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.