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Saturday, September 15, 2012

AL playoff race: September 15, 2012

AL East

NYY 82-63 [7-7 in SEPT]
BAL 81-64 [8-6 in SEPT] (1 GB)
TBR 78-67 [7-6 in SEPT] (4 GB)

AL Central

CWS 78-66 [6-7 in SEPT]
DET 77-67 [7-6 in SEPT] (1 GB)

AL West

TEX 86-59 [8-6 in SEPT]
OAK 84-61 [10-4 in SEPT] (2 GB)

AL Wildcard

OAK 84-61 [10-4 in SEPT]
BAL 81-64 [8-5 in SEPT]
LAA 79-67 [8-6 in SEPT] (2.5 GB)
TBR 78-67 [7-6 in SEPT] (3 GB)
DET 77-67 [7-6 in SEPT] (3.5 GB)

MLB.com: Triumphant Nova keeps Yankees atop East
MLB.com: Liriano, bullpen combine to two-hit Twins
MLB.com: [Anibal] Sanchez keeps Tigers within game of first place
MLB.com: Rangers rally to tie but fall to Mariners
MLB.com: Drew sparks five-run inning to lift A’s past Orioles
MLB.com: Greinke’s gem spoiled as Angels slip in ninth

NTNgod Posted: September 15, 2012 at 07:44 PM | 134 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: angels, athletics, orioles, pennant race, rangers, rays, tigers, white sox, yankees

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   1. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 15, 2012 at 07:49 PM (#4236804)
Huge start from Nova.

If Pettitte looks good Tues, the Yanks may hang on to this thing.
   2. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: September 15, 2012 at 08:04 PM (#4236821)
I was a lukewarm fan of the second Wild Card. But I like it a lot more; not because of the zany races for the spot itself, but for the way it rewards winning the division. I know as a Yankee fan that I don't want any part of the one-game play-in.

Oh, and Tampa needs to win tomorrow if they're going to win the AL East.
   3. shoewizard Posted: September 15, 2012 at 08:13 PM (#4236828)
Agree TVE

Whether accidental genius or not its put more value on winning division, making regular season more relevant while at the same time bumping revenue for those also rans that would normally be outof it by now.

My guess is fans are going to love the drama of the extra elimination games too. Sudden death is always fun.

EDIT: By the way.....is Miguel Cabrera already a Hall of Famer under the "if he got hit by bus tomorrow" scenario ?
   4. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: September 15, 2012 at 08:21 PM (#4236840)
Kiner is my benchmark for those guys and I think Cabrera matches up pretty well with Kiner. They are similar in WAR (46-44 RK), OPS+ (151-149 MC) and are similar in their slash lines with Cabrera having a batting average edge that Kiner makes up for with walks. I think the fact that Cabrera has played a few years at third is a plus for him even if he is not especially good at it.

That's my "should he go" answer. My answer to the "would he go" question is absolutely yes. I think the voters would definitely elect him.
   5. Dr. Vaux Posted: September 15, 2012 at 08:32 PM (#4236844)
The problem is that someone wins the elimination game, and is then as much in the playoffs as the division winners. And that someone will probably, about half the time, have done worse in the regular season than the team it eliminates.
   6. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: September 15, 2012 at 08:35 PM (#4236848)
It isn't perfect, Vaux. I don't think any system could be. I like the old divisional system with no Wild Card at all, but that isn't coming back. And, to some extent, I think we all like the playoff system from our childhood best of all.

   7. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: September 15, 2012 at 08:37 PM (#4236850)
Also, and unrelated, while the Yankees were getting their bullpen ready, I saw Francisco Cervelli warming up a pitcher. Is he active?
   8. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 15, 2012 at 08:38 PM (#4236851)
So I guess you guys just haven't noticed that under the old system, Oakland would currently lead the WC race by two games with a better record than the division leaders in either the east or central divisions. Please tell me which team in either of those divisions would be in a position to relax because they could just fall back on the wild card route to the post-season. Even Texas wouldn't exactly be in coasting mode just yet.

IOW, we have good races because we have good races, not because they added the second wild card. And of course, there is an excellent chance that we will be rewarding a team for winning a division even though they finish with a worse record than either wild card team.
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: September 15, 2012 at 08:38 PM (#4236852)
It potentially puts more value on winning one of the divisions compared to the old set-up. At the same time, it potentially puts less value on winning the other one.

If Texas and Oakland pull away, for instance, then this year's AL West race will be strengthened by the dual wild card system. OTOH, the AL East race will be a lesser affair. What would have been a win-or-go-home division race is now a win or settle for this more than acceptable consolation prize.

Edit: And what cerc said.

   10. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 15, 2012 at 08:42 PM (#4236853)
I saw Francisco Cervelli warming up a pitcher. Is he active?


Yes he is.

EDIT: in fact, he got into a game (9/4).
   11. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: September 15, 2012 at 08:43 PM (#4236854)
We got a look at this system last season, it was pretty exciting. Except that the one game playoff was in Game 162 and the team's didn't play each other. The Cards used their best pitcher to advance out of the final game, they still won the World Series. In a few years we will have a fifth place World Champion.
   12. rr Posted: September 15, 2012 at 08:46 PM (#4236857)
What would have been a win-or-go-home division race is now a win or settle for this more than acceptable consolation prize


Ehh. The "more than acceptable consolation prize" is probably going to be having to fly to Oakland to play a game that BAL/NYY will have about a 52% or so chance of losing and will probably have to use any available pitcher in to try to win, and then, if they win that, they will have to play Texas without HCA. The winner will play Detroit or Chicago while having HCA and a gets a little time to set up their pitching.
   13. SoSH U at work Posted: September 15, 2012 at 08:52 PM (#4236861)
Ehh. The "more than acceptable consolation prize" is probably going to be having to fly to Oakland to play a game that BAL/NYY will have about a 52% or so chance of losing and will probably have to use any available pitcher in to try to win, and then, if they win that, they will have to play Texas without HCA. The winner will play Detroit or Chicago while having HCA and a gets a little time to set up their pitching.


And when the alternative is going fishing, as the loser of that race would have done under last year's format, then yes, the win one more game to be back on near equal terms with the rest of the field is more than an acceptable consolation prize. As Robert alludes to, I don't think the new format, in practice, is going to become some insurmountable maze for teams to navigate. Two teams will play, one will win, and that winner will be in close to the same boat as the old WC was.

   14. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: September 15, 2012 at 08:58 PM (#4236864)
And of course, there is an excellent chance that we will be rewarding a team for winning a division even though they finish with a worse record than either wild card team.


Also, there's a chance that an under-.500 third-place team makes the playoffs and then gets hot and wins the World Series. There's no perfect system, trying to balance a "reward" for winning lots of games but not winning the division and a "reward" for finishing first in a weak division.

I don't think the current system is the best in the galaxy, but it's probably among the least bad.
   15. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 15, 2012 at 09:02 PM (#4236868)
it's probably among the least bad


Big whoop. The previous system was "probably among the least bad." So were the two before that.
   16. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: September 15, 2012 at 09:05 PM (#4236869)
I've had many of these discussions over the years, but I always come back to the same point. If you want to play in October, WIN YOUR DIVISION!!! You have 162 games, about 17 against each divisional foe. You know who the other teams are, and in general terms you know their rosters and the approximate number that you'll need to win to play forward. No amount of whining and excuse-making has been persuasive for me. Part of what makes the playoffs wonderful is that it's such an exclusive club that genuinely good teams sometimes don't make it.
   17. rr Posted: September 15, 2012 at 09:11 PM (#4236873)
And when the alternative is going fishing, as the loser of that race would have done under last year's format, then yes


That's this year, but there are other years, like 2005 for example, when it would have forced the Yankees and the Red Sox to take the end of the season more seriously. And, while it will not be an "insurmountable maze" I think if you asked Girardi, Showalter, players and fans of these teams which path they prefer, you would get a pretty definite answer, and I think we will see that in the way Girardi and Showalter manage the rest of the year.

That said, there is no compelling logic or powerful reasoning that makes it clear that two WCs or one is inherently "better"; this is in many respects an aesthetic argument, as I have said many times. But I like the fact that if you want to avoid the play-in game, you have to win more games than the other guys in your division, whom you play 18-19 times apiece. And, aesthetically, I think play-in day will be fun.
   18. rr Posted: September 15, 2012 at 09:12 PM (#4236875)
is = in
   19. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 15, 2012 at 09:20 PM (#4236880)
I like the fact that if you want to avoid the play-in game, you have to win more games than the other guys in your division, whom you play 18-19 times apiece.


This aspect will actually be even a little bit better next season, with every team playing each of its divisional rivals 19 times. Unfortunately, it seems there will still be substantial differences among divisional foes in the rest of the schedule. I would like any system that involves divisions a lot better if every team in a division played the same schedule.
   20. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: September 15, 2012 at 09:20 PM (#4236881)
Miguel Cabrera already a Hall of Famer under the "if he got hit by bus tomorrow" scenario ?


Judging from Miguel's driving record, it's much more likely he would cause the accident, no?
   21. Walt Davis Posted: September 15, 2012 at 09:22 PM (#4236884)
is Miguel Cabrera already a Hall of Famer under the "if he got hit by bus tomorrow" scenario ?

The problem with the Kiner comparison is that Kiner got in (after many years) because he absolutely crushed in black ink. He led the league in HR 7 straight years. He had 52 points of black ink compared to the average HoFer's 27. He's the ulitmate peak candidate.

Cabrera is doing pretty well by modern standards on black ink (18) but it's just not nearly as impressive. He's never led the league in anything two times in a row; heck he's never led the league in the same category twice. Kiner never won an MVP but I think Cabrera needs to if he wants to move into clear "hit by a bus" territory.

Then there's the problem of shifting standards. The voters have never been particularly kind to slow-footed, peak sluggers. And era has to hurt him (in the bus-hit category again):

Cabrera: 6394 PA, 318/395/559, 313 HR, 43.5 WAR
Giambi 26-35: 6100 PA, 293/421/553, 324 HR, 43.5 WAR
Delgado 25-34: 6429 PA, 287/397/571, 370 HR, 39 WAR

Just looking at "careers" from 1990 on, there are 20 players who amassed 40+ WAR through their age 30 seasons (Cabrera smack dab in the middle), many of them in substantially fewer PA than Cabrera. Vlad had 43.5 WAR in 5500 PA, Beltran in 5800, Jeter in 6200. Nomar (in 4500 PA), Beltre and the great Chuck Knoblauch are not far behind. Nomar might be a particularly good comp for "hit by a bus." 41 WAR in 4500 PA and that includes missing almost all of his age 27 season, his 24 game cup of coffee at 22 and his half-season at 30. Essentially 7 years at 6 WAR a year -- an incredible peak. I don't think he has a chance at the HoF.

If Cabrera has anything resembling a standard decline from where he is now (he's still only 29!) he will cruise in (barring a roid controversy). But I don't think he's there yet unless maybe he litereally is hit by a bus or has some other dramatic end to his career.
   22. SoSH U at work Posted: September 15, 2012 at 09:24 PM (#4236886)
That's this year, but there are other years, like 2005 for example, when it would have forced the Yankees and the Red Sox to take the end of the season more seriously.


And there will undoubtedly be years where the second wild card will make races worse, not better (2011 in the AL would have undeniably been weaker under this system than the one it was played out under). So ultimately, what we're left with is the fact that we've strengthened one race, weakened another, but let one more less accomplished team into the mix annually.
   23. rr Posted: September 15, 2012 at 09:29 PM (#4236890)
And there will undoubtedly be years where the second wild card will make races worse, not better (2011 in the AL would have undeniably been weaker under this system than the one it was played out under). So ultimately, what we're left with is the fact that we've strengthened one race, weakened another, but let one more less accomplished team into the mix annually.


No matter what spin you put on it, teams still have to win the division to stay out of a one-and-done. You apparently don't care about that; I do, and I think a lot of other fans do as well.

Unfortunately, it seems there will still be substantial differences among divisional foes in the rest of the schedule. I would like any system that involves divisions a lot better if every team in a division played the same schedule.

Well, that is an interleague thing, and I am not a huge fan of interleague.
   24. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 15, 2012 at 09:39 PM (#4236895)
I'm not a huge fan of interleague either, but my point here is that there is no reason for it to prevent teams in a division from playing the same schedules. With six five-team divisions, it would actually be quite easy.
   25. Swedish Chef Posted: September 15, 2012 at 09:39 PM (#4236896)
KC with a walk-off inside-the-park homer!
   26. bob gee Posted: September 15, 2012 at 09:47 PM (#4236904)
i just clicked on my yahoo sports page and loved the royals game.

what happened on that homer? was it legit or fielder diving / missing the ball? not in a room with MLB network right now...


   27. Swedish Chef Posted: September 15, 2012 at 09:51 PM (#4236906)
what happened on that homer? was it legit or fielder diving / missing the ball? not in a room with MLB network right now...

I saw the video now, it bounced off the foul pole.
   28. rr Posted: September 15, 2012 at 09:53 PM (#4236908)
Tonight may have ended things for the Angels.
   29. Shredder Posted: September 15, 2012 at 09:53 PM (#4236909)
When your manager is actively costing your team games, as Scioscia has done so many times this season, it's time to cut him loose. Boston can have him.
   30. bob gee Posted: September 15, 2012 at 09:54 PM (#4236911)
thanks 27. bork bork bork!
   31. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: September 15, 2012 at 10:13 PM (#4236920)
My heart. It is broken.
   32. SoSH U at work Posted: September 15, 2012 at 10:16 PM (#4236924)
No matter what spin you put on it, teams still have to win the division to stay out of a one-and-done. You apparently don't care about that; I do, and I think a lot of other fans do as well.


I'm not the one spinning this robin. I recognize the second wild card makes winning one division per league more valuable than existed previously. It's the sole redeeming feature of this move (and, in those years where the Yanks/Sox/Rays dicked around at season's end, indifferent to the division title, I can understand its appeal).

What irks me is that supporters of the 2 WC system ignore the flip side to that - one division race per league is now weaker now than it would have been.* If things play out as they stand now, this year's AL East division title will not be as valuable as it would be if the Yankees and Orioles (or Rays) were playing for a single playoff berth, rather than a division title and a backdoor playoff entry. I could say you obviously don't care about that, etc. But it's more than that. Dual WC supporters don't seem to acknowledge its existence.


* Not always, it should be noted. In a year like last year, the presence of a second wild card would not have weakened any other division race in the AL, since both WC 1 and WC2 came from the AL East. Of course, years like last year demonstrate that simply adding an extra playoff team doesn't mean the pennant chase will be made better. It obviously would have been much less riveting if the Sox/Rays/Braves/Cards were merely playing out the last two weeks, setting up their rotations for the only game that mattered.
   33. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 15, 2012 at 10:37 PM (#4236935)
This A's team is feeling it tonight--they just have so much energy. So far the defense deserves the win.
   34. DKDC Posted: September 15, 2012 at 10:50 PM (#4236938)
There's not a single redeeming factor to watching the Os play in Oakland.

The As have completely owned the Orioles lately. That ballpark is a complete joke. The games start in the middle of the night, even on a Saturday. The entire As team seems to take pride in looking like they have never groomed themselves. And those yellow uniforms are the most hideous things I've ever seen.
   35. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 15, 2012 at 10:59 PM (#4236943)
And those yellow uniforms are the most hideous things I've ever seen.

Auf wiedersehen?

   36. charityslave is thinking about baseball Posted: September 15, 2012 at 11:18 PM (#4236970)
Do the A's have some sort of secret starting pitcher mill hidden away in the mountains somewhere?
   37. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 15, 2012 at 11:20 PM (#4236975)
The ever popular wild pitch during an IBB.
   38. bunyon Posted: September 15, 2012 at 11:21 PM (#4236979)
I believe the A's/O's started at 7pm.
   39. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 15, 2012 at 11:24 PM (#4236986)
I believe the A's/O's started at 7pm.

6pm local time was the start.
   40. Walks Clog Up the Bases Posted: September 15, 2012 at 11:35 PM (#4236993)
We're about an hour away from the Rangers' divisional lead being down to two games.
   41. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 15, 2012 at 11:36 PM (#4236994)
Rangers lose. A's have a chance to pull 2 games back now.
   42. Lassus Posted: September 15, 2012 at 11:38 PM (#4236995)
If the A's go all the way this year, Shooty, what's your third team? :-)
   43. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 15, 2012 at 11:43 PM (#4236996)
If the A's go all the way this year, Shooty, what's your third team? :-)

Not the Mets.
   44. Lassus Posted: September 15, 2012 at 11:53 PM (#4236998)
I am rooting for B'more here. Think of Bunk! Also, the lure of sad Yankee fans is too much to let slip away.
   45. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 15, 2012 at 11:53 PM (#4236999)
Tying run at the plate.
   46. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 15, 2012 at 11:53 PM (#4237000)
Balfour isn't going to make this easy. Hold onto your butts.
   47. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 15, 2012 at 11:57 PM (#4237001)
Ballgame.
   48. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: September 15, 2012 at 11:58 PM (#4237002)
Except for the Yankees winning, a fine, fine night of baseball. Drive home safely.
   49. Gamingboy Posted: September 16, 2012 at 12:14 AM (#4237013)
*Re-enters Orioles Pessimism Mode*
   50. rr Posted: September 16, 2012 at 12:22 AM (#4237019)
Dual WC supporters don't seem to acknowledge its existence.


I think it's more that, as you say, we don't really care. All of these various permutations have plusses and minuses, and trade-offs which will manifest in different ways depending on the ecology of the league in a given year. As said many times, the only "fair" system was pre-1969: everybody plays everybody the same number of times, and the two teams that finish first go to the WS. And even then, of course, you might have had two great teams in one league.

Think about the NL instead of the AL (yes, this is the AL thread).

Looking at it from the "excitement" standpoint, the only race going in the NL is the one for the second WC. That might not be to your taste, (and it really isn't to mine, either--I don't like the Wild Card)since it involves a bunch of teams at or a little over .500, but it does bring in fans of several teams who would otherwise be out of it.

Looking at it from the "rewarding performance" standpoint, it means that there is a real cost to the Braves for not being as good as the Nationals, even though the Braves are having a very nice year. They will be playing a one/done against (probably) St. Louis or Los Angeles. So, I think you are placing less value on avoiding the play-in game than there actually is, and therefore overstating how much the races are "weakened", (and perhaps you don't like the yearly play-in games, which is certainly your call).

People around here often say the postseason is a "crapshoot" and perhaps it is. But ONE game is probably more of a crapshoot than five or seven is. That is one of the reasons, incidentally, that I am opposed to the Strasburg shutdown.
   51. Belfry Bob Posted: September 16, 2012 at 12:34 AM (#4237027)
I was disappointed to 'hear' that Oakland is still into that drumming #$%^^##^#, though not as bad as the last time they were good, which I found unbearably annoying to watch/listen to.

I am lucky I don't live there, because I love what they are doing as a team (though I wish they'd let the O's win one, and if Buck doesn't start Johnson next time around, my head might explode), but I literally could not stand having to listen to the drums every night.

   52. rr Posted: September 16, 2012 at 12:46 AM (#4237032)
Even Texas wouldn't exactly be in coasting mode just yet.


Well, this is one place we differ. If I were Texas, I wouldn't be in "coasting mode" now, since getting passed by Oakland puts them in the play-in game. Under the old system, it would put them in a five-game without HCA instead of with it. Now, if it happens, it puts them one bad game from going home. I think that is a pretty big deal. YMMV.
   53. TerpNats Posted: September 16, 2012 at 12:47 AM (#4237033)
Also, there's a chance that an under-.500 third-place team makes the playoffs and then gets hot and wins the World Series.
Had the 1994 season been completed in those pre-interleague days, there's a good chance the AL West winner would have been under .500; when play halted, Texas led the West with 10 more losses than wins. (In fact, the Rangers had a lower winning percentage than all 10 of the teams in the East and Central divisions.)

I think that even with a second wild-card, it would be difficult today for a team to finish with a losing record and qualify for the playoffs. You'd have to have a situation where one league was substantially stronger than the other in interleague play, and a great deal of imbalance existed within the weaker league (think of the 1954 AL, where the Indians won 111 games and the Yankees won 103).
   54. SoSH U at work Posted: September 16, 2012 at 12:58 AM (#4237046)
Looking at it from the "rewarding performance" standpoint, it means that there is a real cost to the Braves for not being as good as the Nationals, even though the Braves are having a very nice year. They will be playing a one/done against (probably) St. Louis or Los Angeles. So, I think you are placing less value on avoiding the play-in game than there actually is, and therefore overstating how much the races are "weakened", (and perhaps you don't like the yearly play-in games, which is certainly your call).


And I'd say you're understating, if not ignoring, how much these other races are weakened. The 1993 NL West was a mesmerizing race in large part because there was only one prize. The winner was one series away from the World Series. The loser was done for the year. The race is better, the division title more valuable, when there is no fallback position.

From the POV of the runner-up, the single wildcard does make for a more appealing fallback position than the new play-in game. Undoubtedly. But that only applies to the team that finishes fourth. To the team that finishes fifth, the play-in game is equally more appealing than the 2011 alternative.

Unless your a fan of a wide-open playoff system like those used in the NBA or NHL, you have to recognize that whatever plus there is to the new WC system, there's pretty much an equal corresponding minus, and not just between the divisions. One year the race for the second WC might be the most competitive (2012 NL), another year the second WC would remove an interesting race and leave nothing in its place (2011 NL and AL).

On top of that, the one constant, and a permanent negative to someone (like you) who believes the fewer playoff entries the better, is that an even less-deserving team is let into the postseason scrum every year.**


* As well as other little ones of varying degrees of likelihood.

**While, I believe, getting us closer to the six-team per league postseason. That, however, is merely speculative.
   55. cardsfanboy Posted: September 16, 2012 at 01:14 AM (#4237051)
Unless your a fan of a wide-open playoff system like those used in the NBA or NHL, you have to recognize that whatever plus there is to the new WC system, there's pretty much an equal corresponding minus, and not just between the divisions. One year the race for the second WC might be the most competitive (2012 NL), another year the second WC would remove an interesting race and leave nothing in its place (2011 NL and AL).


There is a plus and minus, but I don't think it's equal. I think the extra wild card with the one game playoff has a few more pluses than the previous system. Of course it's a balancing act to be sure, in that you want to keep enough teams in the post season that half of the fans are paying attention to the end of the season or post season, while not ensuring that a non-ridiculous number of teams go to the dance.
   56. Cooper Nielson Posted: September 16, 2012 at 01:17 AM (#4237053)
Cabrera is doing pretty well by modern standards on black ink (18) but it's just not nearly as impressive. He's never led the league in anything two times in a row; heck he's never led the league in the same category twice. Kiner never won an MVP but I think Cabrera needs to if he wants to move into clear "hit by a bus" territory.

Cabrera led the AL in OBP in both 2010 and 2011. He has a decent shot this year of leading the league for the second time in AVG, RBI and/or total bases. And as you acknowledged, it's a lot harder to get black ink now that there are 14/16 teams in each league instead of 7. He's already completed a career Triple Crown.

Other arguments for "Miguel Cabrera is a HOFer right now":

• He's made 7 All-Star teams in 10 years, despite being in unpopular voting markets.

• He has received MVP votes in every single year of his career, including his 87-game rookie season. He has five Top 5 finishes (in nine years) and will likely get another one this year. He has 2.41 "career MVP shares" despite not yet winning one.

• If his career literally ended today, his OPS+ would be 30th all time, ahead of Willie McCovey, Mike Schmidt, Harmon Killebrew, Eddie Mathews, Reggie Jackson, Chuck Klein, George Brett, etc. His career OPS+ is 151, but it is still ascendant -- he's been significantly above that the last three years.

• Other than the Black Ink test (which is not so applicable to today's players, I think), he is already well above the average/likely HOF benchmarks for Gray Ink and HOF Monitor.

• He has generally been on winning teams, and has usually been the best (position) player on those teams. Assuming the Tigers win a few more games this year, his teams will have been .500 or better 7 out of 10 years. That's not impressive if you play in New York, but it means something in Florida and Detroit, where winning seasons (without Cabrera) haven't been too common over the past 20 years.

• Postseason: His teams have won four of five of their playoff series and he has a .282/.383/.573 line in the postseason.

• Team player: Despite being the best first baseman in the AL, he enthusiastically moved to third base mid-career to allow the Tigers to add Prince Fielder. He became a pretty adequate third baseman, which presumably involved hard work (most people were convinced he would be dreadful).

• Durable and reliable. His fewest games in a year (not counting this year or his midseason call-up rookie year) was 150. He's played at least 157 games seven times, and probably will do it again this year. His WORST year offensively (not counting his rookie year) by oWAR/OPS+ was 2008 (3.3/130), and he led the league in HR and total bases that year.

I realize that if it all ended today it would have been a very short career, and it's tough to get into the HOF with just 10 years of baseball, no matter how good they are. But I think Cabrera's overall game, the context of his performance, and his reputation push him above short-career candidates like Albert Belle and, say, Juan Gonzalez (through 2001). The only thing you can criticize about his baseball performance is his defense, which HOF voters usually ignore for 1B/corner OF types.

Albert Belle (finished after 12 years with similar stats to Cabrera's now) is a pretty good comp, but Cabrera's WAR and OPS+ are better, he made more All-Star teams, he performed better in the postseason, he won a batting title (Belle never did), he had slightly more MVP success — and everyone hated Belle. But if the HOF voters had been neutral (or just slightly negative) toward Belle, his HOF candidacy might still be alive and progressing.
   57. rr Posted: September 16, 2012 at 01:21 AM (#4237055)
The 1993 NL West was a mesmerizing race in large part because there was only one prize.


Sure, and that kind of scenario ended permanently in 1994. Basically any time there are two really good teams in the same league, one will be the Wild Card. So, I think if you miss those types of races, you should actually be in favor of the second WC, since it creates a greater cost to being the team that ends up in 2nd place.

Unless your a fan of a wide-open playoff system like those used in the NBA or NHL, you have to recognize that whatever plus there is to the new WC system, there's pretty much an equal corresponding minus, and not just between the divisions


I don't think they are 100% equal, but I have noted the embedded plus/minus thing repeatedly.

When this thing started being talked about last September, I said many times that I don't like the Wild Card. I grew up on the divisional system; I liked it, it seemed "normal" to me and I wish it were still around. That acknowledged, I think that there is a very good and painfully obvious case to be made that the longer playoff season and the extra playoff teams position baseball better as a commercial product in the 24/7/365 digital media era than having two eight-team divisions with one winner each in the NL and two seven-team divisions in the AL would. It keeps the big web sites hopping, and it pulls in casual fans. Guys like me and you will pay attention anyway; Selig has us. The set-up now seems to work for the voracious media beast and fans who are not like us.

So, in that context, this dual WC set-up is IMO a better way to go than what MLB had.

As to six teams being the future...probably. I expect that the future set-up will be 32 teams, eight short-stack divisions, and two WCs per league, with a "Wild Card Round" and a layoff for the two best records in each league--IOW, the NFL system as applied to MLB.
   58. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 16, 2012 at 01:41 AM (#4237060)
Sure, and that kind of scenario ended permanently in 1994. Basically any time there are two really good teams in the same league, one will be the Wild Card. So, I think if you miss those types of races, you should actually be in favor of the second WC, since it creates a greater cost to being the team that ends up in 2nd place.


That's only if you focus on one specific element of the equation (which pretty much is my objection in a nutshell). Yes, there is now a greater penalty for this particular race than there would have been last year. But a) having to win one extra game to get back on equal footing is nowhere close to being the same as being out of the playoffs entirely, and b) it only deals with the race between a division champion and the best runner-up, ignoring the fact that there were already good races between another division champ and a lesser runner-up that allowed this winner-take-all dynamic to play out. Now, in a typical year, we will only have one division per league where there is the potential for a good, old-fashioned, win-you're-in, lose-you're-out, race. The best kind of race.

That acknowledged, I think that there is a very good and painfully obvious case to be made that the longer playoff season and the extra playoff teams position baseball better as a commercial product in the 24/7/365 digital media era than having two eight-team divisions with one winner each in the NL and two seven-team divisions in AL the would. It keeps the big web sites hopping, and it pulls in casual fans. Guys like me and you will pay attention anyway; Selig has us. The set-up now seems to work for the voracious media beast and fans who are not like us.


That's an entirely different argument. It's obviously a legitimate one, but it's fundamentally different than the one we're having here between fans who aren't just like us, but are us. That of what we like, not what we think is in MLB's best interests.


   59. Squash Posted: September 16, 2012 at 01:51 AM (#4237063)
I don't like the second wild card, but really only because of the one game play-in. They might as well just flip a coin. I particularly don't like that there could be a significant difference in record between the two wild card slots but the lesser team could move on because they won one whole game. Obviously that won't happen this year as everyone will be close, but it will eventually. Plus it ensures that two fanbases per year are going to have the ultimate kissing-your-sister moment - play the whole year, have a good record, make the "playoffs" ... then done after one game. Hate the play-in game. Baseball's already random enough.
   60. Yardape Posted: September 16, 2012 at 02:05 AM (#4237064)
It obviously would have been much less riveting if the Sox/Rays/Braves/Cards were merely playing out the last two weeks, setting up their rotations for the only game that mattered.


On Sept. 15, 2011, the Cardinals were a game and a half ahead of the Giants. The Rays were a whole game ahead of the Angels (who were only three behind the Rangers). None of these teams would have been setting their rotations just yet.
   61. shoewizard Posted: September 16, 2012 at 02:15 AM (#4237065)
Do the A's have some sort of secret starting pitcher mill hidden away in the mountains somewhere?


Actually it's hidden in the Valley of the Sun.

Say thank you to Arizona for Jarrod Parker and Brett Anderson
   62. Dr. Vaux Posted: September 16, 2012 at 02:29 AM (#4237067)
The one bright side to the coin-flip game is that maybe, especially if the Yankees lose a couple of times, it will make the media understand how random the whole post-season is. They couldn't really just smear the character of the team that loses one game could they, and think that explains everything? Teams have tended to get a pass for going to 7 games in series, which is the same thing, ultimately.
   63. rr Posted: September 16, 2012 at 03:27 AM (#4237075)
But a) having to win one extra game to get back on equal footing is nowhere close to being the same as being out of the playoffs entirely


You are doing exactly the same thing you are complaining that I am doing: "focusing on one specific element of the equation." The team in question can just as easily lose that game--and their season is over. You act like that's meaningless as long as you're in the postseason; it isn't. Look at TVE up there in post #2.

ignoring the fact that there were already good races between another division champ and a lesser runner-up that allowed this winner-take-all dynamic to play out


It is more a question of not thinking it is that big of a deal than ignoring it. Those types of races, like the current Detroit/Chicago race, usually have involved a couple of team that are going to win 86-90 games. For the most part, up around 91-94 wins, teams have been in "dual races", with both WC and divisional considerations. What the 2nd WC does is put more pressure on really good teams to actually win their divisions. Under the old system, Texas only being two up on Oakland would not be that big of a deal. But I think it is now. The trade-off is that one of Baltimore and New York has a parachute--the second WC. Your position seems to be that being in the play-in game is no biggie; all you have to do is win one and you are pretty much where you would have been. My position is that no team wants to have a real shot at postseason riding on a play-in, unless they have come back from ten games down in two weeks or something and are just happy to be there. I think any fan or manager would vastly prefer his team to take its shot in a best-of-five-or-seven situation.
   64. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 16, 2012 at 07:47 AM (#4237091)
As to six teams being the future...probably. I expect that the future set-up will be 32 teams, eight short-stack divisions, and two WCs per league, with a "Wild Card Round" and a layoff for the two best records in each league--IOW, the NFL system as applied to MLB.
Honestly, I do not believe this will ever happen. MLB players hate being sent home for a week. Plus, the season is already as long as it can be - we can barely fit a one-game playoff in without scheduling meaningful games in full-on winter. MLB won't shorten the regular season to fit in more playoffs because the regular season produces their core revenues. I believe that MLB will continue to search for ways to expand the playoffs, but the NFL system won't work in MLB, and I doubt we'll ever see it replicated in baseball.
   65. Gamingboy Posted: September 16, 2012 at 08:03 AM (#4237095)
Had the 1994 season been completed in those pre-interleague days, there's a good chance the AL West winner would have been under .500; when play halted, Texas led the West with 10 more losses than wins. (In fact, the Rangers had a lower winning percentage than all 10 of the teams in the East and Central divisions.)


Heh, this JUST HAPPENED in a (fictional) OOTP league I've been doing. Mainly because my league has a balanced schedule. I think that's one of the main reasons you won't see a Balanced Schedule in MLB. Greatly increases the chance of something like that happening.
   66. Walt Davis Posted: September 16, 2012 at 08:22 AM (#4237098)
Ahh F, just lost a reasonably lengthy post. In short ...

Since you broughf up McCovey:

McCovey, ages 25-34, 5402 PA, 45 WAR, 320 HR, 161 OPS+

Seriously, you're gonna pull out his placement on the career OPS+ list for a guy with only 6400 PA?

I already gave you Giambi, Delgado, Vlad and Nomar. You want some other recent Cabrera-like peaks? Edgar, Thome, Manny, Abreu, Helton, Piazza, Walker and, if you want to ignore defense, Sheffield, most of them in at least one season fewer PA. You gave us Belle and we can add Sosa and Berkman and Edmonds and Palmeiro. And my personal favorite -- Teixeira, 23-32 (his career), has 45 WAR in 6543 PA. I'm not even touching Griffey and Bonds and ARod and Bagwell and Thomas.

Look, you never know, the BBWAA does strange things. But there are really only two guys like this that they've ever inducted -- Kiner and Greenberg. Kiner led the league in HR 7 times and it took him about 10 ballots (the process was pretty weird in those days). Greenberg has 2 MVPs, 4 HR title, 4 RBI titles, better numbers in the same PA than Cabrera and war credit and he got in on his 8th (real) ballot.

If Cabrera were to leave the game in a way that draws sympathy (a la Puckett) and voters filled in the rest of his career, he'd have a shot now. And, sure, he'd do better than Belle did, maybe even better than Walker is doing. Maybe after 10 years or so some strange Jim Rice magic would strike the voters.

But, great hitter though he is, he hasn't earned the HoF yet. He hasn't stood out from the crowd because it's been a damned competitive crowd these last 20+ years. That's hardly an insult to the man -- as I said, anything resembling a normal decline and he'll cruise in. Of course with anything resembling a normal decline he'll be sitting there with at least 550 HR and 1700 RBI and (I dunno) a 140 OPS+, 65 WAR and 10-11,000 PA. To get there, all he needs is Ken Griffey's age 30-40 seasons.* But if he gets hurt and turns into Nomar 30+ (5 WAR) then he's not going to make it.

* Remember, Griffey remained a very good hitter through age 35, he just couldn't stay healthy.
   67. Greg K Posted: September 16, 2012 at 08:23 AM (#4237100)
Plus it ensures that two fanbases per year are going to have the ultimate kissing-your-sister moment - play the whole year, have a good record, make the "playoffs" ... then done after one game. Hate the play-in game. Baseball's already random enough.

Speaking as a Jays fan that would be an awesome season I'd remember fondly for a long, long time.
   68. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 16, 2012 at 08:33 AM (#4237103)
These are integration-era players with at least 5500 PA and a 140 OPS+ through their 20s:

Rk      Player         OPS+    PA      From    To      Age
1       Mickey Mantle  176     7199    1951    1962    19
-30
2       Frank Thomas   174     5502    1990    1998    22
-30
3       Albert Pujols  172     6782    2001    2010    21
-30
4       Barry Bonds    159     6038    1986    1995    21
-30
5       Willie Mays    158     5960    1951    1961    20
-30
6       Hank Aaron     157     7216    1954    1964    20
-30
7       Frank Robinson 154     7088    1956    1966    20
-30
8       Eddie Mathews  152     7124    1952    1962    20
-30
9       Miguel Cabrera 151     6399    2003    2012    20
-29
10      Reggie Jackson 150     5616    1967    1976    21
-30
11      Ken Griffey    148     7319    1989    2000    19
-30
12      Alex Rodriguez 145     7774    1994    2006    18
-30
13      Duke Snider    144     6086    1947    1957    20
-30
14      Eddie Murray   143     6415    1977    1986    21
-30
15      Carl Yastrzems 143     6676    1961    1970    21
-30
16      George Brett   141     5863    1973    1983    20
-30
17      Gary Sheffield 140     5548    1988    1999    19
-30 


At least rated this way, every player who's done what Cabrera did in his 20s has gone on to be a deserving Hall of Famer. The only person on the list who may not be inducted (other than Cabrera) is Gary Sheffield, who only just barely crosses the PA/OPS+ thresholds. Plus the whole steroids thing.

I don't see Cabrera as being a deserving HoFer today, but it looks like Cabrera is about as sure a bet to make the Hall as anyone his age in the game.
   69. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 16, 2012 at 09:11 AM (#4237116)
You are doing exactly the same thing you are complaining that I am doing:


Only through the application of careful editing.

"focusing on one specific element of the equation." The team in question can just as easily lose that game--and their season is over. You act like that's meaningless as long as you're in the postseason; it isn't. Look at TVE up there in post #2.


I don't think it's meaningless. In fact, I've acknowledged its meaningfulness. I'm merely noting that being in the playoffs is much differnet than not being in them at all.

And I did look at TVE up there. In fact, it (and shoe's follow-up) are what prompted my comment.

but for the way it rewards winning the division. I know as a Yankee fan that I don't want any part of the one-game play-in.

This wild card system is not enhancing the race HIS YANKEES are in. If this system were in place last year, HIS YANKEES would be looking at winning the AL East or going home. That would surely reward winning that division to a greater extent than the dual WC does. So no, I don't see how this is a case of simply getting it and ignoring it.

If you treasure the idea of rewarding the division championship where the first runner-up rests, and you genuinely don't care that it potentionally lessens another division championship, fine. I just get annoyed when at the idea the dual WC system does more than that, because there's absolutely no logic to that position.

   70. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 16, 2012 at 09:20 AM (#4237122)
If you treasure the idea of rewarding the division championship where the first runner-up rests, and you genuinely don't care that it potentionally lessens another division championship, fine.
Absolutely no one has said "I genuinely don't care." It seems like you want to argue with someone else who isn't here and isn't posting on this thread. The point made is that when I (and others) weigh the plusses and minuses, we think it's worth some races being downgraded to upgrade the others.

One way of looking at it is that a race like the AL Central, between two 87-win clubs, is indeed hurt by the second wild card. However, the second wild card produces playoff chases between 87-win clubs almost every year, such as the chase for the second WC in the NL this year. The effect of the second wild card on playoff races between most unimpressive clubs is mostly a wash. The new races are going to mostly lesser affairs (probably averaging 86-win teams competing instead of 89-win teams), so that's a legitimate loss under the new set-up. But I don't think it's a terribly large one. And on top of that, the second wild card produces more playoff races between better clubs, as 92-96 win teams try to win their division and stay out of the play-in game. I think the plusses outweigh the minuses.
   71. McCoy Posted: September 16, 2012 at 09:23 AM (#4237123)
Interesting to note that the lead for the wild card is larger than any lead for a division title. This could have been a great year in the AL for divisional races.
   72. shoewizard Posted: September 16, 2012 at 09:27 AM (#4237124)
MCOA, you wrote in your post you were comparing players in their 20's, but it looks like your PI search included guys age 30 season. Here is the same list, through age 29 season, minimum 5000 PA's

Rk              Player OPS+   PA From   To   Age
1        Mickey Mantle  175 6697 1951 1961 19
-29
2        Albert Pujols  172 6082 2001 2009 21
-29
3           Hank Aaron  158 6582 1954 1963 20
-29
4          Willie Mays  158 5301 1951 1960 20
-29
5          Barry Bonds  157 5403 1986 1994 21
-29
6        Eddie Mathews  154 6481 1952 1961 20
-29
7       Miguel Cabrera  151 6399 2003 2012 20
-29
8       Reggie Jackson  150 5058 1967 1975 21
-29
9       Frank Robinson  150 6408 1956 1965 20
-29
10         Ken Griffey  149 6688 1989 1999 19
-29
11      Alex Rodriguez  146 7100 1994 2005 18
-29
12   Darryl Strawberry  144 5137 1983 1991 21
-29
13        Eddie Murray  144 5837 1977 1985 21
-29
14         Duke Snider  144 5494 1947 1956 20
-29
15      Orlando Cepeda  142 5684 1958 1967 20
-29 

   73. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 16, 2012 at 09:40 AM (#4237128)
The point made is that when I (and others) weigh the plusses and minuses, we think it's worth some races being downgraded to upgrade the others.


And that's a perfectly legigtimate position. One I don't happen to share, but OK. But I don't see how you can say that kind of weighing was being done by TVe and Shoe, which is what No. 9 was posted in response to and, for some reason, prompted this little go-around.
   74. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 16, 2012 at 09:52 AM (#4237131)
I absolutely think that kind of weighing was being done by TVE. "Don't want any part of" is obviously shorthand, not a mission statement. Shoewizard likewise said absolutely nothing about how the new WC system had no downside or that he "genuinely didn't care" about these downsides. They just didn't mention them in 50-word posts.

It's fair to point out that these 50-word posts were not fulsome descriptions of all the trade-offs involved, but treating them as evidence of people "genuinely not caring" about tradeoffs is wrong, and it produces a lesser discussion than if you engaged with people dealing with hte issues in more depth.
   75. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 16, 2012 at 10:01 AM (#4237136)
Looking at it from the "rewarding performance" standpoint, it means that there is a real cost to the Braves for not being as good as the Nationals, even though the Braves are having a very nice year.


To me, this "real cost" is trivial compared to the simple fact that they potentially get another shot at the Nationals, a team that has already proven itself to be superior. YMMV. As for 52, all I meant by not "exactly in coasting mode" is that IMO Texas isn't quite assured of the first WC yet. Despite last night's results, they seem likely to be in that position in another week or so. Again, YMMV.

Had the 1994 season been completed in those pre-interleague days, there's a good chance the AL West winner would have been under .500; when play halted, Texas led the West with 10 more losses than wins. (In fact, the Rangers had a lower winning percentage than all 10 of the teams in the East and Central divisions.)


Which just proves how ridiculous it is to have divisions but play a balanced schedule. At least this problem has been solved.

Now, in a typical year, we will only have one division per league where there is the potential for a good, old-fashioned, win-you're-in, lose-you're-out, race. The best kind of race.


And that race will necessarily be in the weakest division in each league, making it necessarily less compelling (except to fans of the two mediocrities involved, of course).

On Sept. 15, 2011, the Cardinals were a game and a half ahead of the Giants. The Rays were a whole game ahead of the Angels (who were only three behind the Rangers). None of these teams would have been setting their rotations just yet.


Yes, those teams only would have stopped worrying with two or three or four games to go, rather than with two weeks to go. But they still would have stopped worrying before the games that turned out to be the most compelling of the season had been played.

The one bright side to the coin-flip game is that maybe, especially if the Yankees lose a couple of times, it will make the media understand how random the whole post-season is. They couldn't really just smear the character of the team that loses one game could they, and think that explains everything?


If it's the Yankees losing a couple of coin-flip games in a row, we're talking about the New York media, so you can definitely put me down for "smear the character of the team that loses one game, and think that explains everything."

MLB players hate being sent home for a week.


You can't just shut 'em down and then start 'em back up again.

The point made is that when I (and others) weigh the plusses and minuses, we think it's worth some races being downgraded to upgrade the others.


That's the point you've made. It is not the point others, like TVE, have made. I'm with SoSH here -- lots of people apply a blanket "makes division races better" stamp of approval to the second WC without really thinking it through.
   76. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 16, 2012 at 10:06 AM (#4237137)
It's fair to point out that these 50-word posts were not fulsome descriptions of all the trade-offs involved, but treating them as evidence of people "genuinely not caring" about tradeoffs is wrong, and it produces a lesser discussion than if you engaged with people dealing with hte issues in more depth.


Not to pick on him or you, but I think this is overly generous to TVE's post. I don't see how you can not read it as either not realizing or not caring that the Yankees would be in a fight for their lives division race without the second WC. And completely glossing over SoSH's point that "win the division or have to play a win-or-go-home game" is less of a predicament than "win the division or go home."
   77. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: September 16, 2012 at 10:06 AM (#4237138)
"Don't want any part of" is obviously shorthand, not a mission statement. Shoewizard likewise said absolutely nothing about how the new WC system had no downside or that he "genuinely didn't care" about these downsides. They just didn't mention them in 50-word posts.


They both said they like the new WC because it rewards/puts more value on winning the division. I pointed out in 9 that it actually rewards one division/weakens another. If this is understood by everyone, that post should have died on the vine, perhaps with an unstated, "There goes ol' dumbfuck SoSH, pointing out the obvious again."*


* And yes, I'm fully aware that others were thinking just that.
   78. shoewizard Posted: September 16, 2012 at 10:06 AM (#4237139)
One way of looking at it is that a race like the AL Central, between two 87-win clubs, is indeed hurt by the second wild card. However, the second wild card produces playoff chases between 87-win clubs almost every year, such as the chase for the second WC in the NL this year. The effect of the second wild card on playoff races between most unimpressive clubs is mostly a wash. The new races are going to mostly lesser affairs (probably averaging 86-win teams competing instead of 89-win teams), so that's a legitimate loss under the new set-up. But I don't think it's a terribly large one. And on top of that, the second wild card produces more playoff races between better clubs, as 92-96 win teams try to win their division and stay out of the play-in game. I think the plusses outweigh the minuses.


Since 1998, the non division winner with the second best record has averaged a 89-73 record.

   79. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: September 16, 2012 at 10:10 AM (#4237141)
Speaking as a Jays fan that would be an awesome season I'd remember fondly for a long, long time.


I want to emphasize #67. As much as I would feel that my team blowing a ten-game divisional lead only to be given a Wild Card spot is a "kissing my sister" moment, not all fanbases are the same, and not all teams should be held to the same expectations. Although my dream scenario is still one in which if you beat the other teams in your division over 162, you earn the right not to face them in the playoffs; I understand that this thinking can possibly strand ten or twenty fanbases in the non-compete wilderness for twenty years at a time.

I acknowledge the complexity of this issue. There are good and bad points to each system, including the ones I favor. But there has to be a system.
   80. shoewizard Posted: September 16, 2012 at 10:19 AM (#4237146)

They both said they like the new WC because it rewards/puts more value on winning the division. I pointed out in 9 that it actually rewards one division/weakens another. If this is understood by everyone, that post should have died on the vine.


I noted your post, and wanted to ponder it some more and see what others had to say. It's a valid counterpoint. In the end I think we will have to see how it all plays out. I think this will reduce the number of wild card teams that win the world series, but thats just a gues, and it certainly makes it harder for the "first" wild card team than it was before.

The bottom line is if you don't win your division, but make it to the WC play in game, you have what is the equivalent to a coin flip to get to play in the Divisional series. These teams are motivated to win their division, but of course will still play hard to at least make it to the play in game if they can.
   81. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: September 16, 2012 at 10:19 AM (#4237147)
I don't see how you can not read it as either not realizing or not caring that the Yankees would be in a fight for their lives division race without the second WC.


It's actually none of the above. I recognize that there are lots and lots of reasons why the Wild Card is here to stay. And I'm too realistic about this to plug my ears and continue to argue against it.

I've seen zany proposals about a single Wild Card/messing with HFA in the first round of the playoffs. And even fanciful ones about forcing the WC entrant to win more games to win a series than a division winner. I don't think we should or could see changes like that.

I've never thought that this is an unassailably, 100% great system. It isn't. But what makes baseball unique for me and extra-compelling is the divisional race. Half games, scoreboard watching, two weeks to make up a deficit. That doesn't exist elsewhere, and trying to preserve that should be THE primary focus of any systemic monkeying with the game.
   82. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 16, 2012 at 10:20 AM (#4237148)
To me, this "real cost" is trivial compared to the simple fact that they potentially get another shot at the Nationals

But, the zero WC system is never, ever coming back. 4 playoff teams is just too few for a 30 team league. It eliminates interest in 20 markets before Labor Day, and is hugely sub-optimal in revenue generation.

The only reasonable argument is what is the better WC system. I like the 2 WCs better. I like the chaotic scrum for divisions/WC spots. I want 12-15 teams to be in it going into the last week of the season. I love the idea of play-in games every year.

I honestly don't care about "rewarding performance". If you win 120 games, and can't beat an 85 win team in 5 or 7 games, too bad, so sad. Did anyone complain when the 116 win Mariners lost to a 95 win Yankee team? That's the nature of a playoff system.

   83. escabeche Posted: September 16, 2012 at 10:27 AM (#4237154)
Did anyone complain when the 116 win Mariners lost to a 95 win Yankee team?


What do you mean? Everybody complained about that. We didn't get to see the greatest team of our era play in the World Series.
   84. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 16, 2012 at 10:36 AM (#4237158)
What do you mean? Everybody complained about that. We didn't get to see the greatest team of our era play in the World Series.

Obviously, they weren't that great. The Yankees dispatched them with relative ease. They certainly weren't better than the '98 Yankees.
   85. Walt Davis Posted: September 16, 2012 at 10:36 AM (#4237160)
I don't see Cabrera as being a deserving HoFer today, but it looks like Cabrera is about as sure a bet to make the Hall as anyone his age in the game.

Sounds about right to me. Like I said, give him Griffey's age 30-40 (about 18 WAR, 4600 PA, 230 HR, 650-700 RBI) and he'll clearly get voted in. About all that requires is being as healthy as Griffey.

Of course Trout will pass him in career WAR after his age 25 season. :-)

I will say Cabrera seems on the cusp of "elite great hitter" or whatever category I put Pujols into. Guys who were well over 150 through age 30/31 aged very well as hitters (not necessarily in ability to stay on the field) with the worst-case scenario being Frank Thomas if I recall correctly. But it was around 150 where that was more of a 50/50 proposition but it might have been more like 140-145.

Cabrera's an interesting comp. He's not the hitter Cabrera is and his PA total is light because he missed almost all of his age 27 season (and wasn't too good at 28 then crushed at 29). Still, if you equalize the PAs, Cepeda would be equal in WAR. From ages 30-36 he added only 10 WAR, but 111 HR and 429 RBI. With more power in this era, that might be the equivalent of 130-150 HR and say 475 RBI. That would put Cabrera around 450 HR and nearly 1600 RBI and 9500 PA. Aronnd a 140 OPS+. That's a very tough call -- Fred McGriff with better rate stats but fewer HR or Edgar with worse rate stats but more HR, RBI and PA.

So if he's Nomar (or Strawberry if you want a traditional slugger) from age 30 on, he won't go in. If he's Griffey from age 30 on, he goes in easily I'd think. If he's Cepeda from age 30 on, he's borderline but I think deserving. Obviously if he's Frank Robinson from age 30 on, we can punch his ticket pretty soon.
   86. shoewizard Posted: September 16, 2012 at 10:47 AM (#4237166)
I think that one of the things that makes Cabrera on the cusp of already being HOF worthy is his incredible consistency. His offensive production is just so bankable. In this era of depth and such improved competition, his continual high rankings in all the important offensive categories is equal to a guy like Kiner's black ink, IMO.

For single seasons, From 1961 to 2012, (requiring onbase_plus_slugging_plus>=140, RBI>=100, HR>=30 and batting_avg>=.300), sorted by greatest Seasons matching criteria

(Note no age qualifier.....Cabrera could move up to 3 on this list and maybe 2nd.

Rk                      Yrs From   To                Age
1         Albert Pujols  10 2001 2010 21
-30 IndSeasons
2         Manny Ramirez  10 1995 2008 23
-36 IndSeasons
3           Barry Bonds   9 1990 2004 25
-39 IndSeasons
4        Alex Rodriguez   7 1996 2008 20
-32 IndSeasons
5          Frank Thomas   7 1991 2000 23
-32 IndSeasons
6        Miguel Cabrera   6 2005 2012 22
-29 IndSeasons
7     Vladimir Guerrero   6 1998 2005 23
-30 IndSeasons
8          Jeff Bagwell   5 1994 2000 26
-32 IndSeasons
9           Mike Piazza   5 1993 2000 24
-31 IndSeasons
10        Juan Gonzalez   5 1993 2001 23
-31 IndSeasons
11       Gary Sheffield   5 1992 2003 23
-34 IndSeasons
12           Hank Aaron   5 1961 1971 27
-37 IndSeasons
13          Todd Helton   4 2000 2003 26
-29 IndSeasons
14         Jason Giambi   4 1999 2002 28
-31 IndSeasons
15        Chipper Jones   4 1998 2001 26
-29 IndSeasons
16         Albert Belle   4 1994 1998 27
-31 IndSeasons
17             Jim Rice   4 1977 1983 24
-30 IndSeasons
18       Frank Robinson   4 1961 1969 25
-33 IndSeasons
19          Willie Mays   4 1961 1965 30
-34 IndSeasons
20           Ryan Braun   3 2009 2012 25
-28 IndSeasons
21        Mark Teixeira   3 2005 2008 25
-28 IndSeasons
22          David Ortiz   3 2004 2007 28
-31 IndSeasons
23        Lance Berkman   3 2001 2006 25
-30 IndSeasons
24       Carlos Delgado   3 2000 2005 28
-33 IndSeasons
25           Sammy Sosa   3 1998 2001 29
-32 IndSeasons
Rk                      Yrs From   To                Age
26         Larry Walker   3 1997 2001 30
-34 IndSeasons
27            Mo Vaughn   3 1995 1998 27
-30 IndSeasons
28          Ken Griffey   3 1993 1997 23
-27 IndSeasons
29        Don Mattingly   3 1985 1987 24
-26 IndSeasons
30       Billy Williams   3 1965 1972 27
-34 IndSeasons 
   87. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 16, 2012 at 10:59 AM (#4237182)
What do you mean? Everybody complained about that. We didn't get to see the greatest team of our era play in the World Series.

Obviously, they weren't that great. The Yankees dispatched them with relative ease. They certainly weren't better than the '98 Yankees.
I don't think that the Yankees winning that series in any way demonstrates the Mariners weren't great. We know that truly great teams can lose - the 2002-2004 Yankees were legitimately great, but they never won the World Series. The 1969 Orioles were a legendary club, a true 110ish win club, but they lost in a seven-game series.

The 2001 Mariners, though, look like the greatest fluke team ever. There were a bunch of career years, the bench players were above league average, the starting rotation stayed healthy. If you look at the actual roster, you see a solid division winner, but nothing close to a truly great club. And the Mariners indeed were merely very good in 2000 and 2002. Doing it more than once is the hallmark of actual greatness.

As such, I don't think it's terribly surprising they lost in the ALCS to the Yankees, an about equivalently excellent team by talent.
   88. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 16, 2012 at 11:07 AM (#4237189)
I don't think that the Yankees winning that series in any way demonstrates the Mariners weren't great. We know that truly great teams can lose - the 2002-2004 Yankees were legitimately great, but they never won the World Series. The 1969 Orioles were a legendary club, a true 110ish win club, but they lost in a seven-game series.

The 2001 Mariners, though, look like the greatest fluke team ever. There were a bunch of career years, the bench players were above league average, the starting rotation stayed healthy. If you look at the actual roster, you see a solid division winner, but nothing close to a truly great club. And the Mariners indeed were merely very good in 2000 and 2002. Doing it more than once is the hallmark of actual greatness.


I agree with the second part; the Mariners were a fluke, the players weren't that good. That's why it's not surprising they lost in the ALCS. They turned back into a pumpkin just a little bit early.

I disagree that the 2002-04 Yankees were great teams. They had defensive liabilities at every position, and a manager and pitching coach that had reached their sell-by dates. The handling of the bullpen was generally atrocious.
   89. shoewizard Posted: September 16, 2012 at 11:13 AM (#4237193)
The 1969 orioles lost in 5 games. Won the first then lost 4 straight
   90. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: September 16, 2012 at 11:15 AM (#4237195)
I disagree that the 2002-04 Yankees were great teams. They had defensive liabilities at every position, and a manager and pitching coach that had reached their sell-by dates. The handling of the bullpen was generally atrocious.
Well, I was distinguishing "great" and "legendary" there. The Yankees offense those years was utterly insane, and their starting pitching was excellent. They were true 100-win teams, and they indeed won 100 three years in a row. Put the 2002-2004 Yankees in 2012 MLB, and they're easily the best team in baseball.

Only 110 win teams don't have flaws.
   91. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: September 16, 2012 at 11:26 AM (#4237199)
Well, I was distinguishing "great" and "legendary" there. The Yankees offense those years was utterly insane, and their starting pitching was excellent. They were true 100-win teams, and they indeed won 100 three years in a row. Put the 2002-2004 Yankees in 2012 MLB, and they're easily the best team in baseball.

Only 110 win teams don't have flaws.


Fair enough. In that context I'd say great regular season teams, but poorly designed for the playoffs.
   92. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: September 16, 2012 at 11:52 AM (#4237214)
That's this year, but there are other years, like 2005 for example, when it would have forced the Yankees and the Red Sox to take the end of the season more seriously.


Going into the final weekend, the Yankees led the Red Sox by 1 game, and the Red Sox were tied with the Indians for the WC. At that point, neither team was assured of a playoff spot. On Friday, the Red Sox and the Indians lost. So going into Saturday's game, it was still possible for the loser of the Red Sox/Yankee race to miss the playoffs. On Saturday, the Yankees won and the Indians lost. So, going into Sunday, the Yankees were assured of a spot, but not the Red Sox. One team not having to take game 162 seriously is hardly tragedy.
   93. Ivan Grushenko of Hong Kong Posted: September 16, 2012 at 12:01 PM (#4237219)
Well, I was distinguishing "great" and "legendary" there. The Yankees offense those years was utterly insane, and their starting pitching was excellent. They were true 100-win teams, and they indeed won 100 three years in a row. Put the 2002-2004 Yankees in 2012 MLB, and they're easily the best team in baseball.

I'm not sure that Yankee offense was even the best between 2002 and 2004:

Fangraphs 2002-2004

BRAA + Positional Adjustment:

Cardinals 380
Yankees 374
Red Sox 353
Giants 353
Braves 295

They were the worst fielding team of the period -175 Runs by Fangraphs, about 11-12 Wins worse per year than the Mariners who were the best. The starting pitching was very good, but not clearly better or worse than the Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Athletics or Cubs. The bullpen was also good, but clearly worse than the Twins', and not much better or worse than the Angels, Dodgers or Rangers. They were 2nd in total WAR during that period behind the Red Sox, and not much different from the Giants or Braves. They were not clearly the best team of the period and I don't see why they would be "easily the best team" in 2012. They might be, but you'd have to do some serious timelining and league adjusting to get there.
   94. SoSH U at work Posted: September 16, 2012 at 12:01 PM (#4237220)

Going into the final weekend, the Yankees led the Red Sox by 1 game, and the Red Sox were tied with the Indians for the WC. At that point, neither team was assured of a playoff spot. On Friday, the Red Sox and the Indians lost. So going into Saturday's game, it was still possible for the loser of the Red Sox/Yankee race to miss the playoffs. On Saturday, the Yankees won and the Indians lost. So, going into Sunday, the Yankees were assured of a spot, but not the Red Sox. One team not having to take game 162 seriously is hardly tragedy.


I believe he was thinking about 2007.
   95. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 16, 2012 at 12:37 PM (#4237237)
The one thing favoring the Yanks right now is their schedule. All three ALE contenders have the Jays and the Sox to fatten up on, but beyond that, voila:

The Yanks have 1 home game vs. the Rays, 3 home games against the A's, and 3 road games in Minny.

The O's have 1 more game in Oakland, 3 in Seattle, and 3 in Tropicana.

The Rays have 1 more at Yankee Stadium, 4 in whatever they call Comiskey these days, and then a season ending 3 game catfight at Tropicana with the Orioles. At 4 games back, I'd say that they'd better damn well win today.

And while I was going to say that Oakland seems to be cruising towards the 1st WC spot, look at what they've got in store after today's finale against the O's: 3 in Comerica, 3 in Yankee Stadium, 4 in Arlington, 3 at home against Seattle, and then 3 more against the Rangers. They've now got 3 up over the Orioles and 6 up over the Rays, and by the end of the season they might be very grateful that they had it.

   96. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: September 16, 2012 at 01:15 PM (#4237263)
I see the A's with a smooth ride to the AL West title there.
   97. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 16, 2012 at 01:23 PM (#4237268)
• If his career literally ended today, his OPS+ would be 30th all time, ahead of Willie McCovey, Mike Schmidt, Harmon Killebrew, Eddie Mathews, Reggie Jackson, Chuck Klein, George Brett, etc. His career OPS+ is 151, but it is still ascendant -- he's been significantly above that the last three years.


I hate these arguments. Unless he gets hit by a bus in the next 5 years, his ending career OPS+ is very likely to be in the 140 range.

If Miggy repeats his career best performance from last year over the next two years, he'll have as many PAs as McGwire, with about 65 fWAR to Big Mac's 70 fWAR. He's only had 2 seasons with a higher OPS+ than Big Mac's career OPS+, and this year is actually shy of it. 140 OPS+ from a first baseman is not special at all. Even 151 isn't ringing the bell near the top, he'd be about 13th among big slow footed first basemen (who almost all had decline years) in OPS+ if his career ended today.

Miggy is around 45th in lifetime WAR among first baseman now. He doesn't have a special peak that makes a short career HOF worthy. Greenberg, Brouthers, Dick Allen, Jonny Mize , McGwire, even Pujols, were all substantially peakier.

Jonny Mize put up a 170 OPS+ in his first 5300 PAs, but he also missed 3 peak years to WWII, ages 30-32. His OPS+ was 161 in 1942, he came back in 1946 and put up a 186. That's a peak.

What he has is amazing consistency and the potential for a long career with big counting stats. No, he's not a HOF now. Yes, he's one in 10 years barring unexpected collapse.

Obviously, they weren't that great. The Yankees dispatched them with relative ease. They certainly weren't better than the '98 Yankees.


Obviously 5 games is the only measure of greatness, not putting up a 117 OPS+ and 117 ERA+ while leading the league in defensive efficiency (.727) over a 162 game season.

After all the 98 Yankees only put up a 116 OPS+ & 116 ERA+ and led the league in defensive efficiency (only .708 though), but also ran good in short series and had the STARS, and all wearing pinstripes!
   98. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 16, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4237278)
I recognize that there are lots and lots of reasons why the Wild Card is here to stay. And I'm too realistic about this to plug my ears and continue to argue against it.


Fair enough, but that doesn't really respond to what started all this, which is the simple fact that what you wrote in #2 specifically ascribed the 2012 Yankees' motivation to win the division to the existence of the second WC. If it's just a case of picking a poor example, fine, but even if so it still raises the perfectly legitimate concern that SoSH noted in responding to you.

But, the zero WC system is never, ever coming back.


Granted. But that doesn't mean we have to exaggerate the benefits of the second wild card format, or disregard its disadvantages, or misrepresent the differences in incentives to perform well in the waning days of a given regular season under the respective systems. And please spare me the "nobody is doing that" bit. It is exactly what 2 and 3 did, even if they subsequently explained that it wasn't exactly what they meant to do. And lots of people in wider baseball fandom do the same thing without any appreciation whatsoever of the nuances.

It eliminates interest in 20 markets before Labor Day, and is hugely sub-optimal in revenue generation.


All of the teams listed above would still be involved in this year's AL playoff hunt even without the second wild card. This year's NL is a better illustration of your point. Still, if Kemp hadn't missed 40 games we could easily have had 10 teams eliminated before Labor Day, and eventually there will be such a season, even with the two WC format.
   99. rr Posted: September 16, 2012 at 01:43 PM (#4237282)
To me, this "real cost" is trivial compared to the simple fact that they potentially get another shot at the Nationals, a team that has already proven itself to be superior.


That is a separate issue--the "I don't like the Wild Card" issue, and like I said,

One team not having to take game 162 seriously is hardly tragedy.



Nothing involved in a baseball playoff system is anything close to a tragedy (yes, I know you are using hyperbole). You and I had a long go-round about this last year; as I said then, if you think "three teams for two spots!" is nail-biting excitement, and don't care about missing out on the Yankees and Red Sox tied on the last day with one going home, that is fine. I disagree. BTF collectively sometimes seems to be unable to see that these issues are in great part a matter of taste. I am contributing to that here, by arguing about it, but cerc and SOSH are doing that more directly when they assume that someone who doesn't agree with them on one WC or two is "ignoring" key issues or "hasn't thought it through." Not every basbeall subject involves a winable argument.

SOSH, obviously TVE is basing that post on "his Yankees", but that is kind of the point. If you're a big Yankee fan, like say Joe Girardi, you probably don't want any part of a one-game playoff in Oakland. Avoiding that game will be, I think, a motivator for teams leading divisions, since from their POV they could lose it as easily as winning it.

And snapper, by "rewarding performance", I meant "winning the division gets you out of the coin flip game", nothing more.
   100. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: September 16, 2012 at 01:56 PM (#4237289)
Avoiding that game will be, I think, a motivator for teams leading divisions, since from their POV they could lose it as easily as winning it.


Fine, but again, this season's AL race is a lousy example of this aspect, since the Yankees would face missing the playoffs completely under the prior format. You seem to keep ignoring this key issue while claiming that no one is ignoring key issues. ;-)
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