Hey there. I’m Bill Baer and I am your new HardballTalk blog contributor. I will be writing words for your eyes to read every evening during the weekend. If you’re new to my existence, I run the Phillies blog Crashburn Alley, which has been partnered with ESPN as part of the Sweet Spot network since 2009. I also contribute content to ESPN’s Sweet Spot blog directly every weekend. Elsewhere, I’ve written a book, hosted a radio show in Philly, and contributed to Baseball Prospectus.
How about an icebreaker? My favorite baseball moment, at least that I’ve seen in person, was when I was at Citizens Bank Park for a Giants-Phillies game in 2006. I got to see Barry Bonds hit home run #713 off of Jon Lieber. I wrote extensively about that night here if you’re interested.
You might be thinking, “Bill is a Phillies fan. Great, that will balance out all of Craig’s negativity towards them.” You would be wrong. Despite being a fan, I will take every opportunity to laugh at Ryan Howard’s contract, Delmon Young’s weight and racist tendencies, and Michael Young’s inability to play defense.
It is my hope that you enjoy having my perspective added to the fantastic lineup of HardballTalk writers. Please direct your hate mail to my Twitter: @CrashburnAlley.
Note: I included a picture of Domonic Brown because he has a pretty swing.
If you throw the word “luck” into a sports conversation you’re gonna anger some people because people don’t like to ever chalk up their own success or their team’s success to anything apart from their own skill, worthiness and merit. What we usually refer to as “luck,” however, is not meant to detract from one’s merit. It’s more about outcomes that were not necessarily predictable or expected given all of the known variables.
Thing is, we really don’t have a concise and compact word that captures the notion of “unreasonably underperforming or unreasonably outperforming one’s statistical expectations,” so the word “luck” is about as good as we can do. Sorry if that offends, but focus more on what we’re getting at when we talk about sports luck and less about how you feel about the concept of luck in general, OK?
With that in mind, know that, according to Rob Arthur of FiveThirtyEight, the Cubs have been the unluckiest franchise in baseball history in terms of turning success into championships. Given how much they’ve won over the years, they should have had six or seven championships and not the two they have (with none for 108 years, of course).
The luckiest? The Yankees. While they have obviously been immensely talented throughout their history, the numbers suggest that they should “only” have 19 or 20 World Series titles. They have 27. They’d still have the most if everyone performed at their level of statistical expectations, but their 16-title lead over the next most successful World Series team — the Cardinals — should not be as great as it is.
Kyle Schwarber made a quicker-than-expected recovery from ACL surgery and then, after an Arizona Fall League rehab assignment, was shuttled up to Cleveland for the World Series. But that’s not all he has done.
Schwarber is now the latest ever Best Shape of His Life All-Star. Or so says Kris Bryant, talking to Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com:
“We’ve seen first-hand the work that he’s putting in and how hard he’s been going . . . Honestly, I saw him out — maybe a couple weeks after his surgery — and he’s moving around, walking. And I’m like: ‘Dang, this guy’s not human. How? I saw your leg bend in half, and you’re walking around. This is unbelievable . . .(It’s) watching him dripping with sweat every single day. Every single day, this guy is drenched. I feel like he’s in the best shape of his life (now). There was no doubt in my mind that he could do it. It was just a matter of if they let him.”
May as well just forfeit now, Indians. No way you can deal with an October BSOHL guy.