The recipe for postseason success

Like the Nationals, the Orioles are now done for 2014, heading home after a tremendous season and a sweep at the hands of the Royals in the American League Championship Series.

It means that both local teams, despite tremendous 96-win regular seasons and division titles, saw their postseason run end in heartbreak.

And in reality, that's the way it goes for 29 of the 30 teams in the majors. Only one organization will be smiling when it's all said and done, and that's the one holding the trophy in late October (or, next season, in early November).

That shouldn't, in my mind, overshadow the success that both the Nats and O's had over the last 6 1/2 months. These teams both got further than most and have a lot to be proud of. They just didn't get quite far enough.

It doesn't mean that the talent wasn't there on either side. The Nationals had arguably the best rotation in baseball and a deep lineup. The Orioles had a tremendous back end of their bullpen and hit by far the most homers in the majors this season.

One could certainly argue that the Nationals were more talented than the Giants. Most people around baseball would agree with that one, I think. You could probably make a similar argument for the Orioles being more talented than the Royals over the course of this season. Yet the Giants are a win away from their third World Series appearance in five years, while the Royals have already secured a spot in the Fall Classic.

laroche-smile-white-high-fives-dugout-sidebar.jpgI remember asking Nats first baseman Adam LaRoche late in the regular season what he's learned about postseason baseball during his time in the league. It was an open-ended question that could have elicited any number of responses.

LaRoche took a second to think about it, and then said that what he's learned is that it's not always the most talented team that advances in the playoffs. In fact, he's of the mind that talent sometimes has little to do with it.

It's about who's playing well at that time, LaRoche said. It's about who's hottest, who's riding the momentum that can be built during October. It's about execution, doing the little things right that help you win ballgames.

Does it help to have a talented ballclub? Of course it does. Can having a studly starting rotation be a major factor? Sure.

But you need more than that. The Tigers sent out three Cy Young winners in the American League Division Series against the Orioles. Detroit was swept in those three games.

The Royals, meanwhile, have won one-run games time and again this postseason. They've played great defense, bunted, stolen bases and gotten spectacular work out of their bullpen. They're rolling at the right time and can seemingly do no wrong.

The Giants have won postseason games on a wild pitch, a bunt and an error. They've gotten runners on base, put the ball in play and found weird way after weird way to win.

Both the Nationals and Orioles have lots to be proud of this season. They both had impressive ballclubs in 2014. But often in the postseason, talent isn't enough.

Answering a popular question about Chris Davis
Zach Wilt: Final thoughts on Orioles' 2014 campaig...

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to