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What in the World Series is going on here?

Oct 15, 2012, 1:48 AM EDT

Alex Rodriguez Getty Images

We’re 10 days into the 2012 postseason and the American League finalists can’t hit, the National League contenders can’t get any starting pitching and none of the teams still playing seem to be any better than the ones that were eliminated.

Here are the hitting lines of the four teams still standing:

Detroit: .258/.299/.351, 3 HR, 20 RBI in 248 AB
New York: .205/.277/.326, 6 HR, 20 RBI in 258 AB

St. Louis: .249/.342/.438, 9 HR, 40 RBI in 233 AB
San Fran: .196/.270/.332, 5 HR, 20 RBI in 199 AB

If these were actual regular-season player lines, the Cardinals would be a fringe regular as a corner outfielder and the other three would be riding the pine. The Yankees have scored fewer runs in their seven games than the NLDS-losing Reds did in five games.

The AL contenders have combined for 198 hits and 239 strikeouts so far. Obviously, that’s not the norm. In the regular season, AL teams had 20 hits for every 17 strikeouts. In the postseason, it’s been 20 hits for every 24 strikeouts.

Overall, AL hitters are batting .218 and slugging .310 this postseason. To put that in perspective, Justin Verlander limited major league hitters to a .217 average and a .306 slugging percentage this season. So, essentially, every AL pitcher this month is Justin Verlander.

The NL, on the other hand, hasn’t had it so bad for offense. Not early in games anyway. What is odd is just how bad the starters are getting roughed up, especially with four of the league’s top five rotations represented. Going by ERA, the Nationals had the NL’s best rotation this year, followed by the Dodgers, Cardinals, Reds and Giants. And yet…

Cardinals starters: 2-2, 4.22 ERA
Reds starters: 1-2, 4.30 ERA
Nationals starters: 0-2, 5.25 ERA
Giants starters: 1-3, 6.49 ERA

Outside of Washington’s, the bullpens have been far more effective, which is fortunate since they’ve so often needed to cover five innings per game. The Cards’ bullpen has a 1.80 ERA in 30 innings. The Giants are at 2.51 ERA in 28 2/3 innings.

So, what are we left with 10 days in? The AL’s best offensive team has a .650 OPS, a mark that would have rated the worst in the major leagues this season. NL starting pitchers are 4-8 with a 4.92 ERA, which is a worse ERA than every NL team besides the Rockies posted this year. And for all of the exciting games, it’s hard to argue that we’ve actually seen a great caliber of play from any of these teams this month. While there have been thrills and chills, it hasn’t exactly been a showcase.

  1. zzalapski - Oct 15, 2012 at 2:05 AM

    Every AL pitcher this month is chilling with Kate Upton? As if there weren’t enough perks to being in the big leagues…

  2. sumerduckman - Oct 15, 2012 at 7:55 AM

    The correct headline should read, ” What in the wide, wide, world of sports is going on here!”, said with your best Slim Pickens accent.

    The simple answer would be that these guys are just stinking tired/fatigued. Most of these managers have been whipping the same horses for a while, and they are just worn out.

    The exceptions are the guys that have taken over slots for ones that have gone on the dl, like Kozma for Furcal, and the guys that have just recently come off the dl and know how to dial it up like Chris Carpenter.

  3. darthicarus - Oct 15, 2012 at 8:10 AM

    Aren’t the lower offensive numbers to be expected though? All the “experts” say that the pitching is better during the postseason as teams are only facing the best pitchers every game (though the NL appears to have given their bullpens the duty of being the “aces” so far).

    The ALCS appears to have more clutch hitting in place instead of steady offensive outbursts which would go back to the “pitching is tougher in the postseason” theory. Take out the 4th inning of the NLCS and you have a 2-0 game with some insane bullpen pitching by both teams.

  4. amaninwhite - Oct 15, 2012 at 8:11 AM

    Mediocre play in the playoffs has reigned supreme for a few years now, with the most glaring and recent example being Game 6 of last year’s World Series. It makes for unpredictable games, but you’ll find few highlights to use in How-To videos.

    • amaninwhite - Oct 15, 2012 at 11:44 AM

      Tell me that you honestly believe that you’ve been watching nothing but high quality baseball so far this October.

  5. savior72 - Oct 15, 2012 at 9:03 AM

    ^^^Texas Rangers fan alert^^^!

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 15, 2012 at 9:39 AM

      Yes savior. Said the “man in the white Texas Rangers jersey.”

  6. raysfan1 - Oct 15, 2012 at 9:32 AM

    Good pitching…poor hitting…Hey! My Rays made the AL playoffs after all!

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 15, 2012 at 12:04 PM

      Don’t forget about all of the crappy fielding, so it really could be the 2012 Rays out there.

      • raysfan1 - Oct 15, 2012 at 9:35 PM

        Hey! How dar…oh…yeah, never mind.

  7. stoutfiles - Oct 15, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    The pitching would have been much better had Strasburg pitched. Who knows, with the way these teams are hitting the Nats could have won the World Series had they pitched him, but now we’ll never know, a dark cloud hanging over the organization raining “what-ifs” everyday for years and years.

  8. polegojim - Oct 15, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    AL bats will break out… I hope the NL pitching stays exactly where it is!

    Go TIGERS

    “…which is a worse ERA than every NL team besides the Rockies posted this year.”
    Now that’s funny. Way to go Mr. O’Dowd, the Rockies made the news again.

  9. albertmn - Oct 15, 2012 at 10:12 AM

    You can’t really look at a team average and then equate that to one player. You will always have a few weak hitters in a lineup, especially with pitchers in the NL. So, that will always drag down the average. But, with that said, how could you call the Cardinals average a fringe regular as a corner OF? A .342 OBP would have tied you for 32nd among all qualifiers. Spread it to 600 ABs, and you would have 23 HRs and 103 RBIs. But, since this is a team average, that would be equivalent of getting a .342 OBP, 23 HRs, and 103 RBIs from EVERY spot in the lineup, including the pitcher’s spot. I think every team in MLB would take that, even with the .249 BA. The highest OBP for a team in the NL for the regular season was the Cardinals at .338, so their OBP is better in this series.

    The other three teams are indeed struggling. But, you can’t pull team averages, and then try to use that as an example and compare those to what would be one player and try to say it would be a poor player. I would take nine spots in the lineup with .342 OBP, 23 HR, 103 RBIs.

  10. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Oct 15, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    The 5th best team in each league is playing, and at this point has to be favored. Strange year indeed. One would have to expect some mediocre baseball given that fact alone.

  11. paperlions - Oct 15, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    Actually, if you wanted to put those stats in a season long context for TEAMS.

    The Cardinals would lead all of MLB in OBP and would be 3rd overall in SLG….as they have put up BETTER numbers in the post season than they did as a team during the regular season, when they were the best offense in the NL.

    You can’t compare team stats to those generated by individual players and expect to get a meaningful comparison.

  12. mackie66 - Oct 15, 2012 at 5:12 PM

    easy answer, knock off about 30 games of regular season and drop two teams from the pplayoffs

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