Do well in the postseason
As y'know, Dr. D has nothing but respect for James' body of work. As y'also know, we think it an overreaction that he fights so hard against the concept of hot streaks, cold streaks, extra gears, etc.
Recently he snapped at another reader for suggesting --- > that "special talent" like Robinson Cano (my example) has the ability to hit playoff pitching. But then another reader dug into James' old work and deployed James' words against himself. Very much to his credit -- would you do this? -- he printed the letter. And responded with nothing other than a wink and smile (in the form of a Craig Biggio photo).
Any of us who have written baseball for 10, 20, 30 years, you could find us contradicting ourselves like that. Kudos to BJOL for underlining it. ...the point is, I'm a firm believer that James was right the first time, right in 1988.
It has always mystified me why "hot streaks" should exist in every sport but baseball. Has always mystified me how you could watch Reggie Jackson's concentration in the playoffs and ... well, it's mystifying how anybody who ever played organized basketball could FAIL to believe in confidence and hot shooting.
The "live" point here though is OVERACHIEVING. Robinson Cano is a golden talent; when he crushed a game-winning home run against David Robertson a few weeks ago, Robertson said "It was a great pitch. He's just a great hitter."
The M's have their share of Stars -- Cano, Boomstick, Paxton, Sugar -- and I enjoy watching them perform against tough competition. Yonder Alonso may also surprise down the stretch; he's a Golden Boy.
On the other side of it, I doubt any of us would be expecting miracles from Mike Zunino, Ben Gamel, Leonys Martin, etc., in a playoff game.
It's funny - there's something about Japanese pitchers that is bullet-proof against tough competition and tough situations also. If Hisashi Iwakuma got back, I'd take him in a game 7. I suspect it's a cultural thing, expecting your opponent to play very well. Also Kyle Seager remains unruffled with low weight, on a subconscious level, when enemies perform well against him.
That's my opinion I could be wrong. :: dennis miller ::
OK, my thoughts.
Basically every major league quality hitter is a "guess" hitter who hits mistake pitches well. Hank Aaron said that long ago and was right! If I am looking low and away and Kershaw busts me up and in, on the black, I am not hitting that pitch.
Weaker pitchers make more mistakes. That's why they are weaker. Not necessarily because they have weaker stuff. Methuselah Colon is still surviving exclusively with an Ephus-pitch "heater" simply because he makes few mistakes with it. What was it they said about brick and mortar businesses? The three most important factors were location, location and location. Good pitching advice, that! Biggio rarely got himself out against anybody. Against weak pitchers why wouldn't he rake?
Maybe there is a "Biggio-template" that destroys mistake-prone guys more that the next HoF'er? It is possible. But I am willing to bet that Frank Robinson had more success against Denny Lemaster than he did Bob Gibson.
Over the course of a career, the number of PA's a Frank Robinson would get vs. a Hoot Gibson would be rather small. There would an element of luck or chance that becomes more important. I am positive that some weak stick has beat up on Kershaw in their 16 matchups. But that doesn't mean he is a beast-slayer!
As to the Reggie thing: His career numbers were .262-.356-.490. In the post-season they were .278-.358.-527. That is sort of an improvement, but of the random noise variety. But if you take away just three homers, THOSE homers, and assume he simply had loud outs, then he is a post-season .267-.349-.484 hitter. Good, but not Homeric, pun intended. So Mr. October is Mr. October because we watched him play a lot of autumnal games AND on the biggest stage he got hold of three pitches on three swings. But in his other 315 career post-season PA's he was no more special than the April Reggie. Even with them, he barely was!
Timing means a lot in terms of perception, doesn't it.
Do I think some players handle pressure situations better than others? I do. Some players get that steely-eye gaze, the vapor-lock focus, the bigger the moment. Nicklaus, Jordan, Woods, Brady, undeniably. Somehow the world slows down for them. But baseball exposes or highlights that ability in a different manner than most sports. Jordan was going to get 28 shots in a Game Seven; Brady, 48 passes in a Super Bowl; Woods, 67 shots in the final round of a major. Batters may see only a few pitches on the plate in a Game Seven. And even on those they may guess wrong. When they do, they are much more dependent on what the pitcher does than a Woods or Brady ever is. Brady reads and recognizes AS the play unfolds. Jackson "guessed" right or creamed the hanging miss. Different stuff.
Enough for this morning, I suppose.
BTW, thanks to the magic of B-R, I can actually look up how a Robinson did vs. a Lemaster or Gibson.
.286-.434-.810-1.244 vs the former. .229-.316-.410-.726 vs the latter. Who would have thunk it, huh?