Can Sox get to World Series with #1 offense and weak pitching?

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.

Today the Red Sox are rated*  the 3rd best rotation in the AL behind the Tigers and the Rays; the Pirates are rated #1 in MLB.  These ratings are for the “regular season;” so, how would the ratings come out for the Post-season?

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:

Screenshot2013-08-10at12

 

Here are the top seven contender rotations in walk percentage:

Screenshot2013-08-10at12

Here are the top seven contender rotations in ground-ball percentage:

Screenshot2013-08-10at12

Here are the top seven contender rotations in FIP

* Fielding Independent Pitching [Ks, Ws, HRs]

 

Screenshot2013-08-10at12

 

“THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE…”

Listing each team by the areas it dominates, FanGraphs suggests:

Screenshot2013-08-10at1

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?]

1987 Twins  [Frank Viola, Bert Blyleven and Jeff Reardon, then who?]

1976 Reds [Gary Nolan, Pat Zachry, Fred Norman, Jack Billingham, Santo Alcala, Don Gullett, and Rawly Eastwick]  Not a bad roster, but their ERA put them at #3

Dishonorable mention:

2008 Phillies [Moyer, Hammels and Brad Lidge, then who?]

1982 Cardinals [Joaquín Andújar, Bob Forsch and Bobby Shantz, 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?

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 *http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1733194-which-mlb-rotation-is-built-best-to-dominate-a-short-playoff-series
http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-pittsburgh-pirates-arent-regressing/

 

 

 

Tags: FANGRAPHS Post-Season World Series

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