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  1. Dave,

    Even though I read regularly, this is my first post and it couldn’t come at a better time with my Yankees in the Series again.

    I am concerned that the Phillies won’t beat themselves the way the Twins and Anaheim did. My other is that Tex and Swisher need to start hitting consistently especially with runners on base.

    That’s it. I hope you’re right about the Yankees being that much better. Keep up the good work!

    Comment by Ken Shaw — October 28, 2009 @ 12:37 pm

  2. I thought the ALCS was good. You didn’t? Your standards must be really high. It went 6. There was only 1 blowout. There were two extra innings walkoffs. Granted, there was some sloppy play mixed in.

    Comment by Rob in CT — October 28, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

  3. The Phillies got a .165/.230/.244 line out of the #9 spot in their order this year in 626 PA. What does that translate it to in wOBA? How much would replacing it with, say, Ben Francisco’s .337 wOBA close the gap? Obviously the Yankees numbers would still be better (and on average they did it against better competition), but I don’t know the magnitude of the DH gap.

    Comment by don — October 28, 2009 @ 12:58 pm

  4. This has gone largely unreported, thanks to the incessant Jeter fawning and A-Rod’s HR barrage, but the Yankees’ offense this October hasn’t been quite as prodigious as some experts would allow you to believe.

    Blackburn and Pavano held them at bay. Lackey allowed 5 ER over his two starts (three of which came against Darren freaking Oliver after Mike Scioscia blacked out during the 7th). Joe Saunders in Game 2 scattered six hits over 7 IP, allowing just two runs. Weaver, dancing in and out of trouble, allowed three runs (all solo HR’s) in five innings. And although Saunders appeared to have shit the bed in the 4th inning of Game 6, he allowed three runs on three walks, a single through the hole between SS and 3B, an infield hit and an opposite field, bases loaded single by Johnny Damon.

    From there, the Yankees were kept off the board until they posted two runs in the 8th, both unearned. Howie Kendrick dropped a routine 2-4 FC on bunt coverage, Scott Kazmir airmailed a throw into the Hudson River and the Angels, who had entered the Bronx D.O.A, were dispatched without much trouble.

    From a Yankee loather perspective what I like about this match up is, unlike the Angels, the Phils are not reliant upon the stolen base. When Hunter and Morales were held in check, thus removing the Angels’ only real power threats, the Aybars, Abreus, Figgins’ and Izturis’ were forced to carry the load. It’s tough to rack up runs, no matter how patient Figgins and Abreu are, when the opposing pitcher knows he can pound the strike zone without fear of the ball leaving the park. At that point a good batting eye isn’t nearly as valuable. But with the Phillies, you have Howard, Utley, Werth and Ibanez who can all leave the yard, and any nibbling of the zone simply will not suffice, as each man walks at an above average rate.

    Don’t be shocked if the Phillies take this one.

    Comment by John — October 28, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

  5. Granted, there was some sloppy play mixed in.

    And thus, the crux. Dramatic baseball is not necessarily good baseball.

    Comment by Kevin S. — October 28, 2009 @ 1:09 pm

  6. Yankees have scored 5.3 runs per game this postseason. I don’t know where you get the idea their offense hasn’t been too good.

    Comment by RKO36 — October 28, 2009 @ 1:21 pm

  7. John, which would you rather have in evaluating a team’s ability – 162 games or 9 games? When we’re talking about this kind of sample size, it doesn’t matter that the 9 games were the most recent.

    Comment by Everett — October 28, 2009 @ 1:27 pm

  8. Good baseball is not necessarily exciting baseball.

    Comment by Tom B — October 28, 2009 @ 1:35 pm

  9. The conclusion you should be coming to is “be shocked if the phillies take this one.”

    You said it yourself, the Yankee offense has been largely held at bay by some of the better arms in the league. Are you counting Hamels, Pedro, and Blanton as good arms? I think not. Lee hasn’t pitched himself to a winning record against the Yankees in the past either.

    The offense is way overdue to break out, and the confines of these 2 stadiums will not hold the Yankees bottled up for long.

    Comment by Tom B — October 28, 2009 @ 1:37 pm

  10. I thought the plural of “Izturis” was Izturii.

    Love the site, hate the Yankees, but they’re still going to win. Putting that lineup in a bandbox and giving them a Brady Anderson-esque year from Nick Swisher is really just mean.

    What’s the over/under on “Who’s Your Daddy” chants in Yankee Stadium for Game 2?

    Comment by B Cole — October 28, 2009 @ 1:46 pm

  11. The Twins and the Angels feature some of the better arms in the league? Lee is better than any starter on either of those teams. Hamels isn’t much worse.

    The offense is ‘way overdue to break out’? What does that even mean?

    Obviously the Yankees are favored, but if the Phillies truly have a 40% chance to win, that wouldn’t make a win for them terribly surprising.

    Comment by don — October 28, 2009 @ 1:47 pm

  12. “Don’t be shocked if the Phillies take this one.”

    Well, no shit. Why would I be shocked if a ~40% chance happened? (if we assume Dave is at least in the ballpark, which I’d bet he is) This is one of the dumbest things I hear people say about baseball predictions. People like Dave go through and look at the match ups, look at the numbers, run simulations, and/or what ever else, and come back and say its more likely than not that the Yankees win. Then some else comes along, points out a few anecdotes and says “don’t be surprised if the Phillies win.” I mean seriously, we know the Phillies can win, and would win a lot of 7 game serieses (?) if we had the two teams play from now until April.

    So thanks, a lot John, your insight into this matter is truly enlightening.

    Though this is of course only the second most annoying thing to when fans come back after the series is over, the phillies have won, and blast a guy like Dave for predicting the Yankees to win 60% of the time. As if we didn’t just see one of those 40% chances come through. Oh no, we just saw that the Phillies are obviously the better team…

    Comment by Wally — October 28, 2009 @ 1:53 pm

  13. i dont see how you can be shocked in any small sample size series. Dave is absolutely correct. I had put the implied odds at 56.5-43.5 yankess, with a possibly overly simplistic formula, and Dave has them at 60-40.

    Anything over >>20% can hardly be considered shocking, much less a 60-40 split.

    From a vegas perspective it’s why yankees -210 seems to be deeply negative EV.

    Comment by TheUnrepentantGunner — October 28, 2009 @ 1:54 pm

  14. of course, the Phillies, and their plethora of LHed power bats will ALSO be playing in “the bandbox”….

    and your Brady Anderson comparison to Swisher is just baffling. he hit 29 HRs after averaging 25.5 HRs over the previous 4 seasons.

    Comment by Peter Gammons — October 28, 2009 @ 2:00 pm

  15. Tom/Kevin: I think you guys just wrote a Zen koan together.

    Comment by Carson Cistulli — October 28, 2009 @ 2:04 pm

  16. Swisher went 50/50?

    I’m joking, but see your point. I’d say Swisher’s year wasn’t all that surprising and frankly should be considered one of Cashman’s best moves during the offseason, as has been detailed.

    Comment by Big Oil — October 28, 2009 @ 2:10 pm

  17. Plus Hamels has fewer expected starts than Pedro, right Dave?

    Comment by Doug Melvin — October 28, 2009 @ 2:10 pm

  18. Yeah, the big question is what would the Philly wOBA be without a pitcher hitting? Replace a pitcher with a decent hitter and the Philly wOBA still probably isn’t near the Yankees, but it’s reasonable to think it might get up to .345-.350 or so, especially given they play in the NL.

    Comment by Bill — October 28, 2009 @ 2:14 pm

  19. “John, which would you rather have in evaluating a team’s ability – 162 games or 9 games? When we’re talking about this kind of sample size, it doesn’t matter that the 9 games were the most recent.”

    Of course you’d take the larger sample every day of the week and twice on Sunday, but that argument also lends credence to my point: they haven’t hit as well as advertised, and this could easily continue for another minute set of games.

    “Yankees have scored 5.3 runs per game this postseason. I don’t know where you get the idea their offense hasn’t been too good.”

    They have scored 7, 4 (in 11 innings), 4, 4, 4, 4, 10, 6 and 5 runs in their respective games. Is that a normal distribution? I’m not sure. They had the 10 run explosion, they’ve been bailed out by A-Rod on numerous occasions, and five of their regulars haven’t broken the .750 OPS barrier this postseason (Matsui is at .761). In other words, Yankee regulars not named “Derek” or “Alex” have combined to hit .229/.317/.352 this postseason. Hardly awe-inspiring, no?

    “So thanks, a lot John, your insight into this matter is truly enlightening.”

    And thanks a lot, Wally, for being the internet tough guy embodiment of the statistical analysis guru who takes himself way too seriously. Were my few anecdotes (more than 2/3 of the Yankee lineup hasn’t really hit, the Phillies aren’t solely reliant upon the SB) not relevant? I agree about my “don’t be surprised line.” That was Rob Neyer esque and I apologize.

    If not want more in-depth analysis,, here are my thoughts on Pedro pitching in the bandbox:

    Not sure where to begin here. Thought the series hinged upon Hamels and Burnett. Buster Olney echoed those sentiments yesterday in his weekly chat. Not sure whether that’s a good thing.

    The decision to start Pedro in Yankee Stadium (twice!) seems rash at best and potentially catastrophic at worst. Let’s see here: we have a predominantly fly ball pitcher* who’s quite susceptible to lefty batters**, facing the game’s best, most lefty-packed lineup in a veritable bandbox whose right-field porch is I-shit-you-not a stone’s throw away from the dish.

    This could get very, very ugly. Or perhaps it could be his finest hour.

    *his GB/FB this season was 0.67, well below average (typically 1.15); his FB% (43%) was significantly above average (36%)
    **lefties slugged nearly .500 off Pedro this season

    The Howard/CC match up:

    One thing that’s surprised me this postseason is pitchers have tried getting Howard out by elevating the fastball (got this from the scouting report). That strikes me as counterintuitive given his propensity to chase breaking balls low and away (can you say slider?). If I’m a Phillies fan I’m not liking the C.C./Howard matchup. I’d expect C.C. to get ahead with the hard one and bounce a few pitches from there. Once Howard catches on I’d expect a shift in philosophy: breaking balls to start off the AB (this is where C.C.’s uncanny command comes in play) then whatever the hell he feels like throwing.

    Comment by John — October 28, 2009 @ 2:24 pm

  20. “You said it yourself, the Yankee offense has been largely held at bay by some of the better arms in the league.”

    Missed this part. My point was that they’ve been shutdown by Blackburn, Pavano and Joe freaking Saunders. Those aren’t the best arms in the league. I think anyone would take Hamels, Pedro and Blanton over those guys.

    Comment by John — October 28, 2009 @ 2:52 pm

  21. This is awesome. We get to see both sides of the Gambler’s fallacy, and neither is close to right.

    “The Yankees haven’t broken out! They’re due!!”

    “The Yankees haven’t been hitting! They won’t hit!”

    That being said, I would not advise wagering on the Yankees.

    Comment by Xavier — October 28, 2009 @ 3:09 pm

  22. i don’t see what is so controversial about any of this. the Yankees are favorites, but not overwhelmingly so.

    there are still many, many scenarios under which the Phillies will win.

    i don’t understand the persecution complex.

    Comment by Steve — October 28, 2009 @ 3:11 pm

  23. Simply responding to counter-arguments isn’t my idea of a persecution complex.

    Comment by John — October 28, 2009 @ 3:15 pm

  24. Your comments make no sense. Are the Phillies going to be playing in a different stadium? And I just don’t understand the Anderson reference.

    Comment by Rob A from BBD — October 28, 2009 @ 3:18 pm

  25. The Yankees are such favorites that it doesn’t make that much sense to bet on them. You are risking a lot to make very little.

    Comment by Rob A from BBD — October 28, 2009 @ 3:20 pm

  26. Xavier

    “The Yankees haven’t broken out! They’re due!!”

    This is not a gamblers fallacy at all(50/50 independent odds). It would be equivalent to having a an unfair coin that falls heads 70 percent of the time. If the last ten times fell tails. All the comment is saying is that the next ten times odds are it will be closer to the 70 percent then 0 percent(might be using the fallacy of either/or, sorry), Basically, he is saying that odds are (“due”) it will return to the median.

    “The Yankees haven’t been hitting! They won’t hit!”

    This is not either a gamblers fallacy, it is just a dumb statement. See above example and comments about extrapolating from SSS.

    Comment by Ed-pro — October 28, 2009 @ 4:21 pm

  27. In simpler terms, the odds are not independent and the coin is not 50/50……

    Comment by Ed-pro — October 28, 2009 @ 4:26 pm

  28. Man my least favorit team is against my least favorit NL team. These are two very boring teams. All the guys are super stars and most are on roids, so little chance that a nobody comes through and makes it fun. No david vs goliath. Its goliath vs goliath and that is very very dull. I hope the evil empire loses, but I do not expect that to happen. I call Yankees in 5, but I have no desire to watch!

    Comment by Nats Fan — October 28, 2009 @ 4:28 pm

  29. David vs. Goliath can make for a compelling story, but only if David wins. In real life, David vs. Goliath is usually about as intriguing to watch as Bambi vs. Godzilla. If you really think this series is Goliath vs. Goliath, you should be thrilled.

    Comment by BD — October 28, 2009 @ 4:38 pm

  30. serieses (?)

    The plural of series is series.

    Comment by Kevin S. — October 28, 2009 @ 4:39 pm

  31. What Phillies players are on Steroids again?

    Comment by JoeDE — October 28, 2009 @ 4:43 pm

  32. I agree. But there was more to that series than the errors (players/umps). A lot more.

    Comment by Rob in CT — October 28, 2009 @ 4:47 pm

  33. Miguel Cairo and Jaime Moyer

    Comment by Steve — October 28, 2009 @ 4:51 pm

  34. Setting aside the strong possibility that some players on each team are using, that’s not the amazing part of the post to me.

    No, it’s the idea that these two teams are boring. Hah.

    Comment by Rob in CT — October 28, 2009 @ 4:53 pm

  35. Absofreakinglutely. This thing could be awesome. Yankees-Twins was David v. Goliath. Goliath swept. Being a fan of the big G, I was happy, but most people shrugged.

    Comment by Rob in CT — October 28, 2009 @ 4:55 pm

  36. beyond the box score compared the position players woba and it still wasnt even close between the phillies and yankees

    DH or not the yankees are a lot better

    Comment by Jon — October 28, 2009 @ 4:55 pm

  37. “The plural of series is series.”

    I hate stuff like that. The English language sucks.

    Comment by Wally — October 28, 2009 @ 6:00 pm

  38. Short series, don’t be shocked if either team wins.

    The Nats took two out of three at Yankee stadium this year. That’s a fluke, but the Phils aren’t the Nats. Coolstandings gives the Philies a 39.3% chance of winning.

    That’s bad, and the “real” odds may be worse given that the Yankees don’t need their full pitching staff (stupid off days), but it’s not a real shocker if a nearly 40% chance comes home or even a 20% chance, and I’m sure the Philies chances are better than 20%.

    Comment by Doug Lampert — October 28, 2009 @ 7:03 pm

  39. Actually the first one is the Gambler’s Fallacy. The second one is the inverse Gambler’s Fallacy.

    If you think that what happened in the Twins and Angel series is a better predictor of what’s going to happen in the World Series than everything else, you are falling prey to the belief that “the belief that if deviations from expected behaviour are observed in repeated independent trials of some random process then these deviations are likely to be evened out by opposite deviations in the future.”

    Or, you know, the opposite.

    Comment by Xavier — October 28, 2009 @ 7:03 pm

  40. Don’t worry, Paul O’Neill has this broken down to a tee.

    “Yanks in 4. The Phillies strike out too much.”

    The Phillies struck out 1155 times this season — 12th in MLB. That’s with 189 K’s from the #9 hole.

    Comment by John — October 28, 2009 @ 7:30 pm

  41. I guess Game One shows why they actually play the game. Go Phillies!

    Comment by neuter_your_dogma — October 28, 2009 @ 11:50 pm

  42. It was fun to read this post & thread after listening to the game, for sure! As the statisticians (properly) remind us, time and again – the whole point of players being expected to revert to the norm is that over a short sample size, anything can happen!

    Comment by paris7 — October 29, 2009 @ 12:42 am

  43. How many championships for the Yankees? 26? Am I the only one that is sick of this crap?? Go Phillies!

    Comment by Jack Bauer — October 29, 2009 @ 1:43 am

  44. “The 26 point gap between the Yankees and Phillies in wOBA is essentially equal to the gap between the Phillies and the Astros.”

    One thing to note: The Astros swept the Phillies in a four-game series during the regular season, and won the season series.

    Baseball is a funny thing when you get down to small sample sizes. As we saw tonight, this should be an interesting series!

    Comment by Christian Seehausen — October 29, 2009 @ 4:41 am

  45. after a rockies game..
    werth, howard, lee, ibanez ,utley all got tested for steroids.

    Comment by BATTLETANK — October 29, 2009 @ 8:49 am

  46. You just answered your own argument….hitting a baseball is not a random act…and they are not independent….there is a good pitcher and good hitters and a field and many variables(rain? cold?)…that is why the example is a fair coin….”In the case of coin tossing, as a run of heads gets longer and longer, the likelihood that the coin is biased towards heads increases. If one flips a coin 21 times in a row and obtains 21 heads, one might rationally conclude a high probability of bias towards heads, and hence conclude that future flips of this coin are also highly likely to be heads.”

    The inverse is again…..based on above…… no one is saying that the statement makes sense(since he did not give a valid rational reason) but had he said they will face colder weather, and better pitching so they will continue to fail…would you still say gamblers fallacy? NO! can one make an argument when flipping a fair coin? understand the difference?

    Comment by Ed-pro — October 30, 2009 @ 1:57 am

  47. Dave, I’m pretty sure you are the only one who has written an article about this World Series and referenced the 2009 Houston Astros. Kudos. :)

    Comment by Jonathan Ullberg — November 13, 2009 @ 1:51 pm

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