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Is the ‘Big Three’ effect overplayed?

Oct 15, 2010, 12:55 AM EDT

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With Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels leading the way, it is easy to label the Philadelphia Phillies favorites to reach – and even win — the World Series.

Our viewpoint is particularly colored by having just watched them make the hard-hitting Cincinnati Reds look as helpless as Craig Sager at a postgame celebration.

But do the Phillies really have that big of an advantage over the other three remaining playoff teams? Jeff Sullivan of Lookout Landing crunched the numbers and the results are interesting.

Here are the records of the four playoff teams this season when their top three starters were on the mound:
Yankees: 59-25 (.702)
Phillies: 50-28 (.641)
Giants: 61-38 (.616)
Rangers: 44-36 (.550)

And here we have the same four teams, ranked in order of runs scored this season. Think the Yankees’ offense will come into play the rest of the way?:

Yankees: 859
Rangers: 787
Phillies: 772
Giants: 697

Writes Sullivan:

The Phillies have an awesome rotation. It’s the best one left. It is not so much better than anyone else’s that they ought to be the clear, undeniable favorites to take this thing home. As obvious as it sounds: we just can’t predict with any kind of certainty what’s going to happen, and all four of the teams remaining have an excellent chance.

Sure, the Yankees and Phillies are favored to meet in a World Series rematch, but I think these two series are going to be a lot closer than people think.

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  1. 12strikes - Oct 15, 2010 at 7:23 AM

    Doing a season comparison is acceptable, but who is the hottest starting 3?
    Do run these number for the Aug/Sept. I would venture to think that the Phillies big 3 are the hottest

  2. onlyregisteringtoripbob - Oct 15, 2010 at 7:46 AM

    You’re numbers don’t tell the entire story. Oswalt only joined the team in July so who was their #3 starter before then? Blanton? Happ? Not a fair comparison at all.

    Secondly, you can look at the W/L record for Halladay and Hamels and see that they both had more losses than expected. Did you happen to look and see why? How many times did Hamels lose 1-0, especially at Citi Field? More than once. Does that constitute a bad pitching performance? Numbers don’t always tell the story.

    Bob, this is not the first time your articles have lacked sufficient background research. Remember when you said Phillies fans wanted to fire Charlie and you referenced web pages from 2005 as your proof? You’re reporting is bush league.

  3. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 15, 2010 at 8:15 AM

    Yeah, but remember that Oswalt was not with the Phillies for the first 4 months of the season. Everybody seems to forget that he was languishing on the Astros with a 6-12 record despite a very respectable 3.42 ERA. He proceeded to go 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA during his time with the Phillies. Give him the full season with the Phillies and anyone using common sense would have to think he would have been able to add to that winning percentage. As far as the runs go, the two teams using the DH have scored more runs…wow…amazing. I’m surprised that as bad as the Phillies hit midway through the season that they ONLY scored half a run less per game than the Yankers.

  4. leadweights - Oct 15, 2010 at 8:30 AM

    I wouldn’t say that it’s “overplayed”. All of these teams had great pitching. That’s a common denominator here isn’t it? I mean the story of the season has been. Thou shalt win with great pitching. And regular season numbers don’t begin to tell how a pitcher will perform post season. Regular season numbers don’t begin to tell how an offense will perform either. It’s just like predicting the weather. An educated guess at best.

  5. rfawns1 - Oct 15, 2010 at 11:10 AM

    The Phillies pitching is superior to both AL teams by a whole bunch the giants have the best argument to be equal to it. As far as hitting goes those stats are very unfair to the phillies especially considering they where with out their actually lineup for 90% of the season and the other two team ahead of them are in the AL where drum roll…………they use a DH completely different game in that league. Using numbers like this and not your eyes is why the METS are in the mess they are in. Open your eyes people the Phillies may not win the world series but they will be favored to win every game and if they dont win it will be an upset.

  6. bth25 - Oct 15, 2010 at 3:21 PM

    Um, the record listed above for the Phillies is for Phillies’ games in which Halladay, Hamels, or Oswalt started. Just like the Giants’ listed record is for games in which Lincecum, Cain, or Sanchez started, the Yankees’ listed record is for games in which Sabathia, Pettitte, or Hughes started, and the Rangers’ listed record for games in which Lee, Miles, or Lewis started.

    This is why the Giants’ record includes so many more games. Unlike the Phillies (due to the midseason acquisition of Oswalt), the Rangers (due to the midseason acquisition of Lee), and the Yankees (due to the lengthy injury to Pettitte), the Giants had their top 3 for much of the season. Might want to check your facts before you start hammering someone for pointing out that the Phillies aren’t the 1927 Yankees.

    • bth25 - Oct 15, 2010 at 3:25 PM

      In referring to the Rangers, I obviously meant Lee, WILSON, or Lewis. Not even sure who “Miles” is.

  7. Utley's Hair - Oct 15, 2010 at 5:07 PM

    Short answer: No. Carry on.

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