2009 World Series

Pitch account

Here’s the number of runs allowed by the Phils and Yankees for 2009 and how that compares with the other teams in the leagues they played in and with all 30 MLB teams combined:

  Runs allowed RA/G League
Rank
MLB Rank
NYY 753 4.65 6 14
PHI 709 4.38 6 7

Neither the Phillies or the Yankees were exceptionally good at preventing runs. Five of the 14 AL teams allowed fewer runs than the Yankees and five of the 16 teams in the NL allowed fewer runs than the Phillies.

By OPS, both teams fared better against left-handed hitters than right-handed hitters:

  R OPS against League MLB L OPS against League MLB
NYY .742 6 15 .724 1 3
PHI .769 12 23 .735 4 7

By OPS against by opposing batters, the Yankees were better against left-handed batters than every team in the AL and also better than every team in the NL except for the Dodgers and Giants. Left-handed batters didn’t do a lot against lefty CC Sabathia — they hit just 198/250/310 against him for the season. They fared better against his left-handed rotation-mate Andy Pettitte. Lefties hit 282/321/409 against Pettitte. The New York bullpen had a lot of luck against left-handed batters. Righties Mariano Rivera and Alfredo Aceves were both very good against lefties. They hit 182/328/273 against Rivera and 212/255/305 against Aceves. Lefties also didn’t do much against lefty relievers Phil Coke and Damaso Marte. They hit just 195/218/366 against Coke. Marte missed about a hundred games this season and faced just 28 left-handed batters. The 28 he did face, though, went 3-for-25 with two walks (120/214/280).

Coke did give up a bunch of home runs, though, ten for the year in just 60 innings. Lefties can hit under .200 against them all they want, but I refuse to fear Coke and Marte in this series. If you’re new to the Phillies, the middle of the Phillies order goes Utley-Howard-Werth-Ibanez 3-4-5-6, which is three good left-handed hitters split up by Werth, who was among the best hitters in baseball this season against left-handed pitching. Among the 132 players in the leagues combined who got at least 150 plate appearances against lefties, Werth’s 1.080 OPS was third best.

The Phillies pitchers, meanwhile, weren’t good at all against right-handed hitting while A-Rod, Teixeira and Posada all hammered righties.

Pitching in the National League, the starters for the Phillies pitched to a better ERA and ratio than the Yankees starters:

 
Starters
  ERA League MLB Ratio League MLB
NYY 4.48 5 13 1.41 5 19
PHI 4.29 7 9 1.34 6 8

For NL teams for the season, the average ERA was 4.30 and the average ratio was 1.37. So the Phils starters had an ERA that was almost the same as the starting pitchers in their league and a ratio that was a little better.

For AL teams for the season, the average ERA was 4.62 and the average ratio was 1.41. So the ERA for the Yankees starting pitchers was better than the league average while their ratio was about the same.

Neither team has outstanding pitching. Sabathia was clearly the best starter for the Yankees on the season and he went 19-8 with a 3.37 ERA and a 1.15 ratio. Cliff Lee went 14-13 between the Phillies and Indians, throwing to a 3.22 ERA and a 1.24 ratio.

The Yankees’ bullpen was much better than the bullpen for the Phillies:

 
Relievers
  ERA League MLB Ratio League MLB
NYY 3.91 5 13 1.25 1 1
PHI 3.91 9 14 1.38 8 15

Yankees’ relievers allowed 7.78 hits per nine innings. Of the 30 teams in MLB, that rate was second-best. They also walked just 3.48 batters per nine, which was third-best of 30. What they did do was give up a whole lot of home runs. They allowed 72 in 515 innings, which is 1.26 homers per nine or 30th of the 30 MLB teams for relief pitchers.

A big part of the problem for the Yankees this year in the bullpen home run department was that Sergio Mitre, Brett Tomko, Jonathan Albaladejo, Edwar Ramirez, Jose Veras, Michael Dunn and Anthony Claggett combined to allow 27 homers in 117 innings. You don’t want to be holding your breath waiting to see those guys in this series. Chances are good you could see Phil Coke, Chad Gaudin and Damaso Marte, though — those guys combined to allow 16 home runs in 84 1/3 innings in relief.

Among the guys who look likely to be pitching out of the pen for the Yankees, Aceves (1.00), Coke (1.50), Gaudin (2.45) and Marte (2.03) all allowed at least one home run per nine innings while pitching in relief this season.

The Philadelphia pen, meanwhile, was worse overall but gave up a lot more hits and walks but fewer homers. 8.36 hits per nine innings was eleventh-best among the 30 teams and 4.08 walks per nine was just 22nd-best. They did a better job of keeping the ball in the yard, though, giving up just 46 homers in 492 relief innings for a rate of 0.84 per nine innings that was ninth-best among teams in either league.

Pedro will start game two for the Phillies with Hamels starting game three. The linked article also mentions the possibility that Lee will pitch game four. Hope that works, but I would have liked to have seen the Phillies go with a four-man rotation that went Lee, Blanton, Martinez, Hamels. This way does allow Blanton to pitch out of the pen and the Phils could sure use some help in the pen. If he doesn’t pitch in relief he could start game four. I would much rather they just put their relievers like Condrey or Walker on the roster and let the starters start, though. Happ makes a lot more sense out of the pen to me than Blanton.

This suggests that Bastardo and Myers could be on the roster for the World Series. Myers makes more sense to me than Bastardo to be the third lefty in the pen.


The best offense that money can rent

The Yankees can hit. The Phillies can hit too, but there’s little question that the Bronx Bombers were the better offense of the two this year and the best-hitting team in baseball during the regular season.

Here’s the runs scored for the Phillies and Yankees for the season and how that ranked compared to the other teams in their leagues and in both leagues:

  Runs R/G League
Rank
MLB Rank
NYY 915 5.65 1 1
PHI 820 5.06 1 4

New York was one of three AL teams to score more runs than the Phillies this year, along with the Red Sox and Angels.

The American and National Leagues don’t play by the same rules, of course, and the more DH means more runs. While the Yankees and Phils led their respective leagues in runs scored, the Yankees outscored the average AL team by a little more than the Phillies outscored the average team in the NL. The average AL team scored 781 runs this year. New York scored 915, which is 117.2% of 781. The Phillies scored 820 runs compared to 718 for the average NL team. 820 is 114.2% of 718.

The Yankees have eight players who played regularly in 2009 (400 PA or more) with an OPS+ of 120 or better. Posada, Teixeira, Cano, Jeter, Rodriguez, Damon, Swisher and Matsui. The only player on their team with 400 of more plate appearances with an OPS+ for the season under 100 is Melky Cabrera (Cabrera hit 274/336/416 with an OPS+ of 97). The Phillies had four players with 400 plate appearances or more with an OPS+ of 120 or better — Howard, Utley, Ibanez and Werth. Their two least productive offensive players who played regularly, Rollins and Feliz, were both worse than Cabrera offensively. Rollins’ OPS+ for the year was 85 and Feliz’s was 80.

By OPS, the Yankees were the best-hitting team in baseball against both right and left-handed pitchers in ’09:

  OPS v R League MLB OPS v L League MLB
NYY .837 1 1 .846 1 1
PHI .779 2 5 .787 2 7

The Phillies were really good theirownselves. The Rockies were better against right-handed pitching by OPS and the Brewers were better against lefties. But the Phils were very good.

The Yankees were better than very good. They hit 282/360/476 against right-handed pitching. By OPS, the second-best team in baseball against right-handed pitching was the Red Sox and they hit 268/349/454. Among the 342 players in either league who got 150 plate appearances against righties, Rodriguez, Teixeira and Posada were all in the top 30 by OPS.

The margin was similar against lefties. New York hit 286/365/480 against lefties. Again Boston was second, this time with a 274/359/453 line. Jeter and Teixeira were in the top 30 by OPS of the 132 players with 150 plate appearances against lefties.

This article says that Raul Ibanez will continue to play despite a small muscle tear near his abdomen.

Todd Zolecki suggests that Hamels or Martinez will probably start game two. I am hoping for Blanton in game two.


Shift happens

I’m not sure you want to spend a whole lot of time looking for evidence from this season that the Phillies are better than the New York Yankees. The Yankees won 103 games in a league widely believed to have a higher level of play than the National League. Beyond that, even during their brilliant run of the past two seasons the Phillies have been pulverized by the AL in interleague play — after going 6-11 this year they are 10-23 in regular season action since the start of 2008.

I do think there’s a good case to be made for the Phillies in the World Series, however. The Phils are unique among the teams in either league in that the last time they lost a game they couldn’t afford to lose was in 2007. Just about everyone will roll their eyes when you say there’s something special about the Phillies and the way they shift into a higher gear for the playoffs. And with good reason. I would roll my eyes, too. It’s there, though. You can see it by watching them play. I can, at least. If you can’t, you can see it in the numbers. Over the past two years, the Phillies have simply been a better team in the post-season than they have in the regular season. They are 18-5 in 23 playoff games since the start of 2008.

Here’s how the runs the Phillies have scored and allowed over the past two years compare for the post-season and the regular season:

  G R RA R/G RA/G Diff
Post 23 119 75 5.17 3.26 1.91
Regular 324 1619 1389 5.00 4.29 0.71

Facing better teams, the Phillies have scored more runs per game and allowed a lot fewer.

The margin by which they are winning playoff games also has increased this year compared to 2008:

  G R/G RA/G Diff
’09 post-season 9 6.11 3.44 2.67
’08 post-season 14 4.57 3.14 1.43

The Phillies are on a tear with the bats. They’ve scored 55 runs in nine games. Their pitching hasn’t been as good as it was last year, but it’s been good and the offensive boost has been enough to get their difference between the average number of runs they’re scoring and allowing way up in 2009.

Runs allowed per game up or not, the Phillies are still pitching rather well this post-season. If you allowed 3.44 runs per game over a complete season you would give up about 557 runs. This year the Giants and the Dodgers were the best NL teams at preventing runs and they each allowed 611.

It may seem like the Phillies haven’t had the dominating pitching they had in the ’08 post-season this year. And they haven’t, in the bullpen especially. But the starting pitching has been a little better:

    ERA Ratio
2009 Starters 3.11 1.02
2009 Relievers 3.24 1.44
       
2008 Starters 3.70 1.19
2008 Relievers 1.79 1.21

If you’re looking for stuff to worry about you may want to go with hoping that Cliff Lee stays healthy and keeps pitching well. The Phillies have four great starts in their nine post-season games so far. Lee has made three of them and Pedro made the other. In those four games the Phillies starters allowed two earned runs in 31 1/3 innings. They allowed 16 hits and three walks, throwing to an 0.57 ERA and an 0.61 ratio. That will do some nifty things for your team numbers for starting pitchers.

In the other five starts, Phillies starters have thrown to a 6.46 ERA and a 1.56 ratio.

The bullpen hasn’t been the same in the playoffs in ’09 as it was in ’08. It was pretty spectacular in ’08, though. The relievers have kept their ERA down in the playoffs in ’09, but they have allowed a lot of base-runners. In 25 innings they’ve allowed 25 hits and 11 walks. Sure wish they would get that walk rate down, but it’s been bad all year and it might be bad all post-season, too. The Phillies bullpen walked about 4.08 batters per nine innings in the regular season and have walked about 3.96 batters per nine innings in the post-season.


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