Note: A good buddy of mine is a Phillies fan and, of course, thinks they're the best. I think the Giants have a decent chance and decided to document my reasoning for him by doing my own analysis before reading anyone else’s so I wouldn’t be influenced by others. While it's hardly "scientific" by McC standards, I’ve tried to use stats that are meaningful and park-adjusted and avoid "silly" stats like RBIs and W-L for pitchers. I thought I'd share it here for kicks.
I came in thinking the Phillies will be favored because while both teams have good pitching, Philadelphia’s offensive firepower will be overwhelming. After going through some of the numbers and trying to negate park factors, I’ve come away thinking, "Wow, these two teams are really evenly matched."
Offense - Advantage Phillies
By park-adjusted OPS+, the Phillies’ (99) have the 5th ranked NL offense. The Giants (95) ranked 6th. Both are better than league average of 94. The Phillies were clearly better at turning offensive production into runs, as they outscored the Giants 772-640. Park factors play a big role in run production, but will even out when we compare runs allowed below.
Pitching/Defense – Advantage Giants
Using park-adjusted ERA+, the Giants’ pitching score of 121 lead the NL by a wide margin. The Phillies score ranked them #3 in the NL. League average was 101.
Both teams play good defense. The Giants’ defensive efficiency of .709 ranked #1 in the NL and their team UZR of 8.5 ranked #2. The Phillies defensive efficiency of .698 ranked #4 and their UZR ranked #7.
Because of their pitching and defense, the Giants were better at preventing their opposition from scoring (583 runs) than the Phillies (640 runs).
Run Differential /Pythag – Even
So let’s look at their abilities to score and prevent scoring together. The Phillies outscored their opponents by 132 runs (772-640). The Giants outscored their opponents by 114 runs (697-583). These totals gave the Phillies an expected statistical record (pythag) of 95-67, while the Giants pythag was 94-68. Can’t get much more even than that.
Head-to-Head – Even
The two teams split the season series 3-3. The Phillies out-scored the Giants 29-27, but the Giants .787 OPS bettered the Phillies .670 OPS. Can’t get much more even than that.
Intangibles –Edge Phillies
The Phillies have home field advantage in the series and have been a mainstay in the post-season the last four years. Widely considered to be the best team in the NL, they’re the "champs" until someone knocks them off. The Giants exceeded expectations by making it this far and have been a "feel good" story as a lovable bunch of goofballs. The team doesn’t have a championship pedigree and have a lot of players (young and old) playing in their first post-season, but they played under pressure during a very tight division race with the Padres and Rockies and a thrilling NLDS vs. the Braves.
Individual Production - Pitchers
#1 Starter Lincecum vs. Halladay – Even
These are arguably the two best pitchers in all of baseball and will be the marquee matchup. Both pitched gems in their first career post-season games. Having to pick one over the other will drive you nuts, so let’s just say their even.
#2 Starter Cain vs. Oswalt – Slight Edge Phillies
Even though the Giants have a history of beating him, Oswalt has been slightly better statistically in 2010 and has some post-season experience. Both he and Cain are bulldogs and you’d be happy with either guy starting game 2 for your team.
#3 Starter Sanchez vs. Hamels – Even
Two more guys who match up really well. They have similar numbers and both were outstanding in the final weeks of the season and in their playoff start. Hamels has post-season experience, but Sanchez is on a role where he might currently be the best pitcher on the team after a history of unreached potential.
#4 Bumgarner vs. Blanton/Kendrick – Advantage Giants
The 4th starter will only start one game, but could be the key difference maker. Bumgarner doesn’t seem to realize he’s a 21-year old rookie, posting a 136 ERA+ in 18 starts, including a 1.13 ERA in September. The Phillies will start Blanton or Kendrick, neither of whom are going to scare opponents.
Bullpen – Advantage Giants
For the season, Phillies relievers had an ERA of 4.02 and a WHIP of 1.394. The Giants had an ERA of 2.99 and a WHIP of 1.310. Closer Brad Lidge had a great year, but has been an up and down question mark in the past. Meanwhile, Brian Wilson has emerged as an elite closer.
Conclusion: The Giants’ advantage in team pitching comes primarily from the back of the rotation and the bullpen. Therefore much of this advantage will be negated by the post-season format and quality of the starters.
Individual Production - Offense
C Posey (129 OPS+) vs. Ruiz (128) - Even
The most even matchup of the position players, the biggest difference is that the Giants are more dependent on Posey’s production than the Phillies are on Ruiz’.
1B Huff (138) vs. Howard (128) – Advantage Giants
In one of the biggest surprises of the season, Aubrey Huff was one of the best 1Bs in the league.
2B Sanchez (98) vs. Utley (124) – Big Advantage Phillies
When Sanchez is in the lineup, the Giants are a better team, but Utley is an elite player than can take over a game.
SS Uribe (99) vs. Rollins (86) – Advantage Giants
Rollins is a household name, but Uribe’s numbers are clearly better.
3B Fontenot (86) vs. Polanco (95) – Advantage Phillies
The more consistent Fontenot was inserted in when Sandoval struggled and that should continue, but Polanco’s bat is more valuable.
LF Burrell (119, 132 with SF) vs. Ibanez 112 - Advantage Giants
Along with Posey, Burrell came along and brought legitimacy to the Giants.
CF Torres (119) vs. Victorino (102) Advantage Giants
Torres ignites the Giants offense and should take the Gold Glove from Victorino this year.
RF Ross(93) vs. Werth (145) Big Advantage Phillies
After a revolving door in RF all year, Ross is probably their best answer and delivered big hits against Atlanta. That said, Werth is a monster so this one’s a no brainer
Conclusion: The Phillies advantage clearly lies with the bats of Werth and Utley. The Giants have completely overhauled their offense from the start of the year and are more potent, but can still struggle pushing runs across the plate.
These teams are more evenly matched than one might expect and either team could win it. I think it’ll go seven games, but home field advantage and playoff experience give the Phillies an edge.