“I’m not exactly sure where to go with this, I just know that it’s SO FREAKING GOOD we have to share it in a post. All the tiny things that went this way instead of that way, and how dramatically it changed the game. I am shaking my head as I read it.” – Brett Taylor.
Brett never intended on sharing those comments with you at the top of this post, which he’d written to me this morning, but I thought his unfiltered enthusiasm might serve to express just how excellent we found the referenced article to be.
Brett already twice mentioned Sam Miller’s article on “the greatest baseball game” he’s ever seen in this morning’s Bullets, but he’s asked me to share it on its own, once again. The game in question, of course, was the 2016 World Series finale – or, as Miller puts it, the Masterpiece Fall Classic. Diving into many of the games key moments, granularly, Miller’s recap of Game Seven might be the best, most unique take on the historic event I’ve yet indulged.
… And then tweet at Brett that it was my recommendation, not his, that got you to click over to ESPN and check it out.
To run through the biggest moments of the game, Miller takes a look at the win probability chart from FanGraphs for the game, which looks like this:
Then, he identifies the seven biggest moments from the game, and works through each of them with great detail.
But the uniqueness of those seven moments is what makes this article so great. Unlike other recaps, Miller doesn’t simply point to the run scoring moments and button things up. Instead, he picks turning points, often spanning more than one specific play (or even one specific pitch), that conspired to decide the outcome of the game.
- Jason Heyward Enters:
(Cubs 56.5% likely to win)
- The Oddities of the 3rd and 4th:
(Cubs 72.9% likely to win)
- Baez’s Homer off Kluber:
(Cubs 84.7% likely to win)
- Rajai Davis Hits His Homer:
(Cubs 47.5% likely to win)
- Heyward in the Top of the 9th:
(Cubs 67.5% likely to win)
- Schwarber’s Single/Almora’s Tag Up:
(58.2% likely to win)
- Michael Martinez Is Not Good at the Plate:
(90.6% likely to win)
Miller goes within those moments, digging into how they came to be, and why they were so important.
For one small example, about the two-out RBI double Brandon Guyer hit in the 8th inning off of Aroldis Chapman, which set up the eventual game-tying shot by Rajai Davis, Miller points out how Chapman-like Chapman was during that at bat, contrary to what you might believe:
The first pitch Chapman threw, to Brandon Guyer, was 100 mph. The second was 100.3 mph. Then 99.3, 101.7, 101.1, 99.2, 99.2. The last was hit for a single. Then Davis: 99.9, 99.2, 98.4, 101.2, 99.5, 101.0. The average velocity of those 13 pitches was 100 on the nose, just slightly slower than the 100.6 Chapman had averaged in the postseason before that appearance. The pitches’ horizontal movement, at an average of 4.3 inches, was almost identical to his pitch movement (4.6 inches) during the season. His release point, at 6.36 feet from the ground, was a pinkie fingernail from his norm, far less than his normal game-to-game variance. The pitch Guyer hit wasn’t fat; it wasn’t even likely to be a strike, with similar pitches getting called balls 90 percent of the time. It was, in fact, such a hard pitch to hit that nobody had gotten a hit against Chapman within 6 inches of that location this year.
I don’t want to spoil the narrative connection between all of the moments, because there’s so much in the piece. But I will say that one oft-maligned right-fielder might have unknowingly had A TON to do with the Cubs’ eventual Game 7 win.
Of course, he can’t really take much credit for most of it – circumstantial events, and all – but wow, what a read.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.