Hey baseball fans!
It's time for another ML"what would"B, where I analyze a "what-if" scenario in baseball history, like what if the Yankees had won the 2004 ALCS. In this installment, let's see what would have happened if David Freese hadn't come up clutch for the St. Louis Cardinals in Game Six of the 2011 World Series. To refresh, the Texas Rangers were one strike away from winning the franchise's first World Series in 2011, when they were up by two in the bottom of the ninth against the Cardinals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Then, David Freese hit a two-RBI triple that was just barely out of the reach of Nelson Cruz in right field to tie the game and would go on to hit a walk-off home run a few innings later to send the series to a final game, a game the Cardinals won. But what would've happened if Cruz made the catch in right to secure a ring for the team from the Lone Star State?
Well, the butterfly effect would be felt just a few short months later during free agency. You see, coming off a World Series loss and with only one career World Series ring, there's no way Albert Pujols would've left St. Louis to take the massive ten-year contract with the Angels. It would be a disservice to Cardinals fans everywhere. So, instead, he re-signs with the Missouri team on a cheaper and shorter deal with the thought of avenging the team's Fall Classic defeat. That leaves the Angels without a first baseman, but Prince Fielder is still a free agent. So, LA uses the money they would've used on Pujols to instead sign the plump former slugger of the Milwaukee Brewers to a nine-year, $214 million deal. Without the help from Fielder, the 2012 AL real-life pennant-winning Detroit Tigers dip, as Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera can't carry the whole team to glory. So the White Sox finish tied with Detroit in the AL Central at 86 wins and beat them in the one-game playoff, as Chris Sale out-duels Justin Verlander. Meanwhile, the Cardinals turn into a juggernaut, fueled by the re-signing of one of the greatest hitters in franchise history. They win 95 games in 2012, good enough to edge out the Reds by a game for the NL Central crown, meaning Cincinnati gets the second NL Wild Card spot. The win-loss records for the rest of the teams remain virtually the same.
In the 2012 playoffs, the Rangers lose to Baltimore in the AL Wild Card Game, while the Braves edge out the Reds because in this scenario, there is no bad infield fly rule call that messes up Atlanta's chances at advancing in the playoffs. In the divisional round, the Yankees take care of the Orioles and the A's crush the White Sox in the AL, while in the NL, the Nationals actually win a playoff series by taking their series against the Braves in five games and the Cardinals beat the Giants. In the championship series, the Yankees take down Oakland and the Cardinals actually fall to Washington. Remember: the St. Louis bats went completely quiet in the actual 2012 NLCS against the Giants. So, the 2012 World Series is set: Yankees vs. Nationals. Aaaaaaand, the Nationals sweep the Yankees! Slumping bats in the Bronx couldn't stop the upstart Nationals, who win the franchise's first World Series!
After coming up short in the AL West race in 2012, the Angels make a statement by not signing Josh Hamilton in the offseason, who instead goes back to Texas. Instead, they re-sign Zack Greike to help the pitching staff get back on track. But the biggest move comes from the Tigers, who trade DH Victor Martinez to the Orioles for young slugger and first baseman Chris Davis. With the addition of Torii Hunter as well, the 2013 Tigers manage to win the AL Central, as Davis explodes for 53 home runs and the AL MVP. Meanwhile, the Rangers win the AL West at 94 games in a tight race with Oakland, who finishes just a game back. The Nationals, coming off their historic run in the 2012 playoffs, win five more games and the second NL Wild Card spot, which pushes the Reds out of the playoffs entirely. The Cardinals make the NL look silly, cruising to the World Series to face... the Texas Rangers? Yeah, remember how Texas re-signed Josh Hamilton in the offseason? Well, he goes nuts in the playoffs, carrying the Rangers past the Tigers and Red Sox and onto the World Series for a World Series rematch. This time, the Cardinals don't squander the chance to give Pujols his second ring, using their number one offense and number five pitching staff to take down the Rangers.
But wait, what's that "Part 1" doing in the title of this post, you may ask? Well, we have to see what happens to Prince Fielder and the Angels in 2014 onward, don't we? Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."