NLCS Series Review: Philadelphia

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.




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Graphs: Baseball, Roto, Beer, brats (OK, no graphs for that...yet), repeat. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris.

28 Responses to “NLCS Series Review: Philadelphia”

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  1. Frank says:

    I’d love to see the Phillies make a run at Beltre since Werth is likely leaving. They could deal Polanco (someone could put him at 2nd base) and give the RF job to Domonic Brown. That would give them a better defense and about the same level of offensive productivity.

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  2. Santos says:

    Phillies outscore the Giants 20 – 19 in the series. Lose 4 out of 6.

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    • hairball says:

      If you really want to attach meaning to that number, then you have to add the fact that they won the 2nd game 6-1, which distorted the numbers. This is a pretty tired argument.

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      • Santos says:

        Wasn’t really making an argument, just thought it was interesting.

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      • bill says:

        I think the point is, the series could have gone either way.
        Game 1 4-3 – decided by a dropped Ibanez fly ball
        Game 2 6-1 – Phillies handily won
        Game 3 3-0 – Giants handily won
        Game 4 6-5 – Giants won in bottom of the 9th, could easily have gone the other way.
        Game 5 4-2 – Phillies won by 2, scored most of their runs in one inning with a big miscue
        Game 6 3-2 – Giants won by 1, Phillies threatened throughout the game and easily could have scored with a hit at the right time.

        Just saying, Games 1, 4, 5, and 6 could easily have gone either way.

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      • Crumpled Stiltskin says:

        Sure, it is enticing to think that this series was decided on the field, but in reality it was decided in the off-season when the Phillies jettisoned Cliff Lee in favor signing Ryan Howard for $25 mil a year.

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  3. DrBGiantsfan says:

    The Giants had a superior pitching staff from top to bottom, plain and simple. What everybody is missing here is how the Giants pitching staff has performed since the first of September. This is just a continuation of that. Yeah, the Phillies have a superior lineup to the Giants, but the Giants superiority in pitching was enought to overcome that. You replay this series with the same teams at the same time and the Giants win the majority. The difference? Pitching, pitching and more pitching. Oh yeah, and Bruce Bochy ran circles around Charlie Manuel, outmanaged him from here to Philly and back. But of course, managers don’t make any difference because you can’t measure their impact.

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    • bflaff says:

      No one from Vegas agreed with your assessments, since the Giants were -260 dogs before the NLCS started.

      Could have made some good money there, knowing as much as you do.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        I’m not a betting man, but it would have been easy pickings. It really wasn’t hard to figure out. Everybody was dazzled by the Phillies top 3 starters completely ignoring that Lincecum/Cain/Sanchez aren’t exactly chopped liver and Bumgarner was a clear advantage over Blanton. On top of that, everybody completely forgot about the bullpens where the Giants had an enormous advantage. All they had to to do, really, is keep the games close and turn it into a battle of managers and a battle of attrition. Bruce Bochy>>>Charlie Manuel. Giants bullpen>>>>>>Phillies.

        There was a pre-series analysis on this site looking at Season long xFIP’s of the top 3 starters. I said then, it doesn’t matter what the season numbers are, what counts in the post-season is who is hot at the end of the season. Over the last month to 6 weeks of the season, the Giants had one of the hottest pitching staffs in the entire history of baseball and it’s carried over into the postseason.

        Pitching is, always has been and always will be 70% of the game. Superior pitching will almost always beat superior hitting. A pitching staff consists of 11 or 12 pitchers, not 3. That is why the Giants won!

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      • Crumpled Stiltskin says:

        That assessment just makes zero sense if you were actually watching the series. Charlie Manuel didn’t really make any big time mistakes. His bench sucks, you can’t exactly blame him for that. And the Phillies bullpen was really quite good.

        It was Halladay not showing up to the full extent of his powers that sort of doomed them, and you certainly wouldn’t want to bet on that. (And if Halladay is the typical Roy Halladay, the series is very different.)

        Bumgarner turned out to be no advantage over Blanton. Sanchez was sort of chopped liver, not even able to survive three innings.

        Or consider in game 6 where your a healthy Jimmy Rollins hamstring away from a tie game, for if he’s healthy, he doesn’t stop at third. Or what if Polanco’s error is called runner interference which it clearly was. (As it is was the other way the game before.)

        I mean I probably would have bet on San Francisco if I were a betting man, not because it was mostly luck. OVer a seven game series, it almost always is. And if it’s basically a 50-50 thing, then you should always go with the underdog.

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      • Kevin Yost says:

        Crumpledskiltson, Madison Bumagarner has a 3.16 FIP in the postseason. Youre saying 3.16 FIP is chopped liver? Hahaha

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        Crumpled Stitskin,

        I watched every inning of the series. I stand by my analysis.

        Dr B.

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      • James says:

        The main problem with your analysis is nothing in the analytical sports world says the Giants pitching excellence in September will carry over to October.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        Historically, teams that get hot at the end of the season are more likely to do well in the postseason. If the analytics don’t know that, then there is something they are missing.

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      • bflaff says:

        No one missed the fact that the Giants got hot and pitched well in September, but do you know which team was even hotter than that going into the playoffs? The Phillies. They overshadowed the Giants with the best MLB record in September, not to mention the best MLB record after August 1, and the best record in baseball overall.

        Anyway you slice it, no one missed anything by favoring the Phillies in a big way over the Giants. And if you made them play another best of 7 right now, the Giants would probably be underdogs all over again, even though they just demonstrated they could win against the Phillies. I hope you can accept that and still enjoy the run. The Giants won’t get the props to satisfy you until they do it again next year. Otherwise, it’s just another Rocktober, and we know how that ended.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        Again, pitching almost always trumps hitting. The Giants pitching in September was close to being the best in the entire history of baseball! Holding opponents to 3 runs or less in 21 straight game and something like 26 out of 27. I believe you have to go all the way back to the Philadelphia A in 1921 to find something better. That’s almost back to the dead ball era!

        THAT is what you and the so-called experts are missing here!

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        BTW, the Rangers look like a significantly stronger team than the Phillies, so they may well beat the Giants, but I predict the Giants pitching will keep it close thus giving them a better chance to win than a lot of people are giving them credit for, even now.

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      • Eno Sarris says:

        DrB, the numbers don’t really support your beliefs. A quick google search, and the first hit provided this link, which though it’s a little old (2005), seems to break it down pretty well:

        ESPN.com Page 2 Writeup about Winning in the Postseason

        some quotes:
        Pitching wins: “The numbers (Examining 20 World Series teams since 1995, the first season the playoffs included wild-card teams)
        Ranked in regular season as top team in AL or NL in ERA: 4
        Ranked in regular-season top-three teams in league in ERA: 15

        Ranked in regular season as top run-scoring team in AL or NL: 4
        Ranked in regular-season top-three teams in league in scoring: 9″

        Being Hot: “Theory popularized by: People who believe in momentum in baseball and tooth fairies.

        The numbers (Examining all playoff teams since 1995)

        We looked at the records of all playoff teams for the final month of the season (September or September/October).

        The 20 teams that advanced to the World Series played .578 ball the final month — a drop of just .003 percentage points from their overall regular-season winning percentage.

        The 60 playoff teams that failed to advance to the World Series played .619 ball in the final month — a .035 improvement over their overall winning percentage. ”

        Here’s one from 2010 just in case. I’ve read similar things more recently from other researchers, too.

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      • DrBGiantsfan says:

        Eno,

        The most likely explanation for those numbers is that often very good teams that clinch early may “coast” during that last month, rest regulars, give their ace an extra day off or two. That was not the case this year with the possible exception of Texas.

        Look, all I’m saying is if you wan’t to know why the Giants won, look no further than their pitching record over the last 6 weeks or so of the season and into the playoffs. It hasn’t just good, or even great. It has been HISTORICALLY great! Pretty much everybody ignored that while they were going gaga over the Phillies supposedly historically great top 3. I’m quite sure a lot of that was fueled by Halladay’s no-hitter. Talk about sample size and the unlikelihood of a repeat performance!!

        So, the Giants had a starting top 4 that was at least the equal of the Phillies top 4, plus, as several commenters have accurately noted, Charlie Manuel had an inferior bench and bullpen to call on. It really wasn’t all that hard to see this coming.

        Back to the Vegas odds. If the odds were even-steven, heck, I might have been inclined to bet on the Phills too, but just barely. With the Phils as heavy favorites, it’s a no brainer. You’ve got to put your money on the Giants!

        Same thing with the Rangers. Even money, I might bet on Texas, but if the Rangers are heavy favorites, I’d drop a dime or two on the Giants!

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      • sean says:

        drbgiantsfan, maybe you are missing what everyone is saying when you keep mentioning this “hot team” and “great september era by giants starters”. the phillies had BETTER numbers from their starters from septemeber. the phillies were the “hotter team” going into the playoffs, and they even rested their starters.

        also this “hot team” thing is a selection bias theory you got going. you are just picking the teams that support your argument and ignoring the ones that don’t.

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  4. Rich says:

    My condolences to Phillies fans…but I am sure the great dynasty of the 21st century will be realized next year with that powerful and unstoppable lineup. Wonder which aging outfielder you guys will give a 3-year deal to to replace Werth?

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  5. Joey says:

    Kevin Yost

    learn how to read. Crumpled Stiltskin called Sanchez chopped liver, not Madison Bumgarner.

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  6. Johann says:

    Oh, a wonderful piece of text! I have no clue how you were able to write this report..it’d take me long hours. Well worth it though, I’d assume. Have you considered selling ads on your blog?

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  7. I do enjoy the manner in which you have framed this issue and it does indeed provide me personally a lot of fodder for consideration. However, because of what precisely I have witnessed, I basically hope as other commentary stack on that individuals remain on issue and don’t embark on a soap box of the news of the day. Yet, thank you for this superb piece and whilst I can not concur with it in totality, I value your perspective.

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