Baseball Stuff (Realignment, More Strikeouts, Playoffs…)

It has been awhile since a baseball post (some of you are probably happy about that). I promise more posts about Payton and Samson, but today we are talking baseball.

Strikeouts
When I wrote about my issues with WAR, I brought up Aaron Judge. I am guessing people think that I dislike him, which is far from the truth. I actually love watching him play and honestly hope he puts up the numbers he did this season for the rest of his career. It does not change my opinion though that striking out is bad and that the stat folks believe strikeouts are meaningless is weird to me. I decided to look at Judge’s numbers and do a little fiddling. He struck out 208 times this season. He still managed to his .284, which is pretty impressive with that many Ks. What if he could drop that K total 10%. That brings him down to 187. One thing I noticed is that his BABIP was pretty high for the year (.357), so if he managed to make contact on those 21 at-bats, he had a pretty good chance of having one bounce his way or find a hole (look up BABIP if you are confused). Even if we take him to a league average BABIP and assume he would get just six more hits, that brings his season batting average up to .295.

I guess where I want to go with this idea is Judge’s future. He had a nice high average this season, but is that sustainable? Do hitters who strikeout a ton see large fluctuations in their batting average? I would guess they do (I looked at Ryan Howard and during his healthy years, his batting average went up and down, whereas the Ks and HRs were fairly static). I realize that stat-folks would say batting average is not that great of a tool, but…whatever, I have no retort to that crowd.

Charlie Morton & the ALCS
How about the ALCS? That was a great series. After the first two games, I thought the Astros would sweep, then the Yankees took the next three and I was like “well shit, this is over, Yankees/Dodgers World Series…ughhhh.” And yet Houston won the final two games. If I would have went to a bookie back in the spring training and said “I would like to bet $100 that Charlie Morton will be the starter for Game 7 of the ALCS, what odds would you give me?” I am guessing the response would have been “sir, we do not enjoy stealing money from people, since there is no chance of you winning, it seems silly to accept such a crazy bet.” It was weird seeing the former Pirate in that situation.

On the one hand, I was happy for him. On the other, you have to question what the Pirates were thinking. They traded him to the Phillies for a guy who had a 7+ ERA for the Curve this year in 11 starts. Morton was never an ace or anything (aside from all the “Electric Stuff” talk before his injuries), but he could have been a very solid pitcher in the Pirates rotation. An innings eater as some folks like to call them. Even during that final season with the Pirates, when he had a ton of losses, his actual numbers were okay, I think a 3.86 ERA. I still do not understand the reasoning of the Front Office (unless it was all about money, which it is usually is with this team).

Back to the game though, my favorite part was watching McCullers come in to pitch relief. I was contemplating researching starting pitchers who come on in relief during the playoffs. It always seems to me that those guys end up getting rocked. McCullers came out and proved me wrong. I realized that it would probably be stupid to look that up and try to figure it out. It all comes down to the individual. Some pitchers are probably less married to their routine and can just amp themselves up to come in at any time, whereas other guys have a very specific routine and they just do not do well when it is messed up.

Realignment
There have been a bunch of articles written the past few days about possible baseball expansion and realignment. I am not going to link to all of them, but the basic gist is that there will be two new teams added in the future, which means there will need to be some shifting. Most of the articles I have read seem to agree that Montreal and Portland will most likely be the new cities (the commissioner has said that there will be no expansion until Oakland and Tampa Bay sort their stadium issues out). Anyways, I decided to do my own realignment. I assumed that those were the two cities being added and went from there.

I like how football does it with four divisions of four teams each. I also like having the NL/AL distinction. One of the big things the players would want from realignment and expansion would be less travel (or not traveling so far, so often…more off days, etc). I can totally see that, it has to suck for Seattle, they are traveling 2300 miles for a division rival. That is insane! Hopefully a little realignment magic can help fix some of those problems. Here is my new American League…

Yes, there would be two expansion teams in the American League, but it just makes the most sense. Also, the Rockies would be moved to the AL. Look, Denver is that weird city that just does not fit. They play in the west now, which makes most of their division rivals about 1000 miles away, whereas in this new division, their farthest trip would be Houston at 1000 miles (KC is only 600 miles, Arlington 780…San Francisco is 1250 miles). I am sure there will be complaints from Yankees/Red Sox players for having to play so many games in Canada (actually, how does that work, I remember seeing McCutchen’s pay stub that time and he has taxes taken out of each state where he plays, how does that work in Canadian cities?), but the short travel will probably make it worthwhile for them.

Now we have the National League…

 

I will spend a little more time with the NL, since that is where my team fits. The Pirates in the east just makes more sense. Their rivals are the Phillies and Mets. I am sure the Orioles hate the idea of switching to the NL (or maybe they love getting out of the division with the Yankees and Red Sox). However, there is potential for a great rivalry between the Pirates and Orioles (’71 & ’79 World Series…plus there is the whole Ravens/Steelers rivalry…the two cities could really loathe each other then). I am sure the Orioles would also find a great rivalry with the Phillies, it is only 100 miles away. The Central and West basically stay the same.

The new division is the South (I am sure some people will freak out because the divisions do not match). Again, this was a tough division. There are just not enough teams in the south. I could have brought Houston back to the NL, but then we have that same problem in the AL with that Midwest Division. I did not want to start shifting too many teams to the AL/NL, so we get the South. And yes, I realize there is already a problem. The Nationals. It makes almost no sense that they would play in the South and the Orioles play in the East. One option would be to move the Astros to the NL South, the Cardinals to the AL Midwest, the Pirates to the Central, and the Nats to the AL East (Montreal to the NL East). I don’t know though, I think having the Nats play in the South is just easier and probably a bit better (people in DC consider themselves part of the south anyway, right?).

One of the other expansion sites I keep hearing is Mexico City, which I think would be cool, but definitely a pain for travel. However, the city has a population of 21 million, I am thinking the media market alone would be worth it. I honestly have no clue where you would put them. I guess you could keep the Orioles in the AL East (Montreal would be out, right?) and move the Nats to the NL East. Then do you put Mexico City in the South or the AL Midwest? If you put them in the Midwest, you could probably shift the Cardinals to the NL South and the Rockies back to the NL Central. I do not know, haha.

Anyways, how would scheduling look? Well, I think we need a 154 game schedule. How would that work out with more teams? Well, each team would play their division opponents 18 times. Six three-game series (3 home/3 away). Then you would play the other league teams eight times (one home series, one away, four games each). That would leave four games (if I did my math right). You could then do a four game (2 home/2 away) rivalry/interleague series. So the White Sox/Cubs, Yankees/Mets, Pirates/Tigers (they already do this and it seems like something worth keeping), maybe it is the same one for each team, or maybe they switch it up for some teams.

One of the things I really liked from one of the articles (I think from Daryn Perry) was the idea of revamping the wild card game. He said make it a three game series, BUT, the third game would be played the same day as the second. So you would be scheduling a double-header. Can you imagine how intense that would be if you go into game two after losing the first game, do everything you have to win, but then have to play a second game right after? Would coaches try to save guys for the second game? It would be cool.

I think you definitely still only have two wild card spots though. The four division winners and two other teams. Not sure the format then (do you give the top two teams a bye–not sure they would like that, since it would be a long layoff and a loss of revenue). One thing I would definitely hope for in the restructuring of the schedule would be more double-headers (why are Sunday double-headers not a thing anymore?) with off days on most Mondays. Hopefully that could get the regular season ended a little earlier and the playoffs could start earlier and not be going into November.

Alright, I think that is probably enough for now. I plan on watching the World Series and cheering for the Astros. I am not a fan of the Dodgers and since I had 75% of the Astros on my Fantasy Baseball Championship Team…they deserve my support.

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