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:



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]





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?]

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?






Next Red Sox Game View full schedule »
Saturday, Aug 2323 Aug1:35Seattle MarinersBuy Tickets

Tags: FANGRAPHS Post-Season World Series

  • Rick M.

    Things get squeezed in the playoffs with pitching. Can really condense your staff and remove the flotsam. I look at TB and Detroit and both have two guys who scare the be-jabbers out of me. Sox have none unless Buchholz gets John Henry to fly him to Lourdes for a dip and a cure. The A;s seem to be a nightmare for Boston. Texas always torments us.

    I really like Price and Moore despite the passive offense that TB has. They are a 100% I’d hope someone else takes them on since IMO they will just shut down the Sox – maybe.

    I’m going out on the prediction limb and will say Buchholz will be back in form by the end of September and Peavy will do the job. But, remember, this is from a guy who said World Com was a great buy.