Tomorrow night the Sox and ‘Stros kick off the ALCS, and I couldn’t be more fired up. This is a matchup of the two best teams in baseball, by any measure- actual record, Pythagorean record (nerd shit), statistical measure, eye ball test…doesn’t matter. Two Best teams in MLB.
But, which of these teams is actually better?
Vegas is all over the place. Most books have Houston as the favorite, or have the teams at even odds.
I have to agree. Please don’t give me win totals…the Sox beat up on a weaker division and a very favorable Interleague Schedule. The Sox also had great luck in 1 run (25-14) and extra inning (8-5) games- which are usually just coin flips.
The defending champs meanwhile, had to weather injuries to some of their biggest bats, and were fighting off the Mariners, and then the A’s, for much of the second half of the season. And still came out with 103 victories.
Overall, based on the regular season, it’s, at best, a wash. I’d, perosnally say (“earmuffs”, yahoos) the Astros are better.
Starting Pitching: Edge- Astros
Chris Sale is the best pitcher in this series, but, the Astros have the next 4 best starters between the two teams, and it’s not close. This is a huge hurdle for the Sox to overcome, especially considering they’ll need to rely on….
The Bull Pen: Edge- Astros
Kimbrel, ALDS aside, is the best single reliever in the series, but beyond him, Cora clearly wants to limit his bullpen usage to Brasier and Barnes (and starters) when the game really matters. Tough to win in a 7 game series that way. The Astros ‘pen isn’t the scariest in baseball, but they have quality, battle-tested arms to bridge to their closer, Roberto Osuna. Osuna, though, has struggled in Fenway and against the Sox in recent years, and will hopefully be rattled by 35K massholes calling him a wife beater.
Outfield: Edge- Red Sox
This is really the only clear edge for the Sox, but I think it is a decisive one. They can beat you a lot of ways, and they are ELITE defensively.
George Springer is a STUD, but the rest of Houston’s OF are really platoon/matchup guys. Good, but not great. Benintendi scoffs at Marwin Gonzalez and Josh Reddick…because he’s better, and also because he seems like kind of a dick.
Infield: Edge- Astros
The edge at 2B and 3B are about as big as an edge gets. Landslide Bregman and Altuve.
1B is probably a wash. By wash, I mean, possibly the two weakest playoff teams of all time at the position. A wash.
SS is interesting. Xander had the better season, while Carlos Correa really struggled, mostly with injuries. At their best, Bogaerts is an All-Star, Correa an MVP. His level of play- he sucked in the sweep of Cleveland, FYI- will be a key to the Houston lineup, and their chances in the series.
DH: Edge- Red Sox
Breakdown and My Pick
As a baseball fan, I’m a stat guy. Unless you know why something happened, you have no idea if it was a fluke, or if it’s likely to happen again. That’s where the advanced stats are KEY. You can say you hate ’em…but you just sound ignorant.
But when it comes to the playoffs…it’s pretty much a toss-up. Stats are out the window. One, 5, or 7 games…is such a short amount of time. “Luck”- or more accurately defined, “random shit”- can easily decide an entire series.
As a “stat guy”, it sounds like I’m complaining about that. I’m not.
That’s exactly what makes the playoffs so great.
If we were worried about deciding who the “Best Team” is, we’d use stats, and analysis, and we’d vote on it. But there is no BEST TEAM trophy…there is a goddamn WORLD SERIES trophy. Teams are built with the goal of winning it. Being the best team gives you an advantage…but if you don’t perform when the money’s on the table, you are just a disappointment.
These guys need to play this one out. What I see for the Red Sox is:
- A pitcher, Sale, who is capable of shutting down this Houston lineup twice, games 1 and 5.
- A relentless Sox offense that is capable of beating you anyway they need to…and I think will be able to get to one of Houston’s 2-4 starters…and steal a game for them in Houston.
- Just enough depth to patch together a bullpen- also relying on Sale and Porcello- that can navigate through a Game 7.
So, if I’m asked, who’s the better team, I’m going with Houston.
But who’s going to win the series????
Red Sox in 7.