10/1: Jim Johnson became the first pitcher in Major League history to record 50 saves with fewer than 60 strikeouts (Johnson only has 41 in 67 2/3 innings).
10/2: With his first inning double off Felix Hernandez on Monday night, Albert Pujols became the first player in Major League histroy to record at least 30 home runs and 50 doubles in 3 different seasons. 
10/3: Of those to have stolen a base in four different decades, Ted Williams is the only one not to have at least 25 career steals. Rickey Henderson, Tim Raines, and Omar Vizquel are the only others to accomplish this feat.
10/4: Miguel Cabrera and his league leading 139 runs batted in were 19.1% of the Tiger's total runs scored this season (726). This is the highest single season percentage total since runs batted in became an official statistic in 1920.
10/5: Since 1995, teams with the home field advantage in the regular season have won 53.936 % of those games. One would probably think with increased attendance and exploitation of one's own ballpark, home field advantage rates would be much higher in the playoffs than that of the regular season. However, during that same time frame, only 53.986% of teams win home games in the postseason, or a 5 hundredths of a percentage increase.
10/8: Of the 23 occurrences of catcher interference this season, Rockies outfielder Tyler Colvin has been a victim 6 times (26% of all catcher interference have involved Colvin).
10/9: Miguel Cabrera lead the majors with 44 home runs this season en route to the triple crown. Even with Prince Fielder batting behind him, Cabrera was intentionally walked 17 times. In Roger Maris' historic 1961 campaign in which he set the record for most home runs in a single season, he was never intentionally walked (Mickey Mantle batted behind him). 
10/10: On Monday, Carlos Beltran hit two home runs for the Cardinals as St. Louis routed the Nationals 12-4. This marked the third time Beltran has had a multi-homer game in postseason play, joining Babe Ruth (4 times with the Yankees) and Manny Ramirez (2 times with the Indians, once with the Red Sox). However, Beltran is the only player to accomplish such a feat while wearing three different uniforms (Astros, Mets, Cardinals).
10/11: Raul Ibanez became the first player in postseason history on Wednesday night to hit a home run in the 9th inning and extra innings in the same game.  He is also the first Yankee to hit a game-tying home run in the 9th inning or later of a postseason game since Alex Rodriguez in 2009.  Ironically, Rodriguez was the man Ibanez pinch hit for in the 9th inning of Wednesday night's game 3 of the ALDS.  
10/12: After completing an amazing comeback against the Nationals in Game 5 of the Division Series, the Cardinals are the only team in major league history to overcome a deficit of five or more runs to win a deciding game. Additionally, St. Louis is only the second team to win a deciding game while being behind by two or more runs in the ninth inning.
10/15: In the final 9 games of the regular season, Robinson Cano hit for a .615 batting average.  However, in the postseason, Cano has set a new major league record for the longest base hit drought in a single postseason.  He is 0 for his last 26 in the 2012 playoffs, and batting .063 overall (2-32).  
10/16: This day in baseball history (October 16th), the New York "Miracle" Mets clinched its first World Series Championship after spending years in the cellar of the National League. Of course, the clinching game 5 involved the infamous "shoe polish play." Mets outfielder Cleon Jones appeared to get hit by a pitch on the foot but was not given first base since umpire Lou Dimuro believed it hit the dirt. Mets Manager Gil Hodges then showed Dimuro that shoe polish was transferred from  Jones' shoe to the ball, thus proving that Jones was hit by the pitch. Jones was then promptly awarded first base. 
10/18: The term "southpaw" (an expression describing a left-handed pitcher) is said to have originated from a saying that lefties finished throwing a baseball while facing south. 
10/19: Nineteenth century pitcher, William "Candy" Cummings, is credited with inventing the curveball for the Brooklyn Excelsiors in 1867. This breakthrough allowed Cummings to develop into a Hall of Fame talent, as well as completely changing the game forever.
10/21:   Newly acquired Diamondback, Heath Bell, led the Miami Marlins with 19 saves. The Marlins were one of three teams that did not have any pitcher record at least 20 saves this season, joining the Twins (Glen Perkins- 16 SV), and the Astros (Brett Myers- 16 SV).
10/22: More people have visited the moon (24) than there have been perfect games pitched (21).
10/23:   On Monday night in game 7 of the NLCS, Marco Scutaro had 3 hits to tie an LCS record with 14 hits in the entire series, on his way to MVP.  He also joined Mike Piazza as the only two players in MLB history with at least a 20-game hitting streak in the regular season and a 10-game hitting streak in the postseason.  He also holds a new series record with 6 multi-hit games in the 7 game series.  
10/24: Prior to taking the Yankees managerial position in 1995, Joe Torre had a career winning percentage of .471 with no pennants or World Series titles. Yet, during his extremely successful tenure as manager of the Yankees, he had a .605 winning percentage and finished his career with a .538 winning percentage, 6 pennants, and 4 World Series championships.
10/25: In a historic Game 1 performance, the Giants Pablo Sandoval became the fourth player to have a three home run game in the World Series, joining Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols. However, Sandoval is the first to accomplish the feat in his first three at-bats of the game.
10/26: Walter Johnson holds the record for most three pitch innings, with four occurrences of such a feat.
 
 
        First off, congratulations to the San Francisco Giants on their 7th World Series Championship. A ten inning, 4-3 victory over the American League champion Detroit Tigers ended with triple crown and potential MVP Miguel Cabrera striking out against Giants closer Sergio Romo. The Giants completed a remarkable run, one in which they began the playoffs in fear of being swept by the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS. Not only they did comeback in that series, the Giants did it again by defeating the reigning champs, the St. Louis Cardinals, after trailing 3-1 in the series. A postseason that will be remembered for its remarkable comebacks (Ibanez heroics, Cards-Nats series) was epitomized by the Giants' run toward the title. The Giants were the first National League team to sweep the World Series after staving off at least three straight elimination games. Additionally, they were only the fourth National League team to win two World Series in a three year span joining the '75-'76 Reds, the '63-65 Dodgers and the '42-44 Cardinals.  Looking back, the Giants were led by an unflappable pitching staff, a very solid lineup, and above average defense, the Giants seemed destined for October greatness. They even had the likely NL MVP in Buster Posey and a Cy Young candidate in Matt Cain. How was anybody but the Giants considered the favorites?

                 In my opinion, come October, every team will have its star players. However, what separates the good teams from the great ones is the production from "role players." What are role players? I just like to call role players the guys who do not make a ton of money and do not receive the same publicity as say an MVP candidate or triple crown winner. For the Giants, they simply had better role players than the Tigers. Marco Scutaro, the NLCS MVP, came up with key hits throughout the postseason and drove game winning run in Game 4. Gregor Blanco, someone who did not even play in 2011, came up with spectacular defense and produced a key RBI triple in Game 3. Even on an intangible basis, Hunter Pence's leadership has been quoted frequently for uniting the Giants to play their best. Another key factor was the role of the San Francisco bullpen. Heading into the playoffs, I praised the Cincinnati Reds bullpen as the best in baseball, with talented arms such as Aroldis Chapman and Sean Marshall leading the charge. The Giants, no doubt, also had a very solid bullpen (4.01 R/G) but was far from being among the elite pens in Major League Baseball (9th). However, one aspect that was not accounted for was the development of Tim Lincecum as a relief ace. Lincecum, a two time Cy Young award winner, threw the third most innings this postseason for a Giants pitching and struck out 8 in 4 and 2/3 innings pitched in the World Series alone. Using Lincecum to pitch in high leverage situations greatly aided the Giants ability to get out of potential jams with little to no damage. The maximization of every piece on the Giants roster allowed them to roll over a team considered the favorites heading into the series. Depth and overall team production was simply better than a frontloaded Tigers team in terms of talent.

                The Giants became just the second team ever to win six elimination games en route to a World Series Championship. A season that culminated in the greatest team honor was no doubt without adversity. Melky Cabrera, arguably the team's best hitter (.346 AVG, 158 OPS+),  was suspended on August 15th for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. The Los Angeles Dodgers pulled off the blockbuster of the Century in the infamous Nick Punto Trade (that also happened to send former all-stars Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez to Tinseltown). Fanatical and borderline insane closer Brian Wilson pitched in two games before being shut down for the season for Tommy John surgery. Nevertheless, players such as Sergio Romo and the aforementioned Blanco, Pence, and Scutaro all greatly contributed toward the Giants clinching their second World Series Title in the past three seasons.  Is it too early to proclaim this Giants team as the next great baseball franchise. Probably, considering we were saying the same thing about the Red Sox a couple of years ago and look how that has turned out. But one thing is for sure, and that is the San Francisco Giants are the champions of baseball.

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Congrats to the Giants and WS MVP Pablo Sandoval on their 7th World Championship
 
 
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       The season wasn't supposed to end this way. The Yankees finished the season with the best record in the American League, most home runs hit, second most runs scored,  and had 53 years of postseason experience in their starting lineup alone. Anything short of their 28th World Series Championship would be considered a failure, and regarded by many as the favorite to win the fall classic. They had All-Stars Derek Jeter , Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, and CC Sabathia. Hiroki Kuroda won 16 games and had a solid 126 ERA+, while the bullpen included Rafael Soriano (42 SV, 2.26 ERA) and David Robertson (12 K/9, 157 ERA+) After all, they were the New York freaking Yankees, the most storied franchise in all of sports. They had momentum (finished season on 13-4 run) Yet, a season that began with lofty expectations and in complete disaster, following an embarrassing sweep at the hands of the Detroit Tigers.

            The Yankees cruised into the playoffs finishing the final month 19-9 with contributers such as Robinson Cano (.593/.600/1.074) and Curtis Granderson (.333/.393/750) red-hot over the final week. Since they had the best record in the league and won the division, the Bombers would also be exempt from the sudden-death Wild Card Game and have "home-field advantage" throughout the playoffs. After a Orioles victory in the Wild Card game, the Yankees would be playing the intra-divisional rival whom they were an even 9-9 during the regular season. An exciting number of close games, peppered with heroic performances (Raaaauuuul!), took the Yankees to a deciding game 5 which saw a dominant C.C. Sabathia take the Yankees to the ALCS. A series in which the Yankees as a team only batted .211/.278/.333 could have provided some apprehension towards future success but could the Yankees talented offense remain ice-cold. After all, they had the most runs scored, home runs, on base percentage, slugging percentage in the league. No way the mighty Yankees would futile in the batter's box for another series…

            Well, not only did they stay frigid with the bat, but the Yankees took a bad offensive performance and made it historic. The Yankees had the worst batting average (.188) in a single postseason,  Robinson Cano's 0-29 stretch was the longest in postseason history, and only scored one of their six runs prior to the ninth inning. Furthermore, Quentin Berry (yes, Quentin Berry) had a higher OPS (.625) than all but four Yankees. Additionally, the staff was not that great as New York pitchers combined for a 4.14 ERA. Clearly, the Yankees just fell apart this series and were overmatched especially at the plate. Big names such as Robinson Cano , Nick Swisher , Alex Rodriguez , Mark Teixeira , and even Raul Ibanez all batted below .250. Also, it's not just that they slumped but the fact that they were the best offense in the American League and frankly because they have the highest payroll in the league. Teams with $209 million payrolls and that kind of talent are not supposed to flounder in October, no matter how good the opponent is. No doubt, credit should go to Detroit, as their pitchers (minus Jose Valverde ) only allowed 2 runs in the entire series and hitters combined for an .802 OPS. They were another talented team that vastly underperformed (rather, in the regular season) and had a mountain of payroll and expectations coming into the season. Nevertheless, the pathetic showing by the Yankees cannot be explained by much other than the fact that their offense did not show up, clear and simple.

            After an embarrassing postseason, the Yankees will face a series of decisions this offseason. Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Ichiro Suzuki and Raul Ibanez are all free agents. Most likely is that Swisher will leave for a long-term commitment, depriving the team of a good OBP source and their starting RF. Theoretically, if Ichiro is resigned, the Yankees can go Brett Gardner in LF, Granderson in CF, and Ichiro in RF. I could definitely see the Yankees going this path considering Ichiro's success in pinstripes without having to pay the big bucks for Swisher's services. Also, Rafael Soriano possesses an opt-out clause to become a free agent. Presumably, Soriano will take this in order  to obtain more years at a premium price. Additionally, it seems fairly reasonable that Pettitte, Rivera, and Kuroda will be back due to their desire to stay in the Bronx. Other than some minor moves for bench and bullpen players, the Yankees do not have any glaring holes to be filled.

            However, one major concern is the aging of the team. The Yankees will have 0! position players under 30, barring a offseason move. This aging, although it may not have been clearly visible yet, should result in a gradual attrition of their ability to hit and play the field on an everyday basis. Alex Rodriguez has already showed signs of slowing down in his own miserable postseason (have fun with another 5 years $114 million Yankees fans) as well as Mark Teixeira. Robinson Cano will play next season at age 30 and will command a long-term commitment upwards of 6-7 years. And despite his defensive shortcomings, Derek Jeter cannot keep producing offensively, right? Brain Cashman and the front office must add youth to this team sooner rather than later. Even the Yankees have to restock on talent at some point.

            Personally, this is how I would fix the Yankees and their age issue. First, I would trade Alex Rodriguez to anyone who wants him and absorb the majority of his contract so that the team could obtain better prospects. Second, I would not extend Robinson Cano to a long term contract. He will be entering his post-prime and although he has had no injury history to this point, second basemen have a tendency to break down rapidly following their age 30-32 seasons (see Utley, Chase). Lastly I would trade Mark Teixeira and eat most of his contract so once again, better prospects could be sent back to New York. Although, the Yankees still have a ton of talent, their offensive struggles highlighted a growing concern about the team's age and its ability to hold up over a full season. This is something needed to be addressed over the next season, or else the Yankees, although equipped with the most financial freedom in the game, will have a rude awakening


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Game 1 Discussion
 
 
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              Some say he’s going to be the best player the game has ever seen and a lock for 500 home runs, if not many more.  This high praise started in high school for Bryce Harper at age 16, when he appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and was dubbed as baseball’s “chosen one.”  As a freshman in high school Harper hit a moonshot that traveled 570 feet.  That’s the type of strength this young phenom was blessed with.  Bryce was so advanced for his age that he dropped out of high school after his sophomore year, got his GED, and went to College of Southern Nevada. Scouts would have been happy with just surviving against much older competition. Instead, he dominated and won the Golden Spikes Award, in honor of the best player in amateur baseball.  After just one year at Southern Nevada, he declared for the MLB draft and was selected with the number one overall pick in 2010 by the Washington Nationals. 

                Harper, just turning 20, has jumped through the minor league system and has started in both center-field and right-field for 2012's best regular season team, the Washington Nationals. In addition to his outfield versatility, Harper possesses power and bat-speed that is far and away already better than most major league hitters.  He lived up to all the hype and expectations hitting at a .270/.340/.477/.817 clip with 22 home runs in 2012.  His 22 home runs are the second most by a teenager in Major League history (Tony Conigliaro with 24). There’s no question the power is there for Bryce, but he has excelled in other facets of the game as well.  He has shown great patience at the plate, a trait most young hitters lack, with a walk rate of 9.4%, which is higher than the league average of 8%.  He is also above average in categories such as WAR (5.0) and OPS+ (119).  He’s no Mike Trout in terms of speed (but then again, who is?), however he does have above average wheels and has the ability to steal bases, as he was 18 out of 24 (75%) in 2012.  With impressive tools like hitting for average, hitting for power and speed on the base paths, Harper fills out the remaining tools just as well.  Bryce, a converted outfielder after being a catcher much of his amateur career, was clocked throwing 96 MPH in high school.  Today, he utilizes his rifle in the Washington outfield.  Harper had a very impressive 8 outfield assists in his rookie campaign.  Even though Harper made 7 errors, he is still young and had a well above league average 14 defensive runs saved.  Remember, he should have just finished up his freshman year in college. Instead, he's posted some of the greatest teenage numbers in baseball history.

                These types of numbers at such a young age make people wonder what this kid can do in the future, which may be scary.  Additionally, Harper is praised for the things that do not show up on the stat sheets.  His intense fire and passion for playing the game of baseball is what makes him so successful early on in his career.  To some, he may come off as being arrogant and cocky.  However, I look at him as being confident and a guy who simply plays the game how everyone should play it by running every ball out as hard as he can.  Just consider yourself a clown if you want to question Harper’s ability to play baseball at its highest level, bro.  


 
 
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Nick Rabasco: 
Game 1: Tigers 4 - Giants 2
Game 2: Tigers 3 - Giants 6
Game 3: Giants 4 - Tigers 5
Game 4: Giants 2- Tigers 1
Game 5: Giants 0 - Tigers 3
Game 6: Giants 3 - Tigers 4
2012 World Series Champion: Detroit Tigers               
WS MVP: Justin Verlander

Notes: I predict a fairly low scoring series due to the strength of both pitching staffs.  Also, the Tigers pitching staff was lights-out in the ALCS and I have Justin Verlander turning in two more masterpieces in games 1 and 5 on his way to MVP.  Although the trio of Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong had  great outings in NLCS elimination games, I believe the tigers offense led by Austin Jackson, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder is enough to get by. 



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Aidan Flynn:  
Game 1: Tigers 7 - Giants 0
Game 2: Tigers 2 - Giants 5
Game 3: Giants 1 - Tigers 3
Game 4: Giants 2 - Tigers 1
Game 5: Giants 0 - Tigers 6
Game 6: Tigers 2 - Giants 6
Game 7: Tigers 3 - Giants 5
2012 World Series Champion: San Francisco Giants
WS MVP: Angel Pagan

Notes: As shown above, I fully expect the Giants to win their 7th World Series championship and bring the title back to the city of San Francisco. I believe that the Giants offense is quite underrated (highest OPS+ in NL) due to the offensive suppression caused by AT&T Park. In my opinion, the Giants' lineup presents a more balanced attack compared to the top-heavy lineup of the Tigers. Additionally, I have more faith in the Giants pitching than that of the Tigers (except when countering Tigers' ace Justin Verlander, of course) due to their consistency of their bullpen. This will help they conserve victories in the close games where the Tigers' bullpen cannot. Either way, baseball is a sport where anything can happen, with this postseason being no exception. Boy, do I love baseball!

 
 
   As the 108th World Series is about to kick off, we here at BTP wish to unveil our first annual Behind the Plate Award Winners, in honor of each player's tremendous season. We carefully selected each player after much conversation and debate, trying to ensure we selected the most deserving candidates. Many of our awards derive their names from the players that best exhibited what each award represents. A short description for each award is as follows:

Best Player Award: Pretty self-explanatory, we wanted to remove the term "valuable," as it can be interpreted several different ways.
Walter Johnson Award: Named after arguably the greatest pitcher of all-time, this award is presented to the pitcher who had the best season in his respective league.
Babe Ruth Award: Named after arguably the greatest hitter of all-time, this award is presented to the hitter who had the best season in his respective league.
Mariano Rivera Award: Named after arguably the greatest relief pitcher of all time, this award is presented to the reliever who had the best season in his respective league.
Mike Trout Award: Named after the player who arguably completed the greatest rookie season of all time, this award is presented to the rookie who had the best season in his respective leagve.
Connie Mack Award: Named after the winning-est manager in Major League history, this is presented to the best manager in his respected league.
Branch Rickey Award: Named after one of the most innovative and influential executives in Major League history, this is presented to the executive that made the best transactions toward improving his club for the 2012 season.

And without further adieu...

Best Player Award
American League: Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
National League: Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants

Walter Johnson Award: 
American League: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
National League: R.A. Dickey, New York Mets

Babe Ruth Award: 
American League: Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Detroit Tigers
National League: Buster Posey, C, San Francisco Giants


Mariano Rivera Award:
American League: Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay Rays
National League: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves


Mike Trout Award
American League: (Surprise!) Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
National League: Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals

Connie Mack Award: 
American League: Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles
National League: Davey Johnson, Washington Nationals

Branch Rickey Award:
American League: Billy Beane, Oakland Athletics
National League: Mike Rizzo, Washington Nationals

All BTP 1st Team:
C: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
1B: Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers
2B: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees
3B: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
SS: Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals
OF: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
OF: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
OF: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates
DH: David Wright, 3B, New York Mets
SP: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
SP: R.A. Dickey, New York Mets
SP: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
SP: David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
RP: Fernando Rodney, Tampa Bay Rays
RP: Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves
RP: Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds

All BTP 2nd Team:
C: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
1B: Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
2B: Aaron Hill, Arizona Diamondbacks 
3B: Chase Headley, San Diego Padres
SS: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
OF: Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals
OF: Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers
OF: Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers
DH: Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas Rangers
SP: Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati Reds
SP: Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals
SP: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners
SP: Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
RP: Kris Medlen, Atlanta Braves
RP: Jim Johnson, Baltimore Orioles
RP: Sergio Romo, San Francisco Giants

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Mike Trout and Buster Posey took home the most BTP Awards
 

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