People talk a lot about how statistical analysis sucks the fun out of baseball, how it turns people into number-producing automatons, how it leaves baseball games with all the suspense of a Strat-O-Matic game, and it's easy to see why someone might believe that having never gone through a season from that perspective himself.
For most of the teams every year you'd observe four months of people calling themselves on each other's small sample sizes, talking prospects up for next year, considering just how long it's going to be before the no-name guy who's won five starts in a row gets shelled and sent back down to the PCL, and then two months of those same people, or what's left of them, debating who should get called up when rosters expand. Then the season ends and you'd watch them debate the merits of FIP and xFIP until February, when it's time to talk about small sample sizes again.
But watching baseball after you know how baseball works is knowing when it's time for the analysis to stop. Yesterday the Cardinals needed—and this is just starting in the bottom of the ninth inning—an Albert Pujols double on the latest last-at-bat-in-Busch-Stadium-as-a-Cardinal; a David Freese triple off Neftali Feliz and just over the head of Nelson Cruz; singles from Daniel Descalso and Jon Jay against a left-hander, followed by a Kyle Lohse bunt; a single from Lance Berkman out of an intentional walk; and David Freese hitting his fifth home run of the postseason, and driving in his 19th.
Old Sportswriter Straw Men of baseball, this is the situation in which you're totally right, and the reason you've got things all wrong—when it comes down to this one moment, WAR really doesn't mean anything.
That said, in case you were wondering:
- David Freese is now hitting .393/.439/.787 in the postseason, and .313/.364/.495 in 2011.
- Jake Westbrook's scoreless inning was his second appearance since exactly a month ago, when he gave up five runs in two innings on September 27, and his first playoff victory since the 2007 ALCS.
- I'm finally okay with the Cardinals trading Jim Edmonds, as of right—now.