World Series Game 7 Analysis: The State of Baseball’s Future

Wait, this is a science fiction writer’s blog, right? Aren’t you going to talk about your new book, Star Realms: Rescue Run and its hot presale on Amazon, 2 days only for a kindle version at $2.99?  http://bit.ly/starrealmsnovel   There you go. Buy it and support awesome fiction! Seriously.

Now that that’s out of the way. PLAY BALL!

What a World Series Game 7, wasn’t it? That was absolutely one of the best baseball games I’ve ever seen, hands down. I’ve been pretty excited about the Cubs since the beginning of this year when I’d seen what Theo Epstein (the general manager) had assembled. In April, they were off to a crazy lead of their division, and stat projections actually showed that they were UNDERPERFORMING their stats while being so good.

It’s interesting. We’ve had a decade or so of baseball parity brought on by a revolution in statistics, first hinted at by the movie, Moneyball, though it’s gone on to be far more in depth than that. Stats now track how fast outfielders run, exit velocities of home run balls, how well a catcher holds his glove so that an umpire perceives a strike. It’s incredible.

A lot of teams used stats to overcome the little known fact that baseball is the one sport where you don’t have a salary cap, and can buy the best players that normal eyes can see and have a great shot year in and year out. Think the Yankees and Dodgers, who are perennial powerhouses whether they look at stats or not.

But what’s happened over the course of the last couple seasons is that everyone has integrated these super-stats into their processes of hiring players, managers, how they field, how they hit, how pitchers throw. It’s a science like never before.  Now the teams like the Cubs, who have both an amazing analytics group AND gobs of money to spend on players are starting to break out from the pack. They have an amazing player base now, and an equal number of prospects that are incredible to ensure they’re incredible for years to come.

I think the golden age of baseball parity, teams scrapping out some wins against the odds (think the Tampa Bay Rays and Oakland A’s) is coming to an end. We’ve been there for about 10 years, after Moneyball became a thing. Now with the draft system, all they have left is to tank seasons for high draft picks, and hope they can build a club in a few years. The powerhouses that can spend will chew up any market inefficiencies in statistics until there are none left.  We’re going to see a new era of dominance by big spending combined with big data.

It was fun while it lasted, but we’re going to see a lot more fun in the near future as well from a different perspective. The Cubs have arguably the best team assembled since the 1939 Yankees, if you want to talk about a golden era of baseball. They’ll be incredible. Clayton Kershaw is one of the best 5 pitchers of all time, he’s not going anywhere soon. Mike Trout is worth flipping to even an Angels game to watch.  And the bottom teams will still be able to claw their way to some success with the draft system.  Baseball is fun again. I predict the Cubs will be back in the World Series next season.

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