Thursday, October 11, 2007


My predictions for the division series were awful. In the NL, I predicted the Phillies to win in five. Instead, they were swept by Colorado. I predicted the Cubs would beat the Diamondbacks in four, but Chicago was swept also. At least I got the number of games right in the AL. I said Yankees in four, but it was Cleveland who won. Oh for three. Sounds like Jeter’s batting line. (Low blow!)

The only series I got absolutely correct was the Red Sox sweep of the Angels, and in truth, that’s the only one I felt strongly about. So, prepare yourself for more bad predictions here at FPE as I tackle…

Both Championship Series


Colorado (NLWC) vs. Arizona (NLW)

Can a team that was outscored on the year really make it to the World Series? Can a team that everyone had written off for dead two weeks before the season ended either? Can a bear poop in the woods? Can my wife make mean cracks at my expense? Does my crotch itch? The Cardinals (I know this is everyone’s excuse. “X team sucks, but just look at the ’06 Cardinals.”) proved that you don’t have to be a good hitting team, or a good pitching team to win the World Series. All you have to do is go up against a series of teams playing badly. Theres a recipe for champions, right there.

Both have strengths, but both of these teams have serious weaknesses too. At least right now the Rockies strengths seem to be coming to the fore more than Arizona. Colorado certainly has a better hitting team than Arizona, and right now they probably have better starting pitching as well.

I’m not going to get any more in depth than that here, so I’ll just say this:

Prediction: Colorado in Five. Bet the house on it.


Cleveland (ALC) vs. Boston (ALE)

Make no mistake about it, the series that follows this will be the World Series in name only. The two most talented teams left in the playoffs are facing each other here.

Lets start with an overview. Both teams finished the season with identical 96-66 records. The Red Sox have the homefield advantage by virtue of their 5-2 record versus Cleveland in the regular season. Despite the regular season results, these teams are not perfectly even.

The Indians scored 811 runs on the season and allowed 704. The Red Sox scored 867 and gave up 657. The Red Sox have scored and been scored upon at the rate of a 101-61 team, while the Indians results translate to a more modest 91-71 record. You’ll notice that the Sox have a ten game advantage according to Pythagorean record. This is more indicative of the difference between these two clubs than the equal win-loss marks they achieved in the regular season

As for hitting, the Red Sox have scored more runs, but they’ve done so in a home park that this season very slightly favors hitters, while the Indians have played their home games in a park that slightly favors pitchers. Thus, maybe the numbers are more similar than I may be giving credit for.

But, remember that baseball schedules aren’t even any more, so like the NFL you have to take the quality of competition into account.

The average non-Red Sox AL East team scored 815 runs while giving up 822, for a Pythagorean record of 80-82. Conversely the average non-Indians AL Central team scored 751 runs while giving up 785, for a Pythagorean record of 77-85. It seems the Red Sox had a more difficult schedule and did more with it.

Of course, these teams aren't the same ones that began the season, so simply comparing their respective seasonal stats doesn't do justice to who these teams are now. To that end, and I acknowledge that this is an imperfect measure, if you compare how the teams hit in their division series, you can see that the Sox scored more runs than did the Indians, and they did it off a better pitching staff.

The Sox scorched the Angels by a cumulative 19-4 score in their three games, for an average score of 6.3-1.3. The Indians won by a cumulative score of 24-16 for an average score of 6-4. The Red Sox were more dominant in their match up.

Now, they were playing different teams, and though those teams won an equal number of games in the regular season (94), you could make an argument that the Yankees were a better team than the Angels. I acknowledge that that argument could be made, but I won’t be making it here. The argument you can’t make is New York’s pitching staff is better than Anaheim’s, because it isn’t. The Sox hitters faced more difficult competition and yet scored more runs.

Conversely, you can’t make the opposite argument, that Anaheim’s hitters were better than New York’s. Of course that isn’t true, but then the Indians gave up more runs than Boston did, befitting the fact that they faced more difficult competition.

As for the pitching staffs, Cleveland’s #1 and #2 starters match up well with those of the Sox. Both Carmona and Sabathia are excellent starters and equal to that of Boston’s Beckett and Schilling. (Carmona is probably a better pitcher at this point than Schilling, but how do you pick against Schilling in the playoffs?)

After those two, the Indians staff starts to get mediocre in a hurry. Despite the win, Byrd didn’t pitch very well against New York, and Westbrook got lit up. In Boston, Matsuzaka didn’t pitch very well either, but he has more of a track record of success than either Cleveland counter part. The wild card for the Sox is Tim Wakefield. He missed the Division Series due to poor health. If he is healthy enough (and he threw a successful side session today according to Boston manager Terry Francona) he’ll throw Game 4 in Cleveland, likely against Byrd.

Heres how I see the match-ups:

Game #1: Sabathia at Beckett
Advantage: Boston

Game #2: Carmona at Schilling
Advantage: toss up

Game #3: Matsuzka at Westbrook
Advantage: Boston

Game #4: Wakefield at Byrd
Advantage: toss up

Game #5: Sabathia at Beckett
Advantage: Boston

Prediction: Boston in five.

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