Giants’ Holiday Spending Spree Part 1: Jeff Samardzija

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This past offseason, the Giants completed three major free agent signings in an effort to shore up a couple of big holes and keep the team’s even-year championship streak alive. I was going to combine all of the signings into one post here, but since the preseason has already started and this started to get a little long, who’s down for a trilogy? Let’s start with the Shark…

The first big present left by Santa for Giants fans this winter was big right-handed starter Jeff Samardzija. The Giants signed the impossible-to-spell former White Sox starter to a five-year, $90 million deal. $19 million per season might seem like a lot for a pitcher coming off of a season where he led his league in hits and home runs allowed, but the Giants are clearly under the belief that the 2014 version of Samardzija, the one that starred for the Cubs and A’s, was the real deal. Perhaps more importantly, the Giants also see the 216 innings pitched that Samardzija has averaged over the past three seasons and figure he fills a big, inning-munching hole in a rotation that saw only one pitcher (Bumgarner, of course) eclipse the 180-inning mark.

In seven seasons with the Cubs, Samardzija threw exactly 666 innings, which is neither interesting nor particularly informative but is just plain creepy. More interesting, perhaps, is that Samardzija, due to injuries early in his career, has less mileage on his arm than most 31-year-old free agent starters typically have. Samardzija was handled with kid gloves early on by the Cubs, easing into a starting role in 2012 after a solid full 2011 season in the bullpen. Due to some ugly control problems early on in his career, Samardzija didn’t become a full-time starter in the big leagues until his age-27 season. The fact that he has relatively less major league wear-and-tear on his arm in his early-30’s makes the number of years on this contract a bit easier to swallow.

As A’s fans surely recall, Samardzija was excellent in half a season in Oakland in 2014, putting up a 114 ERA+ and pitching deep into games in most of his starts (he averaged exactly seven innings per start with the A’s). Samardzija was brought in by the A’s in their mid-2014 “all-in” trading binge designed to win it all. When they did not, in fact, win it all, the team turned around and traded Samardzija to the White Sox in the offseason (rather than pay him $9 million in arbitration) for a shortstop with a dirty last name and a penchant for unforced throwing errors.

Things immediately got dicey. Samardzija was pretty horrible with the Sox in 2015, right from the get-go. His 4.96 ERA was the fifth-worst in the American League and, as mentioned before, his 29 home runs allowed led the AL as well. He stopped striking out batters and he was particularly crummy in the season’s final months (6.29 second-half ERA!). It was a nightmare season on an awful team, one I’m sure Samardzija would just as soon pretend never happened.

Fortunately, there are ample reasons to believe that Samardzija’s sudden suckiness was due, in large part, to adverse environmental conditions. For one thing, U.S. Cellular Field has historically been friendly to the home run ball, and wouldn’t you know it, Samardzija gave up seventeen of those 29 home runs at home. He gave up twelve home runs in seven second half starts at home. You would have to think that Samardzija would come nowhere near that total pitching at notoriously power-hating AT&T Park.

Next, Chicago’s defense was rancid last season. Fangraphs had them ranked as the absolute worst defensive team in the majors. How good is Samardzija’s ERA supposed to be when he has a team playing to the Benny Hill theme behind him? The White Sox outfield defense in particular was gawdawful (look at the UZR numbers of Adam Eaton, Melky Cabrera, and Avisail Garcia and try not to retch), and with Samardzija giving up more fly balls than ever last year (for whatever reason), it was just the perfect storm of mediocrity and no wonder his ERA swelled.

With the Giants, Samardzija is now with a better franchise and pitching in front of a much better defense. While his 3.69 FIP since 2012 is unremarkable, he is just a year removed from an All-Star season and is about as reliably durable as they come. While Samardzija may have pitched like number two last season, there’s serious potential here for the Giants to get number two starter-level production for below-number-two starter price.

I’ve never been a big fan of deals greater than three years for pitchers, and this one raised my eyebrows when it was announced, but if Samardzija pitches like he did with Oakland for the majority of the five years that the Giants signed him for, this will be a heist. I don’t think that’s a particularly big “if”, either.

Speaking of multi-year contracts for pitchers…stay tuned for Part 2.

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Fantastic Four (2015)

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It was with a sort of sick enthusiasm that I sat down recently to watch the recent reboot of the beloved Marvel comic book team, which was, by consensus, deemed an unwatchable, unpleasant mess. It is with an equally sick, and rather baffling, sense of enthusiasm that I sit down and plaster 2000 words or so on the Internets about it. Considering my undying love for the 1990 Captain America film, it seems that when it comes to crap comic book movies, I’m like a fly on you know what.

First things first: this movie’s reputation was in the gutter before even seeing theaters. By opening day, it never had a chance with moviegoers. Reports of sniping between the film’s director (Josh Trank, who did the well-received Chronicle) and the studio began to surface in the lead-up to the film’s release. When it finally came out all the bad press and bad reviews made the film radioactive; it grossed only $56 million here in the States against a budget of $120 million. It tied for Worst Picture at the Razzies and holds a nine percent critic approval rating (and nineteen percent audience approval) on Rotten Tomatoes. The studio was gearing up for a sequel, but that got ripped from the schedule faster than you can say “franchise fatigue”. It was a failure of titanic proportions.

It was all made the more unfortunate by the Fantastic Four‘s checkered film history. The famous comic book team, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the early-60’s, has been begging for a worthy film adaptation for decades. The first film version, in 1994, was a notorious low-budget quickie cobbled together by Roger Corman (you can watch it right now!). It’s fun in a let’s-get-wasted-and-laugh-at-it kind of way (the Thing looks like a roided-up Ninja Turtle covered in tumors), but the biggest joke was played on the film’s actors; it was made as an ashcan copy to extend the studio’s rights to the characters and was never intended to see the light of day.

In 2005 we supposedly got the real film version of the FF, but it was met with lukewarm audience feedback and seemed to be more a vehicle for Jessica Alba’s hotness than anything else. Of the many complaints, the fact that the Four spend two-thirds of the movie sitting around not using their powers ended up as the loudest. Two years later a sequel came out featuring the Silver Surfer. Like it’s predecessor, it did fairly well in the box office, but fans considered it too lightweight, and were especially offended by the film’s treatment of Galactus (a cloud???).

So third time’s a charm, right? I have to say, I was in the proper mindset for this. I sat down to watch the new Fantastic Four film with expectations lower than a Trump supporter’s IQ. I don’t have an emotional attachment to the FF like I do with the X-Men or Spider-Man. The only time I ever bought one of their comics as a kid was when Thing got mangled by Wolverine. The only time I ever watched the cartoon was when Mr. Fantastic beat Magneto by using a wooden gun, to trick the villain into thinking he’d lost his powers (seriously). So I was pretty unbiased going into this one. There isn’t anything that anybody could do to the Fantastic Four that would offend my childhood sensibilities (like turning the Silver Samurai into a robot…ugh, never mind).

Usually if a movie is really bad, I mean a true stinker, I’ll tend to shut it off after 30-45 minutes. If a film has no redeeming qualities, it’s usually patently obvious within the first hour. This was the case with Chappie, to name one gawdawful recent movie. It wasn’t the case with Fantastic Four. It’s watchable. Not good, by any means, but watchable, and by deeming it that I realize I’ve just become one of the film’s most ardent supporters.

In rebooting the franchise, the filmmakers had two paths to take this latest film adaptation down: the more humorous, tongue-in-cheek path that Guardians of the Galaxy opted for and found so much success with, or the dark, gritty path that so many recent reboots have gone with. They took the latter, and that was probably the first step toward this movie’s failure.

Instead of writing a dissertation on the pros and cons of this film, I’ll check off the film’s major problems here in bullet point format, before trying to somehow defend it.

-Another origin story??? The Fantastic Four have been around for more than 50 years and by this point everybody and their dog knows the team’s back story. They were a quartet of astronauts who went up in a rocket ship, got exposed to a bombardment of cosmic rays, and came back with super powers. Then they worked together to fight evil when they weren’t busy bickering at each other over mundane crap.

Trank’s film attempts to retell the origin story completely. In the reboot, Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) is a teenage boy-genius who has discovered the secret to inter-dimensional teleportation by tinkering around with stuff teenagers probably shouldn’t be able to tinker around with in his garage. After setting off his device at a school science fair and traumatizing a bunch of little kids, Richards draws the attention of the head of the Baxter Foundation, who just so happens to be the father of Sue Storm (Invisible Girl) and Johnny Storm (Human Torch).

Long story short: the Baxter Foundation uses Richards’s findings to open a gateway to a new, faraway planet, where they seek to discover new energy sources for Earth (yes, there’s a half-assed environmental message here, too). The Four, along with a rather surly colleague named Victor Von Doom, teleport over to the new planet without permission, at which point the planet goes haywire, they’re splashed with a bunch of magic goop, and, voila, they have superpowers.

I give the filmmakers credit for trying to come up with a different way to tell the story of how the Fantastic Four got their powers, but therein lies the larger problem here: no one wants to slog through another origin story! We’re all familiar with this group of superheroes. Just give them their powers to start the movie, give the film a good villain, and tell a good comic book story! By the time the team has to use their powers for good, the audience has been bored into a stupor because we’ve basically seen or read about this stuff a million times before.

-The character development is…lacking. If any aspect of this film can be blamed on post-production tinkering and the rift between director and studio, it’s probably this one. Reed Richards actually comes across as a genuinely interesting character, and the film spends most of its time focusing on his single-minded crusade to build a teleporter. Richards’s drive to master this technology and his subsequent determination to keep it out of the wrong hands is believable. The other characters? Not so much.

Invisible Woman serves simply as a tool to drive a wedge between Richards and Doom, the film’s villain, who is a complete asshole but has a soft spot for Sue Storm. Human Torch’s famous rebellious spirit is showcased for two minutes when he’s involved in a drag race, then it’s never on display ever again. And worst of all, Ben Grimm (The Thing) spends the first half of the movie acting as sort of Richards’s blue-collar sidekick, then spends the rest of it moping about how he’s now a giant, gross-looking rock monster (and wouldn’t you?). The method the screenwriters use to get Grimm on to the planet with the other crew members so he can get his Thing powers is contrived beyond belief.

So much more could have been done with these characters, but instead they’re lifeless and one-dimensional. They have no rapport, no chemistry, and the non-Richards characters just seem like devices to advance the story. It’s not like they got a bunch of lightweights, either. Most of these actors have been in no-foolin’ good films. Miles Teller was in Whiplash, Michael B. Jordan was in Creed, Kate Mara was in the good season of House of Cards. Toby Kebbell, who plays the villain (and who ties with Vincent D’Onofrio for the most punchable face in Hollywood), was in RocknRolla. Again, maybe if the film had begun with all these characters already having powers, these actors would have actually had something to do.

-In the fine tradition of Spider-Man 3, the villain is lame and incredibly tacked-on. Doctor Doom is one of the most iconic supervillains in comic book history. He’s the evil ruler of the island nation of Latveria (only passing reference is made to it in this film) , whose technological genius and mastery of dark sorcery made him one of the most formidable foes in the Marvel Universe. Here is Doctor Doom’s canonical look throughout comic history:

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Pretty badass. Not a guy to mess with. Now here is the 2015 version who shows up at the very end of the movie:

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If you’re wondering why he looks like the sad, long-neglected love-child of Darth Vader and C-3PO, it’s because his environmental suit got fused with the rest of his body when the group was attacked by the magic lava that gave them all their powers. The other four made it safely back to Earth, but Doom was left behind on the mystery planet, making him understandably bitter. And because we can’t have a bad science fiction movie without the government trying to rape a foreign planet of its resources, another expedition is led a year later, where Doom is discovered alive and well, wreaks havoc, and has to be stopped by our heroes.

FF purists were understandably outraged by this film’s depiction of Doctor Doom. Gone is the despotic madman representing a dire, constant threat to humanity. Instead we get something that was rushed into the last 30 minutes of the film to finally give our heroes an excuse to do something collectively with their superpowers. He’s got some pretty nifty powers (he can control the all of the elements of the new planet, which is handy), but as a franchise villain he’s pretty weaksauce.

Those are the big, big problems here. I should also point out the tired plot device where the team is enlisted by the government and runs the risk of becoming tools of the military-industrial complex, with Richards absconding and going on the run. Yeah, yeah, we already saw that in Avengers, for God’s sake.

Going back to the decision to make this a gritty reboot, the film is drab and generally not fun to look at. Shouldn’t the Fantastic Four be about excitement and wonder, not brooding teenagers grimacing their way around a lava-filled hellscape? Maybe the idea was to give the team some edge or some attitude, but they should have focused on making them fun.

So this movie isn’t a winner, but I sought out to learn if this film is truly as bad as its reputation, and I can confidently say that it’s not. It moves pretty fast, isn’t boring, and I got through it without any complaint. It definitely qualifies as a subpar superhero movie, but it’s not a disaster, and based on the consensus around the Internet, that’s basically high praise.

In all, this movie falls into a bizarre bad movie limbo where it’s not quite so-absurd-it’s-shamelessly-entertaining like X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but it’s also not an utter biblical-scale abomination like The Amazing Spider-Man 2. It’s just sort of a bland failure, another misguided attempt to resurrect a famous franchise that will be completely forgotten unless it lucks into a cult following twenty years from now.

If you asked me if it’s possible to make a good Fantastic Four film, I’d respond that that appears to be too existential of a question for us mere humans to answer. Perhaps it’s an unsolvable riddle that man will continue futilely to seek the answer to, like the origins of the universe. Until that happens, my recommendation is to down a beer (or ten), put on the 1994 version, and have a few laughs. At least that one wasn’t even trying.

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Zack Greinke Might Be a Giant When You Wake Up Today

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I’d like to direct everyone’s attention to this bit of genius from my Twitter feed almost exactly one month ago:

 

Exactly 24 hours from now that prediction might go up in an inferno. The Giants are apparently extremely close to signing free agent star pitcher Zack Greinke. Some of the latest reports have it that Greinke has basically boiled it down to the Giants and Dodgers, and it’s just a matter of him making up his mind whether he wants to stay put or uproot to Norther California.

I’d first like to state that I firmly support the Giants signing Greinke. Primarily because of this story, but also because he just led the world in ERA and posted an ERA+ over 200 for the second time in his career. In fact, only thirteen pitchers in history have posted a better ERA+ in a single season than Greinke’s 225 this past season. He also finished in the top ten in the National League in pretty much every category that anyone should care about. I’ve avoided singing his praises for three seasons, but now that he might finally be free of the Dodger Blue shackles, it’s fair game.

I generally hate the idea of giving out large, multi-year deals to pitchers, for myriad reasons that I’ve ranted about incessantly over the years. However, if there’s one pitcher to give a gargantuan free agent contract to…well, it’s probably Clayton Kershaw. But the next guy is probably Greinke. With his high pitching IQ (described in some circles as Madduxian) and his filthy changeup, it seems, intuitively, that he’d age better than your typical 30-something pitcher who has gotten by on pure stuff for most of his career.

There’s even some talk that Greinke might accept a five-year deal for a higher average annual value than the contract David Price just signed with Boston. If that’s true, the Giants should have no reservations whatsoever about doling out cash to Greinke. As we all know, it isn’t the dollars of a bad player contract that kills teams, it’s the years, and five years is a lot easier to swallow than seven. I mean, we never thought that Barry Zito contract would end, and some mornings I wake up still thinking it hasn’t!

I’m skeptical that Greinke would take less years, because if you’re coming off of one of the best seasons ever, why the hell wouldn’t you insist on two extra years of security? My initial (some might say drunken) prediction of a Cliff Lee signing stems from the Giants’ general conservative approach (ever since Zito) to signing free agent pitchers. With some money coming off the books, though, GM Bobby Evans might be more willing than his predecessor, Brian Sabean, to make a big-dollar free agent splash and get into an arms race with the hated Dodgers.

A one-two punch of Greinke and Madison Bumgarner would probably make the Giants favorites in the NL West again. Heck, maybe the Giants would forgo re-signing Leake, make my C-Lee prediction come true by signing the aging ex-Phillie to a cheap, Randy Johnson 2009-esque deal, with Lee coming back and pitching like the Lee of old and then the Giants would have three Cy Young-caliber starters. Now wouldn’t that be something?

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Brandon Crawford Wins Gold Glove, Gets Really Rich

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Miguel Tejada was a terrible Giant. Don’t get me wrong, he was a great player for the A’s and, later, the Orioles, and he was solid with the Astros for a couple of years. In his brief time with the Giants, though, he just flat out blew. By the time the Giants signed him as a cheap stopgap shortstop solution in 2011, Tejada’s power had vanished and his range in the field was a joke. The 69 OPS+ that he posted as a Giant was the worst of his career. On top of that, he had the PED stink on him (he’d later be suspended for over 100 games for PED-related shenanigans). Tejada was basically cooked before his Giants career even started.

Despite having no real immediate shortstop options (which is why Tejada was signed in the first place) the Giants finally jettisoned Tejada in September of that year. In his place, they handed the shortstop keys to a slick-fielding non-prospect named Brandon Crawford, and gave him two simple orders: field your position well, and don’t mess yourself with the bat in your hands. Basically, keep the position warm until the front office can swing a trade and find someone better for 2012. Needless to say, no one saw the second coming of Cal Ripken.

Welp, now it’s the year 2015, and Crawford just finished the season leading all major league shortstops in fWAR. How did he do in Baseball Reference’s version of WAR? Oh yeah, he led all shortstops in that, too. By far. He also won his first Gold Glove, and probably not his last, what with Andrelton Simmons relocating to Los Angeles’s less-evil, American League franchise. Just a remarkable season for a player who has become, amazingly, not just a Giants stalwart but one of the best overall players in the National League.

Crawford’s first Gold Glove is cause for celebration and is well-deserved, but it’s not, in my opinion, the most impressive part of his season. When Crawford first arrived in the majors, fans felt that there was a pretty good chance that Crawford had a Gold Glove in him at some point. With good range and one of the best arms at the position in the business, Crawford was Gold Glove material from day one. The fielding part of his game was never in dispute.

No, the accomplishment that would have blown my mind three years ago is the Silver Slugger Award that Crawford won this year. Crawford earned this by leading all NL shortstops in home runs, RBIs, doubles, and slugging percentage. That’s a pretty amazing feat considering that at one point most of us figured that Crawford’s baseline was a .230 hitter who might fluke his way to a ten homer season one year. Crawford’s home run output has gone from four in 2012 to 21 in 2015. Pretty incredible, and pretty unexpected, to say the least.

Here is a snippet of the player comment for Crawford in the 2012 Baseball Prospectus annual (following Crawford’s rookie year):

Unlikely to ever stray too far above replacement level, but a good bet to play a half-dozen seasons, and about as good now as he’s ever going to get.

This coming off of a season where Crawford’s batting line was .204/.288/.296. They weren’t exactly bullish on his major league prospects, clearly. Obviously that was very wrong, but don’t go picking on BP, because everybody thought this about Crawford back then. At least, everybody who wasn’t a rose-colored-glasses Giants apologist thought this. I certainly did. His minor league stats screamed utility guy, and there wasn’t exactly a long line of scouts waiting to tell the statheads that the numbers had him all wrong.

Whatever the reason for Crawford’s adjustments, be it good ol’ fashioned hard work or the unrecognized genius of hitting coach Hensley Meulens, Crawford’s development into an All-Star-caliber baseball player has been one of the more pleasant surprises in recent Giants history. Where once it seemed like anything the team got from his bat was gravy, Crawford is now a legitimate offensive asset.

The Giants rewarded Crawford for his big season by handing him his inevitable contract extension, worth $75 million over six years. The deal buys out Crawford’s final two seasons of arbitration and locks him up through his age-34 season. It means he’ll probably (hopefully) retire a Giant, short of some offensive decline stint with the Rays at age 35 or something.

Crawford will be making $15 million in each of the final four seasons of the extension. That may seem like a lot to alarmists who think the sky is falling every time baseball player contracts rise, but $15 million in 2021 dollars won’t be the same as $15 million in 2015 dollars. The Giants will probably get equal value here, at worst.

Crawford will probably lose some range and he might not hit 20 home runs again, but have you seen the state of the shortstop position in the NL in the year 2015? There’s a very, very good chance BCraw will be worth much more than the $75 million he’ll be making over the next six seasons. For starters, he’ll make $5.8 million next year and will almost certainly be worth three times that amount.

All this because Miguel Tejada sucked one time. Securing Crawford’s services is the first step toward locking up this insanely good, homegrown infield the Giants have developed and riding it to another championship (or two). Next up: Brandon Belt.

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2015 World Series Recap

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“Why make sense when the world around refuses?”

That’s a lyric from the latest album of this British band called Hot Chip, who I’ve been sorta obsessed with for going on a couple months (an obsession that has led to me dressing as Star-Lord and dancing around in the front row at one of their concerts. If you really want the gory details, check my Instagram).

Anyways, I can think of no better line to describe playoff baseball, and the art of predicting playoff baseball. Why make sense of playoff baseball when, year after year, it just bloody refuses? We were one non-terrible Lucas Duda throw from gearing up for a Game Six in Kansas City tomorrow, and instead of basking in Eric Hosmer’s hustle, we’d be frowning at his idiocy. The Mets very could easily have won this Series in five games instead of the Royals, and then the Giants would be sending them pizzas instead. The Royals won because Jeurys Familia made one bad pitch to Alex Gordon and the Mets made two horrific defensive plays in the final two games. That’s basically the difference between the Royals’ first championship in 30 years, and the Mets’ first championship in 29. Why predict baseball when it refuses to be predictable?

With the small sample size shenanigans of playoff series pretty much well understood now, the managers get put under the microscope by analysts the most in these postseason battles. Terry Collins is going to get scrutinized forever for not taking Matt Harvey out after eight innings in Game Five, but he was just doing what we all would have done in that situation. I think it’s really hard to blame him. Stick with your best, especially when your best appears ready to murder you on camera if you don’t let him go out for the ninth inning. I wouldn’t say there were any blatantly stupid managerial decisions (except maybe Collins leaving Yoenis Cespedes in to hit in Game Five after he almost destroyed his knee on a foul ball) in this one.

No, in the end it all came down to a couple of plays the Mets didn’t make. The Royals were good and a little bit lucky and they came out ahead in three games that were basically toss ups. Let’s take a gander at how my predictions came out.

“Daniel Murphy will hit zero home runs”.

I’m a genius! Not only that, but Murphy had just three hits in 20 at-bats in the series and made two errors, one of them being the crippler in Game Four. Amazing how one man can go from superhero to epic goat in a matter of four games. I think it’s safe to say that Murphy won’t be back in the Mets pinstripes in 2016. Baseball, man. It’s merciless.

“Bartolo Colon will start, and win, Game Four”.

Not even close. Rookie Steven Matz took the ball and pitched very well, and should have gotten the win. It’s silly to think that Colon would have pitched any better, so shame on me. See, this is why the actual baseball men make the baseball decisions and jerks like me only write about it in their Ninja Turtle jammies way too late on a work night. Colon made three appearances out of the bullpen and gave up one unearned run (again with the Mets and their errors). I have no idea if Colon is going to come back and pitch somewhere next year, but if he calls it a career, this wasn’t a bad performance to go out on.

“Michael Conforto will have a big Series”.

He almost won Game Four by himself with his two home runs and he slugged .733 in the Series, so I’ll go ahead and pat myself on the back for this one. Not for nothing, he came up as the potential final out of the whole series in Game Five against Wade Davis and lined a single. I hope for the sake of awesomeness that he quoted Gary Carter from 1986 and told the first base coach “There’s no way I’m making the last fucking out.”

“Ned Yost will make one bone-headed, game losing decision in the Series”.

Wrong on this one, too. The epic Game One was a microanalyst’s dream, but Yost didn’t hit any false notes in that one. It wasn’t even like last year’s AL Wild Card game, where the Royals won in spite of some amazingly awful Yost moves. He pretty much pulled all the right strings, managed his bullpen as well as could be expected, and, for one winter at least, got all the writers off of his back.

“The Royals will win in seven games”.

I was off by two.

I did correctly predict one storyline that played a huge part in the series: the Royals’ contact-heavy offense vs. the Mets’ troika of strikeout pitchers. Sure enough, the Mets’ starters averaged far less than a strikeout per inning against the Royals and a recurring theme seemed to be their constant inability to put away the Kansas City hitters on two-strike counts.

The hot term for the Royals now is “relentless” and maybe that’s a bit overblown, but when hitters make contact stuff happens. Stuff like Daniel Murphy flubbing a slow chopper and Lucas Duda airmailing a throw to home plate and the Mets’ miserable infield defense just making a general shit show of things all series long. If there’s one thing good contact hitters do, it’s put pressure on bad fielders, and the Mets’ shaky infield was totally exploited in this series.

You can bet that, in this new baseball world where strikeouts and walks are so prevalent, some front offices are taking note of the Royals’ contact-and-speed philosophy and the success they’ve had with it. Could a new brand of Moneyball be on the horizon, one that’s sort of the exact opposite of what a lot of people still incorrectly think the original Moneyball was about?

The series was fun and included three great games, one of which (Game One) was an all-time classic. I just wish it could have lasted at least one game longer. Now we wait six months and ponder who the 2017 champs will be. Next year, of course, is an even year, so we know who will take home the crown in ’16. I mean, why even play the games?

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