Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Cardinals vs Astros

Well, I wanted the Cards to face the Astros in the NLCS, and now I guess I'll be forced to live with my wish, one way or another. I like the way the Astros rotation is set up for this series. I like the chance the Cards have to "get even" with the only team to have a winning record against them this season. And, believe it or not, I like the match-ups. Here is a comparison of each team, position by position, using Win Shares Above Average, or WSAA. For more information on WSAA, see my previous post.

Catcher
Matheny -2
Ausmus -7

We all know that these two guys are among the best in the business defensively speaking, and that neither of them tend to hit. This year, however, Matheny has hurt his team less than Ausmus. Raul Chavez has gotten a start or two for the Astros at catcher so far in the playoffs, but he's not much better than Ausmus at -4.

1st Base
Pujols 21
Bagwell 5

Bagwell is near the end of a great career. While he's not what he used to be, he can still hurt a team.

2nd Base
Womack 2
Kent 8

This is one position in which the Cards don't match up well with the Astros. Kent, much like Bagwell, isn't quite what he used to be. But anytime you can get an 880 OPS out of 2nd base, along with 27 home runs (hitter's park or not), it's a good thing.

3rd Base
Rolen 21
Lamb 4

Even with Rolen hurt, the Cards should have an advantage at this position.

Left Field
Sanders 2
Biggio -1

Biggio's numbers still aren't bad - for a middle infielder. Unfortunately, he's a corner outfielder, where he's supposed to provide more run production.

Center Field
Edmonds 19
Beltran 7

This is a position at which I am not sure if WSAA is a good measure or not. As cardsfanboy pointed out to me on a message board, it may not be the greatest measure when considering players that have switched leagues (Beltran) or players that have been injured for portions of the season (Walker.) While WSAA does take playing time into consideration, someone with 600 plate appearances can have more WSAA than an equal player with only 100 PA's.

So, if you simply add the Win Shares that Beltran had at KC and Houston together, you probably get a better comparison. Beltran had 31 (25.5 with the bat, 6.1 with the glove) while Edmonds had 36 (29.5 with the bat, 6.5 with the glove.) Edmonds has a slight edge, but it's close.

Right Field
Walker 3
Berkman 13

Walker had 307 plate appearances this season, Berkman 671. If we adjust Walker's WSAA total to match Berkman's, Walker ends up with between 6 and 7 WSAA. Berkman is still more valuable using this metric, and by a sizeable margin.

Bench
Mabry 1
Taguchi 1
Cedeno 0

Lane 1
Palmeiro 0
Chavez -4

There are some other guys I could have plugged in on either bench, but the bottom line is that the Astro's bench is pretty shallow, while the Cardinals bench is unspectacular, but somewhat deep.

Rotation
Williams -1
Morris -3
Marquis 5
Suppan -2

Munro -3
Backe 2
Clemens 10
Oswalt 7

This is an area where the Astros have a great top of the rotation, with a less impressive back end. Of course, using WSAA, the Cardinals look much worse rotation wise. With that being said, I as a Cardinal fan will take Munro and Backe starting the first 2 games for the Astros. And it doesn't get better for the Astros if the series goes 6 or 7, as Clemens and Oswalt would be going on short rest in both games if it comes to that.

Closer
Isringhausen 4
Lidge 9

Once again, a no brainer. Izzy has been ok, while Lidge is among the best in the majors.

Bullpen
Tavarez 3
King 3
Kline 3
Calero 2

Miceli 2
Qualls 1
Springer 0
Gallo -1

I think the bullpen is going to be the difference in this series. Other than Lidge, the Astros only had 2 above average relievers in Miceli and Qualls. Miceli, the best set-up guy for Houston, would be the 5th best guy in the Cards bullpen.

What's more, even though they feature 4 right handed starters in their rotation, they have only 1 left handed reliever in Gallo. How is Gallo against lefties? Well....better than he is against righties.

vs Left - .286/.367/.518, 885 OPS
vs Right - .280/.358/.598, 955 OPS

Conclusion

The Cards and Astros match up pretty well from an offensive and defensive standpoint. The Cardinals have a large advantage at 1st and 3rd, although it's hard to know how much that edge at 3rd base is actually going to be considering Rolen's health. The Astros seem to have decent advantages at 2nd Base and Right Field.

The Rotation? Well, of course the Astros have the edge. Sort of. If the rotation holds as advertised this minute, it evens things up considerably.

Game 1 - Munro
Game 2 - Backe
Game 3 - Clemens
Game 4 - Oswalt
Game 5 - Backe (short rest) or Munro
Game 6 - Clemens (short rest)
Game 7 - Oswalt (short rest)

And, as mentioned yesterday and updated from last night, teams are 13-29 over the last 6 years in the playoffs using a starter on short rest. Bullpen wise, the Astros are similar to their rotation. A stud along with a bunch of also-rans.

Overall, the Astros are tough, and as we all know, anything can happen. I personally don't have anything against the Astros, and think it will be a fun series. They're the kind of team that, should the Cardinals lose, I wouldn't mind seeing going all the way. Their problem is that Clemens, Oswalt, and Lidge can't pitch every inning of every game.

I'm tempted to pick the Cardinals to win in 5 games, but that is probably a bit too optimistic. Therefore, I'll tone it down a bit and pick the Redbirds in 6.


0 Comments:

Post a Comment

<< Home