ALDS Game Two Review: Minnesota

Continuing the theme of the 2010 postseason, the turning point of this game was a blown call by home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. With a runner on first and nobody out, Carl Pavano had Lance Berkman in a 2-2 hole, and threw a sinker that started inside and ran back over the dish. The pitch was right on the edge, and was called a ball by Wendelstedt. On the next pitch, a changeup below the zone, Lance Berkman smacked a double and scored Jorge Posada from first.

Moments later, the Yankees scored thanks to Derek Jeter being super clutch, and they never looked back. New York ended up loading the bases with only one out on the board, but Jon Rauch served as the human blood clot, stopping the bleeding before it got completely out of hand.

At that point, the Twins were still within two runs and facing a starter who had been sitting and cooling off during this entire rally. They still had a 24% chance to win, but Pettitte got through the bottom of the seventh without a hitch, dropping the Twins chances to 15%. Kerry Wood looked dominant in the eighth, and Mo Rivera did his thing in the ninth, putting the Twins on the verge of elimination.

Before the seventh, the game was a back and forth battle in which no one seemed to be in command. Both teams were trading runs, with both Andy Pettitte and Carl Pavano hitting their spots and keeping the damage to a minimum. Pavano got into some trouble in the sixth (and seventh), but other than that, he was in control of Yankee hitters the rest of the night. He was hitting his spots on the outside corner like a sniper, and doing a good job at getting grounders early on.

Even though the Yankees’ seventh inning is what ultimately did the Twins in, I will direct you back to the bottom half of the second inning. The Twins loaded the bases in the second with only one out, yet managed to score only a single run on a sacrifice fly. That was a big disappointment, and scoring a run actually lowered their Win Expectancy.

If I had to pick an MVP for the Twins, it’d have to be Orlando Hudson or Denard Span. Hudson hit a big homer and was first on the team in WPA, while Span did a great job of working the count and making Pettitte throw pitches, something that won’t show up in the boxscore.

THE CRAIG SAGER SUIT WATCH
When Jack and I discussed doing this feature before the series began, I expected The Salton of Suit to give us more material. On Thursday night, Sager’s suit was actually…reasonable. Sure, he looked like a tablecloth, but it was mild by Sager’s standards. I think he’ll break out the pinstripes when the series moves to New York, and you can bank on that.



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Zach is the creator and co-author of RotoGraphs' Roto Riteup series, and RotoGraphs' second-longest tenured writer. You can follow him on twitter.


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Mark
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Mark
5 years 11 months ago

If it’s any consolation, one of the earlier called “strikes” in that at-bat was pretty far outside. The zone was shifted toward the far side fairly consistently.

DT
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DT
5 years 11 months ago

This…pavano was getting called strikes a good few inches outside. The zone was obviously shifted. Pettite on the other had didn’t get as much calls especially when he threw inside. it was a horrible zone by the ump but it was consistent for both sides.

Mark
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Mark
5 years 11 months ago

Eh, I think the ump missed calls for both sides. Pavano relies more on location since he K’s less batters and needs weak contact on well-placed pitches – I think that makes it appear that he was screwed over more.

DT
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DT
5 years 11 months ago

i meant consistently horrible for both sides lol

Hank
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Hank
5 years 11 months ago

Rauch showed why he should be the closer, and that while the Capps trade was nice in terms of deepening the bullpen, the Ramos trade chip might have been better used for something else

Capps will likely be making 5mil next year after his arbitration raise to either be a setup man for Nathan or continue to let Gardy misuse Rauch as a setup man for Capps. Rauch will be making far less for the same if not better results and allow the money to retain Liriano and/or Pavano.

Bryz
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5 years 11 months ago

You’re assuming that in his first year after TJ surgery, Nathan will automatically return as the closer. I think Capps is closer insurance for next year, and Rauch does not currently have a contract for 2011.

Souldrummer
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5 years 11 months ago

At what they’re going to be paying Capps for all the saves that he’s gotten in an arb year, aren’t they’re going to be other options if they’re thinking beyond this year. I think it’s the Twins trying to bolster the bullpen at a relatively affordable price this year while giving themselves options for this year.

I sure hope it works out for them. I’m a Nats fan, and Capps was great for us over previous bullpen options. Nats didn’t miss him much when he was gone, though.

Jon in CUO
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Jon in CUO
5 years 11 months ago

Seriously? I thought this site was better than this. No mention of the terrible called strike earlier in the Berkman at-bat, or the huge zone for Pavano in the game generally? Send your resume to TBS or MLBN, you’d fit right in.

Disco
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Disco
5 years 11 months ago

What about the first strike to Berkman in that PA? A pitch on the right handed batters box chalk was called a strike. So it evens out with that pitch down the middle called a ball.

Outside those 2 calls, I thought the ump was very consistent. He had a wide zone, especially outside to righties, but was consistent.

Steve
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Steve
5 years 11 months ago

I think this comments kindof illustrates the difficulty of the ump’s job. Everyone is saying that pitch to Berkman was “right down the middle”, yet the graphic on TBS showed it nicking the edge of the strikezone. It was a strike, don’t get me wrong, but on TV it did look “right down the middle”. But it wasn’t. It was a lot closer to a ball than it looked, and the ump missed it, but it shows that judging balls and strikes is really, really hard.

Tom
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Tom
5 years 11 months ago

Pavano was not really doing a good job getting groundballs… he was getting lit up but was fortunate that a lot of balls were hit right at people. He gave up 5LD’s 9FB’s and 9 grounders and many of those FB’s were “fliners”

He did do a good job getting a DP from Swisher to escape a 1st and 3rd jam and escaping another 1out, 1st and 3rd by getting Cano on a weak, short FB but he was getting hit hard most of the night.

awayish
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awayish
5 years 11 months ago

i’m feeling some bitter vibes from this particular review

Matt
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Matt
5 years 11 months ago

One bad ball call didn’t beat the twins: good pitching did.

Nick
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Nick
5 years 11 months ago

Even as a Yankee hater, this article is really douching over the Yankees just as the Reds-Phillies articles are douching over the Phillies. Come on now

Dave
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Dave
5 years 11 months ago

This is ridiculous.

Look at the strike zone graph for Andy Pettitte and tell me how many bright red squares you see outside the strike zone. (Hint: none) Then look at Pavano’s. You’ll need two hands to count them.

Hunter missed a bunch of obvious strikes (the most ridiculous, to me, was one to Jeter that was right down the middle) but gave Pavano part of the right hand batters box. It was pretty clear all game that his positioning was way off when a lefty was up.

He was wrong on that Berkman one, but let’s not pretend the Yankees got some huge favor here. He was putting them in awful counts all night.

Tim
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Tim
5 years 11 months ago

Just to back this up, here’s a link to the strike zone plot for both teams:

Pete
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Pete
5 years 11 months ago

I see two red triangles there,, not none :P

What is more iomportant is that in that red squares area there aren’t many green triangles either, so that’s not really a sign of inconsistency

http://tinyurl.com/3yya2xx

Anyways the ump certainly did not decide the game.

Mike R.
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Mike R.
5 years 11 months ago

The sentence about Jeter is putting words in people’s mouths. He got a big hit, and people get all defensive. No one is saying he’s “super clutch” except the writer.

Speaking of defense, yes…we get it. Jeter for nearly every year in his career has been defensively inept. So what? The guy still managed to put up 70 WAR without even including playoffs, yet every time he is involved in a play it must be mentioned how much he is “overrated,” never mind being one of the top offensive SS of all time.

How about, like other players, when Jeter gets a hit we give him credit and if he doesn’t we can bash him?

Mike R.
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Mike R.
5 years 11 months ago

Just to add, when judging Jeter, there seem to be two extremes:

1) He’s Captain Clutch and his defense is better than those damn numbers say. INTANGIBLEZ! If he goes 0 for his 10 w/ RISP but gets an RBI groundball single, he is teh clutchiest

2) He’s Michael Young for the Yankees. Guy is just an overrated singles hitter, the worst defensive pllayer of all time, and he’s unclutch because A-Rod is a better postseason hitter than him.

As I already stated above, Jeter is(was) a great baseball player who does not deserve the hype but inevitably receives it for playing in NY. 70 WAR plus a good season’s worth of playoff numbers, .374 career OBA, etc. There is no reason why every time he is at bat or makes a play in the field he should draw so much ire.

Sorry to turn this into a Jeter-fest

Ryan
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5 years 11 months ago

Admittedly I am a Jeter-hater, but I definitely assumed the writer was being sarcastic. If you’re just going by the box score, check the video. It was literally a half-swing that somehow got the ball into right field. I don’t know how much credit you can give Jeter for that. He got lucky, as all players do every now and then.

Mike R.
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Mike R.
5 years 11 months ago

I admitedly wasn’t watching either. lol

Mike R.
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Mike R.
5 years 11 months ago

didn’t mean either. oops

Hunter
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Hunter
5 years 11 months ago

Wait…do people really dump on Michael Young? He’s just consistently put up about 2.5 WAR/year over the course of his career.

That doesn’t make him outstanding, but it does make him a valuable player.

Mike R.
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Mike R.
5 years 11 months ago

Michael Young has been a pretty good player for a while now. I don’t hate him, I just hate how people brought up hs name to show that he was just Jeter with less hype when he is not nearly the same player.

moebius
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moebius
5 years 11 months ago

Ugh…a fair AND balanced recap.

That was a bad call, sure. But there were at least as many bad calls for Pettitte. You’re laying the entire game on one pitch, but Pavano is lucky he only gave up 4 runs given 10 hits.

Generally, the game was being called in a way that was VERY advantageous to Pavano…he was living off pitches 8 inches outside the zone down and away. Pettitte wasn’t getting that corner.

[IMG[IMG]

JTC
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JTC
5 years 11 months ago

Please notice the significant statistical bias shift to the left for Pavano’s strike zone. His strike zone was not any more liberal than Pettitte’s. Comparing the second pitch in Berkman’s at bat to the fourth as apples to apples is completely ignoring situation. As both pitchers in the booth pointed out, Pavano had completely set Berkman up for that pitch, and regardless of what he says now, there was no way he was swinging at that pitch if it had been 2 inches farther over the plate either. That said, HW’s call on that pitch was consistent with his shift in the strike zone for Pavano.

Noseeum
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Noseeum
5 years 11 months ago

Dave Cameron picks the mariners in the preseason and the twins in the post season. Haha.

If there was one series I was sure about it was this one. Yanks are so clearly the better team. The Central stinks.

Jason B
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Jason B
5 years 11 months ago

Did you publicly venture that guess anywhere before, or wait until it the series was 2-0? Not trying to be snide, just wondering.

noseeum
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noseeum
5 years 11 months ago

I did here on the all day chat on the first day. Or I should say I attempted to. But Dave didn’t print my posts, as far as I can see. I also sent this hilarious potential update to the Yankees away uniforms, but he didn’t post that one either:
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=lukas/100930_new_york_yankees_road_uniforms&sportCat=mlb

I submitted this during the chat: “Yankees are going to smoke the Twins.”

There’s also dozens of emails to friends, but that’s all I got. Not that it matters of course, but I appreciated being asked for proof. :)

Jason B
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Jason B
5 years 11 months ago

No problem – it’s just quite easy to say “Of course the Yankees will win!!” after they build a 2-0 lead. I didn’t want you to be one of *those* guys (or gals?). :-)

I can look brilliant predicting the results of games, series, and seasons if I get to make my predictions after-the-fact. Not saying you are/were like that, but we know those folks are lurking out there.

(Like some Rays fans wondering why Niemann didn’t get to start a game in the ALDS, *after* he pitches well in mop-up work, his horrid September notwithstanding…)

whatawhinypost
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whatawhinypost
5 years 11 months ago

jesus could you whine any more? umpire was bad on both sides. deal with it.

Joel
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Joel
5 years 11 months ago

This post makes Dave Cameron look humble and composed.

Jon in CUO
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Jon in CUO
5 years 11 months ago

I hope the writer will find the time to respond to the very legitimate criticisms of his post that other commenters have made.

CircleChange11
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CircleChange11
5 years 11 months ago

Wake me up when Lee pitches against NY.

bflaff
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bflaff
5 years 11 months ago

Actually, you can sleep through those games, too.

CircleChange11
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CircleChange11
5 years 11 months ago

Perhaps.

At this point I’m frustrated with the LDS in general … a playoff series that should not be played (at the very least, does not need to be played),

Furthermore, I have that “I’ve seen this movie before” feeling with the NYY-MIN series … and the movie wasn’t that good the first 3 times I saw it.

You get the feeling that you could spot the Twins a 5-0 lead each game and [1] the NYY will find a way to win it, [2] the Twins will blow it, or [3] both.

I like the Twins, and they are a good team. But, they’re no match for the NYY.

Some of the analysis here proclaiming the Twins the best all-around team or talking about the Reds’ chances against the Phillies seem to be going against the grain for the sense of trying to be contrary or unique.

Baseball playoffs would be so much better if we returned to the LCS and WS only format featuring only the 4 division winners.We could just get right to the NYY/TB, TEX, PHL, and SFG series to see who plays in the WS.

Jason B
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Jason B
5 years 11 months ago

Umm…hate to be Cap’n Obvious, but if you had an AL East and AL West only, and only four playoff teams in total, I think the Yankees would be home watching the playoffs with the rest of us…

MC
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MC
5 years 11 months ago

I was at the game and Pavano was dodging bullets all night. All the people around me kept looking at his pitch counts and say, Christ, they’re going to leave him in there because he hasn’t thrown enough pitches and hasn’t given up a ton of runs… it bit them in the ass. Predictably so.

bflaff
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bflaff
5 years 11 months ago

E-Z Pass indeed.

Bob Loblaw
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Bob Loblaw
5 years 11 months ago

Hey, Zach, Popular first sentence.

How about the game turned in the Yankees’ favor when the Twins decided to pitch CARL FRIGGIN PAVANO.

Maybe meatball-throwing opponent- and defense-dependent pitchers don’t deserve their fielding-independent stats.

bflaff
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bflaff
5 years 11 months ago

And then CP got left in too long. Gardy get stuck in the bathroom or something when Pavano was going walk, double, single to start the inning? First and third, no one out at this point, and… no, leave him in.

I mean, it’s easy to second guess, but what was the thought process?

Gump
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Gump
5 years 11 months ago

Silly complaint about the Umpire from a site that purports to be data-driven. Look at the plot of called strikes for Pavano.

NotDave
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NotDave
5 years 11 months ago

Yankee fans calling a ‘pitch plot’ proof of anything. So predictable, and so lame. The game changing call is the one that matters, and we all know how THAT went. Strike three is turned into the game winning double. I guess TBS needs the Yankees in the ALCS.

Jonathan
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Jonathan
5 years 11 months ago

Damn those people and their logic/facts/stats!!! Did you guys know that TBS has the power to make Lance Berkman hit a double whenever he wants? Say you’re actually an intelligent rational human being and TBS actually was plotting to put the Yankees in the ALCS and they somehow told Wendelstedt to call that pitch a ball….How did they get Berkman to hit a double? Oh, and that was strike 1 or 2 since Berkman got hosed on a couple of other calls in the AB. Go to ESPN or Yahoo. This site is supposed to be reserved for intelligent baseball fans, not bitter idiots.

Rob in CT
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Rob in CT
5 years 11 months ago

Berkman doesn’t have 2 strikes on him unless the ump blows a call earlier in the AB. The “missed strike three” call was, in reality, strike 2.

Oops, that doesn’t help out your narrative, does it?

NotDave
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NotDave
5 years 11 months ago

What a tool. When hitters are sent to the bench after strike 1, then you’ll have a point. An umpire calling strike 1 on a hitter and calling strike 3 are two different things. Wendlestadt isn’t going to go through the entire game NEVER calling a pitch a strike. He’s going to gently expand the zone to Twins hitters WHEN THE GAME IS IN THE BALANCE, and refuse to call strike three to Yankee hitters LATE IN THE GAME IN ORDER TO BUILD A LEAD for the Yankees. Once thta’s accomplished, he can go back to calling a fair zone, unless the game tightens up, then it’s a few key ABs again where he’ll make a difference. Watch both games, and tell me that didn’t happen.

Stienbrennertrust
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Stienbrennertrust
5 years 11 months ago

Keep singing, Jonathan. I believe it was Lenin who coined the phrase “useful idiots” in swaying public opinion away from the truth. You sir, are extremely useful. EXTREMELY useful indeed. Meanwhile, Wendlestadt was paid in cash, so there’s no loose ends out there to deal with. Nice.

Jonathan
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Jonathan
5 years 11 months ago

so, are you saying notdave should do that or did you not pick up on the extremely heavy sarcasm….I was bashing him for saying that…are you serious with this?

Steve
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Steve
5 years 11 months ago

I guess the payment was late in game one on Golson’s “trap”. Morons.

Jonathan
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Jonathan
5 years 11 months ago

are you seriously the 2nd person that read that as anything but making fun or NotDave? if so you both seriously need help with reading comprehension and sarcasm detection….WOW.

Jon in CUO
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Jon in CUO
5 years 11 months ago

Zach –

1) You write on a statistically-inclined site – don’t give us the weak analysis. Give facts and stats to back up all of your claims. When you open your piece complaining about the strikezone *against the Twins*, it cuts down your credibility. Your refusal to cite easily accessible strike zone plot data (which would knock down your argument, in the case of the Berkman AB) is like MLB refusing to use replay on close calls. See what I did there?

2) A number of commenters have criticized your article – rightfully so, in my opinion. You have made no attempt to communicate back, except for a (sarcastic?) statement complaining that you didn’t really want to watch the game anyway. So what’s the point of having a blog? If you’re going to communicate on this medium, you really should be accessible and either defend your claims or revise them in light of new evidence. Nobody’s perfect, but you can’t just serve up crap and then close the kitchen. If you do, you’ll begin to lose your readership base.

BobLoblaw
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BobLoblaw
5 years 11 months ago

Don’t forget the completely frivolous shot at Jeter, exposing the writer’s bias. Even the die-hardest of Yankee fans know that hit was a bloop, and that Jeter hasn’t been lining the ball at all lately. The only people calling it “Jeter being super clutch” are bitter, biased haters… like the author.

chuckb
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chuckb
5 years 11 months ago

Are you just trying to pick a fight? What is the point of daring him to return and respond to most of the sardonic criticism you and your ilk are doling out?

BobLoblaw
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BobLoblaw
5 years 11 months ago

With guys like NotDave defending him, why should he?

“An umpire calling strike 1 on a hitter and calling strike 3 are two different things.” Ha! And so is calling strikes against Twins and Yankees, apparently.

Look, maybe Zach was just having a bad night, but this article is rife with flaws… flaws not of a mistaken nature, but of anger and bias. It deserves the criticism.

NotDave
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NotDave
5 years 11 months ago

You’re not seriously suggesting the strike zone didn’t favor the Yankees at key points in the game, are you Jon? Seriously? That’s difficult to believe, unless you aren’t objective.

Or maybe you are. Steinbrenner had a good point…yet another ‘useful idiot.’

BobLoblaw
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BobLoblaw
5 years 11 months ago

I suspect a lot of FG writers are having a tough time watching this series.

Not because they might hate the Yankees, but because they have been overestimating the Twins rotation for months now. They called them underrated, because their fielding-independent stats are better than their ERAs… but the truth is, they do rely heavily on luck and defense and opponents getting themselves out. They’re just not that good

FG might not want to admit it, but it was entirely predictable that a hard-hitting team would punish this meatball-throwing staff.

And now they have to watch it happen.

fredsbank
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fredsbank
5 years 11 months ago

no, FIP is all that matters, liriano posted a 2.whatever FIP making him sooper badass (lets not forget the 3.6+ ERA with what is allegedly the best defense ever) and he couldn’t even make it out of the 6th inning. the twins are the wet dream of the SABR community, having good peripherals and all the stuff they love here on fangraphs, but just not being that good in real life. IT DOESNT MATTER WHAT YOUR FIP IS, WHAT MATTERS IS WHETHER THE TEAM WINS OR LOSES. read the postgame stuff from halladay and lincecum after their past two outstanding games, they dont care what they individually did, they understand that their team won and that’s what’s important, not their new shiny postseason numbers.

fredsbank
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fredsbank
5 years 11 months ago

not to mention that the twins record this season is pretty dependent on playing in the terrible AL central and beating the crap out of the indians, royals, and the white sox (admittedly not the royals and indians, but uh, still the white sox)…. only team from the east the twins posted a winning record against was baltimore, which has got to be *real* tough to pull off.

JTC
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JTC
5 years 11 months ago

Kind of like Texas’ in the equally terrible AL West? That’s a really tired, worn out perspective when it comes to the post season.

fredsbank
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fredsbank
5 years 11 months ago

texas hardly ran roughshod over the division, 10-9 against oakland and anaheim and 12-7 against seattle. they also performed far better in interleague play than the twins did.
and even if it’s “tired,” it’s also valid. you know what’s 9 times as tired as that? people hating the yankees, esp. jeter, for illogical reasons, as well as the love affair that has sprung this season for the twins in the media.

JTC
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JTC
5 years 11 months ago

The point was that there really isn’t a large enough sample size to draw any particular conclusions from interdivision play and apply them to a short post season series. If there was, then Tampa Bay should be ahead 2 – 0 and we would have an all AL East ALCS as all the experts have been touting as a given all year.

JTC
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JTC
5 years 11 months ago

p.s. Although, I think we might be getting close to a large enough sample size to conclude the the Twins will never win a post season series against the Yankees :)

JohnF
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JohnF
5 years 11 months ago

Fangraphs is normally the oasis among the irrational baseball writing on stuff like this, but I think you missed the ball here. Pavano was getting strikes off the plate all night. The ump just had a wide zone and that bad call to Berkman was far from the only one or a total momentum shift.

josehine
Guest
josehine
3 years 17 days ago

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