The New Playoff Format

On the off chance that you, as a baseball fan, haven’t been paying attention, Major League Baseball is going with an expanded playoff format this year. Six teams from each league will be fighting it out; the two division winners in each league with the best records will sit out the first round of playoffs while the other four battle it out in best-of-three series for the opportunity to face them in the second round.

Here’s how the “seeding” works:

1st seed: Division winner with the best overall record.
2nd seed: Division winner with the next best record.
3rd seed: Division winner with the third best record.
4th, 5th, and 6th seeds: Non-division winners with the three best overall records.

There are a bunch of rules in place to prevent the need for tiebreaking games.

In the first round, the third and sixth seeds play each other, as do the fourth and fifth seeds. In the next round, the winner in that first series (3 vs 6) will play the second seed; the winner in the other series (4 vs 5) will play the first seed.

Pretty complicated, isn’t it. It will get worse should MLB decide to expand the playoffs to seven teams per league, as some are speculating.

Anyway, it is always useful when there’s a format change like this to hop back in time and see what the playoffs would have looked like if these rules were in place at the time…

Continue reading

On the 2022 All Star Game

Well, that was BORING. All the excitement happened in the first few innings.

I know you can’t expect much from an exhibition game, or even a regular game in an era when pitching is so dominant. But seeing so little going on had me flipping the channel to the Cartoon Network quite often.

FOX did itself no favors. Nor Baseball, for that matter. It can be fun to have players wearing microphones so you can chat with them during the game, but it should never take precedence over the game itself – especially when you’re going to ask the same stupid question (“What’s it like being here?”) every time. The absolute worst instance was when they had David Ortiz goofing around in the AL dugout while ALL TIME GREAT Miguel Cabrera was at bat for his only appearance in the game. If the purpose of the game is to promote the game’s best players, then PROMOTE THE PLAYERS. Tell us when a new player comes into the game; tell us something about them and what they did to earn the spot on the roster….

Continue reading

A Modest All-Star Game Proposal

Despite being the “Midsummer Classic” and featuring the best players in the game, baseball’s All-Star Game has been rather dull of late. In addition to the “very little action happens” that the game as a whole is suffering, the game itself is structured so that the superstar players – the ones baseball wants to showcase – leave the game after a few innings and aren’t around in the later innings when the game is on the line. They’re both fine players, but who really wants to see Josh Hader face Ty France (for example) when the game is tied in the 8th inning?

Needless to say, I’ve got an idea. Continue reading

Before the Cy Young Award – 5

Well, what have we learned from this not-so-little exercise?

First, let’s check out the multiple winners, according to me:

Eight: Lefty Grove

Five: Walter Johnson

Four: Grover Cleveland Alexander, Robin Roberts, Warren Spahn, Dazzy Vance

Three: Bob Feller, Carl Hubbel, Sandy Koufax, Bob Lemon, Hal Newhouser, Bucky Walters

Two: Jim Bunning, Ed Cicotte, Mort Cooper, Stan Coveleski, Dizzy Dean, Red Faber, Lefty Gomez, Christy Mathewson, Billy Pierce, George Uhle, Hippo Vaughn

Casual fans would surely recognize a lot of those names. More serious fans would recognize pitchers like Lefty Gomez and Bob Lemon. But Hippo Vaughn? Mort Cooper? A major part of the fun of doing a project like this is finding all the overlooked stars. Or stars like Lefty Grove whose greatness is rarely acknowledged. He utterly dominated his era – but it also happened to be an era when offense was supreme, so his career Earned Run Average is noticeably higher than it is for other all-time greats. So he’s left out of such “GOAT” discussions.

I note that Feller and Johnson could have easily picked up one or two more awards. Christy Mathewson would have earned more if the award started earlier. I also note that the best pitchers tended to be among those with the most wins. If really good pitchers win a lot of games, shouldn’t the converse be true – that pitchers who win a lot of games are really good?

One should also note that the Twins in the 1960s were really good! Two “Cy Young” Award winners – and they could have easily had a third. Plus Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva on offense…. The Cardinals in the early 1940s are another “dynasty” worthy of some respect – four pennants and three World Series wins in five years….

I’m sure if I did this again, I’d change my mind on more than a few winners. I’m also sure you’ll disagree with me. Who would you pick instead?

Before the Cy Young – 4

Almost immediately after the death of Cy Young, MLB Commissioner Ford Frick was able to convince everyone that there needed to be an award for the best pitcher in baseball – one that was named in his honor.

They only gave out one, though. So I get to pick a winner for the other league.

And no, I’m not going to discuss the actual winners. You can read about them yourself.

1956

AL: There are three contenders this year: Whitey Ford (19-6, 2.47 ERA (leading the majors)), and the Indians’ Herb Score (20-9, 2.53 ERA) and Early Wynn (20-9, 2.72 ERA). Score gets my vote with 263 Ks (9.5 per 9 innings) to lead the majors.

NL: Don Newcombe won the NL MVP award, too.

Continue reading

Before the Cy Young Award – 3

With more important things going on, a lot of players – stars and regulars (e.g. Bob Feller) found themselves working for Uncle Sam in some way. Baseball as a whole had to make compromises in order to keep going. So for the next few years, there will be some unusual names popping up. Doesn’t mean they didn’t deserve the honor, though.

Continue reading

Before the Cy Young Award – 2

(No wonder I hadn’t seen any “Likes” for Part 1 – I loaded it into Drafts, but forgot to publish it! So you get TWO posts today! Hooray.)

You may have noted that although I considered the short-lived Federal League, there’s no sign of the Negro Leagues. This was deliberate. I felt that since Major League Baseball didn’t recognize their existence as “real” leagues at the time, they would never have thought of giving awards to those players when the Negro Leagues were active. There’s also the possibility that the Negro Leagues themselves may have given out individual achievement awards (I haven’t checked).

In any case, I leave it as an exercise to the reader to find players in the Negro Leagues worthy of receiving a Most Valuable Player or “Best Pitcher” award. Now that the stats are on Baseball Reference (thanks in large part to the researchers at Seamheads), it shouldn’t be too hard.

1931

AL: Lefty Grove was even better this year with a 31-4 record and 2.06 ERA. Only 175 Ks, but he still led the majors in all of those categories. If that’s good enough for the MVP award….

NL: A much closer race. The Cardinal’s Paul Derringer had the league’s best record at 18-8, but teammate Bill Hallahan led the league in strikeouts with 159, and his 19-9 record was almost the same. Bill Walker of the Giants led the league in ERA with 2.26, and his record of 16-9 wasn’t too shabby. I’ll go with Walker thanks to his major league leading 6 shutouts.

Continue reading

Before the Cy Young Award – 1

After the death of Cy Young in 1955, Major League Baseball decided to honor the greatest pitcher of all time by naming an award after him, and giving it to the best pitcher in the game (according to a poll of writers). It was soon doubled to cover both leagues.

But like the World Series Most Valuable Player Award, there were a lot of years and pitchers before the award was instituted.

So, what better way to kill some time in the off-season than wonder who might have won the award if it began in 1912, the year after Cy Young retired?

Continue reading

On the 2022 Hall of Fame Ballot – III

In addition to the regular Hall of Fame ballot that pretty much all baseball fans are following, there are two special committees that will examine the cases of several players who either never got their proper due, or were somehow overlooked.

The “Early Era” committee looks at players and people from before 1950. The “Golden Days” committee covers the years from 1950-1969. Each committee has sixteen members; nominees must get twelve votes to be inducted.

Here are the nominees on the Early Era ballot:

Continue reading

On the 2022 Hall of Fame Ballot – II

In addition to the six mentioned the last time, there are two dozen other players on the Hall of Fame ballot:

Returning candidates are Omar Vizquel, Andruw Jones, Andy Pettite, Tim Hudson, Billy Wagner, Jeff Kent, Mark Buehrle, Todd Helton, Manny Ramirez, Torii Hunter, Scott Rolen, Gary Sheffield, and Bobby Abreu.

The other newcomers are Carl Crawford, Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard, Tim Lincecum, Justin Morneau, Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, Jake Peavy, A.J. Pierzynski, Jimmy Rollins and Mark Teixeira.

All deserving of the nomination, but it’s hard to see anyone who clearly is a Hall of Famer.

Continue reading