October 31, 2023

WS 3: Texas 3, Diamondbacks 1

Texas   – 003 000 000 – 3  5  0
Arizona – 000 000 010 – 1 6 0
After back stiffness forced Texas starter Max Scherzer (3-2-0-2-1, 36) out of the game after three innings, Jon Gray (above) was unexpectedly rushed into action. He pitched three innings of impressive relief (3-1-0-0-3, 30), needing only 30 pitches to sail through the middle innings. Corey Seager again came through with a big blow, a two-run homer* that carried Texas to a 3-1 victory Monday evening in Game 3.

The Diamondbacks shot themselves in the foot in the second inning when Christian Walker, having begun the frame with a double to right-center, got a late jump from second base on Tommy Pham's hard single to right and then ran through his third base coach's stop sign and was an easy out at the plate. Not only that, but he was running on Texas right fielder Adolis García, who has thrown out more runners over the last three seasons (37) than any other outfielder in MLB. All in all, it was a magnificently bone-headed decision. In addition to those bone-headed Instead of runners at second and third with no outs, Arizona had a man at second and one out. Having blown a golden opportunity to get on the board first (teams scoring first are 30-9 in this postseason), The Diamondbacks did not get another runner to second base until the seventh inning.

García, Texas's hot-hitting right fielder (though he is 0-for-6, with two walks, since his Game 1-winning dong), left the game in the eighth inning with left side tightness after an awkward swing. His status for Game 4 is unknown.

Arizona scored in the eighth off Aroldis Chapman, and the potential tying run was at the plate with no outs, but Corbin Carroll struck out looking, frozen on a breaking ball down the middle, and Ketel Marte (who extended his record postseason hitting streak to 19 games with a single in the sixth) grounded into a double play. 

Against José Leclerc in the ninth, Gabriel Moreno grounded to third and Walker and Pham struck out.

Texas is now 9-0 on the road in this postseason.

*: Seager's homer had an exit velocity of 115 mph, which MLB International play-by-play man Dave Flemming touted as "one of the hardest hit balls in the history of the World Series . . . in the Statcast Era". Which began in 2015. So . . . 119 World Series have been played and that home run was "one of the hardest hit balls" in the last nine of those series. Not even the hardest hit ball in the most recent nine World Series, but one of the hardest hit. 

October 29, 2023

WS 2: Diamondbacks 9, Texas 1

Arizona – 000 200 232 – 9 16  0
Texas – 000 010 000 – 1 4 0

Arizona pitcher Merrill Kelly quieted the top American League offense on Saturday evening (7-3-1-0-9, 89), allowing only one runner to advance past first base. His teammates got on the board in the fourth and then stepped on the gas against Texas' bullpen en route to a 9-1 win, evening the World Series at one game apiece.

Ketel Marte went 1-for-5, singling home two runs in the eighth inning and thereby setting a new MLB record by hitting safely in 18 consecutive postseason games. Tommy Pham went 4-for-4, with two doubles and two runs scored. Seven different Diamondback players scored one run each.

Kelly retired the first 10 Texas batters before Evan Carter dumped a single into short center. Mitch Garver began the home fifth with a dong to left and later in the inning Josh Jung reached on an infield single. That was all Texas could do against Kelly, who struck out five of his last six batters.

The MLB International announcers – Dave Flemming (play-by-play) and Ryan Spilborghs (additional talking) – were gushing over Texas starter Jordan Mongomery like he was the second coming of Sandy Koufax. The free-agent-to-be has been so good lately, Spilborghs explained, that this winter, "he might as well back the Brinks truck up to his house". Montgomery then proceeded to allow three hits (and two runs) to the next four batters. Oops. My issue with Spilborghs's comment is that it's the TEAM that drives the truck full of money to the superstar's house. The player doesn't drive the goddamn truck!

Montgomery ended the top of the sixth by picking Pham off second base. He gave up a double and a run-scoring single to start the seventh and was pulled for Andrew Heaney, who allowed the inherited runner to score. In the eighth, Chris Stratton gave up a single and got two outs before Texas manager Bruce Bochy called for Martín Pérez. Why he chose to do this, I do not know. Pérez was exactly league average in 2023 (4.45 ERA); he had a 10-4 record, but Bochy wouldn't be fooled by that (right?). I remarked out loud that Pérez was going to suck and that's exactly what happened. I'm not giving myself any credit for prognostication; it wasn't a very outlandish prediction. Needing only one out, Pérez walked his first two batters, which loaded the bases, then gave up two singles which brought all three runners home, effectively putting the game on ice for Arizona.

Texas fans thought one of Pérez's pitches to his second batter, a 2-2 offering to Geraldo Perdomo, was a strike. It was inside and not a strike (though it was close) and plate umpire Quinn Wolcott correctly called it a ball. Wolcott had blown several calls throughout the night, so the fans perhaps had an uncertain image of the strike zone. Or they simply wanted a fuckin strike to end the inning with no runs scored and their team trailing 1-4. But Wolcott got the call right, so the inning continued, and Pérez kept Pérezing until the game was out of reach.

Speaking of Wolcott, in the second inning, Flemming said he was "very accurate to what we might call the Statcast rule book strike zone". (Otherwise known as the "rule book".) Flemming was correct. In 2023, Wolcott was the best ball-strike umpire in MLB, calling 96% of pitches correctly.

Other Announcer Nonsense:

A first-inning graphic showed the "Youngest Players To Hit Third In Batting Order, World Series History". Texas left fielder Evan Carter was 2nd (21 years, 59 days), behind Mickey Mantle (20-347, 1952) and ahead of Joe DiMaggio (21-310, 1936). This graphic was nothing but visual pollution. Why not show us "Youngest Players To Leadoff Top Of Fifth Inning, World Series History"?

Spilborghs pointed out the presence of "human emotions" among the players because this is the World Series!

You may have noticed in recent years, broadcasts love to show players yelling or clapping or pounding their chests in super-slo-mo. This is one of baseball broadcasting's greatest mysteries. Seeing a batter scream while punching himself in the chest adds absolutely nothing to my knowledge or enjoyment of the game. Why not show the home run? Why not show the inning-ending strikeout? Why not show a wide shot of the entire field? Shit, I'd even prefer a glimpse of a C-list actor or an instantly-forgettable country-pop musician. The announcers were extolling the pitching talents of Merrill Kelly at the end of the seventh inning when a super-slo-mo clip appeared of Kelly pounding his throwing hand into his glove with his mouth wide open in a pure animalistic roar. Spilborghs said, with not an insignificant amount of awe and admiration in his voice, "Look at this."

Spilborghs also praised Texas pitching coach Mike Maddux for always, when making a mound visit, putting his right hand on the pitcher's shoulder. This came in the eighth inning and the pitcher was Pérez, after the two walks. Maddux's kind but firm hand produced no magic this time, however.

The bottom of the eighth ended with Arizona first baseman Christian Walker stretching as far towards the plate as humanly possible while still keeping part of his cleat on the bag to snare a wide throw from shortstop Perdomo. The best angle of the bag was from a left field camera and I thought I saw some infield dirt between the white of the bag and the white of the shoe, but the call was upheld. It was pretty remarkable play. Walker made a fantastic play in the fifth as well. Jonah Heim grounded down the first base line, where Walker was behind the bag. The ball struck the bag and caromed much higher than Walker was expecting. He stuck out his bare right hand and more or less caught the ball (it bounced from his hand a couple of inches for a fraction of a second, but he grabbed it) and shovel-tossed tit to the pitcher for the out.

After his stretch ended the eighth, Walker led off the top of the ninth. I thought we had finally reached (in recent years) that stage of evolution where baseball announcers mention the hoary quip about how the guy who makes a great play to end the inning leads off the next inning because they heard it all through their youth - only as a dumb joke. It's always presenting ironically. Well, guess what? Evolution does not proceed in a linear fashion. 

The count was 1-1 on Walker when we heard this: "You see this all the time, Dave, somebody makes a sparkling defense play, they usually lead off the next inning, and sometimes they end up rewarding themselves with a hit." He was as serious as a heart attack. And Walker hit a single to center!

In the bottom of the ninth, Arizona reliever Luis Frías came in with one on and one out. He struck out a pinch-hitter, but walked Adolis García on five pitches, while also throwing over to first, with the first baseman not holding the runner and standing 20 feet away from the bag. He fell behind 2-0 on Garver. AZ pitching coach Brent Strom headed to the mound. I wondered if Strom would put a calming hand on Frías's shoulder. Not exactly. He walked up to the pitcher, faced him, and put a hand on each shoulder. Two hands! But it did not seem completely friendly. His mouth was blocked from the camera, so I don't know what he was saying, but I'll bet it was along the lines of "You're up by eight fuckin runs, you  fuckin need one fuckin out, so fuckin throw some motherfuckin strikes so we can get the fuck out of here. Okay?" Whatever he said, it worked. A called strike, a foul, and a line out to third.

Sarah Langs brings the stat factoids:

1) After a home run in Game 1, Pham produced again on Saturday, becoming the 18th player in World Series history to go 4-for-4 in a game. He was the first to do so since Pablo Sandoval in his three-homer performance in Game 1 in 2012. The only other instances in the Wild Card era were Matt Holliday (2007) and Tim Salmon (2002), each in a Game 2. . . .

3) The D-backs combined for 16 hits, the most in a World Series game since the Giants had 16 in 2014 Game 4. The only other team to reach that mark in the last 20 World Series was the Red Sox, with 17 in 2007 Game 1.

4) They also barely struck out, doing so just twice at the plate. The D-backs became the third team to strike out two or fewer times in a World Series game in the Wild Card era, joining the 2010 Rangers in Game 2 (two) and 2002 Angels in Game 2 (none). Only five other teams have had at least 15 hits and two or fewer strikeouts in a Fall Classic game: those '02 Angels in Game 2, the 1987 Twins in Game 6, 1928 Yankees in Game 4, 1912 Giants in Game 7 and 1910 A’s in Game 3. . . .

8) It wasn't all hits, though. The D-backs became the first team with three sacrifice bunts in a World Series game since the Cardinals in Game 5 of the 2011 World Series, also in Texas. They were the first team to win a World Series game with at least three sacrifice bunts since the A's in 1974 Game 1. Only one team had a game with three this year in the regular season: the D-backs, on May 6.

9) As great as the offense was, so was Kelly, who went seven innings with nine strikeouts and no walks. Only four pitchers have had more strikeouts with no walks in a World Series game: 2017 Clayton Kershaw (11), 1949 Don Newcombe (11), 2009 Cliff Lee (10) and 1903 Deacon Phillippe (10) – all in Game 1s. Phillippe's was the first World Series game.

10) With the split in Arlington, this is the 11th consecutive World Series that will not end in a sweep, with the last one coming by the Giants in 2012. Eleven consecutive World Series without a sweep is the second-longest stretch in World Series history, behind a 12-year streak from 1977-88 that saw no teams record a World Series sweep.

Outdated Cultural Reference Dept.:

When Adolis García (0-for-3, walk) fouled off a 2-2 pitch in the seventh, his left foot slipped in the batters box and he fell down. He sat on his ass for a second or two before getting up. Spilborghs remarked that he "looked like a broken wagon wheel". Forget the lame 45-year-old pop music references. This is more like a 155-year-old reference! It made no sense, but I liked it.

While looking for pictures of wagon wheels, I saw this picture from 1908 ("Fred Pearson and family, Johnson County, Kansas). Note the dog has elegantly crossed her front paws for the picture.

October 28, 2023

WS 1: Texas 6, Diamondbacks 5 (11)

Arizona - 003 110 000 00 - 5  8  0
Texas - 201 000 002 01 - 6 9 0

The Arizona Diamondbacks were two outs away from a 5-3 victory in Game 1 of the 2023 World Series. They were 7-0 in the postseason when leading after seven innings.

But with a runner on first base, courtesy of pitcher Paul Seward's leadoff walk to Taveras, Corey Seager – who had walked twice and scored twice in the early innings – crushed a first-pitch, game-tying, two-run home run to right.

Seward would hit a batter and issue an intentional walk before getting out of the inning. Texas stranded two runners on base in the tenth. With one out in the bottom of the eleventh, Adolis García hit an opposite-field, walk-off home run off Miguel Castro, giving his team a 6-5 victory.

It was the 17th walkoff homer in World Series history and first since 2018. It was also García's 22nd run batted in of this postseason, which set a new major league record. This is a record that needs a lot of context, of course. For roughly 70 years, the postseason (it was simply called the "World Series" back then) lasted a maximum of seven games. With the 2023 postseason schedule, a team could potentially play as many as 24 games.

García has collected his 22 RBI in 13 games and 59 plate appearances. The record he broke was set by David Freese of the 2011 Cardinals, who had 21 RBI in 18 games and 71 plate appearances. (St. Louis beat Texas in seven games in that World Series.)

García is the second player to hit a walkoff home run in his first World Series game. Dusty Rhodes of the New York Giants did it (as a pinch-hitter in the 10th inning!) in Game 1 of the 1954 WS, against Cleveland.

García has now homered in five straight games, tied with Carlos Beltrán (2004), George Springer (2017-18), and Giancarlo Stanton (2020) for the second-longest streak in postseason history. Daniel Murphy donged in six straight games in 2015.

García has an RBI in seven straight games, tied for the second-longest streak in a single postseason, with Alex Rodriguez (2009) and Murphy (2015). The record is eight games, set by Ryan Howard in 2009.

García is also the third player with 2+ RBIs in four consecutive postseason games, joining Reggie Sanders (2005) and Stanton (2020).

Texas scored two runs in the first inning off Diamondback starter Zac Gallen (5-4-3-4-5, 99), who has struggled in the first innings of his starts this postseason. He's now given up nine runs in the first innings of his six starts. Gallen walked Seager before giving up a double to Evan Carter and a single to García.

Nathan Eovaldi (4.2-6-5-1-8, 89) started strongly for Texas, retiring the first six Snakes, four by strikeout and two on grounders to first. In the third, however, the bottom of the order got to him. Alek Thomas and Evan Longoria singled and Corbin Carroll lined a one-out triple to the base of the wall in right-center. Carroll scored on Marte's grounder to first when Nathaniel Lowe's throw to the plate was wide. 

Longoria's single was his first World Series hit since October 27, 2008 – 5,478 days ago. It's the longest span of days between WS hits in history, surpassing Tony Gwynn's record of 5,117 days (October 13, 1984 to October 17, 1998).

Texas tied the game 3-3 in the third, as Gallen issued three walks, including one with three on base.

Tommy Pham homered off Eovaldi to start the fourth and Geraldo Perdomo singled, stole second, and scored on Marte's double to right-center in the fifth. That gave Arizona a 5-3 lead, which is how things stayed until the ninth.

This is the third World Series to feature two wild card teams. Arizona has the third fewest wins of any World Series team (84-78). Only the 1973 Mets (82-79) and 2006 Cardinals (83-78) won fewer regular season games. I believe Rob "Piece of Metal" Manfred will not be satisified until the World Seris is won by a team with a losing record.

Texas became the first team to win a World Series game despite trailing by two or more runs in the ninth inning (or later) since 2015. It was the 11th such win in World Series history, and Arizona has been on the losing end of three of those games. The Philadelphia A's are the only other team with more than one such loss (1911 and 1914).

Arizona's Ketel Marte has a 17-game postseason hitting streak, tied with Hank Bauer (1956-58), Capt. Intangibles (1998-99), and Manny Ramirez (2003-04). Marte is the only one to hit safely in his first 17 postseason games.

MLB.com asked 58 writers for their WS predictions:


Texas: 30
Arizona: 28

# of Games:

7 games: 27
6 games: 27
5 games: 4

Game 2 starters: Merrill Kelly / Jordan Montgomery

October 25, 2023

Red Sox Hire Craig Breslow As New "Chief Baseball Officer"

The Red Sox have hired former Cubs assistant general manager Craig Breslow as the team's new chief baseball officer*. Breslow replaces Chaim Bloom, who was fired after four seasons, three of which ended with Boston all snuggly, but far from content, in the AL East basement.

*: Is it necessary to mention "baseball" in his job title? Isn't that more or less implied?

Breslow pitched for the Red Sox (and six other teams) during his 12-year career (2005-06, 2008-17). He was a member of the 2013 World Series champions.


I couldn't be more excited to return to the Boston Red Sox, an organization that means so much to my family and to me. I am humbled by the opportunity to lead baseball operations and to work alongside so many talented people. I'd like to thank John Henry, Tom Werner, Mike Gordon, and Sam Kennedy for entrusting me with executing the vision we share for this organization. I know firsthand how special winning in Boston is, and I look forward to once again experiencing that passion and success with our fans.

Great. Enjoy the rest of the day, because tomorrow morning, it's right into the fuckin hot seat, pal.

Chad Jennings, The Athletic:

According to multiple people with knowledge of the process, Breslow was the only candidate to receive a second interview. He's been described as a favorite of Red Sox ownership from the very beginning, and — perhaps not coincidentally — also a favorite of former Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, whose opinion still carries weight in the organization and who has long touted Breslow's potential as an executive.

"We don't have a predetermined set of qualifications necessarily that we're looking for," [Red Sox president Sam] Kennedy said at the end of the season. "But we do have a targeted list of individuals that we think will be able to help get us back where we belong in the American League East."

Many of those individuals declined to interview for the position, which is not unusual for this sort of hiring process, but the extent of it did catch the attention of many in the industry who felt the Red Sox were having a hard time rounding up qualified candidates. In retrospect, some now see Breslow, 43, as a favorite for the job all along. He checks a lot of boxes the Red Sox seem to value.

For one, Breslow is familiar with the Boston market. . . . [H]e's continued to live in nearby Newton, Mass., and worked remotely from home through much of his Cubs tenure. He's also a Yale graduate, often noted for his intelligence and for his familiarity with analytics and technology, two essentials of the modern game. . . .

Breslow is also a former player, specifically a pitcher, and pitching development has been a Red Sox organizational weakness for several seasons under multiple heads of baseball operations. . . .

Some in the organization have expressed concern about Breslow's relative lack of experience and the potential that he could keep pushing the team further to the analytic side of player evaluation and roster construction.* . . .

Jon Lester debuted in 2006 and Clay Buchholz in 2007, but after that the Red Sox went more than a decade without drafting and developing another consistent, long-term big-league starter. . . .

The organization in recent years shifted its player development philosophy to be more proactive and aggressive with its pitching prospects, and the team might have graduated its latest rotation fixture in 24-year-old Brayan Bello . . . The rise of Kutter Crawford and the second-half performance of prospect Wikelman Gonzalez are also signs of progress on the mound. . . .

[E]arlier this offseason . . . the Red Sox let go of longtime pitching coach Dave Bush, who'd been a key voice in the organization's pitching program for eight years . . . [and they] decided not to bring back Triple-A pitching coach Paul Abbott, who'd been working in the organization for 13 years.

Clearly, the organization was working toward a pitching overhaul regardless of the person in charge.

Now the person in charge is a former big-league pitcher who worked extensively to overhaul the pitching program of his previous franchise. It's not hard to compare Breslow to first-year [Texas] general manager Chris Young, another former pitcher with an Ivy League education who had little front-office experience before replacing Jon Daniels as the head of baseball operations late last season. Young already has [Texas] in the [2023] World Series.

*: Oh, the fuckin horror of it all! The very thought that Breslow might consider facts and weigh probabilities is a cause for "concern"!! Who the hell is clutching pearls because of that? Jesus, it amazes me still (after many decades of observing the world) the way intelligence and an open mind is consistently portrayed like drowning puppies and kittens or being possessed by the goddamn devil.

Matthew Kory ponders this Breslow news at Sox Outsider:

There are a lot of Assistant GMs in baseball and it's not like the Cubs, while a good team in 2023, have had a run of excellence where teams are lining up to hire their front office people. . . . [I]t seems Breslow's big selling point was his role in revamping the Cubs pitching program. . . .

Using fWAR as a quick 'n dirty metric, the Cubs went from 29th in team pitching in 2021 to 26th in 2022 to ninth this past season. That's ahead of the Dodgers, Brewers, [Atlanta], Astros, and Guardians, as well as a certain team you might be aware of that resides in Eastern Massachusetts. . . .

Even so, these things are always kind of nebulous. In baseball, you can do the right thing and get wrong results. You can do the wrong thing and get right results. That's just how the sport works. And that applies on the field, in the draft room, and in the front office. . . .

Alex Speier of the Boston Globe, who broke this story and who you should absolutely be reading if you care at all about the Red Sox, points out that the Cubs pitching staff wasn't the only thing Breslow had going on. He was also involved in other aspects of the major league roster in Chicago.

That is good . . . because Breslow is going to have to hit the ground running in Boston. . . .

I don't think anyone thinks he can't do the job, and there were some reported candidates who I would've asked that question about. Still, being a smart and capable person isn't anything close to a guarantee of success in Boston. . . . Before Theo's two World Series, there was the belief that winning one championship would mean a job for life. We now know that's not true . . .

[I]t seems pretty clear this wasn't the [hiring] process the Red Sox thought they were going to conduct. . . . The Red Sox, I think, had eyes on a few different people to start with, including GM of the Dodgers Brandon Gomes, POBO of the Diamondbacks Mike Hazen, Phillies GM Sam Fuld, and Head of the Twins Derek Falvey, among others. All refused interviews for the job. Oops. . . . 

Previously the Red Sox hadn't really opened things up like this before, so I think they were likely surprised at their inability to attract top names. . . . So this might have been a bit of a wake up call for Red Sox ownership.

You might think all that would give Breslow a bit more slack but I doubt it.

Dan Secatore, Over The Monster:

[Breslow] has held precisely one front office job in his life: he ran the Chicago Cubs pitching development program for the past four years. It looks like he did an outstanding job in that role. . . . Cubs minor league pitchers collectively threw harder than the pitchers of any other organization in 2023 and were graded to have the second-best stuff. Meanwhile, homegrown Cubs pitchers tossed 417.1 innings last year, after totaling just 178.1 innings between 2013 and 2019 combined. It seems like he's really, really good at running a pitching development program.

But, notably, Breslow's role appears to have had little to do with roster construction, free agent signings, or trades (though there are reports that he had become part of the Cubs front office "inner circle," beyond his role in pitching development). In light of the fact that many speculate that Bloom was let go because ownership didn't think he had what it takes to aggressively pursue the Major League talent required to take the Red Sox to the next level, hiring someone with an indiscernible track record in that area is certainly an interesting choice.

So is he any good? No one knows yet, but let's hope so.

October 7, 2023

ALDS / NLDS Begin Today
Also: Predictions From MLB.com and The Athletic

Eight teams remain.

The Dodgers are the first team in major league history to win 100+ games in four consecutive complete seasons (i.e., disregarding strike- or plague-shortened seasons, such as 2020 (though LA was on pace for 116 wins that year)). A majority of around 100 MLB players predict Shohei Ohtani will wear a Dodgers' uniform in 2024: LA 57.2%, Angels 11.4%, Padres/Mets 7.2%, Yankees 6.3%.

The Astros are trying to play in their seventh consecutive ALCS (they have not missed it since 2016).

Eleven mlb.com writers predict the rest of the postseason. You can find each writer's picks are at the link. I added them all together:


Orioles over Texas 9-2
Orioles in 3 games (1 vote), 4 games (4), 5 games (4)
Texas in 4 games (1), 5 games (1)

Twins over Astros 6-5
Twins in 4 games (3), 5 games (3)
Astros in 4 games (2), 5 games (3)


Phillies over Atlanta 6-5
Phillies in 4 games (2), 5 games (4)
Atlanta in 4 games (1), 5 games (4)

Dodgers over Diamondbacks 11-0
Dodgers in 3 games (1), 4 games (9), 5 games (1)


Twins in 6 games: 4
Orioles in 6 games: 4
Astros in 6 games: 3


Phillies 6, Atlanta 3, Dodgers 1
Phillies in 6 games (3), 7 games (3)
Atlanta in 6 games (2), 7 games (1)
Dodgers in 6 games (1), 7 games (1)


Phillies 6, Atlanta 3, Dodgers 1, Astros 1
Phillies in 5 games (1), 6 games (3), 7 games (2)
Atlanta in 5 games (1), 6 games (1), 7 games (1)
Dodgers in 5 games (1)
Astros in 6 games (1)


Bryce Harper, Phillies – 3
Trea Turner, Phillies – 3
Ronald Acuña, Atlanta – 2
Freddie Freedman, Dodgers – 1
Kyle Tucker, Astros – 1
Matt Olson, Orioles – 1

Eighteen writers at The Athletic weighed in with their DS picks:

Orioles (12 votes), Rangers (6)
Astros (9), Twins (8)


Atlanta (12), Phillies (6)
Dodgers (14), Diamondbacks (2)
Seriously? People Are Still Arguing About This Nonsense In Late 2023?

October 2, 2023

2023 Postseason Begins Tuesday

The 2023 postseason begins tomorrow, with four Wild Card games on both Tuesday and Wednesday, with any third games on Thursday. The ALDS and NLDS will begin on Saturday. (Day-by-day schedule.)

Mlb.com's Anthony Castrovince ranks each postseason team's offense and pitching staff, a task he says is "usually senseless" and "bound to blow up in our faces", but "it's fun". (I added the rankings out of curiosity.)
Atlanta 1 8 9
Phillies 6 4 10
Blue Jays 8 2 10
Rays 5 6 11
Astros 4 7 11
Dodgers 3 9 12
Brewers 11 1 12
Orioles 7 5 12
Twins 9 3 12
Texas 2 11 13
Diamondbacks 10 12 22
Marlins 12 10 22
ESPN's Jeff Passan points out: that the team with the best regular season record "rarely" wins the World Series. "Over the 54 seasons since MLB went to divisions, only 14 times has the team with the top record won the World Series." That's only 26%. I hope it's true for this year. Passan predicts Atlanta over the Rays:
Atlanta is "the best team in baseball, and it's not particularly close. The offense scored 947 runs, the most by an NL team since the 2000 Colorado Rockies — and the most by an NL team not in absurdly thin air since the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers. . . . Atlanta's starting pitching is plenty. While the bullpen is nobody's idea of dominant, [Atlanta] relievers are striking out the most batters in the NL . . . They can win the World Series because they are better than the other 29 teams in baseball, on paper, and the gap is not insignificant.
The Twins have not won a postseason game since October 5, 2004; that was ALDS Game 1. They have lost 18 consecutive postseason games (13 (!) of them to the Yankees).
2004 - Lost ALDS 1-3 to Yankees (2-0, 6-7 (12), 4-8, 5-6 (11))
2006 - Lost ALDS 0-3 to Athletics (2-3, 2-5, 3-8)
2009 - Lost ALDS 0-3 to Yankees (2-7, 3-4 (11), 1-4)
2010 - Lost ALDS 0-3 to Yankees (4-6, 2-5, 1-6)
2017 - Lost ALWC 0-1 to Yankees (4-8)
2019 - Lost ALDS 0-3 to Yankees (4-10, 2-8, 1-5)
2020 - Lost ALWC 0-2 to Astros (1-4, 1-3)
Will Leitch ranks the top 50 players in the postseason, based on "a mix of 2023 form, track record and health". Here's the Top 10: Mookie Betts, Ronald Acuña, Corey Seager, Freddie Freeman, Matt Olson, Bryce Harper, Justin Verlander, Corbin Carroll, Clayton Kershaw, and Luis Arraez.

Freeman finished this season with 59 doubles, coming up one "Baltimore dong" short of being the first player in 87 years to hit 60. Five of the six times an AL/NL player hit 60+ doubles in a season occurred within a span of only five seasons.
67  -  Earl Webb, Red Sox (1931)
64  -  Joe Medwick, Cardinals (1936)
64  -  George Burns, Cleveland (1926)
63  -  Hank Greenberg, Tigers (1934)
62  -  Paul Waner, Pirates (1932)
60  -  Charlie Gehringer, Tigers (1936)
The Sporting News "has produced a model that simulates the entire MLB postseason 10,000 times. The model then tallies the winners of each series, then seeing how often the teams win each series to calculate the win probabilities. The model results are based on production during the season by each team."

American League Pennant
Astros       26.2%
Orioles 23.4%
Rays 14.4%
Twins 13.1%
Texas 12.7%
Blue Jays 10.1%
National League Pennant
Atlanta      32.7%
Dodgers 29.1%
Phillies 12.4%
Brewers 9.3%
Diamondbacks 8.7%
Marlins 7.8%
World Series
Atlanta      22.1%
Dodgers 17.1%
Astros 12.3%
Orioles 8.9%
Rays 7.3%
Texas 6.9%
Phillies 6.2%
Twins 6.0%
Blue Jays 4.2%
Diamondbacks 3.3%
Brewers 3.0%
Marlins 2.8%

October 1, 2023

RIP Tim Wakefield (1966-2023)

Tim Wakefield died today. He was 57.

I'm speechless. It's horrible news. Fifty-seven is an obscenely young age.

Wakefield underwent surgery a few weeks ago in an attempt to slow the progression of the cancer, which was very aggressive. It's horrific that he and his family were forced to experience the unwanted publicity of his diagnosis in what turned out to be the final days of his life. Wakefield is survived by his wife Stacy (who reportedly is also dealing with a form of cancer) and children Trevor and Brianna.

Red Sox principal owner John Henry:

Tim's kindness and indomitable spirit were as legendary as his knuckleball. He not only captivated us on the field but was the rare athlete whose legacy extended beyond the record books to the countless lives he touched with his warmth and genuine spirit. He had a remarkable ability to uplift, inspire, and connect with others in a way that showed us the true definition of greatness. He embodied the very best of what it means to be a member of the Boston Red Sox and his loss is felt deeply by all of us.

Wakefield was originally signed as an infielder by the Pirates. His one major league home run came in 1993.

Wakefield pitched 17 seasons for the Red Sox (1995-2011), in every conceivable role. Only three players had longer careers with Boston: Carl Yastrzemski (23 years), Ted Williams (19) and Dwight Evans (19). Wakefield made more starts (430) and pitched more innings (3,006) than any other Red Sox pitcher, and his 186 wins ranks second in team history. (I really wanted him to win 193 and grab the top spot.) With his Pittsburgh stats, he finished with an even 200 major league wins.

Three posts from Sons of Sam Horn:


Tim Wakefield is uniquely a multi-generational Red Sox, from 1995-2011 playing a significant part of every single season. From the heartache to beyond the realm of reality (2 titles!) and into the downturn again. So many fans from an age of memory/relevance, roughly 35-65 year old and beyond, remember vividly, of the mastery of Tim Wakefield.


Summer of 1995 was a transition year in my life, and Wake was appointment viewing. I'll always be grateful for what he brought that year.

In subsequent years we watched him have highs and lows, particularly struggling through the lows to find it. He'd turn over every rock, talking to other knuckleballers, mostly retired. He fought through it back to the highs. It was like he could be any one of us, trying to figure out life and career. Having good days and bad days, working through it. Not some Adonis with an arm touched by God. He felt like one of us. . . . The kind of guy who could be your next door neighbor.

Patriot_Reign shared this story:

I know many people here generally despise Gerry Callahan but I occasionally listen to his podcast. Earlier today [last Thursday, September 28]. . . GC was leading off with the Wakefield news so I gave it a listen for a bit. He talked about how Wake was far and away one of the largest contributors to the Jimmy Fund and how many of the celebrities were happy to show up when cameras were rolling to get that credit. But Wake would show up unannounced in his game jersey and hand out gloves or baseballs just because.

Then he told this story about how an event was taking place at the hospital and there was one kid who was Wake's biggest fan but when he got there the kid was unavailable because he was receiving treatment. Someone mentioned this to Wake.

So he went to the kid's room and waited three hours by himself until he got back.

Imagine on one of your many worst days of your life going back to your hospital bed and your favorite baseball player is just hanging out waiting for you.

Considering how the 2003 season ended, no one deserved to win a World Series title in 2004 more than Tim Wakefield. (No Red Sox fan blamed Wakefield for 2003, of course, but he initially feared he would forever be a pariah.) Wakefield was also a member of the 2007 World Champions.