Ray Flowers takes a break from all the fantasy football analysis to talk playoff baseball, what is going on with the baseball (has it changed?) and to take the time to compare two pitchers, viewed differently, that actually performed in a very similar manner in 2019. Can you guess who the two pitchers are?
Jose Altuve is batting .370 with three homers and a 1.192 OPS. He started slowly, was injured and didn’t run this season, but did you realize in the end that he hit .298 with 31 homers? It’s remarkable that such a little man could hit so many big flies.
Patrick Corbin has a massive 14 punchouts in 8.1 innings of work. He’s allowed eight runs, seven earned, leading to a 7.56 ERA and 1.68 WHIP. He’s also gone 0-2 with a blown save. Of course, he’s a starting pitcher who has been used in relief multiple times, and given that he hasn’t made a regular season relief appearance since 2016, well, it’s not surprising to this scribe that there have been some issues.
Carlos Correa had a walk-off homer to win the ALCS Game 2 for the Astros. His last playoffs walk-off hit was also against the Yankees, and also in Game 2, and also in the ALCS (2017). Correa had the first walk-off homer by an Astros player since the NLDS Game 4 in 2005 (Chris Burke).
Paul Goldschmidt has a .345/.387/.690 line going, putting memories of his slow start to the season behind him.
Dexter Fowler is in one of his funks. Over 29 at-bats, he has two hits and he has a .260 OPS, which is hideous. Michael Brantley has been twice as good, though, pretty sure he’s not writing home about a .563 OPS.
According to Sports Info Solutions, Gary Sanchez has gone 17 post-season at-bats without a single hard-hit ball. He has two hits and a .403 OPS that has some folks calling for Austin Romine.
Max Scherzer has 27 punchouts in 20 innings with a 1.80 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP.
Juan Soto is batting .226 with a mere .314 OBP in the playoffs as he’s struck out 11 times in 31 at-bats. Still has two homers and six RBI though.
George Springer hit an Astros record 12th homer in ALCS Game 2. Its only his fourth postseason hit, and first RBI, as he owns a pathetic .435 OPS.
A tale of two arms, Yankees edition. In Game 1 of the ALCS, Masahiro Tanaka dominated the Astros, tossing six shutout innings. He was, for some reason, removed at 68 pitches. He had a shutout going against arguably the best team in baseball, had allowed just one walk and one hit, and he was removed from the game, which flies in the face of nearly all logic that isn’t driven by a spreadsheet. By the way, for all pitchers in baseball history who have made seven post-season starts, Tanaka’s 1.32 ERA is third behind the Mt. Rushmore figures of Sandy Koufax (0.95) and Christy Mathewson (1.06). In Game 2, James Paxton was pulled after he allowed one run… in just 2.1 innings. In opposition to Tanaka, Paxton was being hit hard so it might have been the right call. Still, that’s five hits and one run allowed over 8.1 innings… in two starts. So is baseball in 2019.
Gleyber Torres has two homers, four doubles, a .864 SLG and nine RBI thus far. He’s become a remarkable hitter in very short order.
Adam Wainwright pitched well down the stretch, and he’s carried that into the postseason, as he’s struck out 19 batters over 15 innings in his two starts with a 1.80 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP.
Is the baseball juiced? Has the baseball been changed? What the hell is going on.
People smarter than me, and yes, there are a few, have been debating the issue all season long. The league denies anything is going on with the ball. Seems like everyone else thinks there is something fishy going on here. There’s been a plot twist of late though – it seems like the baseballs being used in the postseason are not flying as far as those from the regular season. In fact, they are flying about 4.5 feet less than they did during the regular season. Rob Arthur, of Baseball Prospectus, says there is no doubt. “The data is conclusive in showing that the playoff baseball is very different from the one used in the regular season,” Arthur wrote. The problem the league is running into now is that with Statcast data – angle of launch, velocity off bat, velocity of pitch etc. – you can model the likely outcome. If said event was a homer 68 percent of the time during the regular season – as it was on a recent Marcell Ozuna warning track fly ball – it’s pretty easy to start down the path of ball change. You can see all the details in this report, but it sure does seem like MLB has some explaining to do.
A PLAYER COMPARISON
I will get more into this in the 2020 product, but thought I would dive into a player comparison right here (if that is OK with you). Let’s take a look at one pitcher, who you are likely aware is damn good, and compare him to another arm who doesn’t own as much heat in the fantasy game.
Pitcher A threw 213 innings while Pitcher B just failed to reach 100, so there was a big difference in their actual value last season, but a quick look at some of their results sure seems to suggest that Pitcher B pitched as well, and perhaps even slightly better than Pitcher A. Oh, and make no mistake, on draft day 2019 one was a star, the other just a guy, as Pitcher A had an overall ADP at the NFBC of 31.2, while Pitcher B was at 214.2.
Who is it?
Didn’t want to put the names to close to the data.
Your time is almost up…
Pitcher A is Trevor Bauer.
Pitcher B is Andrew Heaney.
Ray Flowers can be heard Monday-Thursday 8-10 PM EDT, and Friday’s from 10-12 PM EST and Sunday’s at 9-11 pm EST on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). Follow Ray’s work on Twitter (@baseballguys) and be sure to listen to his podcast work too.