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After a very interesting weekend of baseball, the Major League Baseball season rolls along as teams continue to jockey for position on their march towards the playoffs. We continue our look at the more intriguing match-ups in the early portion of Week 22. The rankings are based on Felipe’s Ultimate Baseball Advanced Rankings (or FUBAR for short), which are solely based on advanced statistics and not win-loss record, as we look to spotlight the most evenly-matched clubs.
- 21 Chicago Cubs vs 19 Cincinnati Reds: As mentioned in our preview of the Cubs vs Orioles series this past weekend, it got really ugly for Baltimore as the Cubs magnified the glaring holes for the O’s. The Cubs will leave the “friendly confines” and go down to southwest Ohio where they are scheduled to face Reds’ pitching ace, Johnny Cueto. The Reds will try to make a late push of sorts for the NL Central, but their offense, even their base running, has been in a rut in the last couple of months or so. Both teams’ pitching staffs are evenly matched, but the deciding factor might be the Reds’ defense which ranks among the elite at the moment.
FISH AND TROUT
- 14 Miami Marlins vs 8 Los Angeles Angels: After a tough match-up in Oakland, the Halos return to Southern California to host Miami. Since losing Jose Fernandez earlier in the season with elbow surgery, the Marlins have refused to pack in their season early. In this series, the Marlins are rated equally on offense, though the Angels have a much higher Weighted On Base Average (wOBA–basically, not all hits are created equal. Don’t forget to check out our more detailed explanation of this stat), with Mike Trout leading the way in hitting prowess. But for the most part, except for maybe a very slight advantage to the Angels’ rotation, these two teams, theoretically, match up well against each other. And with Garrett Richards out for the season, this match-up might be too close to call with the Marlins having a good opportunity to take the series.
- 11 St. Louis Cardinals vs 16 Pittsburgh Pirates: The Cards have held steady in our top 10 throughout most of the season, but have hit a rough stretch recently and have looked to 2013 World Series nemesis, the Boston Red Sox, for help as they first signed A.J. Pierzynski to help fill their catching spot created by the absence of Yadier Molina. They then acquired John Lackey to shore up a fragile starting rotation. Both players have not been very impressive, to say the least. But somehow, the Cardinals continue to win with an adequate pitching staff and superb defense. Meanwhile, the Pirates have one of the better offenses in the game. Will they be able to take advantage of a shoddy starting rotation, or will the Cards’ defense continue to bail them out?
HOPS ON POPS
- 13 Milwaukee Brewers vs 5 San Diego Padres: This is a very dangerous match-up for the Brewers as they have shown to have an inconsistent offense, especially in the plate discipline category. The Dads can absolutely suffocate teams with their pitching and defense, but their offense is so awful, that it really has been difficult for San Diego to overcome. Even though the Brewers can look frustrating at the plate, their ability to strike with their explosive bats without warning and the aggressiveness on the base paths should help the Brew Crew in this series.
AGENT OF SHIELD
- 10 New York Yankees vs 9 Kansas City Royals: It’s only one game, but it’s still the best match-up to kick off Week 22. Offenses are evenly matched with the Royals having the best base running team in baseball, while the Yanks have one of the more patient lineups in the league. Bullpen is also evened up. The big difference is the Royals defense which is one of the best in baseball. James Shields is scheduled to make the start for KC and with the Yankees pitching staff counting so much on solid glove work to get by, the Royals should be able to take this game at home.
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