Gennaro: Projecting postseason hitting performances

From SABR President Vince Gennaro at Diamond Dollars on September 24, 2012:

There are a several reasons why a hitter’s postseason performance can differ from their season long track record. Of course the small sample size of any 10 to 20 game stretch can generate random results around a player’s “talent level”. Perhaps the pressure of the postseason effects each player in a different way, inhibiting the performance of some, more than others.

But there’s an additional factor that might contribute to a hitter’s postseason batting performance—one which can be quantified and may even have some predictive value. It starts with the question, “what’s different about the postseason” and “how does each hitter perform in the postseason environment?” One of the biggest differences about the postseason is the quality of pitching. Better pitchers take the mound in the postseason for two reasons. Playoffs teams simply have better than league average pitching, which is one of the reasons they reach the postseason.

In addition, the layout of the postseason schedule allows managers to deploy their pitching very differently than the 162-game regular season. Fifth starters are dropped from the rotation. Fourth starters are used sparingly. Closers are often brought into the game in the 8th inning and top relievers are asked to pitch back-to-back-to-back days.

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Originally published: September 24, 2012. Last Updated: September 24, 2012.