We have heard it many times before that “good pitching beats good hitting.” We have also heard the narrative that home runs “don’t play well in the postseason.”
So far that has not been true. We are talking about a small sample size. In the wild-card games the four starting pitchers were Ervin Santana, Luis Severino, Jon Gray and Zach Greinke. They combined to pitch 7 1/3 innings allowing 20 hits and 15 runs and gave up five home runs. There were nine homers hit in the wild card games.
As the Houston Astros beat the Boston Red Sox 8-2 Thursday, Boston’s Chris Sale gave up three homers and seven runs over five innings. Houston hit four homers - three by Jose Altuve.
No doubt, though, eventually some of the top pitchers will find their form and it we will not see an October featuring slugfest after slugfest. It started to happen last night when Cleveland Indians’ Trevor Bauer pitched 6 2/3 scoreless against the New York Yankees. Bauer, Andrew Miller and Cody Allen combined to three-hit New York in Cleveland’s 4-0 win.
During the regular season, the top two homer-hitting teams with Houston at No. 1 and New York at No. 2 made the postseason. But no other of the top eight homer-hitting teams, including the Orioles at No. 5, made the playoffs.
Here is where other playoff teams ranked on the final team homers list - Cubs No. 9, Dodgers No. 11, Diamondbacks No. 12, Nationals No. 14, Indians No. 15, Twins No. 16, Rockies No. 21 and Red Sox No. 27.
League top 20s: Baseball America has been rolling out its league top 20 prospect rankings. These are listings of the ratings of the top 20 prospects in each league in the minors this season. The Orioles had eight players listed a total of nine times.
International League: Chance Sisco No. 20.
Eastern League: Austin Hays No. 3, Tanner Scott No. 14, DJ Stewart No. 16, Cedric Mullins No. 18.
Carolina League: Austin Hays No. 3, Ryan Mountcastle No. 17.
New-York Penn League: Cameron Bishop No. 16, Michael Baumann No. 18.
To qualify for a list a position player must have at least one plate appearance per team game. A starting pitcher must have one-third of an inning per team game and a reliever must have 20 relief appearances.
So Hays made two lists. In the Carolina League he ranked behind outfielders Eloy Jimenez and Victor Robles. In the Eastern League he rated behind infielder Rafael Devers and Robles. In both cases he is keeping good company with some of the top prospects in the sport.
These are prospects lists and not based solely on stats. Two O’s minor leaguers that were named league MVPs did not make the lists, including Frederick’s Ademar Rifaela in the Carolina League and Bowie’s Garabez Rosa in the Eastern League.
Also, O’s minor league Pitcher of the Year Alex Wells of Single-A Delmarva did not make the top 20 in the South Atlantic League. The 20-year left-hander from Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, Wells went 11-5 with a 2.38 ERA for the Shorebirds. Remarkably, he didn’t walk a batter over his last 68 innings and walked just two over his last 98 1/3 innings. He also led the South Atlantic League in WHIP at 0.91 and finished tied for second in wins. Wells walked just 10 batters all year and fanned 113 in 140 innings. But with a fastball that tops out at 90 and 91, Wells will have a hard time getting noticed much on these lists. He is going to have to prove himself at each level as he moves up the minor league ladder.