Moser: The playoffs, through Joe Maddon’s horn-rimmed glasses

From SABR member Zack Moser at Baseball Prospectus on October 6, 2015:

On the day of his introduction as Cubs manager, Joe Maddon declared, “I’m gonna talk World Series this year.” Since that beginning, the eminently quotable Maddon has continued to embrace bold predictions while keeping the young Cubs loose yet focused, and players like Anthony Rizzo have echoed the confident tone set by their philosophical skipper.

And, at last, the postseason is upon us. Since the end of July, the playoffs have supplanted a .500 record as the barometer for a successful Cubs season, and this year’s club finished incredibly strong, tallying 97 victories, and tying the 2008 team for the most wins by a Cubs team in my (admittedly short) lifetime. In the bustling harbor that is BP Wrigleyville and across the expansive sea that is Cubs fandom, it’s become clear that Maddon’s demeanor has helped breed fun baseball—and, more importantly, good baseballbut one thing remains uncertain about the captain steering the ship: how will he manage this particular team in the playoffs?

Luckily, we have quite a bit of data from which to pull in analyzing Maddon’s postseason tendencies. In his third season at the helm of the Tampa Bay Rays (and the first under their new moniker, sans “Devil”), Maddon led the club to their first ever playoff berth and an AL pennant. That surprisingly good team dropped the World Series to the Phillies at the height of their Utley-Rollins powers, but it was a harbinger of good things to come for Tampa Bay and Maddon. Maddon secured the AL Manager of the Year award for his and the team’s performance that season. The Rays, meanwhile, would miss the playoffs in 2009, but win the East again in 2010, adding two more playoff appearances as the AL Wild Card team in 2011 and 2013. In the latter year, Maddon’s Rays bested Cleveland in the new one-game Wild Card playoff, later faltering against the Red Sox as that team marched to their third World Series championship in 10 seasons. Overall, Maddon is 13-17 in the postseason.

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Originally published: October 7, 2015. Last Updated: October 7, 2015.