AnalysisOpinions

The 2018 Postseason According to Harold Reynolds

“Is not a double and a home run credited the same in slugging percentage?”

Harold Reynolds

“No”

Ken Rosenthal

We all know that Harold Reynolds was wrong when he said this, and we all had a good laugh about his embarrassing mistake made on MLB Network. Let’s pretend he was right for a second. After all, he is a paid analyst and should probably know what he’s talking about. How different would it be if he were right, and doubles and home runs were the same thing? There’s only one way to find out. I re-scored the entire 2018 Postseason as if Harold Reynolds was right, and treated every home run as if it was a double. Before we see the results, let’s lay out the rules of this simulation:

  • We are essentially treating every ball that goes over the wall as a ground rule double, regardless of whether or not it hits the ground first.
  • All runners on base at the time of the home run that is now a double advance exactly two bases, so nobody scores from first
  • The changed game scores can obviously only be lower in this simulation. However, if the original losing team loses less runs than the original winning team by enough of a margin, then the game result can change.

Now here’s where it gets a bit dicey

  • Judgment calls had to be made on singles following what would now be doubles, as to whether or not the runner would have scored.
  • If the ninth inning ends in a tie, the game is recorded as a tie. No extra baseball will be created, we are only altering baseball that already happened.
  • Because we have ties, the team that wins the series does not necessarily have to win the majority of the games. For example, if in a seven-game series we see two ties, the team that wins three games will win the series 3-2-2.
  • If the series requires extra games that were never played, a regular season game between the two teams will be used (preferably a one-run game with the correct home team and a realistic pitching match up). This scenario became a judgment call in terms of what game to pick.
  • If the result of a series is flipped then, well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
  • Again, the goal is not to invent games that never happened, but to modify the ones that did.

Now that we know the rules, let’s re-experience the 2018 postseason through the eyes of Harold Reynolds. First, we’ll look at the wild-card games, and work our way up.

AL Wild Card Game: Oakland A’s at New York Yankees

Original Score: 7-2 Yankees over A’s

Modified Score: 4-1 Yankees over A’s

A very one-sided game, this one had little hope of being flipped. There certainly were some fireworks, with 2017’s AL home run leader (Aaron Judge), 2017’s NL home run leader (Giancarlo Stanton), and 2018’s home run leader (Khris Davis) all leaving the yard. As we know, Harold is only giving them two bases for those now. The Yankees were hit harder, losing all three of the runs they scored via the long ball. The A’s scored both of their two runs on a Khris Davis home run, but in our simulation one of them scores anyway. All in all, it did not come close to enough to change the result.

NL Wild Card Game: Colorado Rockies at Chicago Cubs

Original Score: 2-1 Rockies over Cubs

Modified Score: 2-1 Rockies over Cubs

This 13 inning thriller was a great way to kick off the postseason, but it was almost entirely entertaining because of the pitching. Masterful performances by Jon Lester, Kyle Freeland, and the bullpens of both teams were able to keep both sides inside the park the whole night. Thus, this game is completely unaffected by our simulation. On the bright side, we still get to see this great game in Harold’s world.

ALDS: Cleveland Indians at Houston Astros

Original Result: Astros win series 3-0

Modified Result: Astros win series 3-0

For Indians fans, this series does not sit well in the memory. During the Astros’ dominating sweep, they won 7-2, 3-1, and 11-3. Cleveland had no real chance in this series, and Harold doesn’t show them much mercy either. Again, a team’s score can only decrease through this alteration, so the fact that the Indians only scored 6 runs total does not help them. The other thing the Astros had going for them was that while they hit a lot of home runs, they often hit them in bunches. While the scores decreased a bit, a string of doubles will still knock in a lot of runs. The altered game scores ended up being 7-2, 2-0, and 9-2, so the Indians still had no chance.

NLDS: Atlanta Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers

Original Result: Dodgers win series 3-1

Modified Result: Dodgers win series 3-0-1

It is here where we encounter our first tie. This series was arguably just as one-sided as the Indians-Astros series with the exception of one game. As shown by the modified result, the game that became a tie was the one that the Braves originally won. In the 6-5 Braves win, most of their runs came through one inning. The inning included Walker Buehler walking pitcher Sean Newcomb with the bases loaded and subsequently allowing a grand slam to Ronald Acuña Jr. The game was somewhat of a home run derby on both sides, but the Dodgers were able to retain 4 of their 5 runs. Unfortunately for the Braves, they lost two of their runs from Acuña’s grand slam becoming a double. Thus, a 6-5 Atlanta win was flipped to a 4-4 tie. No other games in this series had their results altered.

ALDS: New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox

Original Result: Red Sox win series 3-1

Modified Result: Red Sox win series 2-1-2

It was because of this series that a lot of the aforementioned rules required creation. Not only did we encounter a team winning a series without winning the majority of the games, we also have a series that required an extension. The two lopsided wins in this series (New York’s 6-2 win in Game 2 and Boston’s 16-1 win in Game 3) were the only ones where the result remained the same. Games 1 and 4, which were both originally narrow Boston wins, became ties. For our imaginary Game 5, I chose an August 5th game between the two in Boston (Boston would have hosted a real Game 5). It was a 5-4 Red Sox win in 10 innings, about as close as it can get. It also featured a pitching matchup of Masahiro Tanaka and David Price, which was identical to Game 2 of this series. These would not have been the two arms going in a real Game 5, but at least it’s realistic. While the game did include a Mookie Betts home run, the score was unaltered and Boston wins the series anyway. For Yankee fans that might see this as unfair because I picked a Boston win, Harold Reynolds doesn’t care.

NLDS: Colorado Rockies at Milwaukee Brewers

Original Result: Brewers win series 3-0

Modified Result: Brewers win series 3-2

This series saw by far the most interesting difference when placed through the simulation. This series was probably more one-sided than any other of 2018. In a Brewers sweep, the Rockies failed to even score a run in 2 of the 3 games. Just looking at that on its face, we know those 2 games did not change because we have no ties. Luckily for the Rockies, they were able to flip their 3-2 Game 1 loss into a 2-1 win. This left the last two games to be created from regular season games. These teams did not share a division, so my options were limited. For Game 4, I used a 10 inning 11-10 Milwaukee win in Denver from May 11th. Somehow, this was flipped to a 10-9 Colorado win, with the Rockies losing none of their ten runs to the alteration. Colorado got the edge in Game 5, as I used a 5-4 Rockies win in 11 innings in Milwaukee from August 5th. The alteration of this game was interesting, as when I did the raw number tally, the new final score was 4-4, which would have meant a Game 6 of this 5 game series. However, one of those 4 Rockies runs was scored in extra innings, so the ninth inning would have ended in a 4-3 Milwaukee win. The Rockies undoubtedly benefited from this simulation the most, and if they had not been so thoroughly dominated in real life, Harold Reynolds would probably have them playing to go to the World Series.

ALCS: Houston Astros at Boston Red Sox

Original Result: Red Sox win series 4-1

Modified Result: Red Sox win series 4-1

Reynolds seemed to have very little effect on the series in which the Astros played. In the first case, he did not restrain their dominance. Here, he doesn’t throw them a lifeline. Two of the games in this series were close (7-5 Boston win in Game 2 and an 8-6 Boston win in Game 4), and if either or both of them were to be flipped this is a different series. Games 1, 3, and 5 were pretty much set in stone to begin with, but that only gives us a 2-1 Red Sox series lead. Just seeing the scores, I hoped this might be interesting. Unfortunately for the Astros, the Red Sox did not hit a home run in Game 2, making a result change impossible. They did lose one run in Game 4, but the Astros did also turning the 8-6 Boston win into a 7-5 Boston win. It says a lot about the Astros’ chances in this series when making a major alteration to the way the game is played just to make a TV analyst right can’t even help them.

NLCS: Los Angeles Dodgers at Milwaukee Brewers

Original Result: Dodgers win series 4-3

Modified Result: Dodgers win series 4-3

Seeing as this is the only series of the 2018 Postseason that used all of its allotted games, I was hopeful that maybe we could see a flip in the winner of this series. I was also worried because in that case I would have had to find 4-7 games between the Brewers and Red Sox for the World Series, two teams that not only did not face each other in 2018, but who aren’t even in the same Spring Training league. Anyway, the first two games of this series were decided by one run, and flipping one of them could have changed the outcome of the series. To my dismay, Harold could not flip a single game. Being a career Seattle Mariner, I thought he might have some sympathy for the small market Brewers. For a team that seemed awfully home run dependent in the Dodgers, they did not take much of a hit at all in this simulation. An entirely simulated Rockies-Dodgers NLCS might have been more interesting, but this is what Harold gives us instead.

World Series: Los Angeles Dodgers at Boston Red Sox

Original Result: Red Sox win series 4-1

Modified Result: Red Sox win series 4-1

If you were of the group that never really felt like the Dodgers had a chance in this series, Harold agrees! Again, not a single game result was changed in Reynolds’ fantasy. However, the changes in some specific games of this series make the result more interesting than that of both the championship series. We all the remember the 18 inning Game 3 where Max Muncy sent everyone home with a walk-off blast. Well, while the Dodgers still win, we don’t get that memory. Instead of entering extras tied 1-1, where both teams add a run in the 13th and Muncy wins it in the 18th, the Red Sox lose their first run and this game ends in nine with a 1-0 Dodgers win. Game 5 of this series, the final game, was probably affected more than any other game of the postseason. All six runs in a 5-1 Red Sox win were scored by home runs. Most would remember this game for two home runs by Steve Pearce. The Dodgers only run came via a David Freese solo shot in the first inning. While the Red Sox lost all but one of their runs in this game, the Dodgers lost the only one they scored. Thus, in Los Angeles’ last chance, Harold hands them a grueling 1-0 defeat.

The results of this experiment certainly could have been more interesting than they were, but let’s not act like there’s nothing to take away from this. Yes, some game results were flipped, but nothing monumental changed. The series winners were all the same, even when we get rid of the staple of 2018 Major League Baseball, the home run. Harold Reynolds was dead wrong, we know that. However, if he was right, would we even be able to tell the difference. We probably would, as a guy stopping at second after hitting a ball over the wall is not something we’re used to, but in the end the results might not be too different. To anyone who might question the decision to take time writing an article just to make fun of Harold Reynolds, I would counter that you just finished reading an article written just to make fun of Harold Reynolds.

“Is not a double and a home run credited the same in slugging percentage?”

Harold Reynolds

“It may as well be”

Peter Khayat

Featured Image: Photo by LAW/Flickr

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Peter Khayat

High School student from suburban Cleveland, and huge Indians fan. I mostly write about baseball history, and about the league in general. Follow me on Twitter: @khayonnaise

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