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A Baseball Blog - Scientific and Speculative Thoughts from Third Base

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The World Series, Melky Cabrera, and Other Thoughts

I'm not sure how much I have to add to this discussion, but Dan Szymborski has an interesting article up over at ESPN (insider) today. He covers most of the arguments, but his basic point is that Melky Cabrera is again eligible to play baseball, and the Giants are still not using him in the World Series, despite keeping players like Aubrey Huff, Gregor Blanco, and Joaquin Arias on the roster.



No matter what your opinions are about Cabrera, he was very good this year. Fangraphs has him at 4.6 WAR in just over two-thirds of the season. Even if a lot of his performance was luck-driven, you have to admit that having him on the roster would easily improve the Giants over having Huff or some of the other bench-quality players.

That really only leaves the morality argument. Except that the Giants are keeping reliever Guillermo Mota on the roster, despite the fact that he served a 100-game suspension earlier this year for failing a drug test. So what makes Mota less morally-adverse?

In a seven-game series, the Giants are going to need to take every edge they can get. Leaving Cabrera out is purposely hurting their chances, similar to the Strasburg-shutdown.

I'm going to go ahead and throw in a prediction: Tigers win the Series. If I have to attach a number, I'll go with six games, I guess; that seems like a reasonable guess. Basically, my reasoning is that the Tigers get to throw Justin Verlander three times in seven games, and that's a rather favorable advantage in my opinion.

On that topic, I saw some people (granted, a minority of people, but still) trying to claim that this World Series contains the two best teams. I really hope most people don't actually buy this claim (most seem not to anyway, but it was still painful to read the logical jumps). No, winning three straight series does not necessarily make you the best team.

Neither of these teams would have even made the postseason under the old four team format (We would have had the Yankees and Nationals out of the East Divisions and the A's and Reds out of the Wests). I really don't care; I've always lived with this format, and I enjoy it to an extent (although I preferred the old eight-team tournament more). I just understand that the World Series winner isn't the same thing as best team and moved on.

Same thing this year. The Tigers had the seventh best record in the AL*; the Giants tied for the fourth-best record in the NL. You could very easily argue neither was even in the top three in their league, maybe even top five if you really want to argue and like the Cardinals' run differential. Point is, the World Series winner isn't the best team. As long as you understand that, you're fine.

*Isn't it amazing what happens when Justin Verlander goes from making one-fifth of your starts to one-third? He's already pitched in three of the Tigers' nine games so far, with up to three more in the final seven a possibility. 

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