It is no secret that spirits are down in Commodore Nation. Since the moral victory in South Bend, there have not been a lot of celebratory drinks for Dores alums and fans. However, as Tom Stephenson correctly points out, this football team has at least provided a reason for our drinking... and we salute them for it. Regardless, tonight (6pm CT on TBS), Vanderbilt alums and fans are guaranteed a victory: either David Price gets the playoff monkey off his back, or Tony Kemp hugs errybody.
The Case for David Price
I mean, the man’s just too good to have an 0-9 MLB postseason record (in 10 starts), right? RIGHT???
Well, yes and no. At Vanderbilt, especially during his junior year in ‘07 where the big lefty went 11-1 with a 2.63 ERA and an absurd 13.09 K/9, he was as dominant as any college pitcher in recent memory. However, in the postseason, he gave up a walk-off home run to (checks notes, as brain cells holding this information have successfully been eradicated by alcohol) Michigan when Corbs put him in a tie game in the 9th despite me shouting myself blue at the insanity of such a managerial decision.
As a pro, Price has been a regular season ace. In 2018, he has been a 4.4 WAR player, going 16-7 with a 3.58 ERA. For his career, he is a 37.9 WAR player, going 143-75 with a 3.25 ERA.
However, it is impossible to argue he has been the same pitcher in the postseason. This year, in his lone start, he went 1 and 2⁄3 IP, gave up 3 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks (for a 16.20 ERA), and had to sulk off the mound like George Michael Bluth.
For his career, Price has not exactly fared that much better in the postseason than he has this year. In 10 career starts, he is 0-9. Price does have 2 wins coming in from the pen, but even counting those in his favor, he is 2-9 with a 5.28 ERA in 18 games.
For those who say, “That just means he’s due,” let me remind you of the Gambler’s Fallacy:
The gambler’s fallacy, also known as the Monte Carlo fallacy or the fallacy of the maturity of chances, is the mistaken belief that, if something happens more frequently than normal during a given period, it will happen less frequently in the future (or vice versa).
Of course, the Gambler’s Fallacy does not preclude Price from pitching well tonight... but it certainly should make the “that just means he’s due” crowd shut the hell up. They won’t, though, and we just have to live with that, as everything is terrible all the time.
Of course, only one stat matters in this debate: Tony Kemp has a career .000/.000/.000 slash against David Price.
*Note: Before all you stats nerds start yelling “SMALL SAMPLE SIZE!!!”—I know. It was just one at bat in total.
The Case For Tony Kemp
I mean, you saw last night’s game, right? Not only did BoSox Manager Alex Cora get himself ejected for arguing balls and strikes, but Justin Verlander was dominant, the Astros landed more than a few punches on the BoSox bullpen, Tony “The Man of Steal” Kemp got a pinch hit double, and most important of all, got to give home run hugs to Josh Reddick and Yuli Gurriel.
In the postseason, Kemp is 2-4 with a double, 2 BBs, and 2 runs scored. That’s a 2018 postseason slash line of .500/.667/.750. One could argue he has more than earned more playing time. One has argued that. “One” is me. I am arguing this. Put the damned man in, Hinch! He’s an on base machine! He’s a demon on the base paths! He can play every position but pitcher and catcher!
*Note: He could probably pitch and catch—possibly at the same time—but the world isn’t ready for that much Kempin’.
Beyond that, earlier this year, the lady friend made me list the three people I care the most about in the world, and it went like this:
Me (replying instantaneously): 1) You, 2) My mother, and 3) Tony Kemp.
Lady Friend: “What about your brother?”
Me: You said top three, right?
Now, Kemp is not guaranteed to even get in this game, and is 0-1 in his career against David Price, but we all know Kempin’ Ain’t Easy.
*Note: Yes, I am currently wearing my Kempin’ Ain’t Easy t shirt. What of it?
Until Price gets his first postseason victory, I cannot with any degree of confidence pick in his favor. Kemp, on the other hand, doesn’t even need to get an at bat to affect the game. The promise of a Kemp hug is the only reason any Astros player ever goes yard.