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Recap: 2014 NLCS Game 1

October 12th, 2014 by Pip

Top Plays by WPA

  1. Travis Ishikawa singled, scoring Pablo Sandoval (-.098 WPA): Essentially an infield popup out of the reach of Matt Carpenter, who for some reason didn’t dive for the ball.
  2. Gregor Blanco reached on error to third, scoring Hunter Pence (-.097 WPA): Instead of the Cardinals exiting the second inning down 1-0, the second Giant run scored needlessly and cast a pall on the rest of the game.
  3. Brandon Belt singled, scoring Pablo Sandoval (-.081 WPA): Another softly-hit ball that found a landing spot, raising the Giants’ game BABIP to .250.

Top Players

  1. Madison Bumgarner: While the Cardinal ace failed to pitch like one, the Giant ace succeeded, mowing down the Cardinals like everyone expected Clayton Kershaw to, with seven strikeouts in 29 batters.
  2. Pablo Sandoval: Reached base four of five times and led the Giants with a .751 wOBA.
  3. Travis Ishikawa: The Giants’ left fielder knocked the biggest hit of the game and made a super running catch on which he left his feet in the fourth inning.

Telltale Stats

  • .167: Cardinals batting average on balls in play. With a line-drive percentage of 21.7%, their expected BABIP was more like .299.
  • 14: Outs recorded by Adam Wainwright. It was the second consecutive start in which the Cardinal ace failed to set down at least 15 batters.
  • 3: Plate appearances in the game by Cardinal pitchers (Adam Wainwright and Marco Gonales) and pinch hitters with a career wOBA of .270 (Tony Cruz). With all other bench options available to pinch hit as the potential tying run, Cruz was perhaps the worst choice.

Notes:

  • As it often has in the 2014 playoffs, St. Louis waited until the seventh inning for a high note. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, it was only from “God bless America” singer Generald Wilson.
  • Yes, Bumgarner technically appeared to balk. But Cardinal fans and Matheny diminish themselves by fussing over it. If you have to score a run via balk — and a ticky-tacky one at that — it’s a bit pathetic. Champions don’t hassle over niggling matters when they’re not keeping it close through their own actions. Ditto the “Bumpgarner” play on Wong at first. Embarrassing challenge.
  • The Cardinal defense, hitting and starting pitching were not sharp. When one team’s BABIP is .167 and the other .250, that’s more than enough to make the difference.
  • Bumgarner’s xFIP for the game was 3.70, nearly two points higher than Kershaw’s in Game 4 (1.75).
  • Sandoval doubled to right in his first at-bat on a pitch low and inside. His next at-bat? Same pitch, another hit. It may have been bad execution by Wainwright — he walked 13% of the batters he faced — but no pitch call should’ve allowed for such a miss in the first place.
  • Even with an extra batter on the bench for this round, the Cardinal bench looks awfully understaffed. We’d love to know why Peter Bourjos or even Pete Kozma or Daniel Descalso weren’t options. Too bad Carlos Beltran wasn’t available.
  • Matt Adams looked awful against the left-handed Bumgarner, making his home run off Kershaw look like a distant memory.
  • The Cardinal lineup featured four lefties, perhaps an overconfident response to the success against Kershaw.
  • Bumgarner’s consecutive scoreless road innings is nothing to sneeze at, but we can’t help thinking that it’s a byproduct of a statistically over saturated world, feeling as it does a bit contrived. Giving up runs at home is kind of an important thing to overlook. Why road runs only? It’s like saying a pitcher has a streak of consecutive scoreless odd-numbered innings.
  • Just when we thought Hunter Pence couldn’t get any stranger, he wears his pants hiked above his knees. Guess it’s to be expected from a guy who eats sub sandwiches sideways.

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NLDS Game 3 Preview by the Numbers

October 6th, 2014 by Pip
  • 1: Innings that Hyun-jin Ryu has pitched in the last month
  • 1: Number of switch hitters on the Cardinals’ roster (pitcher Pat Neshek).
  • .74: Difference between John Lackey’s regular-season FIP (3.89) and postseason FIP (3.15). He has indeed been better in the postseason than the regular season, but not by as much as his ERA would indicate. His FIP numbers are much more similar.
  • .101: Difference between the career batting average and career on-base percentage of Dodgers’ catcher A.J. Ellis ( .242 BA/.343 OBP). The 100-point difference is something that he has in common with 1982 Cardinals’ World Championship team catchers Darrell Porter (.247/.354) and Gene Tenace (.241/.388).
  • .867: Matt Carpenter’s win-probability added through the first two games of the series.
  • -0.056: Yasiel Puig’s WPA in the series.
  • .319: Cardinals wOBA vs. lefthanders in 2014. Last year, they hit .295.
  • 3.64: The Dodger bullpen’s FIP in 2014, 20th in MLB.
  • 3.61: The Cardinal bullpen’s FIP in 2014, 19th in MLB.
  • .361, .455: Current Cardinals’ on-base percentage and slugging, respectively, against Dan Haren, who would likely relieve Ryu, if the Korean southpaw doesn’t make it very deep in the game.