A high-level look at the week that was for the good guys…
10/1/12 – 10/7/12
Runs: 19-8 (+11)
Playoffs: up 2-0 on Giants
Oct 7, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips (4) hits a an RBI double against the San Francisco Giants during the eighth inning of game two of the 2012 NLDS at AT
Player of the Week
Brandon Phillips – Please bear with me as I navigate through my first non-regular season BRMWIR. Given that it’s difficult to find a data source that combines regular and postseason statistics, I’m going with judgement here, and weighting heavily the games that actually mattered. And in this case, BP is the clear choice.
The Reds second baseman went 5 for 10 with 2 doubles, a homerun, 4 RBI and a run scored in the Reds first two playoff games. He got the scoring started in Game 1 with a two-run bomb, and it appears that the Reds’ month-long offensive swoon may be long gone.
Pitcher of the Week (highest Game Score)
Bronson Arroyo (78) – This week’s winner is just as obvious as last week’s (no hitter, remember?). Arroyo pitched the best game of the young 2012 postseason, carrying a perfect game into the fifth inning before Brandon Belt knocked the one hit the Giants would get off the long-haired, high leg-kickin’ right-hander.
Arroyo was ready to head back out in the 8th, too, when the Reds decided to score five runs and eliminate any drama the final two innings would have otherwise contained. In all, Arroyo went 7, allowing just two baserunners and striking out four (consecutively, I might add). And when it was all over, the Reds took a 2-0 series lead back to Cincinnati.
The Difference Maker
Refreshingly, I’ve read several stories on this series that didn’t try to predict the future, or pretend that a five game series can be figured out by reducing each team into three neatly ordered categories and assuming everything will play out accordingly.
Oct 7, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo (61) pitches the ball against the San Francisco Giants during the fifth inning of game two of the 2012 NLDS at AT
Sure, there are places for these sorts of things, and I do find them entertaining to a degree, but time and again the baseball postseason shows us that any attempt to assume you have any idea what’s going to happen once it begins is futile. Perhaps this no longer interests you, but this series preview from Jeff Sullivan over at Fangraphs is possibly the best I’ve read. His recap after game one was similarly insightful. If you’re more of a here and now type person, I recommend bookmarking his name, as I’m sure he’ll be along shortly with something new.
But for a game two recap, I point you to SB Nation writer Grant Brisbee. Aside from being a main contributor to their baseball front page, he happens to write for McCovey Chronicles, their San Francisco Giants blog. Reading literature from the enemy can offer an interesting perspective, and I argue that Grant achieves this while maintaining a refreshing (yes, I used that word again) amount of reasonability.
By now many casual baseball fans are probably sick of the word “luck”. That magical word that more and more baseball people are using to explain seemingly any notable occurrence. Problem is, I think many people misunderstand what is meant by the term luck. It does not mean that players don’t have control over their actions, or that baseball outcomes are completely random. Rather, that a player’s control over a single particular action, or the opposing player’s reaction, or the defender’s instincts, is impossible to determine. Even over the course of an entire game, many unexpected, unusual things can happen, based on theses interactions.
The baseball season is 162 games, yet players have up and down years. Entire seasons where it may be difficult to explain why exactly Player X performed below expectation.
A playoff series is five games. A lot of crazy stuff can happen in those five games. In 2010, the Reds were on the wrong side of crazy. So far, they’ve done OK this time around.
Follow Aaron on Twitter @aaronjlehr