Steve Berthiaume at ESPN.com has a story up this morning arguing that the Rays are too top-heavy too succeed in October.
His argument has three points:
- The offense isn’t good even though it has scored 57 runs in the last 10 games.
- The starting pitching after David Price isn’t good because Matt Garza struggled Wednesday night.
- The bullpen bridge to Soriano and Benoit isn’t good because Grant Balfour has been hurt and Jeremy Hellickson has struggled.
Overall, the story reads like he spent tens of minutes preparing for it. First, points 1 and 2 are directly contradictory. He dismisses the Rays recent run of offense because the sample size is too small while, at the same time, arguing that Garza’s one bad start is proof that the starting rotation can’t handle October. Well. Which is it? Are recent results relevant or not?
In reality, Garza’s bad start is a blip on the radar. He has been phenomenal for well over a month and, is a proven October commodity.
The argument about how few hits the Rays offense generates is also misleading. In fact, Berthiaume proves the irrelevance of hits but noting in his story that they are 23rd in batting average and 25th in hits but have the second best record in baseball and have seen a huge increase in their run differential. In sum, Berthiaume’s argument can be boiled down to this proposition: The Rays have had incredible success this season despite the fact that they don’t get a lot of hits but they cannot succeed in October without getting hits. What?
Finally, this argument about the bullpen bridge is misleading. I look at Balfour’s injury as a positive. Balfour crumbled in October 2008 because he was overworked throughout the 2008 season. Jim Hickey’s hijinks basically gave Balfour’s arm a month off and left him with a month to prepare for October. Sounds like a good thing to me. Besides, if the bullpen is so bad, why is among the League leaders in most statistical categories?
In the end, Berthiaume’s analysis is a slap-dash attempt to dismiss something he doesn’t understand. The Rays succeed in a way that traditional statistical measures can’t comprehend.