Round One picks

When I belonged to the Vancouver Canucks fan listserv fifteen years ago (post-gophers, pre-blogs, fondly remembered at Canucks Corner), whenever the playoffs began, a statistician named Dave Hannah would make his picks based solely on who was the better goaltender in each matchup– hence what we referred to as the Dave Hannah Theory of Goaltending (though it wasn’t a theory of goaltending as much as a theory of what goaltending meant in the playoffs). Dave normally was correct, and I even won a playoff pool once (after Dave had moved on) based on my own Hannahesque picks.

Sadly, it no longer works as often in hockey (Boucher vs. Brodeur, Niemi vs. Luongo, Khabibulin vs. Luongo, Leighton vs. Halak, to name a few recent matchups), and I doubt it would work even that well with pitching matchups in baseball’s postseason, but it’s worth a try. (It may work better in the negative. Remember the wise words of ex-Penguins coach Gene Ubriaco: “Goaltending is 75% of hockey, unless it’s bad goaltending, in which case it’s 100%.”)

My picks, with all due respect to Dave Hannah:

Philadelphia (97-65) vs. Cincinnati (91-71)
Halladay/Hamels/Oswalt. On the other hand, Joey Votto and luck (e.g. 7 innings of 2-hit, no-run, 10K baseball out of Edinson Volquez, or Johnny Cueto, or both). The Reds are somewhere between the 2008 Brewers and the 2009 Rockies, both of whom the Phillies deposed in 4, and the 2010 Phillies are (mostly) even better. Phils in 4.

San Francisco (92-70) vs. Atlanta (91-71)
Lincecum/Cain/Sanchez/Zito are scarier than Lowe/Hudson/Hanson/Jurrjens and the scariest potential matchup for the Phillies in the NL, if not the whole playoffs, no matter that the Giants have two rosters’ full of castoff outfielders whose total VORP (49.8) doesn’t even match Jayson Werth’s (53.2) .* On the other hand, it’s a short series, Jason Heyward is the best position player between the two teams (with all due respect to Aubrey Huff), and the Braves are extra-motivated to win one for Bobby. I never went wrong picking whomever played Atlanta from 2000-2005, but not this time. Braves in 5.

* Note: if you count Cody Ross’s VORP as a Marlin and Jose Guillen’s VORP as a Royal, it would (68.6). (Yes, Jose Guillen actually had a positive VORP as a Royal.) The 49.8 also doesn’t count Aubrey Huff’s VORP as an outfielder.

Minnesota (94-68) vs. New York Yankees (95-67)
Justin Morneau would help. So would Scott Baker. On the other hand, with Games 1, 2, and 5 in Minnesota, the Twins can beat the Yankees without a win in Yankee Stadium (remember the 1987 and 1991 World Series: the Twins went 8-0 at home and 0-6 on the road). Liriano/Pavano/Duensing may not be Viola/Blyleven/Straker or Morris/Tapani/Erickson, but Sabathia/Pettitte/Hughes are mere mortals too. Twins in 5.

Tampa Bay (96-66) vs. Texas (90-72)
Even if Cliff Lee 2010 were Cliff Lee 2009, Tampa is too deep offensively (Carlos Pena hit .196 and still had 87 walks, tied for 6th in the AL with Old Friend Bobby Abreu and 28 more than Ryan Howard), and are Price/Shields/Garza/Davis any worse than Lee/Wilson/Lewis/Hunter? The only other team that can match up with the Phillies top to bottom, Rays in 3.


6 Responses to “Round One picks”

  1. Round One picks « de Jesus was a Capricorn…

    I found your entry interesting do I’ve added a Trackback to it on my weblog :)…

  2. Great post man! I am a big believer in the fact that you need a very good rotation to be able to win in the playoffs, and right now the Yankees don’t have that. It’s so difficult to outscore teams in the playoffs, that goes for any sport, because you have to face each teams best pitcher’s night in and night out. Scoring is at a premium in any sport when post-season time rolls around. Burnett, Hughes, Vazquez…who do you start? Also, you think you could check out my blog cuz I really wanna hear what you have to say.

  3. The bottom three aren’t as far from the top two as you would think. Sabermetrically speaking, Burnett was the unluckiest Yankee starter among the top five in terms of BABIP at .328. Pettitte was the only other starter above .300 at .301; Vazquez was the luckiest at .274 (outside the top five, Dustin Moseley was at .266). As far as SIERA, the top five were much closer than ERA would suggest, with Sabathia lowest at 3.75 (compared to an ERA of 3.18) and Vazquez highest at 4.54 (compared to an ERA of 5.32). (Note to Cy Young voters: whatever it’s worth, Felix Hernandez was even luckier with a .266 BABIP, but his SIERA was only 3.19.)

    What this means for a five game series is almost irrelevant, though. Even a random lineup order (e.g. batting Berkman cleanup and ARod 8th) wouldn’t have a huge effect over five games– or, if it did, wouldn’t be because of any factors beyond random luck (remember Mark Lemke?). Burnett or Vazquez won’t cost the Yankees the pennant any more than Kyle Kendrick will doom the Phillies.

  4. […] an obligatory reference to Dave Hannah, below are my NHL playoff picks for Round […]

  5. […] focusing not only on the goaltending rollercoaster this playoffs (with the annual obligatory nod to Dave Hannah), but goal differential (hello, Florida […]

  6. […] normally make my playoff picks based on goaltending (the Dave Hannah method or the Gene Ubriaco method, with the Detroit exception), so I figured why not make my regular […]

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