Baseball season, “The Summer Game,” is a 162-game marathon that allows enough time for the law of averages to play out and sort the teams into an order by talent and a touch of luck. Although, even with luck, Branch Rickey was right: “Luck is the residue of design.”
Then, the game shifts gears and it abruptly becomes a 100-yard dash, where luck plays a much larger role in who wins and moves on to the World Series. Now we have the “one-and-done” Wild Card game, where luck, or one bad umpiring call, can outbalance talent and send a team with fewer “regular season” wins into the World Series mix.
If pitching is 80% of the game, the casual fan might expect that the team with the best pitching staff would win the World Series. But, there’s the catch: while a pitching staff will win more regular season games, the short series gives a huge advantage to the team with the best pair of starters. Managers can run their #1 and #2 pitchers out there twice in a 5 game series; consider an off day for rest and using the #3 starter to fill in, if needed.
FanGraphs has the stats to suggest an answer and the likely WS teams and winner.
Here are the top seven contender rotations in strikeout percentage:
Here are the top seven contender rotations in walk percentage:
Here are the top seven contender rotations in ground-ball percentage:
Here are the top seven contender rotations in FIP
* Fielding Independent Pitching [Ks, Ws, HRs]
“THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE…”
Listing each team by the areas it dominates, FanGraphs suggests:
Yes, the chart gives the Red Sox long odds to make it to the World Series, but, it only represents the Pitching part of the analysis; the Red Sox lead MLB in virtually every offensive category.
Yet, some teams WON the World Series with weak pitching [based on ERA]:
2006 Cards [Chris Carpenter, Jeff Suppan and Jason Isringhausen, then who?]
2008 Phillies [Moyer, Hammels and Brad Lidge, then who?]
Q: If Pitching is 80% of the game and the top two starters are more important in Post-season games, can the Red Sox mount enough offense to offset it?
A: Based on pitching stats alone, the FanGraphs charts suggest– NO.
Pirates/Tigers World Series with Detroit the winner.
But, could the powerful Sox offense generate enough runs to overcome weak starters in a short series?