Fans want Answers.
Aug 31, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Fans celebrate after Houston Astros starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel (not pictured) makes a fielding play against the Seattle Mariners in the second inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Unfortunately, fans like narratives. And so we get takes suggesting Hinch just isn’t tough enough. He’s over his head because blah blah Arizona blah blah something-something. And our players don’t have enough grit! They’re soft! Inexperienced!
Tell that to the 2007 Colorado Rockies, 2008 Tampa Bay Rays, 2010 Texas Rangers and 2014 Kansas City Royals: four pennant winners from the past eight seasons that had no previous history of even competing for the playoffs, let alone making it.
Inexperience is not an issue in baseball, because more than any other sport, baseball is dictated by a mix of statistical probabilities and random chance. The best football teams win more than 80% of their games. The best baseball teams often struggle to win 60%.
The Astros had outscored their opponents by more than 100 runs through the end of August. What if they really weren’t that good? What if they were simply due for some regression, while the Rangers, who had been outscored up to that point, were due to regress in the opposite direction? This would be the result of that, and it would look like one team choking and one team rising to the occasion. But it would just be the reality of the rosters playing out in front of us, three hours at a time.
In other words, what if all these outcomes have nothing to do with heroes and goats?
It’s a deeply unsatisfying way for the casual fan to look at sports and why some believe the avalanche of advanced statistics in baseball is hurting the sports appeal to blue collar fans and the talk radio crowd, but it just may be the truth.
Baseball isn’t about narratives.
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