Sunday, October 4, 2009

Division Series Preview Part 3: Phillies-Rockies

Now for post #3 of the division series preview. This match-up places the 2009 version of Rocktober versus the defending World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies.

Carlos Ruiz .255/.355/.425 103 OPS+
Chris Iannetta .230/.344/.463 105 OPS+

Not the strongest point of either team. The only thing really standing out about Ruiz is he hit a career-high in homers (9) this year.

Iannetta didn't have the greatest year but he has the greatest upside. Iannetta is one of many Rockies players that has recently helped them find ways to win games. Whether this happens in the playoffs is yet to be seen, but I like his chances over Ruiz.

Advantage: Rockies

First Base
Ryan Howard .279/.360/.571 139 OPS+
Todd Helton .325/.416/.489 132 OPS+

Ryan Howard might strike out too much but since he also led the NL in RBIs his strikeouts are not a big deal.

Todd Helton is holding down first base in Rocktober. While he isn't the same hitter he was during his peak, he's still a great hitter and an asset to this squad. Still, Ryan Howard has established himself as one of elite first baseman today and he gets the nod here.

Advantage: Phillies

Second Base
Chase Utley .282/.397/.508 135 OPS+
Clint Barmes .245/.294/.440 86 OPS+

Chase Utley is one of the best second baseman in baseball today period. Also, for what its worth he's led the league in getting hit by pitches for 3 years in a row.

Clint Barmes may have made a clutch catch against St. Louis last Sunday (or at least that's how it got counted) but i'm not quite sold on him. While he has pop in his bat, he is portrayed as a better hitter than he actually is. Clint Barmes Fun Fact: He has yet to have a season where he has even been a league average hitter (his career high OPS+ is 99)

Advantage: Phillies

Jimmy Rollins .250/.296/.423 85 OPS+
Troy Tulowitzki .297/.377/.552 135 OPS+

J-Roll has definitely had better years. He is a much more talented player than his 2009 stats indicate. The last time these teams faced off in the NLDS, Rollins won an MVP...this year he had his least productive season at the plate since 2002.

Troy Tulowitzki is a rising star in this league and he showed why in 2009. He bounced back big time from a sub-par 2008 and season and barring injury, he could be one of the best shortstops of this generation

Advantage: Rockies

Third Base:
Pedro Feliz .266/.309/.387 80 OPS+
Ian Stewart .228/.322/.466 100 OPS+

Pedro Feliz seems like a pretty good major league hitter....well unless you've never looked up his career stats. Feliz has filled the Clint Barmes role of being capable of going yard 20 times a year and still being a below average hitter.

Ian Stewart may be lacking in the batting average area but makes up for having more power. He's still 24 and getting better. He has the potential to be a star but he isn't quite there yet. However, he's at least better than Feliz and he has the edge here.

Advantage: Rockies

Left Field
Raul Ibanez .273/.348/.553 131 OPS+
Seth Smith .293/.380/.511 126 OPS+

When Raul Ibanez wasn't missing time due to injury and accusing all bloggers of living in their mom's basement he was crushing the ball and proving he was worth the contract that he signed.

2009 was the first chance for Seth Smith has gotten significant playing time and hes made the most of it. He may become a better player than Ibanez at some point but that time isn't now.

Advantage Phillies

Center Field
Shane Victorino .291/.357/.444 108 OPS+
Dexter Fowler .263/.362/.401 96 OPS+

Shane Victorino is a good player but overrated. He has proven to play well in the off-season (his grand slam off of C.C. Sabathia last year is still fresh in my memory).....but being voted in the All-Star game over Pablo Sandoval is a pretty good argument against letting fans vote for the All-Star team.

Dexter Fowler is another player who got his first shot at significant playing time in 2009. He has speed, a good eye and lots of potential....but he's running into too many outs by getting caught stealing and his 2009 numbers are too "scrappy" for my comfort. I'm not the biggest Victorino fan but he gets the edge here.

Advantage: Phillies

Right Field
Jayson Werth .268/.373/.508 127 OPS+
Brad Hawpe .283/.382/.511 127 OPS+

Jayson Werth has revived his career since coming to Philly and this as culminated in his career-year where he went yard 36 times and become an All-Star for the first time.

Brad Hawpe has put in another productive year at right field for the Rockies. He's a player that can be penciled in to hit around .280 hit 20-25 homers and hit 20% above league average.

This match-up is too close to call so past post-season performance is used as a tie-breaker. Werth (.292/.386/.597) gets the nod over Hawpe (.282/.404/.410).

Advantage: Phillies

Starting Rotation
Ubaldo Jiminez
Jason Marquis
Jorge de la Rosa
Jason Hammel


Cliff Lee
Cole Hamels
Joe Blanton
Pedro Martinez/J.A. Happ

For the Rockies, Ubaldo Jiminez has moved deeper into ace-status territory this year. I'm not quite sold on the rest of the rotation as Marquis is decent but there are better #2 pitchers and no matter what Jorge de la Rosa does, to me he's still the pitcher who posted a WHIP of almost 2 when he pitched for the Brewers....he's about reached his peak.

The Phillies have a strong rotation. Cliff Lee has been an impact player in Philly and been the ex-Indians pitcher to help a NL playoff contender this year. Hamels has had a down season but he has proven to be clutch in October. Joe Blanton has put in a solid but not spectacular season as the #3 Hamels, he also has been a proven commodity in the post-season. And how could I discuss the rotation without discussing Pedro Martinez. He is the wild-card in this equation. He may not be as dominant as he was 10 years ago and he may have struggled in his last couple starts. However, he has been through the post-season many times and knows what it takes to win in October. If the Phils get their backs against the wall and need a clutch start..Pedro would be a very good choice to make that start.

Advantage: Phillies

If the game is on the line, these pitchers are likely to appear
Brad Lidge/Ryan Madson
Chad Durbin
Clay Condrey


Huston Street
Matt Daley
Franklin Morales

The Phillies may need their pitchers to go the distance a couple times because their bullpen is not amongst their strengths. Regardless of whether they keep Madson in the closers role or if Lidge gets his 5th second chance to get things right, the bullpen situation leaves a lot to be desired.

For the Rockies, closing out games is not as tenuous as Huston Street has been one of the best closers this year.

Advantage: Rockies

X Factor:
The Phillies are the defending World Champs until they get knocked out. They have a chance of winning two years in a row and making a case for being a dynasty. They have the post-season experience as this is their 3rd straight playoff experience.

The Rockies are attempting to replicate their '07 miracle run in Rocktober II: Tracy's Redemption. This team was left for dead/written off a couple months into the season. They fire Clint Hurdle when they are 18-28 and in last place, they hire Jim Tracy who had gotten fired from two managerial jobs in the last five years ('05 in L.A. '07 in Pittsburgh). What happens when a manager on his last chance inherits a team going nowhere.....they start winning games left and right...nearly take over the NL West and get back to the playoffs. Over/Under on a when a movie loosely based on this years Rockies gets made: 3.5 years.

Advantage: Rockies
Final Tally: Phillies 6 Rockies 5

The Rockies may be the hotter team but the Phillies are the better team overall. As long as Charlie Manuel is smart enough to not bring in Brad Lidge with the game on the line, we're getting a rematch of last year's NLCS.

Prediction: Phillies in 5


  1. If you google "General Tian horses" you'll find the story of man who needed to win 2 out of 3 horse races. To increase his odds of winning, he put his worst horse against his opponent's best horse, his best horse against the other guy's medium horse, and then his medium horse against the other guy's worst horse. When you do the math, this IS the statistically best way to win the series, increasing your odds up to a few percentage points.

    Hasn't anyone ever tried to apply this to a baseball playoff series? Instead of losing three games 1-0, 3-2, and 5-4, you could win 2-1 and 4-3 while losing the first game 0-5. Anyone facing C.C. Sabathia must try this!

    Props to my wife for the idea.

  2. A Most Excellent idea. Since whoever faces C.C. Sabathia and the Yankees will be an 86-win Minnesota or Detroit team. They are going to need every edge they can get. Or they could stay the course and hope the Sabathia with a 7.92 career playoff era shows up instead of the regular-season Sabathia...then after that beating Burnett and Joba should be a cakewalk