Perhaps the story of the Phillies in ye old National League Championship Series of 2010 is the story of missed opportunities at the plate. We know how poor of a statistic batting average is, but Ryan Howard was the only regular to top .261, so the bats weren’t hot. The entire team put up a .216/.311/.321 line, which is somewhere between “that’s disappointing” and “OMGz, trade that bum Chase Utley (.182/.333/.227) like yesterday” depending on your current state of mind. A team that hit .260/.332/.413 during the season didn’t come close to equaling that production in a six-game stretch. It happens, and it seems there’s no reason to slice and dice that sample any smaller.
Or maybe there is. Because we’ve talked about this team’s struggles against lefthanders at times. Looking at the series as a whole, though, the Phillies managed “only” 10 runs, 18 hits (7 extra base) and 9 walks in 21 innings against lefties. Perhaps we only remember the high-profile strikeouts – and the Giants’ LHPs did strike out 23 in those 21 innings. Even if we think the overall line overstates the case and want to consider the leverage index of all those Javier Lopez outings, in particular, he only averaged a 1.4 LI while compiling that 2.08 ERA and getting those 13 outs. Impressive? Yes. Higher-than-average pressure in those situations? Yes. The reason the Phillies lost the series? Hardly. The Phillies had chances and we obviously can’t blame their lack of offense all on their overall performance against lefties.
The word going in was that even if the Phillies offense was going to have a little trouble with this staff, their own pitching staff would easily neutralize the poor Giants offense. After all, the Giants were the only playoff team with a below-average wOBA and the Phillies had Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. That trio didn’t perform poorly – they pitched 33 innings and allowed 13 runs, striking out 34 against only six walks. Perhaps more was expected of Roy Halladay after his no-hitter in the first round, but he did strain that groin and you don’t point at three pitchers that pitched 65% of your innings to a 3.27 ERA and say, there, that’s your problem right there.
The bullpen? 13 innings, three runs. The defense? Four errors to the Giants’ three – and even if you want to say errors are a poor gauge of defense, you’d have to admit they played about even on the field in that regard. Timely hitting? Sure, but what can you really do about that, and how much of that is the short sample? Want to blame Ryan Howard just ’cause? Check Dave Cameron’s defense.
It was a tight series. Javier Lopez certainly helped the Giants, and the San Francisco staff deserves some credit for keeping a good offense down. Play this series a million times, though, and the Philadelphia squad probably wins close to half of ’em. The Phillies didn’t play terribly and don’t have an obvious scapegoat going into the offseason, so all they can do is find a way to replace Jayson Werth if he leaves (preferably with a right-handed bat), rework the bullpen as good teams do every offseason, and give it another shot next year.