The Most Important Player In the World Series Debate – Good Pitching Means Nothing If the Team Can’t Score!

October 26, 2009

Read Sports Geek’s argument and Loyal Homer’s arguments about who will be the most important player of the 2009 MLB World Series.

The 2009 World Series matchup has been set, featuring the Philadelphia Phillies against the New York Yankees. Although it will be torturous for Cleveland Indians fans like myself to watch C.C. Sabathia pitch against Cliff Lee in game one, the stage is set for what should be a very exciting Fall classic! (If it is any consolation, Tribe fans, at least you can take comfort in knowing that Manny Acta is your new manager, and he is really good at… ummm, nevermind!)

Both sides are loaded with talent, but when questioning the most important player in the series, the answer is Phillies first-baseman Ryan Howard.

Simply put, Howard is an RBI machine! During the 2009 postseason, Howard has already batted in 14 runs (which is the highest total in baseball) with a .355 batting average including two home runs, four doubles, and – yes – even a triple for the 255-pounder! He is the most productive hitter of the postseason, and that will have to continue if the Phillies hope to repeat as World Series champions this season.

It is Howard’s position in the lineup that makes him so dangerous (and so important to the Phillies). Hitting in front of Howard are Shane Victorino and Chase Utley, both of whom are batting above .300 with an on-base percentage of .439 this postseason. They should have no problem setting the table for Howard because they give Howard ample opportunity for even more RBI in the World Series, even against the likes of C.C. Sabathia.

Simply having consistent hitters in front of the best hitter in a lineup is not enough, though. Howard also has the luxury of being followed in the batting order by Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez, who have had nearly the same success as Howard in the RBI category, combining for an additional 19 postseason runs batted in between them. Collectively, Howard, Ibanez, and Werth alone have combined for 33 of the Phillies 54 total RBI. With a great supporting cast around him Yankees pitchers will have no choice but to pitch to Howard, often with runners on base.

It is a familiar cliché, “good pitching wins championship.” But, the Yankees and Phillies BOTH have good pitching this season. The 2009 World Series will be decided by the team that can still figure out how to score runs despite the dominant pitching on the bump. The Yankees, a team that is not a slouch at the plate withhitters like Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Derek Jeter, will manage to put runs on the board against Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, and the rest of the Phillies pitching staff. It will be up to Howard, who is the leader of a Phillies offense that is the most prolific of this postseason, to make sure that his team can get ahead early, giving his pitchers the cushion they need to be successful.

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The Most Important Player In the World Series Debate – Lidge Must Continue Postseason Success

October 26, 2009

Read Sports Geek’s argument and Bleacher Fan’s argument about which player in the upcoming 2009 World Series is the most important.

The matchup for the World Series is finally set after last’s night Yankees victory over the Angels. The Phillies have been waiting since last Wednesday after defeating the Dodgers in just five games. Game one of the World Series is Wednesday night in New York. I think many can agree that this is probably the best matchup, with last year’s champion facing off against the all-mighty Yankees who remain one of the most loved and hated franchises in all of sports.

Our discussion today centers around which player we think is the key to this series. Who is the most important player? I gave serious consideration to Cliff Lee. What a pitching matchup we have in store for Game one with Lee facing off against his former teammate, C.C. Sabathia. But, even more than Lee, I think the most important player of this series is Philadelphia Phillies closer Brad Lidge.

The Sports Debates had a debate centered on Brad Lidge over a month ago. I took the stance that Lidge should be left off the postseason roster because of his ineffective regular season (7.21 ERA with eleven blown saves). But, thankfully for Phillies fans, manager Charlie Manuel did not consider Loyal Homer’s opinion. Lidge has been perfect for the Phillies this postseason with five scoreless innings, three saves, and a win. Not to mention he is very confident right now as he seems to have regained his 2008 swagger. It could not have come at a better time for the Phillies who are trying to enter rare air and repeat as World Series champions.

Everyone knows how good the Yankees’ lineup is, and that they all appear to be getting hot right now. Everyone knows that many of the players are postseason veterans. Everyone knows that Yankee Stadium is extremely hitter friendly.

But, Brad Lidge is battle tested in the postseason, also. Yes, I still think of Albert Pujols’s shot off of him in the 2005 NLCS (still one of the longest home runs I have ever seen), but he overcame that last year. Keep in mind that Lidge is used to pitching in a hitter friendly park in Philadelphia.

If the Phillies can get good starting pitching from Lee, Cole Hamels, and whoever Manuel decides to plug in after that (Pedro Martinez, Joe Blanton, or J.A. Happ), then Lidge is definitely going to get his opportunities. He proved how dominant he can be during the 2008 season and postseason and if he continues his strong postseason this year, chances are good that the Phillies will successfully defend their World Series title.

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The Brad Lidge on the Postseason Roster Debate – Experience Makes Life On The “Lidge” Worth Living

September 17, 2009

Read the debate intro and Loyal Homer’s argument that Brad Lidge should not make the Philadelphia Phillies postseason roster.

During the season, overall statistics are an excellent measure for the general success or failure of an athlete’s performance. Once the postseason begins, however, those overall statistics must be thrown away. The only thing that matters in the postseason are MATCHUPS.

It is true that Brad Lidge has struggled during the 2009 season. He is pitching with a 7.18 ERA, has given up a total of 42 runs in 52.2 innings (an average of 0.80 runs per inning), and has only 29 saves out of 39 opportunities. He has a 1.75 strike out (K) to walk (BB) ratio, and his opponents’ batting average is .300. However, does it really matter how Lidge pitched against the Houston Astros (27.00 ERA) if he is not even going to face the Astros in the postseason? No, it does not. What DOES matter is how he has pitched against his likely playoff opponents, the St. Louis Cardinals, the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Colorado Rockies.

Against those three opponents, Lidge has had much greater success this season. In his ten appearances against the three likely playoff teams, Lidge has allowed only six earned runs in 9.2 innings of work (an average of 0.65 runs per inning), and he is averaging a much more respectable 4.5 K’s for every BB. While Lidge may have struggled for much of the season, against several opponents, his performance against the only teams that he will potentially face in the playoffs has been much better.

In addition to the fact that Lidge matches up well against his likely playoff opponents, there is another issue that must be considered – SUCCESSFUL postseason experience.

Ask C.C. Sabathia or Alex Rodriguez about the value of successful regular season stats once you enter the postseason. C.C. and A-Rod have both recently learned that performance between the months of April and September is worthless when October rolls around. Regular season statistics are relevant only for the regular season. As they say, everything resets for the playoffs. Some players (like C.C. or A-Rod) cannot take the heat of high-pressure playoff situations, while others thrive in that type of a setting. Brad Lidge is among the latter group of players.

In his postseason career (including five different World Series appearances, two of which came last season for the Phillies), Lidge’s ERA comes in at a VERY impressive 2.10. In 34.1 total postseason innings, he has allowed only eight earned runs (an average of 0.23 runs per inning), and has struck out 51 batters to only 12 walks (an average of 4.25 K’s per BB). In the month of October, Brad Lidge is the epitome of reliable pitching!

Why risk the postseason just because a couple other pitchers had better results against the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs? It does not make sense. Lidge matches up very well against the current playoff contenders, and he has successfully pitched in high-pressure situations in the postseason for multiple teams over a several year period. A pitcher like Ryan Madson simply cannot match Lidge’s consistent record of success under pressure in the postseason. The smart bet for Charlie Manuel is to trust his veteran who has proven that he knows how to get the job done when it matters most.

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The Home Run Derby Relevance Debate – Chicks Dig the Long Ball

July 10, 2009

Read the debate intro and Sports geek’s argument that the Home Run Derby is no longer necessary.

The All-Star festivities for Major League Baseball are fast approaching. The game, the galas, the celebrity softball game, and the Home Run Derby will be taking place next week in St. Louis, Missouri.

Now, what event do you think the Loyal Homer is most looking forward to watching? (I can promise you it’s not the celebrity softball game, which is probably Sports Geek’s favorite event!)

It is, in fact, the Home Run Derby!

The Home Run Derby is a made-for-TV event that has taken place at the All-Star Game every year since 1985. And last year’s first round created perhaps the most buzz ever, with Josh Hamilton hitting in record 28 home runs in the first round (though he eventually lost to champion Justin Morneau.).

The question posed by Bleacher Fan basically asks if MLB still needs to host the Home Run Derby each. I say most definitely… YES!

I love the home run derby. It’s one of my favorite exhibition events of the year in any sport. Some buddies of mine and I are planning on getting together on Monday to grill out and watch the derby. We’ve been doing this for years. It appears I am not the only one who likes the Home Run Derby, either. Last year’s Home Run Derby drew 6.78 million viewers for ESPN.

Fans come to the park to see home runs, even in this steroids era. They don’t come to the park to see singles and doubles. Do fan stand up and cheer when the eighth place hitter hits a bloop single to center? Heck no! Do fans stand up and cheer when the cleanup hitter hits a 475-foot bomb over the right field fence? You betcha!

This year’s derby features some of the game’s biggest sluggers, including Ryan Howard, Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder (his dad Cecil could hit some moon shots back in the day), and hometown boy Albert Pujols. Now, you can’t honestly tell me that you don’t want to see how far Pujols can really hit a baseball. He can hit it a long way in a game (just ask Brad Lidge). Imagine how far he can hit it in against batting practice pitching! I, and thousands of other fans like me, get to baseball games early just to stand in the outfield seats and try to catch a BP home run. That proves to me that America is still fascinated with the long ball.

And chicks dig the long ball. If you have never seen this commercial, please give it a look. It’s one of my all-time favorites.

Is the derby a little too drawn out now with all the rounds and the contestants and commercial breaks after every hitter? Yes, certainly! It needs to be adjusted. But it does not need to be eliminated. Loyal Homer loves the event and I know the fans do too!


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