Change-UpOctober 24, 2007
Series Preview - Peelin' Back the Onion a Bit
By Patrick Sullivan

After attending Saturday and Sunday nights' masterpieces at Fenway Park, this will be tough but I am checking the fanboyism at the door and just looking at the numbers to see just what we are looking at here in these two teams. The Colorado Rockies are on fire. We get that much, right? But let's step back and determine if they truly have become as good a ballclub as the odds-on favorites Boston Red Sox or if Rox fans can expect this magical run to come to an unceremonious end.

Over the course of the entire season, it is clear to see that Boston was the better club:

     AVG   OBP   SLG  OPS+    OPS+  Lg Rank  
COL .280  .354  .437  103        Sixth   
BOS .279  .362  .444  107        Third
     ERA   ERA+   ERA+ Lg Rank  DefEff 
COL  4.32  111       Third      .701
BOS  3.87  123       First      .704

Both teams have been very good all year long, but Boston has been head and shoulders above Colorado when it comes to both run scoring and run prevention. Also, I would be remiss if I did not point out another enormous disparity, payroll:

COL: $54,041,000
BOS: $143,026,214

Heck, Boston should have the better club. But since a baseball season is a work in progress and Colorado had an historic run to finish up the season and get to this point (while Boston limped to the finish line and did not exactly cruise in the ALCS), let's look at some additional numbers.

Second Half

      AVG   OBP   SLG
COL  .283  .358  .454 
BOS  .286  .366  .452  
COL  3.86 (4.71 first half)
BOS  3.98 (3.76 first half)

September / October (not including playoffs)

      AVG   OBP   SLG
COL  .298  .373  .488 
BOS  .286  .366  .472  
COL  4.09
BOS  4.31

As you can see, the gap narrows considerably. Colorado takes no back seat at all to Boston when you compare the two after the All Star Break and in September/October. Finally, let's take a look at how the two have fared in the post-season to try and deduce what we can.

      AVG   OBP   SLG
COL  .242  .326  .390 
OPP  .221  .296  .362  
      AVG   OBP   SLG    
BOS  .304  .388  .513
OPP  .236  .287  .364

You can talk about historic streaks and days off and double plays grounded into and bullpens and who plays the game the right way and momentum and all that other stuff but the above numbers seem to be the ones being missed by the general public. Yes, Boston played a tight series against Cleveland but the reality is that they are hitting and pitching the ball ridiculously well. Meanwhile, Colorado's bats went a bit cold thus far in the playoffs. That will have to change for them to have a chance in this series.

For fun, here are the five best hitters and five best pitchers in the series, according to VORP:

Ortiz        86.2
Holliday     75.0
Helton       51.9
Lowell       46.5
Tulowitzki   37.8
Beckett      58.6
Francis      42.7
Matsuzaka    37.0
Schilling    33.5
Corpas       31.8

Enjoy the series, everyone, and be sure to hang stop in here for wall-to-wall Series coverage.



Since the Red Sox and Rockies have essentially completely different opponents (leaving out inter-league play), it doesn't really make sense to compare their absolute stats. There's a growing body of evidence that the AL is significantly superior to the NL, so a direct stats comparison is misleading.

To take it to an extreme, you could find any number of college teams that have better stats than either the Rockies or Red Sox, but you would never claim the collegians were better than major leaguers.

The difference between AL and NL is obviously much smaller, but it's large enough, I believe, to make comparing stats problematical.

Also, the red sox have hit .304 as a club in the playoffs and the rockies only .242..but what about era? I think the rox era has been less than 2.00 so far

Sure it's problematic(al), but it's still instructive. There's enough there to assert comfortably that Colorado made up a lot of ground on the Red Sox between April 1 and now.

I keep tellin' people - Rockies in 6 games. I can see why everyone's thinking Boston has such a huge advantage...but com'on...the Rockies have great stats during the past 2 months or so. They put it together. To me, it looks like Boston should only win games 2 & 5.

I ran a similuation can calculated that the Rockies have a .000000000000001% chance of winning this series. MLB should contract the National League.

Wow, I really butchered simulation.

Here's my hedged prognostication: I like the Sox straight up and the Rox at the 2:1 betting line.

"Also, the red sox have hit .304 as a club in the playoffs and the rockies only .242..but what about era? I think the rox era has been less than 2.00 so far"

There's a fair amount of luck involved in that along with facing two lineups that are very aggressive and strikeout quite a bit. The Rockies pitchers have given up a bunch of walks and have been poor at best in terms of getting ahead of batters. The Red Sox lineup is way too patient (minus Lugo) for the Rockies pitchers to get away with pitching behind in the count.

One more data point...Don Malcolm's GvB (versus-.500+ teams and versus .499- teams).

Team, Games v Good W, L, WPct, RS, RA, PythW%

COL 96 54, 42, .563, 537, 428, .602

BOS 84 44, 40, .524, 428, 381, .553

Comparing an AL team to an NL team is, sadly at this point, comparing apples to oranges. In a short series the Rockies have a nice shot at winning it all, and would deserve it, but at this point it is a fact that the Red Sox are a better team...any of the AL playoff teams would be better than the Rockies (the Cardinals were not the best team in baseball last year, but people play for championships, not the right to say that the best team won).

The post above mine is a great example of why the numbers don't help with this. Are you telling me we can get anything significiant about the Red Sox and Rockies from the fact that the Rockies did better against a bunch of .520ish team than the Red Sox did against a number of .570ish teams?