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2015 MLB Playoffs By The Numbers

MLB Playoffs, Jose Bautista


Major League Baseball’s most exciting time of the season is here: October baseball is in full swing! And as always, we use Felipe’s Ultimate Baseball Advanced Rankings (or FUBAR for short) to evaluate all 10 teams involved in this postseason.

OFFENSE

Production

Yes, the Toronto Blue Jays, led by the trio of Josh DonaldsonJose Bautista, and Edwin Encarnacion bashed their way to the top of these rankings.

Right behind the Jays in offensive production are the Houston Astros and New York Yankees. The former received a spark plug from rookie phenom and potential Rookie of the Year Award winner, Carlos Correa.

In New York, Mark Teixeira proved to be a real leader with the bat and the Yanks will sorely miss his presence in the lineup.

Plate Discipline

In terms of plate discipline, it’s the Blue Jays and then everybody else. Once again, the Yankees are chasing Toronto for the top spot, while the Los Angeles Dodgers lead the playoff teams in Walk Percentage (BB%).

The Chicago Cubs are an enigma in this category as they take a lot of walks, but also strike out at an alarming rate. Conversely, but just as odd, though the team is full of aggressive hitters, the Kansas City Royals are the toughest team to strike out, but they are in dead last in BB%.

Base Running

As if the Blue Jays needed more accolades on offense, they are also the best, base running club in these playoffs, followed by the surprising Chicago Cubs.

Another surprise team, the Houston Astros, can certainly bash the ball, but they have proven to be effective when it comes to steals. Last season’s speed thieves on the base paths, the Royals proved to be a sloppy, base running team, but there’s no denying their ability to steal the extra base.

Conclusion

The Toronto Blue Jays smashed their way into a postseason berth and they will have to continue to use their combination of power, skill, approach, and smart, effective base running to get far in these playoffs.

PITCHING

Starting Rotation

As the season wound down, talks of pitching ace, Jake Arrieta grew more and more common in the city of Chicago. Thanks to a historic second half of baseball, Arrieta has put himself in talks for the Cy Young Award and has helped the Cubs become the best starting rotation in all of baseball.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, they have a date with the third best rotation in baseball (the Pittsburgh Pirates) and they will send out a stud pitcher of their own in Gerrit Cole. This will be an old-school battle of epic proportions.

Finishing in second place in these rankings are the Dodgers, who boast two Cy Young candidates in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke.

Representing the American League on this list are the Houston Astros as the sixth best starting rotation in baseball. As one can see from the chart, the best rotations reside in the National League.

Bullpen

The Houston Astros, what seemed to be an apparent weakness for them, has turned into a major strength.

Once again, the Cubs and Pirates are pretty evenly matched in this department. It would appear to be a low-scoring, nail-biting affair in the single-elimination matchup in Pittsburgh.

Surprisingly, the Blue Jays have a pretty good bullpen and it might prove to be difference in the team’s World Series goal.

Conclusion

The best, overall pitching staff going into these playoffs are the Chicago Cubs, followed by the Dodgers, and Pirates. It will be a tough, grueling matchup between the Cubs and Pirates, but the National League is represented very well when it comes to pitching as the Dodgers have a tough test in the New York Mets.

Meanwhile, the Houston Astros have the fourth best pitching staff among all playoff teams. And if they can get by Masahiro Tanaka, then the Astros have a legitimate shot of winning the American League pennant.

FIELDING

Last season, the Royals made it to the World Series thanks in large part to their fielding prowess. Lorenzo Cain covers a lot of ground in the outfield, while Salvador Perez is one of the more exciting catchers in baseball.

As hard as it is to believe, the Chicago Cubs are second among all playoff teams in this category as rookie phenom, Addison Russell has made a huge impact with his glove.

The next two spots on defense are owned by the two Texas teams: The Texas Rangers are led by Adrian Beltre in the infield and Leonys Martin in the outfield. In Houston, George Springer‘s aggressive style has made him one of the most exciting, young players in baseball, but also one of its most fragile.

FINAL PREDICTION

After combining all the numbers, we are happy to announce the upstart Chicago Cubs and the Houston Astros will meet in the World Series … assuming they survive their Wild Card games on the road. A very tough obstacle to overcome, as both home teams in these single-elimination games will have the advantage of a very hostile crowd behind them.

American League

Assuming only one road team can advance into the next round, odds are, the Houston Astros will more than likely survive their Wild Card game. The Astros will then meet the Royals, which the advanced stats don’t seem to like at all, but Kansas City has proven to be a tough team to gauge in the playoffs. Only difference is their bullpen is not as strong as last season.

The Astros will more than likely meet the Toronto Blue Jays in the American League Championship Series. The Houston Astros might have enough pitching to overcome a tough, Blue Jays’ lineup, but Toronto might just have the intangibles to overtake a very young, Astros’ team.

Blue Jays in six.

National League

Surviving a tough game agains the Cubs, the Pirates will then try their luck against the Cardinals, who have been the class of the National League this season (and seemingly, for the last 20 years or so). The Red Birds should be able to take care of the Jolly Rogers and advance to the National League Championship Series.

On the other side of the bracket, the Los Angeles Dodgers should take care of the very young, but inexperienced New York Mets.

In the NLCS, the Dodgers will finally break on through and advance to the World Series.

Dodgers in six.

World Series

Two teams with divergent styles. The Dodges with their world-class pitching against the power and might of the Blue Jays. There’s a lot to like from both teams, but ultimately, we’ll take go the safe route and assume pitching and defense will once again prevail. The Dodgers will win their first title since 1988 …

… that’s what Felipe’s gut and imagination is predicting. If you want to go with Felipe’s numbers, then it’s definitely the Cubs and Astros, with the Cubs finally winning their first title since 1908.

As soon as the Cubs win, Chicago fans will definitely expect Joe Buck to pretend that he’s been waiting all of his life for this very moment and start screaming a bunch of nonsense because it is indeed, Joe Buck.

Regardless of which style (tangibles vs intangibles) you go with, this should prove to be a remarkable, postseason to remember.

Photo Credit: Keith Allison/Flickr. CC 2.0

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