Dodgers / Phills
Rob Neyer and David Cohen both make convincing cases that Philadelphia is every bit the team Los Angeles is and then some. Here's Rob:
...the Phillies have actually been hotter than the Dodgers. As Cohen also notes (not pictured above), Ryan Howard was even better than Manny Ramirez in September. And about Torre -- maybe he does carry around some sort of October fairy dust. But if so, why hasn't he used it since 2000?
Look, I know the Dodgers are better than their record. They've got Manny Ramirez and Casey Blake and Rafael Furcal now, which makes a difference. But I also know the Phillies are a little bit better, and they've got the home field for this series. Which is why I'm picking them to win.
And here's David:
The Phillies finished much stronger than the Dodgers. The same story has been told about the Dodgers' strong finish. But the Phillies were 17-8 in September, the same exact record as the Dodgers for the month. And the Phillies were much stronger in the last 16 games. The Phillies finished 13-3, whereas the Dodgers went only 9-7 to finish the season.
Ok, let's dig a little deeper now. Here are some relevant numbers for the final few months of the season.
AUG .783 .716
SEP .815 .793
LDS .787 .798
AUG .731 .699
SEP .652 .740
LDS .628 .525
Run Differential for August and September
RS RA Diff
LAD 250 217 33
PHI 253 211 42
Run Differential for September
RS RA Diff
LAD 135 86 49
PHI 138 111 27
The notion that the Phillies finished stronger or that they are the better team is a difficult case to make when you take in all of the above numbers. Cohen points to the Dodgers 9-7 finish to the season but remember, Philadelphia was playing meaningful games until the very end. The Dodgers had vanquished the Diamondbacks by the time Los Angeles lost three of its last four games.
Going around the diamond, the teams look remarkably similar to me. A lot of the position players seem to cancel each other out, except that the Dodgers enjoy considerable advantages at catcher and in left field, while Philly's first and second basemen provide them a big edge. I think the Dodgers are a bit better to begin with but there is one built-in aspect to this match-up in particular that I think may dictate the series outcome. Pat Burrell and Jayson Werth pound on southpaws but are just .230/.348/.439 and .255/.360/.407 hitters respectively against righties. With the Dodgers' bevy of right-handed power arms lined up, Philly's offensive supporting cast should be neutralized.
I like the Dodgers in six.