Tuesday, October 11, 2005

NLCS Preview: Starting Lineup

Cardinals vs. Astros (2005)

Here is what will likely be the regular lineup during this series, with Walker and Sanders likely flipped vs. Andy Pettitte.

Eckstein - .294/.368/.338, 707 OPS, 68 at-bats
Edmonds - .262/.324/.459, 783 OPS, 61 at-bats
Pujols - .302/.397/.524, 921 OPS, 63 at-bats
Walker - .340/.407/.553, 961 OPS, 47 at-bats
Sanders - .429/.529/1.179, 1708 OPS, 28 at-bats
Grudzielanek - .246/.246/.377, 623 OPS, 69 at-bats
Nunez - .200/.226/.200, 426 OPS, 30 at-bats
Molina - .245/.260/.367, 627 OPS, 49 at-bats

What you see there is a tail of two lineups. The first 5 have given the Astros fits this year, with the exception of Edmonds, who can't exactly be pitched around. You especially have to like the line sported by Sanders, who's entering this series with 1 or more RBI's in each of his last 9 games. (While I know that RBI's are a team dependant stat, that's still a nice trend.)

Once you get past Sanders, the bottom 4 (including the pitcher) have been automatic outs against Houston this year. (Other than Marquis and his .500/.538/.917 line over 12 at-bats, of course.) With that being said, if the top 5 hit anything close to the lines shown above, the bottom 4 will just be needed to provide solid defense and pitching. Everything else will be gravy.

Let me just say - a healthy Rolen in the lineup and on the field sure would be nice right about now.

No one on the Cardinal bench had any real success against Houston this year other than Einar Diaz (2 for 5 with a home run) and John Gall (1 for 1).

Astros vs. Cardinals (2005)

Biggio - .217/.269/.350, 619 OPS, 60 at-bats
Tavarez - .299/.319/.313, 632 OPS, 67 at-bats
Berkman - .263/.378/.605, 983 OPS, 38 at-bats
Ensberg - .339/.369/.629, 998 OPS, 62 at-bats
Lamb - .233/.273/.433, 706 OPS, 30 at-bats
Lane - .327/.375/.519, 894 OPS, 52 at-bats
Everett - .258/.288/.323, 610 OPS, 62 at-bats
Ausmus - .222/.300/.289, 589 OPS, 45 at-bats

Not quite as fearsome as the 2004 NLCS lineup with Beltran, Kent, and Bagwell, is it?

While the Cardinals offense vs. Houston is top heavy, the Astro offense vs. St. Louis is middle heavy. Based on these numbers, the Cardinals basically need to make sure that Berkman, Ensberg, and Lane don't beat them. Everyone else can be gotten to. Which, really, isn't a big surprise.

The best pinch hitting options for the Astros (based, once again, on head to head stats) are Raul Chavez (3 for 8) and Jeff Bagwell (4 for 16).

Here are how the lines match up if you look at the entirety of both teams head to head.

Astros - .250/.306/.378, 684 OPS
Cards - .265/.321/.428, 749 OPS

Yes, the Cardinals get on base more, but extra bases are the real difference seen.

The Cardinals clearly have an advantage in this series with the bats. The famous "they" always tout the mantra "good pitching beats good hitting." We'll see if it holds true.

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