The Weighted Crapshoot Begins


Rays vs. Rangers

The Rangers finally got back to the playoffs, and the Rays proved 2008 wasn’t a fluke. Both teams have rebuilt their teams from the ground up, but the Rays walk in with 6 more wins on the year. Pitching-wise, the two teams are separated by .05 in FIP. Cliff Lee is clearly better than any Rays pitcher (yes even over David Price), and you might be predisposed to like the Rays’ depth a bit more. But despite the worrisome innings increase for Colby Lewis and CJ Wilson, they are more than a half-run better in FIP than James Shields, Matt Garza, Jeff Niemann, or Wade Davis. Offensively, the Rangers hold a .004 lead in wOBA, but is Josh Hamilton, owner of a .448 wOBA, healthy and productive? If not, the Rangers will have a lot more work to do. Defensively, the Rays are above-and-beyond the best team defensively, but the Rangers aren’t bad. But the Rays’ awesome defense makes me think they can prevent runs much better than the Rangers. But I’ll take the Rangers in 4 (Lee wins twice).

Outcome: Rangers 3-1

Giants vs. Braves

I really didn’t expect the Giants to be here. I didn’t like their offense or defense, and I thought the Padres would recoup from a rough patch in late August/early September. But they didn’t, and the Giants allowed a whole 60 runs in September. Meanwhile, the Braves coughed up their division lead and seemingly tried their best to sabotage Bobby Cox’s sendoff. But everything is reset, and the Braves lead the NL with a 3.64 FIP. The Giants are third but 11 points back, but they have a better 1-2 in Lincecum and Cain than the Braves do in Hanson and Lowe/Hudson and have a fourth starter that the Braves won’t have without Jurrjens. Offensively, the two teams are probably better than you’d expect with the Braves 5th in wOBA and the Giants 9th, but the Braves are without Chipper Jones and Martin Prado, making them much worse offensively. Defensively, the Giants surprisingly sit second while the Braves not surprisingly sit 2nd to last. The Giants have improved while the Braves have gotten worse. The Giants should make short work of the Braves.

Outcome: Giants 3-0

Phillies vs. Reds

I have a hard time imagining the Phillies losing this series. But I will mention that the Reds lead the Phillies in FIP, wOBA, and UZR/150. Yep. I was surprised, too. But I’ll also mention that the Phillies lost nearly their entire lineup at one time or another for about two weeks during the season, they didn’t have Roy Oswalt for four months, and the lineup problems had negative effects on their defense as well. The Phillies are just the better team, but the Reds deserve a lot more credit than they’ll get. So in order to give them that credit, they’ll take one game from Philly. Hey, I would have had the Phillies sweep the other two teams.

Outcome: Phillies 3-1

Again, the playoffs are a weighted crapshoot. Anything could happen, but the better teams do have better odds of winning. I tend to favor starting pitching once the playoffs come around because the best starters pitch more frequently during the playoffs than during the regular season, but as I said, this is kind of a crapshoot. And this post is supposed to ignite some discussion. Who do you think will win? I won’t criticize your bad picks if you don’t criticize mine. :)

10 thoughts on “The Weighted Crapshoot Begins

  1. Just a note – I'm pretty sure Ron Washington confirmed that Cliff Lee isn't starting Game 4, especially if the Rangers go into it with a 2-1 series lead.

  2. Liriano is better than CC? Wow, did you outsource this column to Minn?

    This is the playoffs! You must be superstitious.

    Yankees in 4 brah.

  3. I've enjoyed this guys contributions to the blog but that's a weak, weak post.


    The playoffs determine the CHAMPION.  Note:  the "champion" is not always the best team.  Quite often it's not the best team, but that is true in any sport.


    I don't think the Saints were the best team in football last year, but they're the defending champs.

  4. John, ERAs and Ws are misleading. Look at everything else. Liriano is better. But I could see Yankees in 4. I could also see Twins in 3. That’s the fun of it.
    Patrick, you’re absolutely right. I don’t know why they won’t start him in Game 4, but he is not pitching that game. My mistake.
    Brian, my argument about the playoffs is part of that first hyperlink at the beginning of the post. I didn’t want to rehash it again, so I didn’t explain it very much or well. Anyway, champions are the people who win the playoffs, but usually, people also correlate that with the best team. If people understood champion to mean “winner of playoffs”, I’d agree, but people understand it to be “best team that season”, which can be false.

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  6. Yeah, I'm not seeing the "Liriano is better than CC" stuff. CC has a better WHIP and a lower BA against to go along with his better ERA and more innings. Liriano has more strikeouts and allowed fewer HRs but I can't see how you can say Liriano was better in 2010 and keep a straight face.

  7. Liriano has 2 more K/9 and gets more ground balls. The additional Ks is a pretty big difference. As for the lower WHIP and BAA, it's a by-product of CC's BABIP of .285 vs. Liriano's .340. There's nothing out of the ordinary about CC's BABIP (it is a little low), but Liriano's is way above normal, skewing his ERA.


    Now, about 2010 in general, I might actually argue that CC was worth more than Liriano, but that's because of the 40 inning difference between the two pitchers. If I have to take one of the two pitchers for one game, Liriano with his additional Ks and ground balls is my guy, even if CC pitches an extra inning (the one extra inning won't make that big of a difference, especially considering depth of Twins' bullpens, and Liriano was taken out of games earlier because of his recent TJ surgery, meaning the team artificially capped his innings).

  8. We're talkin bout playoffs, you'd really take Liriano and his 1 career game as playoff experience over CC?

    CC's regular season stats are almost identical to last season's. To me that means he's just as good I think it's a safer bet to believe that he'll step it up for the playoffs just like last season. The guy is a big game pitcher, remember how he and the Yankees won a World Series last season? Where was Franc, 3-15????

  9. Yeah, I would. Would you take someone over Halladay because he has zero playoff experience? Liriano has enough game experience to know how to handle some extra adrenaline.


    As for CC and his postseason "stepping up" ability, Alex Rodriguez had a nice 2004 followed by an excellent postseason. He was even better the next season but struggled in the 2005 postseason. How do you explain that? Was he a "big game" player one season and not the next? In regard to CC specifically, he was awful his first two turns through the postseason before "stepping up" last season. At this point, history probably suggests he's not so "big game" or has since learned to step up. If the latter is the case, how did A-Rod lose it?