Baseball BeatOctober 01, 2007
2007 Playoffs: Not So Fast
By Rich Lederer

Although every team has now played 162 games, the regular season is not quite over. That's right, after six months and 2430 games, we need one more contest to determine the final spot in the 2007 postseason.

The San Diego Padres and the Colorado Rockies both have a shot at joining the Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs, and Philadelphia Phillies as the playoff participants in the National League. In the meantime, the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Los Angeles Angels, and New York Yankees are getting ready for the American League Division Series.

Today's play-in game between the Padres and Rockies will be the first one-game playoff since 1999 when the New York Mets beat Cincinnati 5-0 for the NL wild card.

OK, here is what we know as of Monday morning:

  • The Colorado Rockies will host the San Diego Padres at 7:37 p.m. ET tonight.

  • The winner of the COL-SD game will travel to Philadelphia to start the NLDS on Wednesday.

  • The other NLDS will match the Chicago Cubs against the Arizona Diamondbacks. This series will also begin on Wednesday in Phoenix.

  • Over in the American League, the Red Sox will play host to the Los Angeles Angels in a series that commences on Wednesday.

  • The New York Yankees will visit the Cleveland Indians on Thursday.

    The Rockies, who have won a franchise-best 89 games, have the momentum, winning 13 of their final 14 games. But the Padres have a huge pitching advantage with Jake Peavy taking the mound vs. Josh Fogg. In a sort of David vs. Goliath matchup, Colorado fans should be comforted by the fact that Fogg has beaten several aces this year (including Brandon Webb in early September and Curt Schilling). Padres fans are heartened by the fact that Peavy, who has a chance to join Boston's Josh Beckett as the only 20-game winners in the majors this year, leads the NL in wins (19), ERA (2.36) and strikeouts (234).

    Like Peavy, Matt Holliday is also playing for more than just a chance to extend his season. Holliday, who is leading the league with a .340 batting average (three points higher than Chipper Jones), will need to keep from going 0-for-5 tonight in order to win the batting crown. The Colorado outfielder also tops the NL in hits, doubles, total bases and has a chance to overtake Ryan Howard for the RBI title as well. Moreover, a big game tonight could make him the favorite – if he's not already – to capture the MVP award, too. Hey, voters like a good story so if Holliday does something heroic tonight, he would leap to the forefront of the MVP race, much to the angst of Jones, Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Prince Fielder, David Wright, and Hanley Ramirez.

    Neither SD nor COL have ever won a World Series. The other seven have all won a world championship although nobody reading this piece has ever witnessed the Cubs doing so. Hey, everybody is allowed a bad century now and then.

    Remarkably, four of the playoff participants have won a World Series this decade, yet the Yankees are the only team back from last season's postseason. With a victory tonight, San Diego can make it two returnees. Either way, MLB will have the fewest returning playoff participants since 1995 when the postseason format was increased from four to eight clubs.

    In my estimation, the four best teams in the playoffs may all come from the American League. First of all, the Red Sox, Indians, Angels, and Yankees are the only clubs that won more than 90 games. Secondly, the AL dominated the NL once again, going 137-115 (.544) in inter-league play. Thirdly, did I mention that Arizona's 90 wins are the fewest by a league leader in a full season since 162-game schedules went into effect in 1961?

    But the Cardinals proved just last year that none of this stuff matters all that much once October rolls around. Let the crapshoot begin.

    Note: Starting tomorrow and continuing through Thursday, Baseball Analysts will have in-depth previews for each of the four division series.

  • Comments


    I bet you're constantly hitting refresh on your site today. Waiting for that commenter who says, "I was alive for that 1906 Cubs team!"

    That would be awesome.

    Alas, it certainly isn't me.

    what a hell of a game tonight. I wanted Chipper to get the batting title just for the wierdness of that scenario, but instead, I think Holliday stole Jimmy Rollins MVP award with the late RBI(although he might have given it right back with that horrendous excuse for a slide to win).
    If Barrett comes up with that ball, I bet he gets punched out. As it stands, Im not so sure he touched the dish. If anything his fingertips grazed the plate after he rammed them into the catchers cleats.
    Still, thats a hell of a way to start the post-season. I cant wait for wednesday.

    Anyone else have a problem giving the MVP Award to a Rockies left fielder? After the humidor last year, the bad home/road splits for the Rockies have returned. Holliday numbers are nice but not even as clutch as people say: 1.039 OPS with the bases empty, .947 with RISP. Generally clutch means you step it up in RISP situations.

    The Rockies have an .853 OPS at home, .730 on the road. Uh uh. Holliday's OPS takes a .300 point drop on the road. To wit, Vinny Castilla's home/road splits in 2004 weren't that drastic.

    Rollins is more consistent home vs. road, his positional value destroys Holliday's, Holliday is not a good choice, I think. After Preston Wilson and Castilla won RBI titles with Colorado, the value of a Colorado RBI title is virtually nil in my book.

    For the record, I'm not pushing Holliday as NL MVP. My comments were based on the fact that voters will value his batting crown and RBI title as well as topping the league in H, XBH, 2B, and TB. Rightly or wrongly, Holliday will also get a boost for spearheading Colorado's late-season drive and victory in the tiebreaker that put his team into the playoffs.

    Rollins has his issues, too. Although his counting stats are fantastic (and even historic in terms of 2B-3B-HR-SB), his .344 OBP was .010 below the team's average and only .010 above the norm for the league. His counting stats were helped by the fact that he led the NL in AB and PA (batting first in a power-packed lineup that plays its home games in a hitter-friendly ballpark). The fact that Rollins also led the league in outs *should* be as much of a consideration as leading the league in R and 3B.

    I'm not against Rollins per se but think the MVP talk surrounding him has taken on a life of its own of late and am hopeful that voters will also consider players such as David Wright, who is not responsible for the Mets missing the playoffs. How many people know or are willing to do their homework to learn that he had a hit in EVERY game (including four 3-hit and four 2-hit games) during New York's final 17 contests when they went 5-12 and allowed the Phillies to overtake them? He played about as well as humanly possible in September, hitting .352/.432/.602 with 9 2B and 6 HR while walking (14) more than striking out (10) and stealing 4 bases in 5 attempts.

    I made a strong case for Wright being named MVP three weeks ago and see no reason to back off my endorsement now.

    Philadelphia would have clinched last Thursday if not for David Wright.

    He's the MVP.


    Rollins' rate statistics aren't bad. Rollins has outproduced every full time shortstop except Hanley Ramirez. While a high number of ABs leads to a high number of outs (hello Juan Pierre) I think you have to give points to a guy who plays practically every inning.

    The problem with you David Wright scenario, is that when you take a guy not off a playoff team, you may as well just make it the "Best Numbers" Award in a way. It's not Wright's fault that the Mets collapsed. But it's also not Derrek Lee's fault that he was on a bad team in 2005 when he had MVP numbers. It wasn't Derrek Lee's fault he had no chance at the RBI part of the Triple Crown because, as a #3 hitter, his #1-2 hitters for most of the year were Corey Patterson and Neifi Perez (both with sub-.300 OBPs). It's not Hanley Ramirez's fault he's on the Marlins. So forth. If the Mets had made it, Wright would be an easy choice. But with other worthy candidates on teams making the playoffs... I'm not saying it's the best system, but there it is.