Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
February 26, 2003
BASEBALL: Bernie October

I'm sure you've seen this breakdown on Bernie Williams before:

ALDS/ALCS, 1995-2002 (61 games): .316/.575/.424; Averages per 162 games: 45 2B, 37 HR, 135 R, 125 RBI, 114 BB, 112 K
World Series, 1996-2001 (26 games): .158/.263/.292; Averages per 162 games: 6 2B, 19 HR, 69 R, 56 RBI, 112 BB, 150 K

The samples are still small enough that this could just be luck, exacerbated by the fact that (1) the World Series means better pitching, specifically more Maddux, Glavine, Smoltz, Schilling, Randy Johnson and Kevin Brown, whereas (2) the ALDS/ALCS means three series against the Rangers and two against the Indians. But Bernie is also a guy who started a little slow in his career and has shown broad development, as well as a guy who's a slow starter in-season . . . I thought I'd check, via the splits on ESPN.com, how Bernie has done in interleague play the past 3 years:

vs. AL (1693 PA): .315/.525/.400; Averages per 648 PA: 36 2B, 26 HR, 105 R, 106 RBI, 75 BB, 79 K
vs. NL (242 PA): .330/.529/.430; Averages per 648 PA: 48 2B, 19 HR, 99 R, 104 RBI, 96 BB, 112 K

Conclusion: At a minimum, no sign of the same effect, although the pattern of more walks and strikeouts against NL pitching does persist. (It's also true that Bernie's done quite well against the Mets, who he now sees every year, but then he batted .111 in the 2000 World Series, which also suggests that the pattern is random). The sample size still isn't big enough to draw a lot of conclusions. I'd still be interested, to see a study of how Bernie fares against a pitcher the first vs. later times to get to the bottom of the issue, but it appears that the more likely explanation for his World Series struggles is the simpler one -- that the Yankees have seen a lot of good pitching, and Bernie has hit in bad luck.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 10:18 PM | Baseball 2002-03 | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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