Monday, October 21, 2019

Monday Morning Hot Links

Okay, friends, it's now been 24 hours since the Astros won the Pennant. Time to read for pleasure, go to bed, hydrate tonight, and then it's GO TIME.

Hey I got an idea, Billiam: Let's spell it "cannolli" and just include an extra L for gits and shiggles.

*Over at FanGraphs, Dan Szymborski has the game-by-game probabilities for the World Series and it's 60-40 Astros. This is weird, but as of now the Astros do not dip below 51.1% for any of the seven games. Szymborski also broke down the Astros' Game 6 win.

To that end, Caesar's Sportsbook opened the Astros at -235 to win the Series, the best odds to win a World Series since the 2007 Red Sox/Rockies World Series.

*The Washington Post's Neil Greenberg took a look at how teams fared in the World Series based on the amount of rest they had going in. Greenberg:
In 2012, MLB added a second wild-card team to each league. Since then, the World Series team with more rest has posted a 1-6 record, with the lone victory coming last season when the Boston Red Sox, after five days off, defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, who had a three-day break...Before that, the team with fewer rest had won nine straight titles.

Click the link to read some more nuance and context and how No This Is Actually A Good Thing comes into play.

*If any of you have an ESPN+ subscription (I do not), you can read how this has the potential to be a thrilling World Series.

*Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Anibal Sanchez were all teammates in Detroit and now find themselves once again in the World Series. I guess that confirms it: San Francisco in 6.

*26 Facts about the 2019 World Series. This nugget:
The Nationals might have dominated the Cardinals in the NLCS, but now they'll have to buck recent history. Just one of the past eight clubs (the 1995 Braves) who have swept an LCS have gone on to win the World Series, and the last five teams to do so are 0-5 in the Fall Classic.

*Richard Justice on Jose Altuve: From $15K contract to Astros legend. Or you can go back a couple of years and read this Altuve profile in The Atlantic (not The Athletic) and see a wider-angled view of an article trying to introduce Altuve to the general public.

*Chandler Rome: The Astros are winning in the postseason via the home run. Hinch:
I don't really care what we hit, as long as we win games.

I have some time on my hands for a little bit, so let's break this Series down. On May 23, the Astros lost to the White Sox 4-0 and the Nationals fell to the Mets 6-4. Houston was 33-18, Washington was 19-31, 1.5 games better than the Marlins for the worst record in the NL. Since May 23 (postseason not included):

Houston: 74-37
Washington: 74-38


FanGraphs had the Astros as the best offensive team in baseball, with all offensive players combining for 40.8 fWAR. The Nationals were 8th, at 26.0 fWAR. Pitching-wise, it was much closer. The Astros were 4th in MLB at 23.7 fWAR, with the Nationals right behind at 22.3 fWAR.

Home Record:
Houston: 65-22
Washington: 54-32

Houston was legendarily good at home in 2019, and are 5-1 in the postseason at Minute Maid Park so far.

Away Record:
Houston: 49-37
Washington: 47-39


Inter-League Record:
Houston: 11-9
Washington: 14-6

Houston's record included a ten-day stretch from June 17-27 when the Astros went 1-5 against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, with a 1-3 series against the AL Silver Medalist New York Yankees in between. Washington got to play their rival Orioles plus the AL Central White Sox, Twins, Indians, and Royals (12-4).

Houston: 79-37, 3.61 ERA / 1.09 WHIP, 4.24 K:BB ratio, .672 OPS-against. 19.4 fWAR (4th in MLB).
Washington: 66-36, 3.53 ERA / 1.19 WHIP, 3.39 K:BB ratio, .685 OPS-against. 21.4 fWAR (1st in MLB).

Washington has enjoyed the best rotation in the 2019 playoffs thus far, at least according to some major dashboard stats: 61.2IP, 37H/14ER, 88K:20BB, 2.04 ERA / 0.93 WHIP. So far, Houston starters have a 3.16 ERA / 1.23 WHIP, but the Rays and Yankees aren't exactly the Dodgers and Cardinals. If there is a team that could possibly match up well with Cole-Verlander-Greinke, it's the Washington trio of Scherzer-Strasburg-Martin. This should be fun to watch and, by fun, I mean agonizing.

Houston: 28-18, 3.75 ERA / 1.20 WHIP, 3.09 K:BB ratio, .694 OPS-against. 4.3 fWAR (8th in MLB).
Washington: 27-33, 5.68 ERA / 1.48 WHIP, 2.29 K:BB ratio, .800 OPS-against. 0.9 fWAR (22nd in MLB).

Washington's much-maligned bullpen earned all of that maligning. The Nationals' bullpen in the postseason is sporting a 4.76 ERA, the only two bullpens worse were the Dodgers and Twins, and heh we saw what happened to those guys in the Division Series. That said, and I don't think I'll get a job at The Athletic (wink) for pointing this out, if the Astros can get into the Nationals' bullpen, things look pretty good for Houston.

Now for the position players. For Washington, I used the defensive alignment from NLCS Game 4 as a guide, but included production over the year from that position, as well:

First Base:
Houston: .287/.350/.498, 111 OPS+, 4.1 fWAR (5th)
Washington: .280/.330/.513, 109 OPS+, 2.9 fWAR (11th)

Second Base:
Houston: .290/.343/.535, 136 OPS+, 5.2 fWAR (6th)
Washington: .259/.354/.468, 123 OPS+, 2.6 fWAR (13th)

Third Base:
Houston 3Bs: .268/.379/.512, 124 OPS+, 12.0 fWAR (1st)
Washington 3Bs: .314/.402/.570, 143 OPS+, 6.6 fWAR (3rd)

If there is a legit threat to Bregman's standing as the Best 3B in Baseball, it's from Houston's own Anthony Rendon, who had a monster year in 2019.

Houston SSs: .283/.375/.543, 137 OPS+, 12.4 fWAR (1st)
Washington SSs: .281/.340/.458, 107 OPS+, 2.8 fWAR (16th)

Left Field:
Houston LFs: .313/.370/.515, 124 OPS+, 5.1 fWAR (T-6th)
Washington LFs: .281/.397/.536, 137 OPS+, 5.1 fWAR (T-6th)

Center Field:
Houston CFs: .273/.348/.516, 130 OPS+, 7.6 fWAR (5th)
Washington CFs: .260/.327/.430, 103 OPS+, 2.5 fWAR (13th)

Right Field:
Houston RFs: .270/.330/.417, 88 OPS+, 8.4 fWAR (3rd)
Washington RFs: .271/.350/.418, 98  OPS+, 2.5 fWAR (17th)

Houston Cs: .217/.317/.390, 98 OPS+, 2.7 fWAR (12th)
Washington Cs: .240/.316/.427, 107 OPS+, 1.1 fWAR (19th)

*I guess, if you wanted to, you could read Mike Petriello's position-by-position breakdown and see who he gives the edge to, including giving the Nationals the edge in Starting Pitching, with a prediction: Astros in 6.

*Jim Callis: How the Astros and Nationals built their Pennant-winners.

*MLBTR: Examining the ripple effects of the failed Bryce Harper-to-Houston trade in July 2018.

*Bench Coach Joe Espada spent yesterday interviewing for a second time with the Cubs.

*New York reliever Chad Green, on the Yankees' strategy of aggressively deploying the bullpen:
There's only so many things that we can do. It makes us try to be too perfect. You can kind of get yourself into trouble the more you face guys.

Related, but not paywalled: The Yankees had a starting pitcher-sized hole in their roster construction.

*Want tickets to Games 1 or 2? TicketIQ has been gracious enough to #pay me to include this link so you can get yourself to the game.

*A Musical Selection: