Weekend BlogJanuary 18, 2009
Nick Cafardo's Dream Team
By Patrick Sullivan

Today's Boston Globe features a notes column by Nick Cafardo in which he wonders why postseason performance is not taken into more consideration when GM's assemble their Big League rosters. Here's Nick kicking off the piece:

For many teams, it's about getting deep into the postseason, winning it all. Yet how much thought goes into rosters to make sure teams have the players that will perform once they get there?

He notes that the Angels have not experienced much postseason success since 2002 and even points out that Mark Teixeira's output (keep in mind he had a .550 on-base against the Red Sox in the LDS) was inadequate in the 2008 playoffs.

Since 2002, the Angels have been a consistent division winner, but they never seem to get very far. Why is that? Do they have players that just can't come up big in the biggest moments? The Angels added Mark Teixeira in late July and he provided some much-needed thump to their lineup. While Teixeira did more than his teammates in the playoffs (seven singles and one RBI in 15 at-bats), it wasn't enough.

He then goes on to ask Mark Shapiro and Theo Epstein how they think about postseason performance when they go about player acquisition. To their credit, both are kind enough not to say, "Dude, are you kidding me? I have thousands and thousands of plate appearances and innings pitched worth of evidence and I am supposed to rely on some tiny subset to drive my decision making? Are you serious?"

But you get the sense they're both thinking it.


"In this market and in my opinion, [seeking good postseason players] is one small attribute that could be an added bonus but not a real driver in a decision. Postseason experience and, really, pennant race experience is meaningful in the ups and downs of a pennant race but difficult to quantify, and the bottom line is performance."


"[Identifying good postseason players] is certainly not a primary consideration - more of a secondary factor at best," said Sox GM Theo Epstein. "Ted Williams didn't perform in the postseason . . . I would take him!"

Anyway, I thought I would assemble a roster Cafardo can go to battle with. Some postseason standouts who, once in the playoffs, would certainly shine and carry his team to a title. Because, you know, if they have done it over the course of two starts or 50 plate appearances, you can trust they will do it again. It's just how they're constituted. It's how they roll.

             Postseason OPS
C   Y. Molina     .809
1B  C. Chambliss  .726 (um, 1976 people.  it's about impact)
2B  J. Offerman   1.024
3B  S. Brosius    .696 (8 home runs.  guy's clutch.  count the rings.)
SS  D. Eckstein    N/A
LF  B. Agbayani   .853
CF  D. White      .815
RF  P. O'Neill   see Brosius

Add Johnny Podres, Jack Morris, Sterling Hitchcock and Mark Wohlers to this crew and I can't think of a pluckier bunch to win me 79 games and a World Series title.


That's one reason I'm not too worried about the Evil Empire's latest attempt to buy a World Series title. Has there ever been a worse playoff performer than CC Sabathia???

Ed, I think you're missing the point. Do you really believe Sabathia is incapable of pitching well after September based on 25 innings? Also, what was more of a factor for the Brewers actually MAKING the post season last year: CC's domination, or Jeff Suppan's 15 kick-ass innings in the 2006 NLCS?

You think it's easy to write a baseball column in January?

At least he came up with something on his own.

I saw on some website a guy who had to resort to writing an article about some other guys article.

Hey great point.

I guess the only difference is that sports writing is Nick's livelihood while we write for the satisfaction we derive from providing free content for a gracious readership.

Hey, Sully *did* come up with his own article. Why isn't it original to disagree with somebody else, especially when making a specific point?

I'm obviously biased but I think the "win me 79 games and a World Series title" was brilliant. Great job, Sully.

I thought it was a fun excersise. Though you might be pushing 79 wins....
I for one am always happy for free content.

I think you should have Jim Beattie in your rotation as he was 2-0 in 2 starts with a 1.88 ERA. And how can we leave off Don Larsen (4-2, 2.75) or Hector Lopez (.869 OPS) as the DH?

Mitch...yeah I realize it's a small sample size. But it's not like CC has been somewhat bad in the playoffs. He's been absolutely horrendous.

so which rotation would have you take in a playoff series if your life depends on it?

Jeff Suppan, Kenny Rogers, Jeff Weaver (2006!), Jamie Moyer.


CC Sabathia, Jake Peavy (0-2, 12.1 (!!) ERA, not including a similiarly bad outting in that one game playoff in 07), Carlos Zambrano (1-3 4.34), Chien-Ming Wang (0-3 7.58)

Actually, guys like Moyer / Rogers / Weavers are very very good examples of why it IS a crapshoot, Rogers had one of the worest start ever to a post season career, in his first 8 outtings he ended up with a 9.47 ERA, and in his first 5 appearance it was almost 13 ERA. yet in his last 4 outting he has not given up a single run, and 3 of them were starts over 7 inning!!!

That's not to say that if a guy really does incrediablly well in the playoff with a significant sample (say, Curt Schilling) doesn't deserve extra credit, but using previous success (or lack of) in a small playoff sample instead of a much larger regular season sample is simply dumb.

dont forget willie harris.
OPS 2.0 and 1 SB/2 games.

Let's not forget Ralph Terry. In his first 5 World Series appearances he went 0-4. To be fair, he pitched pretty well in a few of them, but lost anyway, and in one case the loss was after coming in in relief. That, of course, was the Mazeroski home run.

In 1961, against the Reds, he lost the only game the Yankees dropped (again, pitching well, I admit) and then was unable to hold a 6-0 lead in the 3rd inning and had to be relieved in game 5.

You can imagine the common wisdom of the day regarding his lack of clutch pitching despite his excellent records during the regular season. Of course, he then went on to win game 5 and a complete game 1-0 game 7 against the Giants in 1962.

I think it's more likely that Sabathia has sucked in the postseason because he's just so tired. The last two years, he has thrown so many innings just getting his team there that he's had nothing left.

In 2007, he threw 241 innings, finished strong, but emptied his tank and then was AWFUL in 3 postseason starts.

In 2008, he threw 253 innings, including his well-documented late-September starts on short rest. He had to push so hard to get to the postseason that, again, he had nothing left and fell flat in October.

Of course, there is no way for me to prove that he pitched poorly specifically because the innings took their toll at that exact moment. And like I said, he finished strong both years right before his playoff collapses, so what difference could one or two more starts have made? Well, I think one or two more starts (against top competition in the playoffs) was one or two too many, and that that is why he's failed in the postseason, and not necessarily because he isn't a "postseason pitcher" or because he can't handle the the "postseason pressure."

Will the same happen with the Yankees? The easy answer is no, because they are so deep that they can find a way to rest him more than a team like the Brewers (who NEEDED him). However, if he throws another 225+ innings this year, I'm willing to bet that he falls flat in the postseason again - assuming the Yankees make it.

Don't forget to add these guys to the Scraptaculars: Charlie Silvera, Bob Cerv, George Selkirk, Gene Woodling, etc. Count the rings, baby!
And stay away from Ted Williams, Fergie Jenkins, Ryne Sandberg, and A-Rod. Obviously their years of excellence must all be flukes, given that they have no rings.

Does Paul O'Neill belong on that list? His career SLG is 54 points above league average for the time during which he played, 23 points above the positional average. His career OBP is 26 points above league average, 20 points above the positional average. He created .6 of a run more per game than the average player at his position, so a team of O'Neills would win about 9 to 11 games more than a team of average rightfielders. He created nearly a full run more game when compared against the league, good for 16 to 18 wins above average. I don't have his fielding metrics available, but I remember that he annually ranked high in the STAT ratings, often in the top three for his position. It seems to me that he was far more productive than any player on that list.