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October 21, 2008

World Series Prospectus

Rays versus Phillies

by Joe Sheehan

The Rays were the better team playing in the toughest division of the better league. They went through two division winners, including the best or second-best team in baseball, to get here. They have more talent, 1 through 25, than the Phillies do.

The Phillies played very well in the NL postseason, but there's no way to avoid the fact that had you seeded the playoff teams 1-8, the Brewers and Dodgers would have been seventh and eighth, in some order. That's how you can go 7-2 with Ryan Howard slugging .323, among other so-so performances. The Phillies shut down their opponents to get here, allowing just over three runs per game. That's not likely to continue.

One entertaining aspect of this matchup is that we have two teams that steal bases very well, but that get their offense from power rather than speed. The Rays have gone 17-for-19 on the bases after leading the AL in steals, but their offensive strengths are walks and home-run power-they've hit 22 bombs in October. The Phillies have famously been the best base-stealing team in history, successful on 86 percent of their attempts over the last two seasons. However, they also led the NL in home runs, and were second in slugging. In short, you cannot put either of these teams in a box.

Lineups


Phillies                 AVG/ OBP/ SLG   EqA   VORP
SS-S Jimmy Rollins      .277/.349/.437  .282   43.4
RF-R Jayson Werth       .273/.363/.498  .295   30.4
2B-L Chase Utley        .292/.380/.535  .309   62.3
1B-L Ryan Howard        .251/.339/.543  .290   35.2
LF-R Pat Burrell        .250/.367/.507  .294   33.4
CF-S Shane Victorino    .293/.352/.447  .275   33.4
DH-L Matt Stairs        .252/.341/.409  .264    7.4
3B-R Pedro Feliz        .249/.302/.402  .240    0.1
C-R  Carlos Ruiz        .219/.320/.300  .223   -7.0

Rays                     AVG/ OBP/ SLG   EqA   VORP
2B-L Akinori Iwamura    .274/.349/.380  .264   16.0
CF-R B.J. Upton         .273/.383/.401  .291   32.1
1B-L Carlos Pena        .247/.377/.494  .306   32.0
3B-R Evan Longoria      .272/.343/.531  .302   34.8
LF-L Carl Crawford      .273/.319/.400  .262    7.1
DH-S Willy Aybar        .253/.327/.410  .262    5.2 @ 3B
C-S  Dioner Navarro     .295/.349/.407  .268   17.8
RF-R Rocco Baldelli     .263/.344/.475  .286    4.0 @ DH
SS-R Jason Bartlett     .286/.329/.361  .255   12.9

For the Phillies, Charlie Manuel will sometimes use Victorino in the second slot, moving Werth down to sixth. He will also sometimes split Utley and Howard by using Werth between them. While he has eschewed doing so in the postseason, the tactic is almost mandatory in this series. With the emergence of David Price, the Rays have three effective left-handed relievers. In terms of their splits, Utley slips against southpaws, while Howard collapses; Manuel has to make Joe Maddon work harder by not batting them back-to-back. If he doesn't, the two will rarely see a right-handed pitcher in any leveraged situation. This is a key element in this series.

One important difference between the two teams is how much the Phillies' lineup falls off at the end. The Feliz/Ruiz duo provides an escape hatch for most pitchers, with Feliz a hacker who occasionally runs into a fastball, and Ruiz a singles hitter with minimal power. Both are significant double-play threats, so look for Victorino to run if he gets on in front of the bottom of the lineup. Greg Dobbs occasionally plays third base against right-handers, but not all right-handers; Manuel seems to prefer using him when his own starter is right-handed as well. Whatever the defensive considerations may be, the Phillies need his bat in the lineup.

Unlike a number of recent NL entrants, the Phillies actually have a pretty good DH option. It should be Stairs against right-handers, although it might be Dobbs. Against Scott Kazmir, they can DH Burrell and use Eric Bruntett or So Taguchi in left field; that's a much weaker choice than Stairs or Dobbs. The Phillies, as a team, were stronger against lefties than righties this season, but with Utley and Howard's splits and the gap at DH, Kazmir and the southpaw relievers seem like a good matchup.

The Rays platoon Gabe Gross and Baldelli in right field, and Cliff Floyd and Aybar at DH. Other than that, it's been a set lineup since Carl Crawford returned and dropped into the fifth slot. The Rays' speed in front of the bottom of the lineup is a nice touch. They do steal bases well, an AL-leading 142 at a 74-percent clip. The ability to use their speed and stay out of double-play situations in the bottom of the lineup-which features slow ground-ball hitters-keeps the offense going.

The Rays beat the Red Sox in part because they went a bit nuts at the plate, hitting 16 homers and slugging .508. That's a bit outside their range, but the Phillies' starters do get the ball in the air and allow their share of home runs, while their relievers have had an odd year with respect to their HR/FB rates-very low as a bullpen. It would not be surprising, and in fact, it may be another key to the series, if the Rays were to continue bashing their way through October.

Benches


Phillies                 AVG/ OBP/ SLG   EqA   VORP
C-R  Chris Coste        .263/.324/.423  .257    8.0
UT-R Eric Bruntlett     .217/.297/.297  .215   -6.0
4C-L Greg Dobbs         .301/.333/.491  .278   12.7
RF-L Geoff Jenkins      .246/.301/.392  .240   -4.4
OF-R So Taguchi         .220/.283/.297  .193   -4.1

Rays                     AVG/ OBP/ SLG   EqA   VORP
DH-L Cliff Floyd        .268/.349/.455  .286   12.6
RF-L Gabe Gross         .238/.336/.414  .271    3.9
UT-S Ben Zobrist        .253/.339/.505  .294   14.7 @ SS
CF-S Fernando Perez*    .249/.323/.351  .244    NA
C-R  Michel Hernandez*  .220/.267/.315  .198    NA
*: Translated minor league performance

The Phillies' bench is not a strength. They have virtually no speed or defense, and their backup catcher is about the third-best hitter over there. Bruntlett emerged as the defensive replacement for Burrell, leaving Taguchi as a fifth outfielder with no discernable justification for his roster spot. He and Geoff Jenkins would have made a nice platoon a couple of years ago; now they hit for pitchers, and maybe for Ruiz, and even "hit" is inappropriate to describe what they do for you. Dobbs is an effective pinch-hitter, though he should be starting, and Stairs will be on the bench about half the time.

The Rays have a bit more flexibility. Floyd and Gross are the other halves of platoons, while Perez has emerged as a pinch-runner with significant tactical value, and he might be the best defensive right fielder on the team. Zobrist won't play much, but as a switch-hitter with a little pop gets called on occasionally to hit for Bartlett or Gross, and his ability to fake the outfield has given Joe Maddon some in-game options. Hernandez is trying to get a ring on the Chris Turner Plan.

Rotations


Phillies                IP      ERA SNLVAR   SNW%
LHP Cole Hamels        227.1   3.09   7.1   .621
RHP Brett Myers        190.0   4.55   3.5   .522
LHP Jamie Moyer        196.1   3.71   5.0   .556
RHP Joe Blanton        197.2   4.69   3.0   .495

Rays                    IP      ERA SNLVAR   SNW%
LHP Scott Kazmir       152.1   3.49   4.8   .600
RHP James Shields      215.0   3.56   5.4   .636
RHP Matt Garza         184.2   3.70   4.9   .550
RHP Andy Sonnanstine   193.1   4.38   3.0   .591

The decision to flip Kazmir and Shields in the ALCS rotation costs the Rays now, as they can't go with Shields in Game One against Hamels. They have yet to announce their rotation, but there's no reason for them not to just run Kazmir out there, followed by a rested Shields and Garza. Kazmir has his command issues, but a power left-hander isn't a bad idea against the Phillies. The Rays have gotten very good starting pitching in this postseason, with Garza the breakout star with two excellent outings against the Red Sox. If there's a concern, it's that everyone but Garza can be beat with the long ball. That Game Four matchup of Sonnanstine and Blanton looms as a long night in Philadelphia.

For the Phillies, it's really all about Hamels. The lefty has three of the team's seven wins in October, and he hasn't been challenged in any of them. For the Phillies to win the World Series, they'll need to win both of his starts. In fact, were I in charge, I'd push Hamels to 1-4-7 and either drop Blanton from the rotation or use him in Game Five and put Myers in the bullpen after his start. The gap between Hamels and every other Phillies' starter is large, and the gap between Hamels and Blanton, given the Rays' team-level platoon split, is massive. If the Rays beat Hamels even once, they should win the Series handily. This makes Game One even more significant than it usually is.

Bullpens


Phillies                IP     ERA   WXRL    FRA
RHP Brad Lidge         69.1   1.95   7.59   2.32
RHP Ryan Madson        82.2   3.05   2.00   3.43
LHP J.C. Romero        59.0   2.75   2.23   3.02
RHP Chad Durbin        87.2   2.87   1.75   2.90
LHP Scott Eyre         25.1   4.21   1.06   3.39
LHP James Happ         31.2   3.69  -0.02   3.82
RHP Clay Condrey       69.0   3.26   0.26   3.75

Rays                    IP     ERA   WXRL    FRA
RHP Dan Wheeler        66.1   3.12   2.09   2.94
LHP J.P. Howell        89.1   2.22   4.64   2.78
RHP Grant Balfour      58.1   1.54   3.43   0.96
LHP David Price        14.0   1.93   0.09   2.47
RHP Chad Bradford      59.1   2.12   1.52   2.65
LHP Trever Miller      43.1   4.15   1.52   3.32
RHP Edwin Jackson     183.1   4.42    4.2*  4.62
*: SNLVAR

The Phillies' full set of lefty relievers could come in handy, as a redundancy in lefty specialists that was overkill in the NLDS and moderately helpful in the NLCS becomes a key feature in the World Series. Happ is more of a long reliever for low-leverage situations, but the ability to turn a lineup around if you fall behind 4-0 in the third has its benefits. Lidge, of course, is the story here, perfect in save situations in 2008 on the strength of allowing just two homers all season long. If you're tired of that note, consider this one: Lidge walked 31 men unintentionally in 69 2/3 innings, a very high rate for a closer. There's no way around it; when he comes in, Phillies fans are going to be nervous, because his combination of free passes and fly balls is scary. All the Phillies relievers save Madson and Eyre are prone to walking the park, and the Rays are as patient as they come.

We've seen the Rays' bullpen in action, and it's a very good one, with power arms missing bats, two effective tactical guys, and now David Price added to the mix. It's not clear how Maddon will use Price in the Series, although given the importance of his last two appearances, it seems fair to say that Maddon is comfortable with his rookie in high-leverage situations. If Price supplants Wheeler as the closer, that's probably a good thing. Wheeler may move into Grant Balfour's spot, at least at the beginning of the Series; Balfour pointedly did not pitch in Sunday's Game Seven, on the heels of a couple of rough outings. He's still the biggest strikeout threat in the pen, and would be an overpowering reliever against the bottom of the Phillies' lineup. The Rays' pen, on the whole, is a considerable advantage for them in this series, maybe their biggest one.

Defense

Let's not let a few high-profile mistakes drive the story-the Rays were one of the best defensive teams in baseball in 2008, and remain so right now. We saw some flaws close up over the last few weeks: Longoria can get sloppy on his throws; Upton tends to drift back, rather than run, on fly balls; Gross isn't a fast man. Still, the Rays don't let you beat them on balls in play. Gross' metrics aren't bad, but Fernando Perez or Rocco Baldelli should be in right field late in games.

The Phillies were also strong defensively, finishing sixth in the majors in Park-Adjusted Defensive Efficiency. Their highs are higher and their lows lower than the Rays: Utley is a fantastic if unheralded second baseman; Victorino is excellent in center, and while I'm no Pedro Feliz fan, he is a very good glove man at third. On the other hand, no Ray anywhere on the diamond is as bad as Ryan Howard is at first base, and Pat Burrell is below-average in left field. Neither team has an overall edge here, although if I had to pick, I'd probably take the Phillies' defense because of Utley's skill.

Managers

Joe Maddon is entertaining, and I think the one thing you can say for him is that he's not going to get tied down to roles. That was Mike Scioscia's defining trait at the start of his career as well. Maddon used Grant Balfour and J.P. Howell in the fifth inning of Game Two of the ALCS. David Price went from an extra guy to the man he chose to save his season. Dan Wheeler was asked to get ten outs. That kind of flexibility is admirable. However, Maddon has occasionally sat on his hands in the wrong spots, passing up a chance to gain an edge. I suspect we're seeing a learning curve here, and a very steep one, but there's always the possibility that Maddon will make a mistake along the way with the pen. Otherwise, he's a very good manager, not overly enamored of smallball, and by all accounts he's good at the off-field stuff.

I'd mentioned earlier in the postseason that Charlie Manuel was growing on me. Increasingly, I think the drawl has us all fooled; the man knows what he's doing. The refusal to separate Utley and Howard in the lineup is grating, as is the refusal to play Dobbs more often. Outside of that, though, he runs his pitching staff well, even using Brad Lidge for four outs for the first time all year because the situation warranted it. There was one massive gaffe in the NLCS, asking Victorino to bunt in a clear swing situation. That seems to reflect less an affinity for one-run strategies as an inflated opinion of the bottom of his lineup. That's not fatal.

Both of these guys are assets, and the only thing I'd note is that Maddon might be more likely to make a costly mistake. He is the man who issued a bases-loaded intentional walk during the season, and let David Ortiz face a right-hander in a few critical situations last week.

Prediction

For all of the detail above, I keep coming back to one point: the Rays are a much better baseball team than the Phillies are. The gap between the leagues is real, and when you adjust for it and other factors-as third-order wins do-you find that the Rays were actually ten games better than the Phillies this season. They've also beaten better teams to get to the Series. Compare the rosters, and while the Phillies have their share of frontline talent, perhaps even more than the Rays have, the Rays have almost no dead spots on the roster, and are much stronger towards the bottom of the lineup, the back of the rotation, the bullpen, and the bench.

Three of the last four World Series have been AL sweeps. The presence of Hamels makes that result unlikely, but even he won't be enough. Rays in six.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

29 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

Mike W
(830)

I t appears Maddon is going with Kaz tonight and Shields in Game 2, as expected. This gives Shields two home starts, which Maddon seems to find somewhat important. However, he now gets the weak RH Philly DH only once in the possible four TB home games.

I wonder if given Gross's death spiral at the plate and in the field if Maddon will give Zobrist a start or two in RF.

I woudl expect, given Maddon's non-panicky nature, if he used Price only sometimes in save situations, and not go immediately to a last-pitcher-only type of pattern - trying instead to use him as the last lefty, and if that works out to be in the 9th, great. Also, he'll want to get Balfour's confidence, and his confidence in Balfour, back, so he'll probably be spotted in the first time against the bottom of the Philly order.

Oct 21, 2008 09:09 AM
rating: 0
 
lemppi

Minor thing....in the first paragraph you mention the Rays went thru "two division winners" to win the pennant. The BoSox were the WC.

Oct 21, 2008 09:10 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

I confess: even as I was writing that, something in the back of my head was bugging me, and I couldn't figure it out. The tone of the sentence remains correct, but these errors are aggravating.

Oct 21, 2008 09:41 AM
 
joel3green

Game One is Wednesday 10-22.
As they say: Check your local listings for the time in your area.

Oct 21, 2008 09:25 AM
rating: 0
 
ElAngelo
(942)

I'm not so sure that by the time the playoffs rolled around the Dodgers were worse than the White Sox, given that they had added Ramirez and gotten Furcal back from an injury, while ChiSox were playing without their best hitter, Carlos Quentin.

Oct 21, 2008 10:55 AM
rating: 0
 
sbnirish77

"Let’s not let a few high-profile mistakes drive the story."

... thats what you can say AFTER you win the series. If Jeter had butchered the two balls Bartlett did, or AROD made those throws Longoria did, or Johnny Damon got turned around and dropped a ball on the warning track like Upyton did, they'd be living with the mistake all winter. Thank God Iwamura caught that last bad-hop ball for an out or the Rays may have been asking the same questions. Lets not pass out the Gold Gloves when any one of the above mistakes could have easily cost the Rays the series.

Oct 21, 2008 11:23 AM
rating: 0
 
Matthew Avery

If Jeter had missed the play and people had said he wasn't a very good defender, it would've been fine... because he's not a very good defender. If people say that about Bartlett based on a couple plays in the ALCS, they're letting a few brightly-colored data points drive the story.

Oct 21, 2008 21:35 PM
rating: 1
 
Mountainhawk

As a Phillies fan, I'm going to take heart from the fact that going back to 2003, the only time BP has picked the winner right for the World Series were the two Red Sox wins, both of which they called in 7.

Oct 21, 2008 11:48 AM
rating: 1
 
eighteen

I think Maddon's refusal to give his team the best chance to win (not making defensive changes in the late innings of close games, not using his bullpen personnel effectively, allowing Upton to play Center Field any way he wants) will finally catch up to the Rays.

I hope I'm wrong, because I'd love to see the Rays win. There are a few Cubs' fans here at work that need a little something more rubbed in their faces.

Oct 21, 2008 12:15 PM
rating: -2
 
caliphornian
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And the hate toward Philadelphia marches on...

Oct 21, 2008 12:41 PM
rating: -8
 
Costa Galanis

Ssimply picking the opponent to win doesn't equate to hate.

Oct 21, 2008 12:56 PM
rating: 0
 
Mountainhawk
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No, but Joe has had a pretty serious anti-Phillies slant this season, although I think he did pick them in both of the previous series (hard not to, the Phils were superior to everyone in the NL not named the Cubs this year, and the Cubs choked away what could have been a classic NLCS.)

Oct 21, 2008 13:19 PM
rating: -4
 
dbiester

it being a short series, there is a solid possibility that the Phillies frontline talent will overwhelm the Rays depth.

Since 2001, the team with more red in their uniforms has lost the Series only once, going 4-1 (calling Red Sox - Cardinals a push, and leaving out 2003 as neither the the Yanks nor the Marlins had a statistically significant red quotient, or SSRQ). So the Phillies have that going for them...

Oct 21, 2008 13:29 PM
rating: 1
 
jkaplow21

If this is the case, which is fine, why is BP projecting the Phillies to win 51% of the time. What do the numbers see differently?

Oct 21, 2008 13:56 PM
rating: 0
 
Trieu

The WS odds tend to favor match-ups, and the Phillies throw two lefties at TB's (theoretically) lefty vulnerable lineup. Monte Carlo doesn't know that one of those southpaws is 45 year-old junkballer.

Oct 21, 2008 19:33 PM
rating: 0
 
SamHughes

Two keys to the game for the Phillies: Myers and Moyer. If Myers brings his A game and pitches the way he did after being sent down to the minors, the Phils could conceivably go back to Philly up 2-0. If Bad Brett shows up, duck.

If Moyer's getting squeezed by the home-plate ump, or the Rays are just very, very patient, he'll probably get hammered. If he's still pitching by the 5th I'll be very relieved.

Of course, no prediction survives first contact with the enemy. Or something.

BTW, I hope caliphornian is being ironic. Otherwise, make some rational arguments to counter Joe's rational arguments, which are pretty compelling (and, I hope, wrong).

Oct 21, 2008 13:58 PM
rating: 0
 
bugbear

"Against Scott Kazmir, they can DH Burrell and use Eric Bruntett or So Taguchi in left field; that’s a much weaker choice than Stairs or Dobbs."

It seems like Manuel would be tempted to do this, based on his regular season proclivities towards defensive subs for Burrell, but I think he'd be absolutely insane not to use Chris Coste (career .870 OPS vs. LHP, this year .296/.363/.519). Unfortunately, Charlie seems to abide by the sacred Rule of the Catcher, which says you should always have a spare sitting around so you can break glass in case of emergency, so to speak.

I think he'll have to either bring Marson onto the roster for Taguchi (who is completely, utterly useless--he's spent the year failing at everything he's been asked to do) or deal with the risk of an emergency catcher situation, as he really needs to be able to either start Coste against Kazmir, or have free rein to pinch hit with him against lefty relievers.

If I was the Phillies, I'd use Coste despite the risk, and replace Taguchi with Golson. He can't hit, but he gives both the speed and defense which the bench sorely lacks.

Oct 21, 2008 13:59 PM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

I beleivge it was this year where Manuel was "forced" into using Pedro Feliz as an emergency catcher. Can't remember if he "prooved" himself in that limited action, though.

Oct 22, 2008 12:33 PM
rating: 0
 
caliphornian

Let me clarify my statement. Rays are a talented team, but the entire tone of this article is that the Phillies got lucky. The article also has holes in it that even a beginner stathead like me can pick, or at least one in the 34,000s! I'm not here to be argumentative, either, so I apologize for the tone of my first post.

First, it's not as much an anti-Phillies slant as it is a pro-AL East slant. Every team in the AL East has third order wins above their actual result. Yep, including the Orioles. Why is this? Did the entire division underperform this year? Or was the expectation too high? This, of course, is the only division in baseball with zero or net negative D3s.

The Rays pitching this year was second best in the league in allowing base hits with 1349. But Rays pitching had a 1.423 WHIP in the ALCS. This was heavily accentuated by bullpen by committee which blew a colossal lead in Game 5. Since 1995, the team with a statistically significant difference in hits allowed (70) over the course of a season has won 36 playoff series and lost 11.

Finally, any team that racks up more than twelve hundred strikeouts in a season is cause for concern. Yes, they sprayed the ball all over Fenway Park. I should hope so. The ALCS wrecking crew of Upton, Longoria, et al reminded me of the free-swinging Phillies when they play the Mets in the regular season. Now that each team is facing virtually unknown lineups (except Moyer - the Rays have 89 PAs against him), the advantage goes back to the pitchers.

Oct 21, 2008 14:03 PM
rating: 0
 
jamiedodd7

Well, I'm no expert on the mechanics of third order wins, but intuitively it makes sense that if four very strong teams are in a division together, their records will be worse than if they were spread out amongst less talented teams. And to suggest that the third order wins measurement reflects a "pro-AL East slant" seems to suggest that BP is cooking the numbers to favor that decision, which I think is absurd.

Your next point is strange. You point to hits allowed as a decisive statistic (which is doubtful) but the Rays allowed less hits than the Phillies, even without having to face DHs. So, your reasoning here would support Joe's assertion that the Rays are better, and I don't think that's what you were trying to do. As for their WHIP in 7 games against a great offense... well, you'll excuse me if I don't buy that as a serious mark against them.

Finally, the Rays hitters struck out 7.5 times a game. The Phillies, 6.9.

If these are your best arguments, you have some serious work to do.

Oct 21, 2008 14:36 PM
rating: 3
 
caliphornian

On the first point, I'm not insinuating that BP is cooking the books. I'm just saying there is a discrepancy between what BP considers the quality of the AL East and what I do. BP analyzed that the Blue Jays were going to win 92 games and the Yankees would win 91. Yes, they nailed the Rays win total. But why so off on the other teams?

On my second point, I stated that yes, the decisive statistic heavily favors the Rays. But that year long performance isn't holding up. The Rays WHIP against an "eighth-seed" White Sox was near the league average and against the Sox was below average. They are starting to underperform. You have to take year long stats and perform some trendline analysis to them.

A extra strikeout a game, against either pitching staff, especially at a critical moment, is plenty enough gap.

Look, guessing playoff outcomes is dangerous business, even when applying statistical analysis. Special Sauce has a decided advantage to Philadelphia on the closer, and a decided advantage to Tampa on fielding runs above average and equivalent strikeouts per 9. It's a fine model. But shouldn't a model also consider the element of time? Aren't FRAA in August and September more valuable than FRAA in April and May?

Oct 22, 2008 11:00 AM
rating: 0
 
diperna

Joe: "Both of these guys are assets, and the only thing I’d note is that Maddon might be more likely to make a costly mistake. He is the man who issued a bases-loaded intentional walk during the season, and let David Ortiz face a right-hander in a few critical situations last week."

And Manuel is the man who issued an intentional walk in the first inning, a stunning gaffe.

Bottom line: the bar for good managers is really low right now, and has been for some time.

Oct 21, 2008 16:31 PM
rating: 0
 
Vinegar Bend
(477)

On the issue of the Rays' closer situation, could we be witnessing an accidental happenstance of the dreaded "closer by committee"?
If the Rays lose the series, I'm expecting the blame will be placed there. And it will be wrong.
The Rays should definitely be matching up relievers to exploit matchups, not trying to establish or follow so-called 'roles.'

Oct 21, 2008 19:46 PM
rating: 0
 
mikedee
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Your article does not account for the entire City of Philadelphia that is behind this team. The same people who are taking over Tampa Bay as we speak to make tonite a home game for us.

It's been a long time, and we've got the bigger heart.

Oct 22, 2008 06:06 AM
rating: -4
 
dbiester

You can't measure heart, therefore it does not exist! Except Secretariat's heart, which was massive! My point with these ridiculous posts is actually to support a general view I have seen many times repeated by many BP authors: anyone can win a short series; play off outcomes are not easily predicable by the numbers; winning a short series may require different skills, talents, and personnel than winning over the long haul. So you may as well look at heart or uniform color -- or Secret Sauce.
If the Rays "lose" the series it will be for the same reason the Mets have "lost" the division two years in a row -- being outplayed by the Phillies -- just over a shorter time frame.

Oct 22, 2008 07:07 AM
rating: 0
 
beegee73

I don't quite understand why the Rays' starting lineup is considered so much better than the Phillies'. Yes, Feliz and Ruiz are black holes at the bottom of the order. Why aren't Crawford (7.1 VORP in left field) and Aybar (5.2 VORP at DH) considered a 5-6 sinkhole? Why isn't the fact that the Phillies' boast three players with VORPs higher than the Rays' best hitter considered? Nor the fact that the Phils' starting lineup's VORP is 76.7 points higher than the Rays' even with the Phillies' total including a pinch hitter's VORP at DH? I know that Utley and Howard are lesser players against lefties, but those numbers above include at-bats against lefties. Maddon can't possibly go to his bullpen each time Utley/Howard come up and expect to win. He's going to have to try to let his righty starters take their chances.

Oct 22, 2008 10:43 AM
rating: 0
 
Vinegar Bend
(477)

Crawford and Aybar's VORPs (12.3 combined) are much higher than Ruiz and Feliz's (-6). Moreover, Crawford and Aybar had less playing time, which holds down their VORP. The Phillies' lineup lost less time to injury overall.

The EQA of the teams' starting 9s are not much different.
If you take the average EQA of the starting 9 of each team, weighing each batter equally, you get:
Phil -- .275
TB -- .277

Oct 22, 2008 11:21 AM
rating: 1
 
beegee73

Yes, but that combined 12.3 VORP is right in the middle of the order. The Phillies 5-6 slots have combined for 66.8 of VORP.

So essentially — with a .002 differential between the starting 9s' EQAs — there is not a giant mismatch between the Rays and Phillies lineups.

Oct 22, 2008 12:45 PM
rating: 0
 
Vinegar Bend
(477)

Right. There is no giant mismatch between the two starting lineups.

Oct 22, 2008 14:00 PM
rating: 0
 
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