Getting Caught Up In The Numbers
Tuesday night the Major League baseball season came to an end with the Los Angeles Dodgers winning their first World Series since 1988.
To get there they had to scrap, battle, and find a way to survive the grind it takes to be the last team standing. Along the way you also need a few breaks to be crowned champion.
In Game 6, the Dodgers got a HUGE break.
Taking you back to Game 6 where Blake Snell is absolutely dealing for the Tampa Bay Rays.
He is having the start of his life and was getting to the Rays self-imposed finish line of the third time around the order. This is a pre-determined team philosophy based on numbers that suggest bad things happen when you face a batter more than twice.
Most talent evaluators who are at least willing to be flexible to analytics will tell you a marriage of numbers and feel (eyeball test) are ideal when making critical in game decisions. I don’t think it is practical to be too much on either side of the argument. In this specific case though it didn’t feel like any argument.
Blake Snell had faced the Dodgers “tone setters” of Betts, Seager and Turner and they were a combined 0 for 6 with 6 strikeouts. I am almost certain that has never happened before and may never happen again. Seager was the hottest hitter in the series and Snell had cracked that code.
So we get to the 6th inning when Snell forced a popout to Pollock and then the 9th batter Barnes got a single up the middle. That was only the 2nd hit he allowed, he had struck out 9 and walked nobody. His pitch count was at 73 and the lead was a precious one-run advantage.
Manager Kevin Cash stuck with a team wide plan that honestly got them to this point, but this is one where feel felt like the right call.
It felt like it at the time and certainly afterwards too when the results backed it up. Betts doubled, a passed ball scored a run, a fielders choice scored a run and now the dominant performance was gone, so was the lead an ultimately the World Series.
The Rays bullpen is really good, but I would bet you to a man the Dodgers were thrilled to see a different arm on the mound. The mood changed, the game changed, and the numbers don’t account for that. I think you shouldn’t dismiss the numbers, but you can’t let them dictate ALL of your moves.
This will be a fantastic case study for years to come but a painful one for the Tampa Bay Rays.