Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Going For The Hat Trick

My latest Banished to the Pen article is here. In it, I talk about fastballs. If you've been watching the postseason at all, you know that the Mets have pitchers who throw the ball really, really hard. If you've been paying a lot of attention, you may have read that the Royals were arguably the most successful team in the majors this season at hitting the fastest pitches. As I point out, both those are true. However:

  1. The Royals were very successful at hitting pitches thrown 95+ mph, but less so with really, really fast pitches, based on work by mlb.com's Mike Petriello.
  2. The Royals pitching staff throws very hard as well, and the Mets hitters struggled against very fast pitches.
I conclude that while people may be overestimating the ability of the Royals to hit the pitches the Mets are likely to throw at them, they may also be underestimating the problems Mets hitters may have with Royals pitchers.

On that note, I'd like to point out my record for predicting this year's postseason series. Let's ignore the wild card games, because they were just one game each. (I got the Cubs right and the Astros wrong). Among the four Division Series games, I was 3-0 (correctly predicting Cubs over Cardinals, Royals over Astros, and Blue Jays over Rangers) if you exclude the Mets (whom I thought would fall to the Dodgers). In the Championship Series, I was 0-1 (play along with me here - I thought the Blue Jays would beat the Royals) if you exclude the Mets (whom I thought would lose to the Cubs). In other words, I was 3-1 if you exclude the Mets. That's not bad! But I got the Mets wrong twice, making me as good as a coin flip at 3-3. 

The point is, I'm going to try to keep the streak going. I'm going to pick the Royals in the World Series. I think their hitters will have more success against the Mets pitchers than people may think, and I think their pitchers will have more success against the Mets hitters than people may think. Specifically, as I pointed out in the article linked above, the Mets were one of the worst teams in baseball at hitting very fast fastballs, which the Royals throw a lot. Further, the Mets' hitters' tendency to hit fly balls (fifth most frequently in the majors) plays into the Royals' pitchers' tendency to yield fly balls third most frequently in the majors). Fly ball/ground ball tendencies are similar to rightly/lefty match-ups: Hitters tend to do better against the opposite type of pitchers. So the fly ball-hitting Mets should do better against a ground ball-yielding team (like, e.g, the Dodgers, who were second in the majors at yielding ground balls) than against the fly ball-yielding Royals, and the fly-ball yielding Royals should do better against the fly ball-hitting Mets than against a ground ball-hitting team (like, e.g., the Pirates, who were sixth in the majors at hitting ground calls). (Neither the Mets pitchers nor the Royals hitters had a pronounced fly ball/ground ball tendency, so there isn't a notable match-up when the Mets are pitching.)

That being said, my choice of Kansas City probably means that New York will win. You're welcome, Mets fans.

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