With the postseason upon us, Big League Stew's Alex Remington is taking a look at the statistics that might make a difference in each series. Last up are the San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves, who will finally get underway Thursday night at AT&T Park. 3.11
The Atlanta Braves
' bullpen ERA, third in baseball behind only the Padres and Giants. They're the Atlanta Braves, so you know their pitching was good, and their bullpen was especially excellent, led by closer Billy Wagner(notes),
rookie Jonny Venters(notes),
and late-season callup Craig Kimbrel(notes).
It wasn't just the pen, as the Braves' 3.56 team ERA is third in baseball behind the Giants and Padres, and the 3.80 starters' ERA is tied for sixth in baseball. They have a terrific staff. But they can't outpitch the Giants. So they'll have to try to outhit them.
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The San Francisco Giants' major league-leading ERA. The San Francisco Giants are the only team in baseball with three starters who can hope to match up against the Philadelphia Phillies
' rotation. Not only that, but their fourth starter, Madison Bumgarner(notes),
is better than the Phillies' Kyle Kendrick(notes)/Joe
Blanton platoon, and their bullpen is better, too. The Giants have the best four-man rotation in the entire playoffs, so the Giants are lucky they drew the Braves — if they had to face the Phillies in the best-of-five NLDS, it'd be a tough row to hoe. But if the Phillies and Giants face up in the NLCS, anything could happen.
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The Braves' team OBP, good for fourth in baseball. The Giants, at .321, were just 19th. The Braves led the National League in walks, finishing with 634, third in baseball behind only the Rays and Yankees. But they only slugged .401, 18th in baseball, and as a result, they only scored 738 runs, 13th in baseball. The story of the Braves' season: Plenty of walks, not enough three-run homers.
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The Giants' home run total, tied for 10th in baseball. (The Braves had just 139, 20th in baseball.) The Giants weren't known for offense, but they got double-digit homers from seven different players, including bargain-bin acquisition Pat Burrell(notes)
and midseason callup Buster Posey(notes). Aubrey Huff(notes)
led the team with 26 homers, while putting up one of the best seasons of his career. Most Giants hitters are OBP-challenged — including Posey, whose .357 OBP was largely held up by his .305 batting average — but they have more pop than you'd think.
* * *
21 Brian McCann's(notes)
home run total, tops on the Braves. That's the fourth-lowest team-leading homer total in baseball. McCann is ahead of only the Royals' Yuniesky Betancourt(notes)
and Jose Guillen(notes)
(16 homers), the Athletics' Kevin Kouzmanoff(notes)
(16), and the Mariners' Russell Branyan's(notes)
(15). In fact, the Braves were one of only nine teams in baseball with zero or one 20-homer player. The Braves stick out like a sore thumb in that powerless group, though: They're the only one of the nine teams to make the playoffs. (Adrian Gonzalez's(notes) San Diego Padres
very nearly joined the Braves as the second team in the playoffs to possess only one true power threat, but they were eliminated on the last day of the season.)
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The Giants' major league-worst stolen base percentage. Not only that, but the Giants had the fewest steals (55) and third-fewest attempts (87). Basically, they were both the slowest team in baseball — witness their 158 GIDP, second in the majors — and
the most clueless on the basepaths. They hit a lot of homers, but otherwise they were a pretty mediocre offensive team.
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The Braves' home runs allowed, fewest in baseball. Thanks to the presence of two solid sinkerballers, Tim Hudson(notes)
and Derek Lowe(notes),
the Braves were extremely stingy with the longball this year, which partially neutralizes the Giants' biggest offensive weapon. The Giants averaged a homer a game during the regular season, but only mustered three in seven games against the Braves. (They went 2-1 in the games in which they homered, and 1-3 in the ones where they were held homerless.) The Giants were nearly as stingy as the Braves, only allowing 134 homers, tied for third-fewest in baseball.
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The number of walks issued by San Francisco pitching, fourth-most in baseball. They also collected 1,331 strikeouts, best in baseball. The Giants were the best-pitching team in baseball, but they didn't do it with finesse, they did it with flash. No. 3 Jonathan Sanchez(notes),
who won 13 games with a 3.07 ERA and established himself as one of the best left-handed starters in baseball, led the majors with 96 walks. Matt Cain(notes)
and Tim Lincecum(notes)
were a bit less libertine, but none of them is a classic control pitcher. You could say that the whole Giants staff is effectively wild.
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The OPS of Atlanta Braves pinch hitters, third-best in baseball. The Braves were ninth in baseball with 258 pinch hit plate appearances, and that .766 OPS is by far the best in the top nine. The Braves tied for the major league lead with 10 pinch homers — including two pinch grand slams by Brooks Conrad(notes)
— and led the majors with 42 pinch RBIs. Bobby Cox is known for his late-inning substitutions, and this year he had a terrific bench to work with. Late-season injuries to Chipper Jones(notes)
and Martin Prado(notes)
pressed many of his best bench players into full-time action, but for much of the season the Braves had one of the best benches in baseball.
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The difference in OPS between Buster Posey (.862) and Jason Heyward(notes)
(.849). (Heyward's got a significant edge in OBP, though, so he has the edge in wOBA
, .376 to .368.) The National League Rookie of the Year race is between the two of them, and has been for the last four months. Heyward has a serious edge in playing time, because Posey didn't come up until the end of May and was the Giants' regular first baseman for a month before settling in at catcher. But since then, Posey has been the team's best player, and probably the single biggest reason that they made the leap into the playoffs. Pitching aside, Posey vs. Heyward will be the most important, and most fun, matchup of the series.
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How much this Braves fan loves Jason Heyward. (He leads the league in my affection.)
Previous 10 numbers posts: Rays vs. Rangers, Phillies vs. Reds, Twins vs. Yankees
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