Like I said last time, I'm not going to be drawing any major conclusions from the playoff games. I would assume MLB feels like they dodged a bullet with the Cardinals' loss tonight. Can you imagine the stares the World Series would have gotten if it had consisted of the second Wild Card and fifth-best team (record-wise) in the NL faced off with the seventh-best (yet still division-winning) team in the AL? Instead, we get at least one 90-win team. So I suppose they lucked out there.
One of the more unfortunate people from tonight was Carlos Beltran. I know a lot of people were rooting for Ichiro, as a way of adding one last thing to his resume. I was hoping that more for Beltran, though.
This marked his third career postseason appearance. Every one of them has ended with a loss in Game 7 of the NLCS. After losing to the Cardinals in 2004 and 2006, he finally joined them and had a resurgent year...only to lose to a Giants team that got rid of him after falling apart around him down the stretch last year (despite his solid play after arriving).*
*And not only that, but the player who replaced him for the season was left off the postseason roster anyway due to his positive steroid test.
At least now, though, people got another chance to realize just how good he's been in the postseason. For example, Carlos is now the leader in postseason OPS at 1.273*. Even crazier, his OPS went down with this postseason, despite a .368/.447/.763 (average/on-base/slugging) batting line (and a .313/.353/.688 NLCS performance that was arguably even more impressive than Series MVP Marco Scutaro's).
*General note, these numbers are from Baseball-Reference the night of Game 7, so it probably hasn't updated yet. He went 1-4 with a walk and his eleventh steal in eleven attempts, so it's not like his number got much worse.
For some reason, most people seemed to want to base his entire postseason career off that one pitch from Adam Wainwright. It was incredibly silly to be honest, and it's nice he got another chance to show everyone just how good he is. It's just kind of sad to see the King of October miss another Fall Classic; at 35, it may have been his last best chance to keep shocking the world with his skill.* In any case, it's a little sad to think about.
*Also, it's interesting to think how this relates to his Hall of Fame chances. For example, Baseball-Reference gives him 62.3 WAR. In 146 postseason plate appearances, he had a 1.273 OPS. In 179 plate appearances with the Giants last year, he hit .920 and was worth 1 Win. He's probably close to an extra 1.5 to 2 more full wins thanks to his postseason play. And you may even want to add extra on top of that to account for the added weight of October games. In any case, I'm now struggling to think of reasons he shouldn't be a clear Hall of Famer already.
There's always the chance it happens though. The Cardinals should be good next year, with a lot of returning stars and up-and-coming prospects. Hopefully, Beltran can finally get past that Game 7 hump in 2013.