[Web Special] Playing the Wildcard

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The wildcard. Since 1995 it has been in effect to give non-first place teams with the next best record after the divisional leaders the chance to make it to the playoffs. In the 13 years since the wildcard’s inception, wildcard teams have won four World Series. In the 2002 World Series, both the Anaheim Angels and the San Francisco Giants were wildcard teams. The World Series champions in 1997, 2003 and 2004 were also wildcard teams. (...continue reading)

Here’s the List:

  • 1997 Florida Marlins
  • 2002 Anaheim Angels
  • 2003 Florida Marlins
  • 2004 Boston Red Sox

I mention the wildcard right now because it is generally the team that comes into the playoffs red hot. It’s the team that’s paired against another team with the best record. However there is a caveat. A wildcard team cannot play the team in its own division. This is why, in this year’s MLB playoffs in the National League, Phillies play the Rockies; wildcard team the St. Louis Cardinals play the Los Angeles Dodgers and in the American League the Boston Red Sox, the wildcard, play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and the New York Yankees play the Minnesota Twins, who, although they won their division in a one game playoff, are looking more like a wildcard because of the momentum they carry into today’s game.

I mention the wildcard because it affects my own formula of determining who is to win or lose. I originally created a rubric weighted as such:

  • Starting pitching: 3 points
  • Bullpen: 4 points
  • Clutch hitting: 2 points
  • Power hitting: 1 point
  • Small ball: 3 points

Using this system, I am able to gauge the winners of the matchups – Yankees vs. Minnesota for example. The Yanks get 1.5 for starting pitching, 4 for bullpen, 1 for clutch-hitting, 1 for power, and 1.5 for small ball, giving them 9 out of a possible 16. The Twins come in with 8, so by the rubric, the Yanks have the advantage.

Using that rubric I was able to determine the rest of the matchups. But first, I felt like I needed a system, because right now, most of the teams in the playoffs are coming off of a long break. They have been resting their starters – it’s like in basketball, when a player is shooting the game-winning free throw and before he can, the opposing team calls a timeout and the player set to go back to the line has to think about what he is doing. The Cards, Yanks, Dodgers, Phills have all been thinking, tinkering and deciphering what they were going to do next. Meaning we may not get serious elite, high caliber baseball for another week or so as they get the kinks out. Meanwhile, the Minnesota Twins are in a groove as the hottest team in baseball, carrying a little bit of history on their side.

My good buddy, DJ Chaz O, of the Brooklyn Angle, suggested that his formula would be much simpler based on two indicators: bullpen pitching and the wildcard – hence, the focus of this article. See my indicators above to determine a statistical basis for making a prediction. I am curious what your indicators would be for determining who is poised to win the following games:

  • Rockies at Phillies
  • Twins at Yankees
  • Cardinals at Dodgers

Thinking from the BrooklynAngle, you cannot forget the wildcard factor. Throw that in and the Twins actually have the momentum and should be frightening to people in the Bronx and in Yankee Nation. They have the lethal combination that all the formula needs to play great baseball, plus the added internal fire, the desire forged in the need to make a sprint for the end of the season and do something no one else has ever done. They are on a run, and runs at the end of seasons win championships.

According to my formula, the Dodgers have the edge over the Cardinals – even though both teams limped into the postseason.

Regarding the Rockies and Phillies, simply because of the one bullpen indicator, I must go with the Rockies. You cannot win a postseason game and have a questionable closer. Brad Lidge does not have that undefeated streak as the wind in his sail the Phillies close has blown 11 saves this year, when last year he was, well, a perfect 48-48. The Rockies have the edge in this series.

Finally, in tomorrow’s game, with the Angels and the Red Sox, the Sox simply do not have enough offense to push past the Angels this year. So I have a question for you all out there: What is your take? How are you deciding who will make it to the World Series this year? Do you have a rubric? Or is it all based on heart and your love (or hate) of any of these 8 teams? Who will be crowned the best team in Baseball and why?