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Baseball Told the Right WayIn-depth Baseball analysis on various topics regarding the sport we all love!
Is Joe Morgan Right?
Nothing big today, just wanted to point out something pretty interesting over at The Hardball Times. This is one of the best things I've read in awhile, its worth checking out. Vinay Kumar takes a look at all the playoff games since 1995 to try and find trends with all the winners. Now the conventional wisdom about winning in the playoffs is that it takes pitching, defense, and a little bit of 'small-ball' to manufacture runs.
Personally, I thought all that was just b.s. I mean a team that scores more than it lets up is going to win, regardless of whether they are winning 10-8 or 3-1. Right? Well not according to Kumar. He found that the teams with the better pitching (allow less runs, less HRs, etc.) and also teams that steal bases and don't strike out have been winning their playoff games.
So Joe Morgan has been right all this time? No, not exactly, I also think this data is heaviliy skewed by the great Yankee teams that were full of good pitching, contact hitters, and a number of guys swiping some bases. However, the fact that one team skews the data doesn't mean that the data is not important. The Yankees could have won because they were built like the 'ideal' playoff team. I'm not ready to say thats true, but who knows?
The one thing I think is pretty important (though it needs more evidence) is that Kumar found teams with good contact hitters to succeed more often in the playoffs. I've always thought that batter strikeouts had little effect on offense in general. This article a while back at Baseball Prospectus showed that there was almost no correlation between batter strikeouts and team offense and also that there was a positive correlation between strikeouts and an individuals offensive production (i.e. power hitters strike out more). If we believe what Kumar found, then it would suggest that teams who strike out a lot might do well in the regular season, but not in the playoffs. The question is why exactly is this true, or is it even true at all? Angel fans have to be happy with this news.
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