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Big League Stew

10 numbers for the NLDS: Giants vs. Reds

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 NLDS featuring the NL West champion San Francisco Giants against the NL Central champion Cincinnati Reds. The first two games will be held at AT&T Park and the first pitch of Game 1 is scheduled for 9:37 ET on Saturday night.

2.65 The Reds' bullpen ERA, best in the majors. And it wasn't all Aroldis Chapman, either: The ERA of all Reds relievers other than Chapman was 2.88, which would have been tied for third in baseball this year, and with the Braves eliminated, it's still better than the bullpen of any other remaining playoff team. They received terrific work from rookies Tony Cingrani and J.J. Hoover, and veterans like Jonathan Broxton, Sean Marshall, and Jose Arredondo. The Reds had seven different relievers who pitched at least 30 innings with an ERA under 3.50, and Broxton was a midseason trade acquisition who gave them 22 1/3 innings of 2.82 ERA ball. If you're going to score on the Reds, score early.

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3.83 Tim Lincecum's ERA in the second half. That would have been his highest ERA since his rookie year, but unfortunately, his first half was far, far worse, as he had a 6.42 ERA going into the All-Star break, and finished with an ugly 5.18 ERA on the season. The Giants won the division going away even without The Freak at full strength, but Lincecum was easily their worst starter this year, with his results surpassed not just by Matt Cain, but also by Madison Bumgarner, Ryan Vogelsong, and even Barry Zito. If Lincecum doesn't dominate in his first start, Bruce Bochy will have a difficult decision on how many nods to give Lincecum this October.

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1.85 Homer Bailey's ERA in September and October. His spectacular September 28 no-hitter got all the press, but Bailey had a spectacular final month all around, with a 1.85 ERA in seven starts. It was sweet redemption for the former top prospect, who five years ago was a member of a quartet of Grade-A Reds prospects along with Joey Votto, Johnny Cueto, and Jay Bruce, and has since watched himself get overshadowed by each: Votto won the 2010 MVP, Cueto is a 2012 Cy Young candidate, and Bruce has 134 homers in the majors already. Meanwhile, at the end of August this year, Bailey had a career 35-32 record with a 4.72 ERA, and he was looking like a busted prospect. This September may have turned his career around.

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3.9 According to Elias, Matt Cain is the least-supported starting pitcher active in the major leagues. Over the course of his career, he has received an average of 3.9 runs of support in his 235 regular-season starts, which is the lowest among all active pitchers with at least 150 starts. This year, Cain was easily the Giants' ace, and will likely receive some consideration for the Cy Young. His 2012 team finally obliged him with a few runs to play with, as Cain received an average of 4.6 runs in his starts this year. That's a big reason that a pitcher with a career record of 69-73 from 2005-2011 went 16-5 this year. Cain will likely receive at least two starts in every postseason series the Giants play, so if the Giants finally have started supporting him, then they'll be giving themselves an excellent chance to advance.

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.421 Joey Votto's slugging percentage after returning from knee surgery on September 5. Votto missed nearly two months of the season from July to September, and he wasn't the same guy when he came back: He hit singles and drew walks, but went homerless for the entire last month of the season. The Reds didn't stop winning when he went out of the lineup, largely thanks to the stellar work of Ryan Ludwick, but it goes without saying that their lineup looks a whole lot better with a healthy Joey Votto than otherwise.

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1 The number of batting titles that the National League gives out every year — but whether it goes to Melky Cabrera (the technical winner) or Buster Posey (the winner per a one-time league agreement), the highest batting average in the National League certainly belonged to a San Francisco Giant. This year is controversial, because Melky Cabrera finished the year with a .346 batting average and 501 plate appearances, just one shy of qualifying, at the time that he was busted for PED usage and forced to miss the rest of the year. Ordinarily, per baseball rules, Melky would be given credit for an extra 0-1 so that his batting average would qualify for the batting title, but the league reached an agreement with Melky to make him ineligible, so this year's victor is Buster Posey with a .336 mark.

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54 The Cincinnati Reds' major-league leading total of intentional walks given to their lineup. Seventeen of those went to whoever was batting eighth, but Joey Votto, who bats third, tied for the major league lead with 18 and Jay Bruce added another 11 batting fifth. The Reds have some great hitters, but they also have an uneven lineup.

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.667 The Giants' team winning percentage without Melky Cabrera. The team went 30-15 after his suspension on August 15, compared with 64-53 with him (a .547 winning percentage). With Cabrera as the Giants' best hitter, the team had a .711 OPS. After he was suspended, they boosted their overall team OPS to .757. (The pitching didn't really improve down the stretch; they had a 3.64 team ERA through August 14, and a 3.79 team ERA the rest of the year.) The Giants were a far better team down the stretch than they had been the rest of the year, fending off a Dodgers team that massively retooled at the deadline and a Diamondbacks team that was the defending division champion.

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114 The Reds' stolen base attempts this year, lowest in the league and third-lowest in baseball, ahead of only the Tigers (82 attempts) and Orioles (87 attempts). Drew Stubbs and Brandon Phillies are base stealing threats, Jay Bruce stole 9 bases, and that's pretty much their entire running game. They're not exactly a team of station-to-station runners, but unless Stubbs is on the bases, stolen bases are not really a big part of their offensive game.

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.939 The Giants' OPS with a man on third and less than two outs, best in the NL and the polar opposite of the Braves. The baseball equivalent of a good red zone offense matters more than ever in the postseason when every last run counts.

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