For true baseball fans, the 2011 World Series offers a breath of fresh air
- Updated: October 20, 2011
I have to admit that this World Series offers a bit of optimism for those fans who realize the talent disparity between the American and National Leagues. If you were to take an overall view of the talent level, the American League has been significantly more “stacked” with talent for many years now. Sometimes you’ll run across the occasional joke that the NL West is the new version of the 4-A ballplayer. However, we are starting to notice a bit of a swing as NL clubs are moving towards building their teams similar to AL teams. For some time the pitching and defense ONLY model was what you most often saw in NL clubs, especially those who have limited payroll flexibility.
Now there is less and less room for error in front offices, and clubs are finding value in players that they previously overlooked. Teams are finding an even more “true” value for all the analytical metrics out there. Stats like WAR (Wins Above Replacement) are a way for the less statistically inclined, but hardcore fan to take a look at a players overall value. The counting stats that almost everyone can relate to are taking a backseat to true value-based stats. This is the concept behind Money Ball, but it’s just becoming common knowledge and lingo now.
St. Louis Cardinals are a great example of a mid-market team capitalizing on their peak skill level. They may (and probably will) lose arguably the best hitter of all-time in the off-season to free agency, but their team is deep, and there is a wave of talent coming up that will allow them to soften the blow of losing Pujols. Other mid-market teams are losing these types of players and taking years, if not decades to recover.
That’s what makes this series so interesting. You have the Rangers powerful lineup full of sluggers, and big power arms. Then you have the Adam Wainwright-less St. Louis Cardinals with an AL-style lineup with depth and a bullpen that is performing well at the right time. That’s really the key to playoff baseball, getting in a rhythm when it matters most. You can say that teams play 162 games all year to lose a small series and be out of contention and denote the importance of the playoffs, or you can take it for what it is and enjoy it. I choose to enjoy it, and relish at how incredibly close in talent these two teams are.
Enjoy this World Series and think about how the game has changed. Embrace it, because in a league with no salary cap, we’re finally seeing the day we never thought we would see.