Monday, November 02, 2015

The One Where Dan Confuses 'Formula' with 'Strategy'

So Kansas City is the World Series champions. God help us all.

That's not because KC is somehow undeserving. While this team will never be seen as a threat to Murderer's Row, and in all likelihood not a single player from either season's model will make the Hall of Fame, they have made it to the big dance two years running: Clearly they are doing something right.

Rather, the problem is that lazy observers like The CHB will somehow try to extrapolate genius from what is, more than anything, simply good timing.

"KC’s formula [emphasis mine] was the same throughout the 2015 postseason," writes The CHB. "The Royals would fall behind, rally in the eighth or ninth, then wait for the Mets to blunder. It worked just about every time ... "

Such a presentation suggests that 1) there is an advantage to falling behind and 2) that the Royals deliberately did so. Nonsense, all.

In baseball, of course, the team with the lead sees a big jump in win expectancy. As Dave Cameron writes at FanGraphs today: "[The Royals] late-game offensive success was remarkable, but there just isn’t much evidence that it’s something that can be planned on; KC hitters had a .691 OPS and averaged 0.11 runs per plate appearance from the seventh inning on during the regular season. While there was a lot of talk about contact hitters providing a huge advantage in those situations, the Royals were basically the best contact team ever during the regular season and didn’t see it translate into success against elite relievers for the first six months of the year."

If the Royals were better than their peers in overcoming leads in late innings, it's likely because their own bullpen was so good at shutting down opponents and keeping the game winnable.

And no Shank column would be complete without a few obvious cliches, in this case references to John McNamara, who failed to substitute Dave Stapleton for Bill Buckner in 1986, and Grady Little, who left a gassed Pedro Martinez in against the Yankees in 2003. The CHB is as dependent on framing everything in Red Sox terms as he is on oxygen to breathe.

If you want to read a good column on the Royals victory and what it means, click here.

1 comment:

Roger Bournival said...

1) I just think it's funny that Shank, the columnist who 'writes for the fans', feels he can bestow upon the Royals the designation of 'the people's champions', whatever that's supposed to mean.

2) I'm glad KC won; how more insufferably smug would Shank have turned these columns and his tweets if the Mets won instead, and the thousand additional 1986 Mets / Red Sox comparisons he would have made? Kansas City did us a huge favor.