So what just happened here in the ALDS? We saw two 100 win teams play in a best of five game series to see who would advance to the ALCS. Not only were their uniforms two completely different colors but their make-up in how they approached the game was at opposite ends of baseball strategy. This was pointed out so well by my friend and colleague Richie Mancuso in his piece for this site following game 4 at Yankee Stadium, where he points out that the home run ball cannot be relied on for winning in a short series.
In last night’s game, the Yankees had only 5 hits and left five men on base in a one run game. In their only win, a 6-2 homer infused game in Boston, they had 8 hits and managed to still leave 8 on base. The game one loss saw them get 10 hits and leave a staggering 10 on base in a one run game. This is not just a Yankee problem, all of baseball does it. It has become the new normal. Where bunting and stealing are laughed at, we’re now seeing a game where men on base are waiting for someone to drive them in with a 479 foot blast. The game has definitely changed.
New terms like “launch angle” and “exit velocity” have replaced “hit and run” and “small ball.” Oh my goodness, How can I not be with it? A behind the times, old and out dated baseball mind, a dinosaur. Why have I not embraced all the new flashy intellectual terms of Sabermetrics with all of its acronyms and definitions? You know what PECOTA is? When you translate it means: “Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm. It’s also an homage to journeyman baseball player Bill Pecota, considered a baseline average player. It’s an incredibly complex formula that forecasts a player’s performance in all of the major categories used in typical fantasy baseball games, and also forecasts production in advanced sabermetric categories.”
WHAT? How about see the ball, hit the ball? When a slugger like Giancarlo Stanton, in his first ever post season, goes 5 for 21 (.238) with one home run accounting for his only RBI, strikes out 6 times and leaves 15 runners on base in 4 games and no one seems to care, well that tells you something about where we are as baseball people today. The Yankees jumped at the opportunity to trade for him based on his 59 home runs and only 163 strikeouts last year. Dave Kingman was known as the “Strikeout King” with the most he ever had in a year being 156! Only 163 by Stanton? This year he had 38 bombs and 211 strikeouts. Leaving men on base is probably off the charts so I won’t even embarrass him any more with that stat.
By the way, Aaron Boone didn’t get out managed by Alex Cora, he was just following orders from all the pie chart analytics in the suites above the dugout. Do you really think all those bullpen moves and lineup manipulations came from Boone and Boone alone? This is the way the game is played today. We have read about it, talked about it and tried to understand and embrace it. It is not going away because MLB has put all of its marbles into it now and can do nothing but continue to try and sell it to a new generation of fans.
It is their game now and is what they demand and feel comfortable with. I respect the embracing of this new way of being a part of baseball. It doesn’t mean I have to like it. I find myself saying things like, why did they do that or why didn’t they do this more than ever when I watch a game now. It’s like going to school to be a doctor, learning every day how to heal people. Becoming very good at your profession and then everything changes in medicine and what you know doesn’t matter anymore.
Wow, that was deep. Don’t get me wrong, I love this game and will continue to be a part of it until I take my last breath on this earth. A big part of our passion for this beautiful game, is that we will always be trying to figure it out.