Big League Stew - MLB

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 the matchup between the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds, two teams on the opposite ends of the playoff experience spectrum.

4.05 The collective ERA for all Reds starters, 10th in the National League. The Phillies were third, with a starters' ERA a half-run lower, 3.55. The Reds can slug with anyone, but their pitching is a serious question mark, especially considering that three of their top pitchers — Johnny Cueto(notes), Travis Wood(notes) and Homer Bailey(notes) — are all 24 or younger, and have precisely zero playoff experience between them. (Wood and Bailey will pitch out of the bullpen.)

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1.07 Cole Hamels'(notes) career ERA in seven starts against Cincinnati and onlly once has he gone fewer than seven innings or given up more than one run in a single outing. The Reds actually hit lefties (.779 OPS) slightly better than righties (.736), but Hamels — the Cole that Santa asks for in his stockings — just gives them fits. And Roy Halladay(notes) and Roy Oswalt(notes) have basically torched the league this year. Cincy will need to solve one of the Big Three to have a chance. Irresistible force, meet immovable object.

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1.093 Joey Votto's(notes) road OPS, best in the majors. Votto picked a bad year to have a stellar year, as his bid for the Triple Crown was ruined by similar bids by Carlos Gonzalez(notes) and Albert Pujols(notes). But he's the best hitter on either team, and fortunately for the Reds, he has done his best work in 2010 on the road, where he has an OPS 142 points higher than at home. (Necessary caveat: For his career, the gap is much closer, as his OPS is just 29 points higher on the road.) Votto's unusual split is a good thing for the Reds, since the Phillies — who led the majors in victories — have home-field advantage.

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239 The number of walks issued by Phillies pitching, second only to the Minnesota Twins, and 39 walks better than the third-place Mariners. On the other hand, the Reds' offense isn't built around walks, as their 522 team walks are just 16th in baseball. The only way to beat the Phillies is by hitting the ball hard, but that suits the Reds just fine. (In another measure of control, the Phillies tied the Washington Nationals for the fewest wild pitches in baseball, with 12.)

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188 The Reds' NL-leading homer total. In addition to Votto's monster campaign, they also got at least 18 homers from five other players: Brandon Phillips(notes), Scott Rolen(notes), Jonny Gomes(notes), Drew Stubbs(notes) and Jay Bruce(notes). That's a lot of firepower in one lineup. And if the Phillies' pitchers have a weakness, it's the longball, as their 131 homers allowed is tied for second in baseball.

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1.19 The lowest-in-the-majors aggregate WHIP for Phillies pitching this year. WHIP stands for walks plus hits per innings pitched, and it essentially measures baserunners — the Phillies have given up a fair number of homers, but they've given up fewer baserunners than anyone else. It's awfully hard to hang a crooked number on a team when you can't get a rally going.

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10 The number of pinch homers the Reds have gotten, tied with the Braves for best in baseball. Chris Heisey(notes) has four of them on his own, tied with the amazing Matt Stairs(notes) for most in the majors. (Stairs holds the all-time record for most pinch homers, with 23. He's the Lenny Harris of pinch homers.) Their bench has been a major part of their success, as they've gotten good production from Heisey, OF Laynce Nix(notes), IF Miguel Cairo(notes) and Paul Janish(notes), and backup C Ryan Hanigan(notes). The Reds' offensive versatility is a major weapon for Dusty Baker.

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84 percent The Phillies' stolen base success rate, best in baseball. Cincinnati is 23rd in baseball with a 68 percent success rate, which they accomplished by stealing fewer 15 bases yet getting caught 22 more times. The Phillies' refusal to get caught was led by Jimmy Rollins(notes) and Chase Utley(notes), who were a combined 30 for 33. (Utley, in particular, is 36 for his last 38 the past two years.) By contrast, the Reds' ineptitude was led by Brandon Phillips, who was an embarrassing 16 for 28. If they start getting thrown out on the bases and let Oswalt, Halladay and Hamels get comfortable, the series could be over quickly.

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72 The Reds' error total, tied with the Padres for second-least in baseball. (The Phillies are sixth with 83.) Though Joey Votto's bat and Aroldis Chapman's(notes) fastball have gotten much more notice, by any measure, the Reds had one of the best defenses in baseball this year (fourth in baseball in UZR; tied for 11th in baseball in Defensive Runs Saved Above Average). By contrast, the Phillies' defense has basically been average (18th in UZR, 15th in DRS Above Average); nothing wrong, and they won't beat themselves, but they're not going to beat anyone with their gloves. The Reds can.

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94.0 The average fastball velocity for Jose Contreras(notes) and Danys Baez(notes), tops on the Phillies. The Phillies have great pitching, but their best pitchers tend to sit in the low 90s, rather than the middle or upper 90s, whether it's Ryan Madson(notes) or Roy Halladay. The Phillies aren't known for blowing smoke. Unlike Aroldis Chapman, who has a habit of throwing 104. If the Reds are going to win, they're going to need to be lucky, and they're going to need to psych the Phillies out. Aroldis Chapman could be a major weapon in the Reds' psychological warfare campaign.

Previous 10 numbers posts: Rays vs. Rangers

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