The postseason, as always, has gone by in a whirlwind, with only the big dance of the World Series remaining. Here are some news and notes from the postseason so far leading up to the World Series:
Bucco Madness- The season of 162 games determined by one game was as crazy as expected. The Pittsburgh Pirates, nicknamed by some the Battling Buccos, were victorious in the National League game as Francisco Liriano shut down the left-heavy Reds lineup. The most interesting part about that game however was that Johnny Cueto, the starter of the game, seemed to be rattled by the raucous Pirates crowd in the second inning and proceeded to give up home runs to both Marlon Byrd and Russell Martin in that inning. The second inning really set the tone for the rest of the game, as the Pirates cruised to a 6-2 win. The Pirates went into the series against the Cardinals, the best team in the National League record-wise, as the heavy underdogs. They ended up losing in five games, but they did not roll over by any stretch of the imagination. It seems like after 20 years of losing, the Pirates are finally ready to be perennial contenders.
The Rise of Wacha- Going into the postseason, Michael Wacha was a relative unknown, as he had made only nine major league starts. Wacha’s last game of the regular season, in which he has an out away from no-hitting the Washington Nationals, turned out to be an omen of things to come as going into the World Series, he has thrown 21 innings over three starts and has only given up one run. He has done this at the young age of 22 with an unconventional delivery, mid 90’s fastball that he locates well, an unhittable changeup, and an occasional curveball. Almost every postseason a young star emerges onto the national conscience. Wacha, who ironically enough is only a Cardinal because of the compensatory draft pick that the Cardinals received when Albert Pujols left, is undoubtedly the young phenom of 2013 postseason.
Where is the offense?- Amazingly in the NLCS, the Cardinals won despite posting a team OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of .593. For reference, Jose Molina, widely regarded as a great defensive catcher who cannot hit, posted a regular season OPS of .594. Let that sink in for a second. The team that won the NLCS hit worse in that series as a team than a team of Jose Molinas would in the regular season according to one statistic. The ALCS was not much better, as the Red Sox, the winning team, had a collective OPS of .609, which is about the equivalent of light-hitting Twins shortstop Pedro Florimon. In summary, that is not good. One theory behind this lack of offense out of these teams that hit well in the regular season is that good pitching generally beats good hitting. Baseball is a pitcher’s game and the results bore that out this postseason.
Five months until spring training starts- Until then, baseball junkies like myself will have to be satisfied with the simmer of the offseason hot stove of trades and free agent signings.