NLDS Review: Los Angeles Dodgers

Well, that was easy. The Dodgers rolled through the Cardinals in the minimum three games and now face the Philadelphia Phillies for the NL Pennant in a rematch of last year’s National League Championship Series.

How did the Dodgers so easily defeat St. Louis? Clearly they must have wanted it more. Or perhaps have been seething for revenge ever since their defeat to the same club back in the 2004 NLDS. Except that was an almost completely different Cardinals team. And a nearly completely different Dodgers team for that matter as well.

The truth is, and this applies to pretty much all individual playoff series, even the seven-game variety, is that there’s no significant reason why one team triumphed. It’s way too small of a sample. Were the Dodgers the better team? Probably. It’s not a surprise that they won, but they also won the first two games by a combined three runs. Game Two was solidly in the Cardinals’ hands until Ryan Franklin, yes Franklin, not Matt Holliday, blew the lead. This was not as much of a thrashing as the 3-0 result by wins might have you believe.

The Dodgers didn’t shut down Albert Pujols or Matt Holliday. No, they won because Andre Ethier had a great series, Ryan Franklin allowed two walks, two fly balls and two line drives to the six batters he faced with a one-run lead and because Vicente Padilla of all people delivered a great start.

Unfortunately, and this can be the downfall of such strict statistical rigor, there’s not much drama in that explanation.




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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.

15 Responses to “NLDS Review: Los Angeles Dodgers”

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  1. Doug Melvin says:

    “Game two was solidly in the Cardinals’ hands until Ryan Franklin, yes Franklin, not Matt Holliday, blew the lead.”

    Query: Many in this community are of the opinion with regards to closers and their value that ‘you first have to get the lead before you can worry about protecting it.’ I’m curious how one can have that view and reconcile it with placing blame on Franklin.

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    • walkoffblast says:

      Maybe Boras paid them off to write that.

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    • Bubba says:

      What do you mean? The Cards did have the lead, so they had to worry about protecting it. And they didn’t.

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      • Doug Melvin says:

        Franklin did protect it. He induced the last out. This isn’t a ‘which came first: chicken or egg’ type of deal. The error, with two outs, came first.

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      • Bubba says:

        Holliday put a man on 1st base with 2 outs. A situation in which the Cardinals still have a gigantic advantage. Then Frankiln walked someone, allowed a single, walked another person and allowed another single.

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      • walkoffblast says:

        I think we all read dave’s article on this but it seems like many misconstrued its meaning such as the author here. His correct point was what he wrote in the last line “Matt Holliday didn’t lose the game for the Cardinals – it was a team effort.” To attempt to pin that loss on a singular person or an isolated series of a couple of events is an exercise in futility

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    • SMS_Mike says:

      My two cents: Because defensive mistakes happen, and Franklin is paid to get people out. Holliday’s error did not lose the game for the Cardinals by itself.

      Franklin couldn’t put Blake away (walking him), then hung a curve ball to Belliard that turned into the single that tied the game, then walked Martin on 4 pitches. The ball Loretta fisted into CF? Well, them’s the breaks.

      But Franklin faced 2 hitters after the error with the lead and couldn’t retire either. Then he faced 2 hitters with the game tied and a chance to get to extra innings and couldn’t retire either as well. I agree with the author.

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    • Travis L says:

      I don’t think many in this community are of the opinion that “you first have to get the lead before you can worry about protecting it.” That’s a bit too pithy; plus, it’s self-evident.

      I think most people evaluate “closer” value by saying that your best reliever should pitch in your highest leverage situation, and his value is determined by how well he does. Leverage is dependent on the score to a good extent, but I still fail to see how you can defend that characterization of the FG readership.

      And, finally, if one did have that view, it still fits in fine with blaming Franklin for the Cards’ loss. They had the lead, so they could worry about protecting it. Still had it after Holliday’s error. So they worried about it. Franklin didn’t keep the lead. His value is lower. QED.

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    • chuckb says:

      Perhaps b/c the Cards DID have the lead? That’s how I would reconcile it, but I’m funny that way.

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  2. djp says:

    How bout we scrap the first two rounds, up the sample size and go straight to a best of 19-game World Series? Best record from each league gets in. Seriously, let’s do it Selig!

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    • neuter_your_dogma says:

      Or better yet, select the WS participants based on Pythagorean expectation, toss those teams’ stats into a computer, and let the computer decide the most likely outcome from 1 billion simulated games.

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    • Travis L says:

      What I would like to see, actually, is some formal (and in the press) recognition of each league’s best records each year. Perhaps an award to the manager or owner of the team?

      I say this only because I think the best-record team each year gets little recognition for doing what they’ve done. If you think about it, even if the Yanks’ don’t win the WS, they still should be widely acknowledged as having been the best in baseball this year.

      And that’s coming from a big time Yankee hater.

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  3. chuckb says:

    Well done. Really good article as it truly shows the randomness of a short series. Ethier and Padilla were great. Franklin stunk. (Carpenter and Pineiro stunk as well, though.)

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  4. Felipe702 says:

    Kudos, Matthew. It is so refreshing to finally have someone put that Game 2 loss on Franklin’s shoulders. Facing the bottom of the lineup and he can’t get one more out? Not even Mark Loretta, who was previously 0-15 against him? Matt Holliday kept the inning going, Franklin lost the game!

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