Baseball 2018: Batter Up!

Even though Spring Training started a couple weeks ago, I held off starting this year's thread for the new Ship. But now we are about a month away from the start of the season and it is time to contemplate the beauty of The Only Real Game. :mrgreen:

Last year, the Houston Astros won it all, and deservedly so. The teams that made the playoffs last year were:

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Washington Nationals
Chicago Cubs
LA Dodgers
Arizona Diamondbacks
Colorado Rockies

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Boston Red Sox
Cleveland Indians
Houston Astros
NY Yankees
Minnesota Twins

Why did I list them? Well, it is an interesting fact that, since 2005, at least 50% of the teams that make the playoffs one year do NOT make the playoffs the next. So, for example, in 2016, the Mets, Giants, Rangers, Orioles and Blue Jays made the playoffs, but they were replaced in 2017 by the D-backs, Rockies, Astros, Yankees and Twins.

Now, past results are no guarantee of future returns, but that trend has happened every year since 2005. As such, it is fair to consider: which five of last year's playoff teams will not make it this year?

As always, I am horrible at predictions. :unamused: But, since I have yet to really embarrass myself on the new Ship, I may as well get it out of the way: I think the D-backs, Rockies, Indians, Red Sox and Twins will stumble.

[Yes, I decided to play with the formatting keys! The New Ship has the best toys!]


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Comments

  • I'm not going to hold it against you for predicting that the Rockies will stumble. Last season's hot start and eventual hang-on for a playoff spot was a total surprise. I believe most of our core is still together (it's hard to tell, since sports talk around here is all Broncos all the time, even with the Nuggets (Basketball) in the middle of an astonishingly entertaining playoff race, and NFL kickoff six months away), so maybe we can put together another run. It was our bad luck last year to have a historically good season the same year that both the D-Backs and the Dodgers were also historically good, so hopefully at least one of those teams (whichever one you don't root for if you are reading this and have a rooting interest) takes a step back.
  • sloth357sloth357 Shipmate
    Curious English person here. Do people play professional baseball anywhere else apart from the USA? And does it ever get on to UK television?
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    sloth357 wrote: »
    Curious English person here. Do people play professional baseball anywhere else apart from the USA? And does it ever get on to UK television?
    Short answer is yes, it is played elsewhere. Japan has a very vibrant pro league. Some Japanese players have come to the US to play and some US players have gone to Japan to play.

    The Australian Baseball League just finished their season in February. I rather like the ABL because it starts just after the World Series ends, and it ends just before Spring Training starts here in the US. I am almost certain the players are paid, albeit probably not a lot.

    I think Korea also has a paying league. But my knowledge of it is very, very limited. Like, I just told you everything I know about it.

    As for coverage on UK television, I have no idea. The ABL managed to have a few games played on US television (to fill that void in the schedule around 3:00AM), so I suppose it is theoretically possible.

    Of course, there is also the British Baseball Federation, but my impression is that it is an amateur league, or "semi-pro" at best. I doubt it gets any television coverage. Anywhere.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    Oh. And I completely overlooked the Latin American leagues: Mexico, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, etc. Rather a lot of them, actually.
  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    sloth357 wrote: »
    Curious English person here. Do people play professional baseball anywhere else apart from the USA? And does it ever get on to UK television?

    It gets onto ESPN and/or BT Sport. Most games in the US are played in the evening so they start between midnight and 3am in the UK. Daytime games between 6pm and 9pm in the UK.

    Apropos non-US baseball, it is gaining in popularity in the British West Indies too, which contributes to the decline of Caribbean cricket. A couple of years even in the minor leagues can make one pretty well off in that part of the world.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    Opening Day!! :grin:

    Here is the schedule, AFAIK (times EST, because that's where I live and I am too lazy to convert them all):
      Chicago Cubs @ Miami Marlins, 12:40 pm St. Louis Cardinals @ New York Mets, 1:10 pm Minnesota Twins @ Baltimore Orioles, 3:05 pm Houston Astros @ Texas Rangers, 3:35 pm New York Yankees @ Toronto Blue Jays, 3:37 pm Boston Red Sox @ Tampa Bay Rays, 4:00 pm Los Angeles Angels @ Oakland Athletics, 4:05 pm Milwaukee Brewers @ San Diego Padres, 4:10 pm Philadelphia Phillies @ Atlanta Braves, 4:10 pm Chicago White Sox @ Kansas City Royals, 4:15 pm San Francisco Giants @ Los Angeles Dodgers, 7:08 pm Cleveland Indians @ Seattle Mariners, 10:10 pm Colorado Rockies @ Arizona Diamondbacks, 10:10 pm

    AIUI, Washington Nationals @ Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates @ Detroit Tigers have been postponed (rain fears). Honestly, I would not be surprised if the Phillies @ Atlanta ran into rain problems. There is a severe weather warning (thunderstorms, possible tornado) for Atlanta this evening.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    As always, there have been a few oddities to start the season. Sadly, a lot of them involve my Philadelphia Phillies (who have used 21 pitchers in 28 innings!). :anguished:

    But for true oddness, I give you the San Francisco Giants, who are 2-2 in the first four games...having scored a grand total of 2 runs in those four games.
  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    No, I'm not going to say anything....
  • Hedgehog wrote: »
    Oh. And I completely overlooked the Latin American leagues: Mexico, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, etc. Rather a lot of them, actually.

    So, is Canada's Toronto Blue Jays team, the only non-US MLB team, included in the "etc."? :smile:
  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    sionisais wrote: »
    No, I'm not going to say anything....

    And with that the Pirates lose their next game! You my now resume your usual mood of despair.
  • edited April 6
    It'll be a chilly, rainy, and possibly snowy (strike that "possibly"- it just started snowing) opening day at Coors Field today; hopefully they can get the game in.

    Having played their first seven on the road, the Rockies are off to a decent 4-3 start, which is enough for second place behind the white-hot Diamondbacks.
  • edited April 6
    And we got a snow delay. It's supposed to be nice tomorrow, in case they have to play two.

    In the meantime, we've been entertaining ourselves with this unfortunate error from the Denver Post. They had a special opening day feature in the Lifestyle section, highlighting the amenities at Coors Field.

    Only problem? The picture featured prominently on the cover was of Citizens' Bank Park in Philly. Hey, the big video replay scoreboard is in left field, could happen to anyone, right?

    (The sad part of the story is that the Post was recently bought out by a hedge fund, which runs local papers on a profit-before-journalism model, which lead to massive layoffs and a good portion of the sports writers departing for an online media group. So our once proud paper is so understaffed that this kind of thing slips through.)
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    @Og King of Bashan I'm confused: The photo in the link is of the Rockies stadium. The article refers to a huge "Phillies" sign, but the photo has a huge "Rockies" sign.
  • Keep scrolling to the actual newspaper cover, pictured in a tweet.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    Thanks! I found it on another site: kdvr.com/2018/04/06/denver-post-apologizes-after-using-wrong-photo-for-visitors-guide-to-coors-field/ I see the DP website is making the best of it: asking fans to send in their best photos of the stadium...because obviously the paper has no idea what it looks like!
  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate

    Only problem? The picture featured prominently on the cover was of Citizens' Bank Park in Philly. Hey, the big video replay scoreboard is in left field, could happen to anyone, right?

    (The sad part of the story is that the Post was recently bought out by a hedge fund, which runs local papers on a profit-before-journalism model, which lead to massive layoffs and a good portion of the sports writers departing for an online media group. So our once proud paper is so understaffed that this kind of thing slips through.)

    Looks like profit-before-subediting too, which is also common in this kind of paper.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate

    We are (roughly speaking) about a quarter of the way through the baseball season (ca. 40 games). So just a few observations:

    The current Best Team In Baseball in terms of win-loss percentage: the New York Yankees at 28-12 (.700). The Worst Team In Baseball: The Chicago White Sox at 10-27 (.270).

    Slightly connected to the above, the weakest division is the AL Central, where the first place team (Cleveland Indians) boast a 20-20 record (.500).

    Arguably, the most competitive division is the NL Central, where 4 of 5 teams are within 2 games of first. But it should be mentioned that the NL East, AL West and AL Central all have three teams within 2 games or less, so there are rather a lot of close divisions.

    A few unexpected things. NL East is being led by the Atlanta Braves, followed by the Phillies. The expected leaders (Washington Nats and NY Mets) are third and fourth, respectively. I don't expect that to hold up. NL Central has the Brewers in the top spot, which I also did not expect.

    Just as a follow up on my OP, if the playoffs were to start today, once again 5 teams that made the playoffs last year would not make the playoffs this year. Currently, the 5 who would miss out: Cubs, Rockies, Dodgers, Twins and Red Sox.
  • TheOrganistTheOrganist Shipmate
    I see from the news that there is to be an attempt at forming a baseball league in the UK.

    I admit to being puzzled: why would anyone want to pay money to go and see grown men (maybe women too?) playing rounders?
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    I see from the news that there is to be an attempt at forming a baseball league in the UK.

    I admit to being puzzled: why would anyone want to pay money to go and see grown men (maybe women too?) playing rounders?
    That same questions could be asked of every professional sports league...yet it is undeniable that people do pay loads of money to see adults play games.

    I'm curious about your comment at an "attempt" at forming a baseball league in the UK. The British Baseball Federation has been around for several years, with multiple divisions of play.

    Having said that, it doesn't look like the BBF website has been updated since February of 2018 (when it was announcing that a team from Birmingham was being added to the top or "national" league). And play was scheduled to start in April. Does anybody know what happened?
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    Ah! Solved my own question! After a little bit of DuckDuckGo-ing (well, I can't call it Googling, now can I?), I discovered that the BBF has been in a dispute over the ownership of the britishbaseball.org site I linked to above. While that dispute seems to be on its way to being resolved, in the meantime, the BBF can be found at https://britishbaseballfederation.com/.

    It looks like the Southampton Mustangs are the early favorite in the National League, being undefeated after 6 games.
  • Barnabas62Barnabas62 Purgatory Host, Dead Horses Host
    Here's one prediction. The WS winner will not come from the NL West!

  • *GO ORIOLES* Holy crab cakes, bat man...they crushed the Tampa Bays 3 in a row: 11-5, 11-2, & 15-5. Praying does pay off.

    I've just recently gone back to following the Birds, after years of ignoring baseball. Grew up in Baltimore, back in the glory days when the O's were supreme. My Daddy took me to games at Memorial Stadium and taught me to keep score- paper & pencil.

    Poor Birds have been dragging along, lose-ing-est team in the league, but have suddenly waked up and discovered what that bat is for. Sorry to lose Machado to the Left Coast, but hope he prospers there.

    I listen to the games on the radio (no TV, no cable) and I'm amazed and kind of annoyed by how statistics and analysis have taken over. Every pitch is studied and explained, close calls by umps are "challenged", etc. It's not the same game as it was years ago. But I'm hooked again. Keep it up ORIOLES. You have a friend in Pennsylvania. :)
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    My Blue Jays have decided to pack it in for the season trading established players for in most cases for prospects. Trading Happ to the Damn Yankees was sacrilege. Go Red Sox.
  • The O's have been toying with trading Adam Jones, an "old man" of 32 yrs. PLEASE don't do it. They are in rebuilding mode, too. Good grief, Jones is a gem, and very active in Baltimore kids programs. A good guy. And a terrific player. I fear that most of the players in the 30+ age range are gonna get shifted away. :(
  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    Caissa wrote: »
    My Blue Jays have decided to pack it in for the season trading established players for in most cases for prospects. Trading Happ to the Damn Yankees was sacrilege. Go Red Sox.

    Happy did a decent job at Pittsburgh for a while too.
  • Poor Birds. We've GOT to stop gifting first base to the opposition. And they let a 3-1 lead slip away. Gosh, don't they like winning?
  • Bottom of the 9th inning, at Baltimore. Red Socks ahead of the Birds 19 to 11. No its not a misprint. At one time the O's were ahead 8 to 3. I knew they'd give it away.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    A couple trivia notes:

    In yesterday's Texas Rangers-LA Angels game, we saw something that has not been done since 1912: a triple play in which the batter is NOT one of the people retired. From MLB.com:
    In the fourth inning, the Angels had the bases loaded when David Fletcher hit a ground ball to Rangers third baseman Jurickson Profar. Profar touched third for a forceout before tagging Taylor Ward, the runner on third, who thought Profar caught the ball and was retreating to the bag. Profar then threw to Rougned Odor, who tapped second base for a forceout and a 5-4 triple play.

    According to STATS, this was the first triple play in which the batter was not retired since June 3, 1912, when the Brooklyn Dodgers did it against the Reds.
    Meanwhile, in the first game of a doubleheader, the Mets blasted the Phillies 24-4. It was so bad that, for the last 3 innings, the Phillies decided not to use their relief pitchers (to save them for the second game of the doubleheader) and instead used two position players to throw the ball.

    This tactic of using position players to pitch has really exploded this year. So far this year 56 position players have ended up having to pitch. By comparison, from 1992 to 2006, a grand total of 58 position players were used. Why is it happening so much now? My guess is that current managers are far too quick to switch out pitchers--bringing somebody in to pitch to just one batter, for example. Heck, once this year a pitcher came in, the manager then signaled for an intentional walk (which the pitcher no longer actually has to throw--the runner just takes the base) and then the pitcher was taken out. A completely pointless use of a pitcher. In short, it comes down to Bad Managing. IMHO.
  • This year might also be the first where there are more strikeouts than base hits. :(
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    @sharkshooter, that certainly will be the case with the Phillies, who currently have something like 200 more strikeouts than hits this year! Disgraceful.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    Sorry for the double-post. For those interested, according to Baseball-Reference.com, this season there have been 31,116 hits and 30,964 strikeouts.
  • It's so hard to keep on rooting for the Orioles. If they happen to get ahead early on, which they've done quite a few times, you can safely predict that they will give it away, handing free passes to batters who will soon after round the bases and step on home plate.

    Some good news: Bucky Showalter [the manager with the personality and enthusiasm of a wad of used chewing gum] may well quit after this season.

    And lastly: I'm sorry to see Evan Philips sent down, as I was so happy with his first appearance. Not much after that. His grandmother sings in my choir. She is wonderful!
  • bassobasso Shipmate
    Hedgehog wrote: »
    Heck, once this year a pitcher came in, the manager then signaled for an intentional walk (which the pitcher no longer actually has to throw--the runner just takes the base)

    I really haven't been paying attention. I'd missed this change. Another sign of the apocalypse/declining standards/fall of civilization (choose no more than two).
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    And the first one falls: The Baltimore Orioles are now mathematically eliminated from the post-season. They have long been eliminated from winning their division (what with the Red Sox running away with things), but now they are also officially eliminated from the wild card chase.

    Kansas City will likely be the next to fall, possibly later this week.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    As expected, Kansas City is now officially eliminated.

    There are a few candidates for the next to fall. San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox seem the most likely, but possibly Texas Rangers. Regardless, it is going to take a week or so before it happens.
  • Well, that was pretty good guessing: As of today, San Diego Padres, Chicago White Sox and Texas Rangers have all been eliminated!

    Stay tuned, as Detroit Tigers and Miami Marlins are both likely to be eliminated in the next few days.
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    The NL West is making me crazy. LA, Arizona and Colorado have all been looking at each other: "After you!" "Oh, no, by all means, you first!" Somebody please decide you actually want to win this thing.
  • Ruth, I can empathize. Atlanta and the Phillies seem intent on seeing how many games they can lose and still win a division. And Washington steadfastly refuses to challenge either of them.

    As expected, Detroit has been eliminated.

    Miami, Toronto and Cincinnati are next on the chopping block.
  • And Miami and Toronto have been eliminated. Cincinnati is still hanging on by a thread.
  • Finally, we can move from the negative (teams being eliminated) to the positive (teams clinching a playoff spot)!

    No surprise, but the Boston Red Sox (99-46) have clinched a playoff spot. And I think Cleveland will clinch a spot by the end of this weekend.

    Nobody is close to clinching a spot in the NL yet.
  • Honestly, I have been following the Buccos this year, but there has been little worth saying. It has been a lingering death since about June.
  • An interesting fluke:

    Last week, in a game against the Phillies, Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg pulled off an unusual feat. He threw a pitch that glanced off the arm of the batter (Jorge Alfaro), ricocheted off the helmet of the catcher (Matt Wieters) and clunked off the facemask of the umpire (Hunter Wendelstedt). Thus, with ONE pitch, Strasburg managed to hit the batter, catcher and umpire--a triple play!

    A once-in-a-lifetime fluke? Well, not quite! In Strasburg's very next start (last night, against Miami), he did it again, hitting batter Brian Anderson, catcher Wieters (again) and umpire Brian Knight with one pitch!

    BTW, Cleveland did clinch, as predicted. I figure the Astros and Yankees will do it next, probably in that order. We are still some time away from the first NL playoff spot being claimed.
  • Ah. Slight miscalculation on my part. Oh, Houston clinched a playoff spot, as predicted, but the first NL team did so as well: the Atlanta Braves.

    In my defense, I really thought that the Phillies would put up more of a fight for the NL East. Credit me with an error: after all these years as a Phillies fan, I should know that "rolling over and dying" is their superpower.
  • The AL playoff teams are set: Boston; Cleveland; Houston; NY Yankees; and Oakland. The NL is still a bit up in the air. Atlanta is in. The final four spots will be from among the Cubs; Brewers; Dodgers; Cardinals and Rockies.

    This leads back to my OP.
    Hedgehog wrote: »
    Well, it is an interesting fact that, since 2005, at least 50% of the teams that make the playoffs one year do NOT make the playoffs the next.
    I don't think that we will make that 50% mark (5 teams) this year. Of last year's playoff teams, three are clearly not making it this year (Minnesota Twins; Washington Nationals; Arizona Diamondbacks). As the standings are right now, Colorado Rockies would also not make the cut. That is 4 teams, but I don't see any chance for a 5th to join them.

  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    Unbelievable. 162 games, and the NL Central and NL West are not settled. The 5 teams in the playoffs are determined, but not the seedings. So Colorado flies to LA tonight for a tie-breaker tomorrow, and Milwaukee goes to Chicago. Then the wild card game is Tuesday. Sheesh. Meanwhile Atlanta gets to rest up.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    The Brewers just beat the Cubs in "Game 163" to win the division. As such, now the loser of the Rockies-Dodgers game in LA (which has just started) has the "joy" of jumping onto a plane after the game to fly to Chicago to play tomorrow in a one-game wild card game. That's rough.
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    So the Rockies flew from Denver to Los Angeles Sunday night, lost on Monday, flew to Chicago Monday night, and have just gone ahead of the Cubs 2-1 in the top of the 13th. If that holds, they have to be in Milwaukee to play Thursday.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate

    Yesterday, the Brewers completed their sweep of the Colorado Rockies to advance to the NLCS.

    The Houston Astros have just completed their sweep of the Cleveland Native Americans to advance to the ALCS.

    And the Dodgers are currently leading the Atlanta Native Americans 1-0 in Game 4. If that holds up (and it is still a long way to go...they are just starting the 4th inning), then the Dodgers will proceed to the NLCS, having eliminated Atlanta.

    The only series that will definitely NOT finish tonight is the Red Sox-Yankees series.
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    Red Sox - Dodgers World Series starting Tuesday. Thoughts? Predictions? As a life-long Dodgers fan I am of course pulling for them, but the Red Sox are formidable, and I am afraid they will win in 6.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    The last time these two franchises met in the World Series was in 1916--and the LA Dodgers were then known as the Brooklyn Robins. The Red Sox featured a dynamic young pitcher named Babe Ruth. During the season he went 23-12 with a 1.75 ERA. In the World Series, Babe Ruth started Game 2, pitching 14 innings (!!) for a 2-1 complete game win (so his ERA was 0.64).

    The Red Sox won the series, 4-1.
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