The Phils are going to the post-season and will have home field advantage throughout. Beyond that, we know that the Reds have won their division and are in while the Braves, Giants and Padres battle for the two remaining NL spots. As of this morning the Giants lead the Padres by two games in the West and the Braves are a game and a half ahead of San Diego for the Wild Card.

So who should we be rooting for to come out on top?

Here’s how many runs per game the five teams have scored this season compared to the average for the league (not including last night):

Team R/G NL AVG R/G  
CIN 4.90 4.36 1.124
PHI 4.71 4.36 1.080
ATL 4.57 4.36 1.048
SF 4.34 4.36 0.995
SD 4.17 4.36 0.956

So, for example, the Reds have scored 4.90 runs per game this season. The average for NL teams is 4.36 runs per game. 4.90 over 4.36 is 1.124, which also means that the Reds have scored about 112.4% of the runs per game that the average NL team has scored this season.

Of the five teams, the Reds, Phils and Braves have all been better than average at scoring runs. The Giants and Padres have been worse than the average NL teams at scoring runs.

The average NL team has allowed 4.38 runs per game. Here’s how the numbers at preventing runs compare for the five teams (again, does not include last night):

Team RA/G NL AVG
RA/G
 
SD 3.63 4.38 0.829
SF 3.65 4.38 0.833
ATL 3.83 4.38 0.874
PHI 3.97 4.38 0.906
CIN 4.29 4.38 0.979

The chart is turned upside down for these numbers. The Padres have been the best of the five teams at preventing runs for the season, allowing about 82.9% of the runs per game that the average team in the NL has allowed.

If you combine the rates at which they have scored and prevented runs compared to the rest of the league, here’s how the results look:

Team Scoring
Runs
Preventing
Runs
Total
PHI 0.080 0.094 0.1739
ATL 0.048 0.126 0.1737
SF -0.005 0.167 0.1621
CIN 0.124 0.021 0.1444
SD -0.044 0.171 0.1277

Two big things I think you can take from that. The first is how slim the margin is between the Braves and the Phils at the top of the list. The second is that the Padres are just a lot worse than the other four teams on the list. One of the teams you should be rooting for to get into the playoffs is the Padres.

Who’s the other, though? From the numbers above it sure looks like we should all be Giants fans. But surely the injury-ravaged Braves aren’t the same team now that they’ve lost Chipper and Medlen and Prado, right?

Here’s what the five teams have done in September:

Team Record RS/G RA/G
PHI 20-6 5.19 3.58
ATL 12-14 3.35 3.81
SF 16-8 3.75 1.85
CIN 11-14 4.20 4.04
SD 11-15 3.00 4.19
       
Total for
Group
70-57 3.898 3.543

A couple of things you should take from that. The first is that the Phillies are playing very well, especially offensively. The Reds may have been better than the Phils at scoring runs overall for the season, but since the start of September the Phillies have scored almost a run per game more than Cincinnati has scored.

The other thing that you don’t want to miss is that the Giants are doing an amazing job at preventing runs. They’ve allowed 48 runs in their past 24 games and the Rockies beat them 10-9 on Saturday. So in the other 23 games they have allowed 38 runs, or 1.65 runs per game.

Here’s how the teams stack up if you compare the number of runs each team has scored and allowed this month to the other teams in the group (not the whole league) and then combine the numbers:

Team Scored Allowed Total
SF -0.04 0.48 0.44
PHI 0.33 -0.01 0.32
CIN 0.08 -0.14 -0.06
ATL -0.14 -0.08 -0.22
SD -0.23 -0.18 -0.41

The Giants pitching has been more dominant than the Phillies hitting, so San Francisco comes out on top on that list. I think there are two important things to come to terms with about the way the Giants have been pitching of late. The first is that if San Francisco allows 1.85 runs per game the rest of the way they’re going to win the World Series. There won’t be much for anyone else to do but watch. The second, though, is that that isn’t going to happen. In August, for example, the Giants allowed about 4.93 runs per game.

It does leave us with the question of who we’d like to see joining the Phils, Reds and Padres in the playoffs. If the Braves were at full strength I think it’s pretty much a no-brainer that you would prefer them to be watching the post-season. The Braves aren’t at full strength, though, and they haven’t been for a long time. The combination of the injuries to Atlanta and the remarkable job San Francisco has done preventing runs of late makes it very close.

On the plus side, it doesn’t matter a whole lot who you’re hoping for — the playoff teams from the NL look likely to be the Phils, Reds, Braves and Giants.

The Nats beat the Phils 2-1 last night. Oswalt pitched well, allowing an unearned run over five innings. Nyjer Morgan walked in the bottom of the first, stole second, took third with the help of a Rollins error and scored on an Adam Dunn ground out to put Washington up 1-0. Ibanez tied the game at 1-1 with a homer off of Jason Marquis in the fourth. Dunn hit a long walkoff home run off of Contreras with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth.

Rollins returned to the starting lineup and went 1-for-3 with a solid single out of the leadoff spot. He also made a throwing error in the first. Bastardo and Baez both pitched a scoreless inning in relief, with Bastardo striking out all three men he faced in the bottom of the eighth in a tie game.