Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, October 18, 2011 at 9:43 AM
The Texas-St. Louis World Series that starts Wednesday Night under the arch isn't exactly what the networks had in mind. For the second straight year, the big name, big money teams from megalopolises are home watching the games on TV with you and us. The seemingly pre-ordained Philadelphia-NY Yankees showdown never materialized...nor did any of the "potential World Series Preview" matchups from Interleague play back in midsummer.
Instead, it's the: "There's no way these guys will win the American League two years in a row" Texas Rangers facing the "There's no way anyone will catch Atlanta for the Wildcard spot in the National League" St. Louis Cardinals.
In terms of media storylines, this was an impossible series. But, in terms of baseball reality, you have an elite park-adjusted pitching staff re-asserting their American League postseason dominance...and a potent opposing offense led by the single greatest hitter of our generation.
Oh, the city of St. Louis would like to thank the managers of Philadelphia and Milwaukee for continually pitching to Albert Pujols!
Pujols in the 2011 Postseason:
.419 batting average
.490 on-base percentage
.721 slugging percentage
10 RBI's in 11 games
Yes...whatever you do...don't pitch around Pujols! He's due to cool off!
We've talked about this a lot in the past...but we want to emphasize once again that the mainstream media still hasn't figured out the Texas Rangers...and they're still going to be feeding you misinformation through this World Series. This is going to be marketed as a battle of slugging teams because they've both won some high scoring games. That's not really what's happening.
- Texas doesn't have a great offense, but plays its home games in a great hitter's park. The FOX announcers were talking the other night about how every bat in the lineup is a theat. When the wind is blowing out in Wrigley Field, all the Cubs look like big threats too! Anyone can hit a fly ball...and fly ball's travel very well in Arlington because of hot weather and prevailing wind conditions (though those factors do lessen some in October compared to the heart of summer).
- Texas actually has a fantastic pitching staff...which gets hidden because of the home environment.
- St. Louis plays its home games in a park that typically favors the pitcher though can be closer to neutral in some years. This Cardinals offense is even better than you're thinking. And, believe it or not, Pujols is even better than he's given credit for...though he's recognized as a true superstar. Were Pujols to play his home games in Arlington...we're talking historic (and non-steroid) production.
We reviewed the "road only" numbers for you last week to help you handicap the LCS round. Let's look at those again.
ROAD ONLY OFFENSE
St. Louis: .277 batting average, .342 on base pct., .442 slugging pct.
Texas: .269 batting average, .326 on base pct., .413 slugging pct.
Clear edges across the board to St. Louis. And...THEY HAVE TO BAT A PITCHER IN ALMOST EVERY GAME. Texas fails to match St. Louis in road production...EVEN THOUGH THEY USE A DESIGNATGED HITTER!
Make both pitchers bat...or have both teams use a DH...and St. Louis obviously extends their offensive advantage over the Rangers.
Here's another way to see how Arlington influences scoring:
Rangers on Road in Regulation: 4-4-2-3-5 (average 3.6)
Rangers at Home in Regulation: 0-8-3-3-15 (average 5.8)
Texas did have a knack for hitting clutch extra inning home runs. We used 9-inning data to keep each game level. Here's what St. Louis has done offensively in the playoffs.
St. Louis on Road: 6-5-1-6-12-12 (average 7.0)
St. Louis at Home: 2-5-4-2-1 (average 2.8)
We're admittedly dealing with small sample sizes. But, this sampling does at least help paint the picture. The St. Louis offense is better than you realized. The Texas offense isn't as dangerous if you line up the conditions.
Let's move to pitching. Here are the ROAD ONLY numbers for the guys currently projected to start games in this series. We'll run the numbers in the order their currently slated to pitch.
TEXAS PITCHERS ON THE ROAD
Wilson: 2.31 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 8.3 K-rate
Lewis: 3.43 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 8.9 K-rate
Holland: 3.39 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 7.3 K-rate
Harrison: 2.99 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 6.0 K-rate
Note that Ogando is normally the fifth starter...but he's been used very effectively in long relief thus far. His numbers on the road this year were 3.18, 1.06, and 6.0. Folks, THAT'S a rotation! And, it's one the media would have been talking about if they could ever get out of the 1970's mindset that stadiums don't influence statistics or the game much. Seriously...the media is 40 YEARS BEHIND something that should be a basic fundamental of understanding baseball.
We're talking about ace caliber, or near ace caliber across the board for that group of guys. And, remember, they pitch in the DH league. They're facing designated hitters instead of pitchers in all road games except those played during the Interleague weeks.
ST. LOUIS PITCHERS ON THE ROAD
Carpenter: 3.85 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 7.4 K-rate
Garcia: 4.61 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 7.5 K-rate
Jackson: 4.76 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 6.3 K-rate
Lohse: 3.13 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 5.3 K-rate
Lohse has the best numbers of anyone in terms of ERA and WHIP...but that low K-rate could be a big problem in Arlington because "pitch to contact" hurlers generally get rocked in that park. Maybe his Game Four outing will come on an unseasonable cool night, or with abnormally friendly winds.
So, Carpenter is the ace of the staff...but he's less effective than ALL of the Rangers projected starting pitchers (and even Ogando). Garcia's draw has him pitching at home...which tells you LaRussa pays attention to this stuff. Garcia's toast on the road. Jackson will have to pitch in Arlington, but might get a Game Seven start in St. Louis if the series goes the distance.
Let's compare them this way:
Road ERA's: Texas has four of the best five (five of six counting Ogando)
Road WHIPS: Texas has the same edge here
Road K-Rate: Texas has the best two, and three of the best five
The nature of the ballparks suggest we'll probably see lower scoring games in St. Louis than in Texas (though it's possible a starter won't have his stuff in St. Louis and muck up the numbers). The nature of the teams suggests that St. Louis will have the much better offense...while Texas has the much better pitching...and those factors will be dueling out in the two different ballpark settings.
Who has the overall edge? Hey, this is baseball! St. Louis wasn't seen as having the overall edge vs. Philadelphia or Milwaukee, yet here they are trying to win another championship for this storied franchise. Texas had to win some extra inning nailbiters to survive Detroit. There's no guarantee they can keep winning those types of games.
This could be a terrific series for fans...and a great moneymaking opportunity for handicappers if oddsmakers continue to spend too much time listening to the media and not enough time monitoring what the Wise Guys are betting.
JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK will be ready to hit the ground running Wednesday Night in Game One. You can go day-by-day with us here at the website with your credit card. Or, sign up for the full World Series by calling the office at 1-800-323-4453. Sure, football is fun to bet. Why leave money on the table when BIG JUICY BASEBALL WINNERS are so easy to get a hold of?!
Back with you tomorrow in the NOTEBOOK with our weekly look at key NFL game stats. Summarizing the hidden keys from last week will help you pick more winners NEXT WEEK! College football resumes Thursday and Friday with a Pac 10 showdown and a Big East twinbill.
We talk football...we talk baseball...and we're just a few weeks away from talking college basketball...which means you'd better be sure you're with us EVERY DAY so you know what's REALLY happening in the world of sports!