As the start of the postseason approaches, Big League Stew's Alex Remington will take a look at the statistics that might make a difference in each series. Next up is Cardinals-Dodgers which kicks off tonight in Los Angeles.
The combined winning percentage of St. Loius' twin Cy Young contenders, Chris Carpenter(notes)
and Adam Wainwright(notes),
who teamed up to go 36-12 with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP in 62 starts this year. In a short series and in a pitcher's park like Dodger Stadium, they could erase L.A.'s homefield advantage quicker than a trip to In 'N Out.
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.237 Manny Ramirez's(notes)
batting average in 41 games since mid-August. The Dodgers nearly led from wire to wire — after claiming a share of first place on April 15, they never relinquished their lead — and that made Manny's year-end slump a bit easier to ignore. But everyone is undefeated heading to playoffs and they'll have to hope that his bat returns.
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The OPS difference between Matt Holliday's(notes)
disappointing half-year in Oakland and MVP-caliber half-year in St. Louis — an .831 OPS in Oakland and a 1.023 OPS in St. Louis. Matt's been thumping the ball so well that it's easy to forget his OPS was under .800 for most of his tenure in Oakland, but he started his Cardinal career by going 4-5 on July 24 and he never looked back. The Cardinals have enough pitching to win a short series, but their offense hinges on Albert Pujols(notes)
and Holliday, so they'll have to hope that Matt keeps hitting like he did in August and not the way he did before that.
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The number of games in the field that Jim Thome(notes)
has played since 2007. Thome has logged 17 at-bats since coming to the Dodgers at the end of August, all as a pinch hitter and he's only managed four singles and seven strikeouts. Dodgers fans hope that he can be an ace in the hole DH if they get that far, but they'll have to win eight games first and Thome will strictly be limited to pinch hit opportunities. For now, he's just a 39 year-old pinch hitter — albeit one with 564 career home runs and 37 postseason RBIs.
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The number of at-bats since Albert Pujols
' last home run. Phat Albert actually ended the year in a bit of a slump. In 21 games since his last home run on Sept. 9, he hit .308, but with just an .804 OPS (ie: lots of singles and walks, not too many extra-base hits). Pujols was the Cardinals' only real power threat for much of the year and despite his 21-game homerless drought he still finished with more than twice as many homers as Ryan Ludwick(notes),
his nearest competitor.
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The number of men Jonathan Broxton(notes)
struck out in just 76 innings of work this year. Owner of the speediest average fastball in baseball, Broxton is the most terrifying Dodgers closer this side of Cy Young-era Eric Gagne(notes),
and he and setup mates Ramon Troncoso(notes)
and Ronald Belisario(notes)
all possess ERAs far south of 3.00. All three also worked more than 70 innings this year, so they won't be able to keep it up forever, but for now the Dodgers have a great bullpen for the postseason. If the Dodgers are ahead by the sixth inning, it'll likely be hard for their opponents to catch up.
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Pujols led the majors in intentional walks again
, bettering his own career high set last year by nearly a third — last year he led baseball with 34 IBBs, and this year, he led the majors with 44. Pujols's 44 IBB are actually the fifth-most in baseball history — the first three belong to 2002-2004 Barry Bonds(notes),
and the fourth belong to Willie McCovey in 1969. It's always hard for managers to justify the decision to pitch to him and Dodgers manager Joe Torre won't want to let Albert swing if he has anything to say about it.
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The career ERA of the Dodgers' Game 1 starter, Randy Wolf(notes),
who came out of nowhere to have the best year of his career. Because he pitched on Saturday, the Dodgers' true ace, Clayton Kershaw(notes),
will go on Game 2, which means he probably wouldn't be available again until Game 5, if the series goes that long. The other young star on the staff, Chad Billingsley(notes),
has a 5.20 second-half ERA, so the Dodgers will have to hope Wolf has a little magic left.
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The number of saves Ryan Franklin(notes)
blew in six opportunities in the last month of the season. The career journeyman had reinvented himself as the most reliable closer in the major leagues for the first five months of the season, but in the stretch run he began to falter. In September and October, he pitched in 10 games, going 2-2 with 3 saves, 3 blown saves, 10 strikeouts, 10 walks, and a 6.75 ERA. The numbers are wonderfully symmetric, but they're deeply unsettling for a manager. Tony La Russa didn't remove him from the closer's role, but he'll have his fireman on a very short leash. It's hard to have much confidence that he'd be able to get Ramirez out with the game on the line.
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The number of home runs Andre "Mr. Walkoff" Ethier hit this year, enough to lead the team. He also led the team in RBIs, total bases, and games played. After the Dodgers re-signed Manny, not many people expected that the offensive lions of the team would be the other two outfielders, Ethier and Matt Kemp(notes),
but they stepped into his shoes admirably, and the team barely missed a beat during Manny's 50-game suspension. Manny's the guy opposing pitchers will plan their games around, but Ethier has been their most consistent threat all year.