Trust the process. It’s a phrase that’s gained lots of traction in sports over the past few years. If a team’s making smart moves, the theory goes, then over the long haul those moves should eventually lead to strong results for that team and the players it’s acquired.
The problem is, trusting the process is often easier said than done.
August can be a rough month to be a baseball player. Dating back to the start of spring training, you’ve been diving after liners in the gap and snapping off curveballs for six months. When a day game after a night game comes along in 97-degree weather, it’s easy to feel a little less sharp or to lose that normal jolt of energy.
The concept of momentum in baseball is fraught with counterexamples. Plenty of teams have entered the postseason scorching hot only to flame out quickly. Plenty of teams have backed into the playoffs only to go on to win the World Series. Generating big winning streaks (or big losing streaks) late in the season guarantees nothing.
One of the most puzzling trends in baseball awards voting over the years has been (some) voters’ attempts to tie themselves in knots over the meaning of the word “value.” The Most Valuable Player award, they posit, must go to a player who plays for a playoff team. Their flip-side argument often looks something like this: If a team is losing with a great player on the roster, it can also lose without him.
At long last, it’s trade deadline day! Sure, teams have been making deals for weeks now and can continue to do for the rest of the season (assuming the players they trade pass through the complicated waiver system). Still, the last day for non-waiver deals can often produce unexpected and spectacular drama.
With just one week to go until the trade deadline, nearly every team in baseball figures to explore the market for one particular asset, either buying or selling it. That asset? Relief pitching.
This week’s four featured teams could all play major roles in that bullpen-swapping bonanza. The Brewers have a loaded ‘pen, which has other teams burning up the phone lines.
The All-Star Game gave 68 of the game’s brightest stars a chance to enjoy the accolades of the crowd in San Diego, and to acknowledge the respect of the fans and managers who tapped them to play. But we have far more than 68 players making an impact this year in the big leagues, many of those not receiving much attention for their excellence.
The halfway point of the season is upon us, and with it comes self-reflection. All 30 teams (and their general managers) must consider where they are in the standings and ask themselves if the first 80-plus games worth of results constitute a fluke or a true reflection of their talent.
Consistency. Managers and players talk about it all the time, especially as it relates to the long, long baseball season. Put up consistent results over the grind of 162 games, and you’ll get rewarded for it.
But consistency by itself doesn’t necessarily lead to success—especially if the level at which a team is consistently playing isn’t all that great.
You can find all sorts of reasons to explain home field advantage in baseball: A forgiving marine layer, rabid fan support, umpire bias, dumb luck.
This week’s featured teams all own some of the biggest home/road splits in the game. The Reds will keep a close eye on Great American Ball Park’s impact on their rising young starting pitchers.