loves home runs. Fans show up at the park hoping to see one hit out of the
park, far more so than a second baseman turning a double play, or a Gold Glove
first baseman like Adrian Gonzalez stabbing one down the line an preventing a
runner to advance. But whilst the hits may please the crowds they are not as important as some other facets of the game when it comes to analysing a teams chances of winning.
some of the more subtle aspects of the game, like speed and defense, are
essential to how a team performs and in turn how MLB handicappers approach baseball betting.
the top six teams defensively in baseball last season. Can’t do it? All right,
No. 7 on that list is the Tampa Bay
Rays, the team that shocked many by winning the competitive AL East. The team
that was tops in fewest errors allowed was the Yankees, a group that made it to
the ALCs. The surprising Padres were third in fewest errors allowed, in the
pennant race until the last week. The Phillies, another division winner, ranked
sixth and in between those two, ranked fourth, was the eventual champion San
Francisco Giants (Phillies and Giants are playing a series this week).
Defense may often by quiet, but it goes a long way to helping a pitching staff.
You may not think the 2010 Giants’ pitching staff needed any help, but the fact
is the airtight defense behind them in the field made the dominant pitching
even that much better. Just ask the bats that they steamrolled last October!
the Rockies and Red Sox met in the 2007 World Series, they ranked No. 1 and 3
in fewest errors allowed. Fans love offense, but notice that the top two AL
teams last season in runs scored were the Yankees and Red Sox. NY lost in five
games to the Texas Rangers in the playoffs, while the Red Sox didn’t even make
when power (and steroids) were a part of the show, five teams hit over 200 home
runs in 2007 in the Brewers (231), Phillies (213), Reds (204), Yankees (201)
and Marlins (201). You can go on and on with all these great offensive
statistics, but what stands out about all those teams? None made it to the
World Series and only two made the playoffs (each losing in the first
round). Last season we had eight teams
that topped 170 homers and only one (Yankees) made the postseason. Toronto hit
a whopping 257 homers last season, but still finished in fourth place at 85-77.
because offense represents only one aspect of the game. There’s an old motto
about “good pitching beats good hitting,” and there’s certainly a lot of truth
to it (especially in October). Speed, defense and pitching are essential
elements to building a championship baseball team. Several of the last few
World Series winners, many surprise teams, were stocked with great defense and pitching
in the Angels (2002), Marlins (2003), Red Sox (2004, 2007), White Sox (2005),
Phillies (2008) and the Giants (2010).
was no better balanced team in those areas than the 2005 White Sox, who won it
all. The Southsiders got red-hot in October, going 11-1 in the postseason.
However, they were not just a team that got hot at the right time, as they were
very much the class of the AL
from start to finish. The White Sox got off to a 16-4 start, pushed it to 27-9
by mid-May and 57-29 at the All Star break. The team finished with 99 wins,
sweeping the hard-charging Indians to end the regular season, allowing 2, 1,
and 3 runs. Chicago
allowed two runs or less in five playoff games. They had a supremely balanced team,
anchored by pitching, speed, and defense. Chicago
was third in the AL
in steals (137), second in the AL
in team ERA (3.61), 4th in the AL in strikeouts (1,040), 4th in
the AL in
fewest walks allowed. Defensively, the White Sox were 5th in the AL in fielding and 4th
in fewest errors allowed. All that
pitching and defense is why Chicago
was 95-70 “under” the total.
Giants copied the pitching and defense formula last season with that great
rotation of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathon Sanchez and Barry Zito. They won by preventing the other guy from
scoring, rather than trying to outslug them. The high priced Yankees have won
just one World Series the last ten years because they’ve paid too much
attention to offense and too little to pitching. Meanwhile, the Red Sox won it
all in 2004 because of an upgrade in pitching (Curt Schilling, Keith Foulke)
and improved defense when they traded for SS Orlando Cabrera in late July. They
won it again in 2007 with the addition of starter Daisuke Matsuzaka, plus kids
like 2B Dustin Pedroia and CF Jacoby Ellsbury, who upgraded the defense. The
powerful slugging teams will get a lot of attention in October, but little
things like defense, speed and pitching are more likely to lead the way to