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About that Cardinals Dodgers preview . . .

Oct 6, 2009, 10:22 AM EST

Absent Albert Pujols and Chris Carpenter carrying out a murder-suicide pact before tomorrow’s game, I won’t change my prediction that the Cardinals will beat the Dodgers in four games. I say this for two reasons: (1) my gut just likes St. Louis in this thing; and (2) backtracking on a prediction is weak sauce. If you’re going to predict something stick with it before, during and after, and take the credit and the lumps in equal measure.  It’s only baseball, after all, not medicine. No one is going to sue you if you’re wrong.

All of that said, this bears consideration:

The Cardinals grade out as the worst of the playoff teams with 83 wins against an average schedule.

Cardinals fans will, I’m sure, be up in arms at this characterization. By our measures, the Cardinals pitchers faced the second-easiest set of lineups and the batters faced the easiest set of pitching staffs, meaning they had the easiest schedule by a wide margin. (The Cy Young candidacies for Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright are another discussion.) In addition to playing in the N.L. Central where the next best team ranked 18th in the majors, the Cardinals faced the A.L.’s worst division, the Central, in interleague play.

It’s less about what is being said — that the Cardinals, if they had faced at least an average schedule, would have only won 83 games — than who is saying it: Sean Forman. The same Sean Forman who founded and lords over Baseball-Reference.com, which is only the greatest invention since The Gutenberg Press.  I don’t like being on the other side of certified geniuses on most issues, and Forman may very well have a point.

But screw it. I’m still sticking with the Cardinals prediction. If for no other reason than that I don’t want to fall in with any analysis that may cause baseball to go the way of football where almost every single playoff conversation is about the schedule. It’s a tired, tired exercise that is more about whining than it is about analysis.  And like the man said: there’s no crying in baseball.

  

  1. Shely - Oct 6, 2009 at 10:54 AM

    I still can’t see the prediction. The last month of the season (Sep. 10 thru Oct.4), the birds had a terrible record. They were swept three times by lesser teams and they barely hung on to win. the bull pen collapsed and Wainwright had to try two or three times to win 19, and failed on the one attempt to win 20. This team is not the same as the August birds and may win one game against the Dodgers. Forget the stats about after the All Star game etc.. What is the record after September 10? That seems to be closer to how these guys are playing. We could see a miracle and possible they might pull it out, however all of the signs point to L A.. I saw the last 3 games in Cincinnati (Reds had half price tics), and they looked bad bad bad. Pinero was very hittable and didn’t have an idea on the mound. Minor leaguers were pounding the ball. Smoltz? forget about it. On the day Carpenter pitched, he looked like a Cy Young winner struggling on the mound. If you can believe the gun, his velocity was down to 86-88 for his fast ball. He hit 90 one time. What saved him was his great curve, although he had trouble placing it. After 5 innings and 90 pitches, he left the game and won because of the large lead, and the Reds gave up.
    Shely in Cinti.

  2. Brandon - Oct 6, 2009 at 1:24 PM

    …and what was the Cardinals record in Sept in ’06? I think it was pretty awful as well and look what happened. They very well may loose, but going on a Sept record when most of the games didn’t mean a whole lot isn’t a great barometer. Yes, they ‘should’ still fight for every game, but that never happens.

  3. Dave - Oct 6, 2009 at 2:49 PM

    Yeah, the Cards definitely struggled down the stretch. Meanwhile the Dodgers played inspired baseball driving a positively meteoric rise up the standings…
    Does anyone know what the worst combined September records of two teams meeting in the first round since the new playoff format was adopted? This has got to be close.

  4. arodoll - Oct 6, 2009 at 8:35 PM

    Dave – both teams struggled but they weren’t as bad as the analysts would have you believe. The Dodgers were still 15-12 in September and the Cards were .500 (13-13). I have got to think two teams were worse than 28-25 in September that made the playoffs. Heck the Yankees lost the last 15 out of 18 games in 2000 and won the World Series. What is obvious is that the Cardinals did play in a weaker division which wouldn’t mean much if the schedules weren’t so lopsided. Playing 18 games against the Cubs and only playing a 90+ win team like Colorado 6 times in a year can drastically inflate a record. The bottom line: these are closely matched teams and it should be a great series. I plan to see the Dodgers win in 4. I’ll be at game 2 to root on Kershaw and the Boys in Blue.

  5. Ike Mcphee - Jan 17, 2010 at 3:24 AM

    Very nice post. Do you accept guest writers?

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