree that would be super-kewl, but may I hope for that to happen right out of the “starting gate” ?? (Hope so, hope so. Fingers and toes crossed.) This mid-season call-up stuff to avoid Super-Two problems. Of course I can see the economic/cost ramifications. But still . . .
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Wasn’t it George Springer whom the Astros brought up “early” last year ?? He’s gone on to have two great ML seasons (so far), and he may be one of the main reasons why the Astros are still playing baseball while we Bucco fans are relegated to reading game recaps. For a team like the Buccos which fully expects to make a post-season run again in 2016, do they really have the luxury of trying to muddle through with a mediocre April/May/early June in order to *maybe* save a few (relatively speaking) bucks three or four years from now ??
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(Years of control, okay I can see delaying the bringing of a guy up to the Bigs for that — but not a day longer.)
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And me, I’d hold on to Mr. Alvarez. Home runs often win baseball games. Furthermore, as the season progressed, Pedro did seem more and more comfortable, and less error-prone, at 1B. And as for Josh Bell, sure he’s hitting for average — which is good. But he’s also averaging a home run in about every 70 AB’s . . . Take away Pedro’s 27 HR’s and replace them with 7 – 8 round-trippers for the season. Where would we have been this year ??
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From the baseball files, found under the category heading of “The Importance of Home Runs.”.
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Eight teams still remaining in the post-season. These eight teams, and their team ranking during the 2015 regular season for team home runs —
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Toronto #1
Houston #2
LA Dodgers #6
NY Mets #8
Texas Rangers #11
Chicago Cubs #12
KC Royals #24
St. Louis #25
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Clearly, the Royals and the Cardinals demonstrate that a team can go far without a huge number of team HR’s. However, as the other six teams also demonstrate, it’s a lot easier to succeed if you have at least some batters who can Go Yard with more than the average frequency.
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Or to quote Earl Weaver — The key to winning baseball games is pitching, fundamentals, and three run homers.
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Kewl !! Amen to that !!!
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(Buccos ranked 23rd out of 30 ML teams in team HR’s in 2015. And if we had had Josh Bell with, say, seven HR’s instead of Mr. Alvarez) with his 27 HRs this year, then out of 30 teams, the Buccos would have tied with the Marlins for second from the fewest across both major leagues.)
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Ouch !!!
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