Friday, October 20, 2006
This will be an interesting series to watch: the Tigers dominated most of the regular season before sliding into the playoffs, while the Cardinals nearly blew a historic lead to the Astros before sliding into the playoffs. Once both teams made it, they turned on their afterburners and blew away the opposition. The Tigers especially look strong here in the post-season.
If history will be any guide this series will go seven games, just as the 1934 and 1968 World Series did. I doubt that. My pick is for the Tigers to win in five.
I like the Tigers for a bunch of reasons. For one thing they excel at pitching and defense. Defensively they led the American League by a wide margin in DER: .704, compared to the White Sox and Blue Jays second-best .696 … The Tigers also had one of the best pitching staffs in the A.L. Their Fielding Independent ERA was just 4.36, well under the league average of 4.56 and good enough for third in the A.L. They don’t give up many home runs and they are nearly impossible to get a walk off of.
Confused about what I’m talking about? Here are the stats I refer to defined:
FIP – Fielding Independent Pitching: (13*HR+3*BB-2*K / IP) + League Factor Evaluates a pitching by how he would have done with an average defense behind him by keeping track of things that a pitcher can control (walks, strikeouts, home runs allowed) as opposed to things he cannot (hits allowed, runs allowed).
DER – Defense Efficiency Ratio: (Batters Faced – (Hits + Walks + Hit By Pitch + Strikeouts)) / (Batters Faced – (Home Runs, Walks + Hit By Pitch + Strikeouts)) How often fielders convert balls put into play into outs.
Runs Created (RC): A stat originally created by Bill James to measure a player’s total contribution to his team’s lineup. Here is the formula: [(H + BB + HBP - CS - GIDP) times ((S * 1.125) + (D * 1.69) + (T * 3.02) + (HR * 3.73) + (.29 * (BB + HBP – IBB)) + (.492 * (SB + SF + SH)) – (.04 * K))] divided by (AB + BB + HBP + SH+ SF). If you use ESPN’s version be advised that it is pitifully is out-of-date, however. James adjusted RC after the 2004 season ended.
The Cards, in contrast seemed to struggle pitching-wise, though their pitchers played well in the NLCS. They ranked as one of the worst teams in the N.L. in FIP in 2006. Defensively, they weren’t as strong as they have been in the past either: their .699 DER is a little better than the league average, and well off the leaders (San Diego: .714).
The Tigers seem to have a lot of parts that work together flawlessly on offense: they don’t have a big name like Albert Pujols spearheading their attack, and yet they scored 5.07 runs a game in 2006, one of the best in the A.L. The Cards seem to rely almost exclusively on Pujols to generate offense. Pujols had 150 Runs Created in 2006, almost sixty more than his next teammate, Scott Rolen (91). After Rolen, the next big contributor to the Cards attack is that noted slugger Juan Encarnacion. The Tigers, in contrast, had five guys with 80+ Runs Created. That’s balance, and I think it shows.
On paper this is a pure mismatch. In the regular season the Cardinals run differential was just +19, while the Tigers were +147. The Tigers won 12 more games than the Cards did. I am tempted to pick the Tigers to sweep the series, but I think the Cards are due for one win. So call it Tigers in five. They are clearly the better team.