Friday, October 21, 2005

World Series

I guess one should issue a WS prediction if they are going to fancy themselves as a baseball pundit. I will admit that I am personally inclined to root for the Astros(mostly because I have always been an admirer of Biggio/Bagwell/Clemens and because the White Sox are division rivals with the Indians and are falsely held up as "small ball yadda yadda yadda"). Anyway, I will try to prevent that from coloring the analysis.

The White Sox' .611 W% is superior to the Astros' .549. The EW%s(based on R and RA) come in at .563 and .555. PW%(based on RC and RCA) come in at .537 and .542. Home Field Advantage should be considered, and that of course belongs to Chicago.

Based on the EW% and PW%, I would have to consider the two teams about equal. Taking a look at the teams offenses, the White Sox scored 4.5 runs/game(park-adjusted) versus the league average of 4.8. The Astros scored 4.2 versus the league average of 4.5, so both teams are -.3 runs/game against their leagues. It is not pretty offensively here. As a matter of fact, the White Sox were 3rd to last in the AL in runs and the Astros 5th to last.

It is defensively where these teams shine, and the White Sox allowed 3.9 runs/game while the Astros allowed 3.7. The White Sox are +.6 and the Astros +.8. The White Sox and Astros were each the top defensive team in their leagues(which may lead to silly assertions about pitching is 99.3% of the game or what have you. May I point out that the Red Sox led the AL in runs last year and the Cardinals were second in the NL, while Boston was in the middle of the pack in runs allowed(the Cards were a close second in the NL)).

Much is being made of the White Sox pitchers and their complete game streak, but the top three pitchers in the Neanderthal League this year were named Clemens, Pettitte, and Oswalt, and they'll each pitch twice. Backe at -7 RAA is a little bit of a weakness, so overall I would consider the starting pitching equal or a slight advantage to Houston. The bullpen, if Ozzie ever uses, favor Chicago in depth and Houston in the stopper. Qualls, Wheeler, and Gallo are the only setup guys Garner trusts, while Chicago can come at you with Cotts, Marte, and Hermanson, plus El Duque who has pitched great in the playoffs. But Brade Lidge is certainaly a more intimidating prescence then rookie Bobby Jenks. Again, very close, but a slight edge to Chicago.

Looking at the offenses, Pierzynski and Ausmus both created 4 runs/game so they are equally poor. The White Sox have a huge advantage at first with Konerko over Lamb--if Berkman plays first and Burke plays center, the Astros gain a little bit but you still have weak hitting in one of the outfield corners. Biggio and Iguchi are close to equals, while Uribe is average and Everett is a sinkhole. At third, Ensberg had a suprisingly good season(+44 PRAA) and Crede fairly average. For all the hype, Scott Podsednik had a .347 OBA and a .150 SEC playing left and is not much of an asset, Aaron Rowand is a below average hitter, and Jermaine Dye is average for right field. The Astros have the big bat in Berkman, but Taveras and the left fielder of the day wash that advantage right out. Carl Everett at DH is -18 RAA, but sadly that may be better then whoever Houston can drudge up(Jeff Bagwell has the name but not the skills that made him one of the greats). There is nobody on the bench for either team that should scare Lidge or Jenks. Again, I see the offenses as fairly equal.

These are two evenly matched teams. This has the potential to be a fabulous, low-scoring, tightly-contested seven game war. I'll pick it to go seven, but given Roger Clemens sub-par playoff performance, I will pick the White Sox to exorcise their demons. If that happens, we will have gotten rid of the 2nd longest drought(CHA) and the 3rd(BOS) in two years. Now can we please get around to #4?

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