Anecdotal evidence is unreliable when trying to paint a picture of something as the human mind tends to overemphasize what it has just witnessed paying little attention to things like context and history. Nowhere is this more apparent then when it comes to players being derided for playoff failures even though we are often talking about something like 5-10 games. With that …
Here is my daily Alex Rodriguez check up. After hitting .455 with two homers and six RBI in the ALDS, he has gone on to hit .375 with three homers and five RBI in the ALCS. He has been so hot that Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia even paid him the ultimate sign of respect by walking him intentionally with the bases empty. I’ve said it before too many times to count, but remember context and sample size people. Remember back three weeks ago when A-Rod was the biggest playoff choker ever? Now he has been hot for two weeks and all of a sudden everyone thinks he is the greatest thing since the invention of porn. Look at things this way. In his regular season career A-Rod has produced a .305/.390/.576 line, and with his recent hot streak his playoff numbers are nearly identical at .299/.388/.563. It all evens out folks, though sometimes the road is a bit bumpy.
Want to talk about a playoff choker? Well then, how about we look at Mark Teixeira who is 2-for-21 of late in the playoffs. I’m just kidding. Remember the value of sample size (give me 21 at-bats and I can make Babe Ruth look pitiful and Omar Vizquel look like a legend). However, the case of Chone Figgins is worth examining. Figgins has hit .291 during his regular season career of more than 3,500 at-bats, but come playoff time he has barely hit his weight at .174, though again we are talking about just 115 at-bats. Still, he has looked atrocious this post-season going just 2-for-34, good for a .059 average. We are talking about a handful of at-bats of course, but in his last seven playoffs series Figgins has hit under .150 five times. That’s ugly.
One of the major reasons that Scott Kazmir was brought to the Angels was because of his career-long success against he Bronx Bombers which can be seen in his 2.67 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 8.83 K/9 mark over 87.2 innings covering 15 appearances. So much for history as he went out and laid an egg against the Yankees allowing six hits, four walks and four runs in just four innings of work in the ALCS. As a result, his two post-season outings this season have resulted in an 8.10 ERA and a 1.80 WHIP. I don’t think that is what the Angels had in mind when they traded for him. It’s just two starts – sample size people – but the two pathetic outings certainly leave a bad taste in Kazmir’s mouth after he had so much success down the stretch when he posted a 1.73 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP in six starts with the team from Southern California.
One of the worst calls in playoff baseball history occurred yesterday. It hardly mattered as the Yankees crushed the Angels, but it was still galling in it’s ineptitude. You can watch the terrible call by clicking on the link where a full description of what went wrong is explained. Dreadful.
Albert Pujols’ elbow surgery went well as a few bone chips (apparently five) were removed from his right wing, and Pujols’ should be fully prepared to play once spring training roles around. Still, the continued issues with Pujols’ right elbow are really starting to concern me. Nothing destroys a fantasy teams chance of winning a title like having your first round draft pick crap out (ask Jose Reyes owners), and with each “minor” procedure on Pujols’ elbow I grow more concerned. We all know he will eventually need Tommy John surgery given the partially torn elbow ligament he is dealing with, and just because he has been able to play through it without further exacerbating the problem the past few years is no guarantee that he will be able to do so in 2010. Honestly I’d have to do some serious number crunching before I could suggest passing on Pujols if you had the #1 spot in your draft, but a guy like Hanley Ramirez is starting to look awfully appealing despite the reduction in steals he posted in 2009 (just 27 after being over 35 each of the previous three years, though who really cares when you hit .342, score 101 runs, knock in 106 and play shortstop?).
By Ray Flowers