Cleat Geeks

What We Learned About MLB From The Play-offs

Being an Angel fan living in LA ain’t easy. The rivalry between the two has grown year after year, ever since the Dodgers started becoming competitive again, but I still was hoping the Dodgers could take this one. After the year Houston has had though, I’m happy for them, and hope they enjoy this as they’re last playoff run for the next 10 years as the Angels will be dominating the AL West. A guy can hope.

So what did we learn from this championship? What have we learned from this season?

 

For starters, the Dodger fans seem to continue to be haunted by they’re pitching woes in the playoffs. Kershaw seemed to be legitimately back. And then he seemed broken. And then he seemed back. And then again broken. It’s hard to know what is going with him when playoffs roll around. It doesn’t seem like nerves, but something seems to happen, often times late in the games. He seemed to be having issues with his sliders though.

The other starter story was how bad Darvish looked. Once the World Series started he too was having a lot of issues with his stuff. But it seemed to be occurring on both sides of the diamond. Keuchel who normally throws his slider about 18% of the time as noted by Sports Illustrated, had been throwing it for strikes around 60% of the time. In the postseason, that statistic was down to around 40%.

There had already been questions about changes in the way the baseballs are designed, and pitchers having to change their approach. What’s been interesting is that it only seemed to be affecting certain pitches in the post season, where other pitches didn’t seem to have as much issue. Sliders were one of the biggest fluctuating pitches. Of course Kershaw doesn’t get a pass as he’s had struggles other years as well, and performed well in the regular season, but this has been an ongoing conversation from other questions in the regular season.

In a year that had one of, if not the most homeruns hit across the league, there have been many questions about whether it was due to changes in the ball or a difference in swing angle. There’s been many conflicting variables that make it difficult to accept one as the answer. During the regular season, while some studs seeemed to struggle, many pitched just fine. Kershaw, Scherzer and Strasburg all had fantastic seasons, and Kluber, Sale and Severino had possibly the best seasons of their careers. Many of these pitchers have different pitches they lean on, so it’s hard to say that the specific pitches affected certain pitchers more during the regular season, but it’s hard to ignore that suddenly so many pitchers are complaining about the balls.

I have a feeling this trend could continue in the future, whatever the reason. I personally hope it’s purely the evolution of the batters and not a change in the baseballs. As much fun as it is to see more home runs, I’m not a huge fan of it being to sell more tickets, by making the game more exciting. One could argue it would be similar to the days they lowered the mound though. If that is the case, I only ask they don’t make further changes during the playoffs. If they’re going to change the ball, do it at the beginning of the season and be done with it. Keep the ball consistent to the end of the playoffs. These pitchers work too hard, and their careers depend on being able to pitch consistently. While offense is more fun for the casual fan, it just would make the game too much about luck. Did the new balls just happen to affect your pitches? Then you’re $&!* out of luck. This of course is all hypothetical, but multiple pitchers across the league are hard to ignore no matter MLB says about the baseballs.

Hopefully, in time we’ll get some answers. Either way, enjoy the off-season. Watch some football and get all that work done that you had to keep putting off to tend to your fantasy teams.

Feel free to follow me on twitter  @baseballalan  and as always follow @cleatgeeks for everything sports. I’ll be back with more baseball next year!

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