There is no better time of year than now for baseball fans. It is World Series time and two teams that have not played for a title for many years are playing for the right to be Major League Baseball’s champion for 2015-2016.
The first two games were decided by pitching and defense. In game one, Korey Kluber pitched a gem for six innings and was able to keep his pitch count down. In comes Andrew Miller for innings seven and eight. Cody Allen comes in to close out game one and the Cleveland Indians won 6-0.
In game two, the Chicago Cubs sent Jake Arietta to the hill. He pitches five and two thirds innings and only allows one run before giving the ball to the bullpen. In comes Mike Montgomery for two solid innings of work before handing off to Aroldis Chapman. The Cubs acquired Chapman midway through the season from the New York Yankees. He pitched one and one third of an inning without allowing a hit and had two strikeouts and the Cubs won 5-1.
In most team sports that are played it is said that defense wins championships. I could go through the many sports and games that prove this statement to be true, but I will spare everyone the pain and agony. In baseball the saying is that pitching and defense can win you a championship. Having played and coached several championship baseball teams I have found this statement to be very true. The other saying that comes to mind is, “Good pitching will beat good hitting any day of the week.” I am also a firm believer in this statement.
Most good baseball coaches and minds understand that the best hitters in the game hit for an average of .300. This means that pitchers get them out 7 out of 10 times. That equates to 70 percent of the time. Sometimes the 30 percent will win out, but I am one that believes that quality pitching will win out the majority of the time. If a team has a quality pitcher on the bump and he is putting up zeros, inning after inning, the coaching staff and hitters have to believe they can manufacture a run or two to win the game.
My educated guess is that the team that gets the better pitching performances and plays the best defense from tonight forward will be the team that wins the 2016 World Series. Both pitching staffs have proven throughout the season that they are very good. It will be interesting to see which teams pitching and defense will step up night in and night out to win that elusive championship that each organization so desires. I am certainly looking forward to the final games of the World Series to see who will rise to the occasion.
By Dr. Bret Simmermacher
Dr. Simmermacher is the Chair of Sports Coaching at the United States Sports Academy, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org