As both the National League and American League Championship Series build to their climactic conclusions, it’s time to take stock of just how things are shaping up. Who’s hot a who’s not. At the very most we have only 9 more games of baseball left to play, potentially extending all the way to Halloween night when one team will decidedly get an unwanted trick while another gets the ultimate treat.
One can make the argument that the numbers don’t mean that much in the playoffs because of the small sample size. But isn’t that what the playoffs are all about; getting hot at just the right time and becoming a legend of the fall? Goats in the Division Championship Series become rock stars in the LCS - see case in point Mike Napoli, who ranked 42nd out of 49 hitters in the LDS with an anemic .154 average while striking out four times in a short series only to bat .375 behind first place Victor Martinez‘ .389 in the LCS.
Thursday night Napoli mashed a monster homer, doubled, singled and – dare I say it – was a terror on the base paths, scoring a run on a wild pitch after making some very smart base running moves to get himself to third base. When talent and serendipity conspire, magic happens.
Overall pitching once again is king. Nearly 42 percent of position players, 12 of the 29 players who have qualified for stats in the League Championship Series, are batting below the Mendoza line. Boston’s high powered offense has been held in check by the Tigers with batters like David Ortiz (.105), Shane Victorino (.095) and Stephen Drew with a laughable .059 trailing all hitters in the LCS. In the face of numbers like this how can Boston be ahead in the series? What was that I said about pitching? John Lackey and Koji Uehara both have 0.oo ERAs. Relievers Junichi Tazawa and Craig Breslow have been equally stingy.
And then there’s the hit; Big Papi’s game 2 grand slam that changed the tide of the series with one swing. The Red Sox have had a few of those while the Tigers, with the exception of their game four outburst, have been equally offensively challenged. Prince Fielder, who the Tigers badly need the rise to the occasion at this point, is batting .211 with zero RBIs. This is not much of a change from his .235, one RBI performance in 2012. Prince, the natives are restless.
Who’s Hot and Who’s Not Stats (as of the beginning of the Dodger’s/Cardinals game Friday night).
Knowing what we know now, Clayton Kershaw will not remain atop the list of pitchers.
Who’s Hot – Hitters
Who’s Not – Hitters
Who’s Hot – Pitchers
Who’s Not Pitchers
ALDS Series Recap:
- Jon Lester gets an L after giving up a single run as five Tiger pitchers nearly no hit and shut out the Sox in game 1
- Koji Uehara gets the win in game two as the Sox come back from a 5-0 deficit late, capped by a David Ortiz grand slam in game 2
- Lackey matches Justin Verlander pitch for pitch as Boston returns the game 1 favor to the Tigers in a game 3 nail-biter by winning 1-0
- The Tigers come out swinging, knock the Sox and Clay Buchholz to the mat early in game 4 and cruise to a 7-3 win
- Lester and the bullpen combine to keep Detroit at bay by gutting out a game 5 4-3 win as Sanchez thuds back to earth