What in the World Series is going on here?

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We’re 10 days into the 2012 postseason and the American League finalists can’t hit, the National League contenders can’t get any starting pitching and none of the teams still playing seem to be any better than the ones that were eliminated.

Here are the hitting lines of the four teams still standing:

Detroit: .258/.299/.351, 3 HR, 20 RBI in 248 AB
New York: .205/.277/.326, 6 HR, 20 RBI in 258 AB

St. Louis: .249/.342/.438, 9 HR, 40 RBI in 233 AB
San Fran: .196/.270/.332, 5 HR, 20 RBI in 199 AB

If these were actual regular-season player lines, the Cardinals would be a fringe regular as a corner outfielder and the other three would be riding the pine. The Yankees have scored fewer runs in their seven games than the NLDS-losing Reds did in five games.

The AL contenders have combined for 198 hits and 239 strikeouts so far. Obviously, that’s not the norm. In the regular season, AL teams had 20 hits for every 17 strikeouts. In the postseason, it’s been 20 hits for every 24 strikeouts.

Overall, AL hitters are batting .218 and slugging .310 this postseason. To put that in perspective, Justin Verlander limited major league hitters to a .217 average and a .306 slugging percentage this season. So, essentially, every AL pitcher this month is Justin Verlander.

The NL, on the other hand, hasn’t had it so bad for offense. Not early in games anyway. What is odd is just how bad the starters are getting roughed up, especially with four of the league’s top five rotations represented. Going by ERA, the Nationals had the NL’s best rotation this year, followed by the Dodgers, Cardinals, Reds and Giants. And yet…

Cardinals starters: 2-2, 4.22 ERA
Reds starters: 1-2, 4.30 ERA
Nationals starters: 0-2, 5.25 ERA
Giants starters: 1-3, 6.49 ERA

Outside of Washington’s, the bullpens have been far more effective, which is fortunate since they’ve so often needed to cover five innings per game. The Cards’ bullpen has a 1.80 ERA in 30 innings. The Giants are at 2.51 ERA in 28 2/3 innings.

So, what are we left with 10 days in? The AL’s best offensive team has a .650 OPS, a mark that would have rated the worst in the major leagues this season. NL starting pitchers are 4-8 with a 4.92 ERA, which is a worse ERA than every NL team besides the Rockies posted this year. And for all of the exciting games, it’s hard to argue that we’ve actually seen a great caliber of play from any of these teams this month. While there have been thrills and chills, it hasn’t exactly been a showcase.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

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The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.