Big League Stew

Ten numbers for the NLCS: Giants vs. Cardinals

Alex Remington
Big League Stew

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With the 2012 postseason underway, Alex Remington takes  a look at the statistics that might make a difference in each of the four first-round series. Next up is the NLCS, which begins Sunday night at AT&T Park and features a matchup of the NL West champion San Francisco Giants and NL wild card champion St. Louis Cardinals.

-4 The Giants' run differential against the Reds in their five-game NLDS victory. The Reds had a .716 team OPS and the Giants had just a .606 OPS, and the Reds had a 3.13 team ERA while the Giants had a 4.11 team ERA. The Reds did everything better than the Giants except win.

1.306 Carlos Beltran's career posteason OPS, best of all time. Beltran had a .444 average in the NLDS, best among everyone by a lot. This is Beltran's first postseason since Adam Wainwright struck him out looking in the 2006 NLCS, ending the Mets season. The Mets haven't been back to the postseason either, but now Beltran and Wainwright are teammates, and Beltran is adding to one of the most impressive postseason resumes in history. His 3-for-3 performance with two walks and two runs in NLDS Game 5 was a big reason the Cardinals were able to mount their historic comeback.

3.09 The ERA of the Giants bullpen in the NLDS, after the Giant relief corps put up a collective 3.56 ERA in the regular season. The team clearly misses Brian Wilson, who's been out since April — that 3.56 regular season ERA is half a run higher than the 3.04 that the bullpen put up in 2011, second-best in baseball. But it certainly didn't faze them in the NLDS.

38 The number of runs the Cardinals have scored this postseason, nearly twice as many as anyone else. They're averaging 6.3 runs a game, bludgeoning their opponents to submission. And it isn't just Beltran. David Freese, MVP of the 2011 NLCS and World Series, is batting .381 this postseason, and Allen Craig is at .348. If the Giants want to win, they'll need to silence a lot of booming bats.

.211 Buster Posey's average in the NLDS, four hits in 19 at bats. The Giants' regular-season MVP didn't have a great NLDS, all things considered. But he certainly picked a good time to get his fourth hit and second homer of the series when he hit a grand slam in the fifth inning of Game 5.  They were runs the Giants would end up needing to complete their series victory.

0 The number of saves recorded by the Cardinals in the NLDS. The Cardinals won their three games by a combined tally of 18 runs while the Nationals won their two victories by one run apiece. (Jason Motte wiped out the possibility of a save opportunity in the 9-7 win in Game 5 by pitching the final two innings.) The Cardinals bullpen was seen as a possible weakness going into the postseason, but so far the offense has rendered that concern irrelevant.

5 The number of appearances by Santiago Casilla in the NLDS. Yes, he pitched in every single game. He was decent enough, giving up six hits and a walk in 3 1/3 innings. He allowed one run, notched five strikeouts and recorded a 2.70 ERA. George Kontos also pitched in every game but the third contest as the Giants averaged 4.6 relievers per game. That's a dangerous trend.

2.89 The Cardinals pitching staff's ERA this postseason. The Cardinals aren't exactly known for their pitching — their ace, Adam Wainwright, got knocked out in the third inning after giving up 6 runs in Game 5 of the NLDS — but their pitchers have been quite effective this postseason. And they're doing it efficiently, limiting the free pass and getting a very healthy number of strikeouts, maintaining an impressive 3.29 team strikeout-to-walk ratio against the Nationals.

4.5 The average innings per start by the Giants starting rotation in the NLDS. (There's no such thing as .5 of a pitched inning, but it's basically in between 4 1/3 and 4 2/3 innings.) The reason the Giants used Casilla and the rest of the pen so much is that their starting pitchers never went deep in the game. The longest start was Matt Cain's 5 2/3 innings in the final game. The rotation had a collective ERA of 5.16. For a team that's supposed to be known for its pitching, that won't cut it.

3 The number of times the Cardinals have faced the Giants in the NLCS. They first met in 1987, then in 2002, and finally this year. The Cardinals took the first series 4-3, and then went on to lose the World Series to the upstart Twins, an 85-77 win team that held the record for the worst winning percentage for a championship team until the 2006 Cardinals won the World Series after having gone 83-78 in the regular season. The Giants won the second series in 2002, and went on to lose the World Series to the Angels. Will this year's winner be able to take home the ultimate prize after they move on?

Make sure all your bases are covered this postseason ...
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