2003 World Series Preview

Waiting at 0-4 Station

Here's the playoff series record (since '96) of the teams with the highest drafted pitcher of the playoffs, including Steve's semi-final win in 2003 ... 8-5. It's not just that this pitcher is dominant, it's that with the playoff rules as they are for relievers, often a dominant kind of complete game win can be a difference maker in a series in the fact that it allows a pen to rest. Even a complete game loss can prove to be an advantage, as it may come at the cost of the other team's pen being used, and it again gives some rest to the dominant starter's pen.

So does that mean Steve is my favorite? Ordinarily, yes, that would be enough. But in a tale of the tape, it's otherwise Chris's series.

Batting Ave Steve's best player not a regular until the 40 game mark
Chris with a solid blend of on-base, iso and average
Isolated On-base Chipper, Olerud and Spivey, then a whole lot of swinging going on
Giles and Thome 2-3 in the league in walks, with others who did ok
Isolated Power Steve near the bottom of the league in ISO
Chris near the top in ISO
Team Speed Olerud, Molina only slow regulars
Thome, 3B and catcher could slow Chris down
Stealing % Beltran, CJones, Cedeno
Lot of guys in the lineup won't be straight stealing
Stealing Freq. Push
Bench Chris
Starting Pitching Steve desperately needs 2 quality starts from Pedro
Bullpen Both teams pen had excellent semi-finals
Bullpen Innings Steve has more guys going more innings, though Kline and The Gambler not the ideal lefty stoppers
Defense Chris
Player Usage Flex. Steve's flexibility takes a hit with his injuries, and his catching troika probably a better in-season tool
Intangibles Chris

Didn't Steve win the league Batting Ave. title? He did, but in the opening round Chris had a better Team Batting Ave. And Steve is limited by some injuries right off the bat. And Chris will benefit for proportionally more play from Colbrunn, Pratt, and the like. Steve will be tested again this series to maintain his penchant for the hit and run while keeping his runners from stealing ... a penchant that helped him immensely in regular season batting average. But I digress, as Batting Ave. isn't a great stat anyway.

In fact, no tale of the tape is worth anything, unless it comes from Nick Bakay. They matter less considering Steve didn't have great individuals on his way to the President's Cup, to the point where most teams in the league look like the could beat him when stacked up this way. I know I felt that way about him during the season, and I went 5-15. The only thing that may matter is management ... game to game, inning to inning, batter to batter, pitch to pitch. Steve is a great in-season manager ... pitch to pitch, he squeezes blood out of his turnips, period. This is why he's the all-time leader in MOY votes. Not to sound trite but the playoffs are a different game, and the Cedeno misuse illustrates to me that he is not the same manager in the playoffs. Steve did another mismanagement against me in the 1998 playoffs, where he used his 2B platoon -types too much in the first games and was forced to use pinch-runner Tony Womack as his starting 2B in Game 4 ... after going an entire season making substitutions in a specific pattern, he failed to adapt to the nuances of the playoffs. As Steve pointed out in one "defense" of the Cedeno move, he had conditioned himself to run with Cedeno. He is conditioned to managing a certain way in the regular season, and he hasn't shown himself to have the intricacties of playoff team management down yet. Without ranting too much here against Steve (especially since others have shorted their innings of their weak starters in past playoffs), but can you imagine if Graves, Steve's 8th pitcher in game 7 against Dave (I think he was the 8th), had run of out innings, either after going 3 in extras or by maxing out his allowed playoff innings? In my opinion, Brian Lawrence, the game 4 starter, would have had to finish the game, or maybe Steve's DH. I guess my point is that in the playoffs, we have different rules, and Steve may have made the World Series in spite of his managerial genius.

Am I saying Chris will win just because he's had more sustained success in the playoffs in the past? The past doesn't mean spit, in some regard. And I am not saying Steve's luck will run out. What I am saying is that Chris has managed well in past playoffs, and he has a better team in my opinion, with the exception of Pedro, and Steve has shown signs of not being the same savante in the playoffs. Add it up and that makes Chris my favorite.


Opinions of Keith Klein 11.16.2003