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Baseball survival guide: it’s a long season!

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After years of watching Rays baseball, with its highs and lows, I’ve developed a list of axioms I try to keep in mind when the team is thriving and when the team can’t seem to buy a win.

The overall goal is to win the World Series

How do teams achieve that goal?

1. Get into the playoffs

a. No team has ever won a WS without making the playoffs

b. 90-95 wins is usually good enough to get in

2. Get as many postseason appearances as possible in a given window with an established core group of players

a. Less than a third of organizations produce roughly two-thirds of teams that have played in a WS since the 1994 playoff expansion

b. This disparity is even more drastic since the 2012 playoff expansion

c. Established core almost always consists of:

i. 4-5 position players who play everyday and are above average hitters

ii. 3 starting pitchers who can be trusted to start a WS game

iii. 2-3 relief pitchers who can be trusted to close out a WS game

d. As long as the established core is intact, a WS is possible

Things to remember:

  1. You’re never as good as your best third of performances, nor are you as bad as your worst third
  2. The best players and coaches who have sustained success acknowledge and understand this
  3. Don’t get caught-up in the variance of small samples, enjoy the ride or you’ll never appreciate the destination
  4. 96.7% of teams do not win a WS each year
  5. Your season is not necessarily a failure if you don’t win the WS
  6. Every team will win 50 game and lose 50 games
  7. Every team will have a 5 game winning streak and a 5 game losing streak
  8. Every team will have underperformers and overperformers
  9. Every team will win games they should have lost and lose games they should have won
  10. Focus on the things you can control
  11. If you can’t control it, it’s not worth worrying about
  12. The schedule will be tough sometimes
  13. Inconsistent start times can be tough; players might have a hard time settling into a routine
  14. Travel days with a game on that same day are rough, especially across time zones
  15. A day off between two series at home is priceless
  16. You really only have to go at least .500 on the road, and try not to get swept
  17. You’re going to get swept on the road at least once
  18. You should go at least .600 at home, and try not to get swept
  19. You’re going to get swept at home at least once
  20. The training staff isn’t trying to do anything wrong nor are they actively trying to get players injured
  21. Injuries happen to every team
  22. Wait for team doctors to diagnose injuries before you jump to conclusions
  23. You can never have too much pitching
  24. When you think you have enough pitching depth, you probably could use more
  25. Your best RPs should pitch in the highest leverage situations
  26. Extra innings games with the ghost runner rule are a coin toss, don’t put too much stock into those wins or losses
  27. The process > the product
  28. However, it can reverse in must-win games
  29. (see number 8)
  30. The only “must-win” games are the ones where losing results in your playoff hopes ending
  31. There are no must-win games in March, April, May, June, July, or August
  32. Ask why certain things are the way they are/why certain decisions get made
  33. Assumptions lead to dead ends
  34. Rookies are almost always not very good
  35. They are almost always inconsistent
  36. If you’re going to rely on rookies, you’re going to have to live with the inevitable ups and downs
  37. If there’s a prospect playing well in AAA, wait for them to cool off
  38. If they don’t cool off, wait a little bit longer
  39. Calling-up a top prospect to ride the bench is not a good idea
  40. It’s better for them to play regularly where they can get playing time so they can develop
  41. Team chemistry in some forms can be worth roughly 3 WAR in a season
  42. Continuity within a roster is very important
  43. Very rarely can a mediocre team become a great team from a couple of trade deadline acquisitions
  44. Adding quality depth at the margins and preparing for the offseason 40-man roster crunch are important when approaching the deadline