Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How the West Was Won: 2004

The 91-71 Giants fell agonizingly short of the title by two games. Again, they overperformed their projected (88-74) record. I suppose having a guy go .362/.609/.812 helps a bit. The Giants were 2nd in the league in RS with 850, which was 100 more than the NL average. Unfortunately they were 12th in RA with 770. That rated a 100 ERA+. The Dodgers had only a slightly better staff (102 ERA+) but were 4th in RA with 684. They were 9th in RS at 761. I suppose if you lack balance, it pays to have better run prevention than run scoring. That should give all of us hand-wringing, teeth-gnashing, and sackloth-wearing Giants fans some hope. The Dodgers also overperformed their Pythagorean projection (89-73). I can only assume Jim Tracy was a genius.

The Cardinals were the best club, number one in RS (855) and RA (659). The Braves and Cubs led with a 115 ERA+, the Cards were 2nd at 114. Their 105-57 record was five better than projected (100-62). That pesky Tony LaRussa!

It gets ugly from here on out, boys and girls. 294-353 (.454) for the next four years ('05-'08). That's what made 2009 so surprising and so special. Of course, it also inflated our expectations for 2010! After all, if you win 88 games one year with a mostly young club, you expect to improve. In other words, it is natural to assume that 88 wins reflects accurately the talent level of the club, and so some minor tweaking should get you to 90+ wins and a fair shot at the title. That kind of thinking is a little sloppy in my view--it doesn't account for luck and circumstance. It expects that all the things that happened in the previous year are perfectly repeatable. It does not account for normal random variation. It does not account for changes in the schedule and the quality of the opponents. I tend to believe that the competition in MLB is pretty fierce, and that advantages gained one season can disappear the next in the blink of an eye. I've said it before--the gods are cruel. Check out the Bonds Giants from 2000 to 2004. Look at the variation in wins, and in RS and RA. This was when we had the Greatest Player of All Time! The 2010 Giants may have the stuff to win the West. I sure hope so. I'll admit I don't like the squad (well, the lineup) much. Too many Sabean-types for my taste. But what the hell, I'm "all-in" at this point and I'm going to root like hell that the gods will smile on us.



Ron said...

On another note, can you please remove Lou Seal from the Home Page banner? Wouldn't a photo of Buster or even an actual photo of Matt Cain make a more emphatic statement? Lou Seal? Really?

M.C. O'Connor said...

Dissin' Lou Seal? Dude! Harsh!

Actually, I've been thinking of removing both banner photos and swapping the Matt Bobblehead with the Matt pin (which I scanned). I REALLY LIKE the Matt Bobblehead, and I don't have any actual Matt photos. (I don't lift photos from other sites since I don't know who owns the images.) JCP and RV supplied the ones on this site, including the excellent Bridge banner which I expect to keep.

Ron said...

A Matt pin would be cool!

Anonymous said...

Thank you sir or sirs, you helped convert me. I believe that a team that had come off of four losing seasons with some of the worst run production in all of baseball and low expectations to muster something and manage to reach 3rd place and nearly a shot at winning the wildcard is something truly special. I personally believe that everyone's being too pessimistic, the season hasn't even started yet and already we look better from last year. Plus, people forget, this will be a year with much more ambition and an itsy-bit more talent possibly, and the best pitching staff in baseball. I still believe that the Giants will remain the best pitched team. The Dodgers lost everyone and made no improvement, the Braves only lost Vazquez, but we got Timmy, Matt, "Dirty," maybe Zito, and Bum on the horizon. Most clubs can't say that. I'll admit, last year I was rooting for the Yankees, but they helped me love baseball again, but since they've won, I really can't help but notice the evil of their ways, then one day I stumbled upon Pablo Sandoval (I always love great Venezuelan players since I am one it gives me a chance to connect to the motherland that I have never been to yet). Then I went on Matt Cain's baseball-reference page, found this blog, and I've been really anticipating for Spring Training since. I really want to be a Giants fan. I don't think that I have earned that yet (albeit I live in NJ so it was not common to see them on the usual channels or get connected at all). But I will give them my support and attention. Once again thank you for showing me a team that I fell in love with. Go Giants/Giagantes!

M.C. O'Connor said...

Ron: Matt pins are the "heighth of fashion."

Anonymous: Pessimism is the hallmark of the SF Giants fan. "Always the bridesmaid, never the bride." Regardless, we will do our best to convince ourselves before the season starts that we will go "all the way." Welcome aboard.

Anonymous said...

I know, that's one of the things that really got me. "Always the bridesmaid, never the bride" has been my life's story. Oh and glad to be aboard.