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J-Dog Dungan

Playoffs pt. 2

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With all the craziness that has surrounded the final day of regular season baseball this year, I thought it would be smart to wait to post the rest of these until I was sure of the matchups.

I will now begin a rapid-fire posting over the next day to cover all of the first playoff matchups, and doing new ones when the series advances to the next round.

In this my second post, I will continue with the NL and look at the match-up between the Cardinals and Braves in the NL wild-card playoff matchup.


vs.


Offense:
I might be tempted to give this category to the Braves just because Chipper Jones is in his final playing season of baseball. Unfortunately, that would overlook the abysmal 2nd half the Braves are having offensively. Since the All- Star Break, they are hitting a dismal .234, with 65 HR, 288 RBI's, and an OPS of .683. Yeah, not so good in the second half. The Cards have been doing much better since the half-way point of the season, hitting at a.268 clip, with 63 HR, 322 RBI's, and an OPS of .740.

Going by the second half stats, which are more likely from my point of view to be the stats that mirror the stats in the postseason, I would say that the Cards have had a much more solid second-half than the Braves have, offensively anyway.
Advantage: Cardinals

Defense:
I would say that these two teams defensively are probably the closest any two teams in the playoffs this year can be. While the Braves are ahead in FP, .986 to .983 due mostly to committing 21 fewer errors than the Cardinals, the Cardinals have turned more double plays, not to mention have Yadier Molina behind the plate, which leads them to give up nearly 16% fewer stolen bases than the Braves, as well as the lead the Cardinals enjoy when passed balls and wild pitches are measured.

The Braves commit fewer errors than the Cardinals, but the Cardinal's backstop is a guy you don't want to cross if you are a base-stealer (and a good batterymate for pitchers). Very, very close between these two, but I will take the extra errors over the fewer WP's and passed balls
Advantage: Cardinals, but it is sooooo close.

Pitching:
These stats cover the whole season, and it is very clear from both the bullpen and starting staff who has the better pitching rotation. Let's begin with the two team's starters. The Braves's starters are 69-54 with a 3.75 ERA over 959 IP, with 106 HR given up, and a WHIP of 1.25. The Cards's starters are 71-47 with a 3.62 ERA over 989 IP, with 79 HR given up and a WHIP of 1.27.
Now to the relief corp for each team. The Braves' relievers are 25-14 with a 2.76 ERA over 486 IP, with 39 HR given up and a WHIP of 1.19. The Cards' relievers are 17-27 with a 3.90 ERA over 473 IP, with 55 HR given up and a WHIP of 1.27.

When it comes to starting pitching, I give the advantage easily to the Cardinals. The problem is, any bullpen in the playoffs has to be the best of the best, and the Cards' pen has been anything but this year, which could give them troubles in late-inning, high pressure situations if they don't have the right guy, and the fact that the Braves' bullpen has been as good as it has been gives me a good feeling about their pitching staff during their postseason run.
Advantage: Braves

Overall: This is a one-game match, so it is winner-take-all mano-a-mano slugfest. These two teams have this one game to prove their qualities to be better than the other

Prediction for this game: Braves win and Chipper has a hand in driving in the winning run to advance the Braves to the next round.

Here is the link over to my prediction for the Giants and Reds series:
http://twinsdaily.com/entry.php?1975-Playoffs-pt-1
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