Best hitters in playoff history: Ruth, Gehrig and … Beltran?

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The perception of Carlos Beltran’s performance in the playoffs is largely built around his once taking an Adam Wainwright curveball for an NLCS-ending called third strike. That narrative, like many narratives, couldn’t be further from the truth.

After homering twice last night Beltran has now gone deep 13 times in 25 career playoff games while hitting .362 with a 1.297 OPS. He’s played in six different playoff series and has posted an OPS above 1.000 in four of them (including that NLCS against Wainwright and the Cardinals in 2006).

Obviously those are amazing numbers, but did you know Beltran now owns the highest slugging percentage and the highest OPS in postseason history? Here are the career leardboards among everyone with at least 100 plate appearances in the playoffs:

                    PA      SLG                            PA      OPS
CARLOS BELTRAN     115     .819        CARLOS BELTRAN     115    1.297
Babe Ruth          167     .744        Babe Ruth          167    1.211
Lou Gehrig         150     .731        Lou Gehrig         150    1.208

Carlos Beltran. Babe Ruth. Lou Gehrig. No big deal or anything.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.