League Championship Series Preview

Feel free to comment throughout these series below!

American League: Tampa Bay vs. Houston

The Rays enter the series having been outscored in the Division Series by the Yankees, 24-21. But that doesn’t matter when you win the most games. Particularly impressive was the Rays’ ability to silence the New York bats in the decisive Game 5. The Rays allowed only three hits and four walks against one of the most potent lineups in the game. The question becomes, can their pitchers continue to silence the defending AL Champion Astros?

Speaking of whom: the Astros are appearing in their 4th-straight ALCS. They join the 2011-2014 Cardinals, 1998-2001 Yankees, 1991-1999 Atlanta Braves (that’s 8 seasons not 9, due to the 1994 work stoppage), and 1971-1975 Oakland A’s as the only teams to make 4 or more consecutive League Championship Series. Though the Astros finished the regular season with a losing record (29-31), they now have a winning record (34-32) including the postseason. They will need to win at least 2 games to finish .500 or better on the year.

National League: Los Angeles vs. Atlanta

Something’s gotta give: it’s a matchup of two undefeated postseason teams. The teams with the top two seeds in the National League (and the best two winning percentages in the NL, postseason inclusive) face off in an NLCS with a lot of potentially-exciting storylines.

For the Braves, they enter with a fabulous offense – second in the Majors in runs scored (and second by only a single run to the Dodgers). Four of their key players finished the season with a .900 or better OPS:
Travis d’Arnaud: .321/.386/.533
Ronald Acuna, Jr.: .250/.406/.581
Marcell Ozuna: .338/.431/.636
Freddie Freeman: .341/.462/.640
I don’t know how often a team has had two players bat .330/.430/.630, but I’m going to guess that what Freeman and Ozuna did this year is pretty special.
Add in ace pitcher Max Fried – he of the 7-0 record and 2.25 ERA – and the Braves look pretty tough to beat.

However, that’s before you’ve looked at the Dodgers. The Dodgers led the NL in runs scored and (fewest) runs allowed; in fact, they nearly led the Majors in both, but Cleveland managed to allow four runs fewer.
Anyway, the Dodgers outscored their opponents by over two runs per game (2.27 per game, to be specific). That’s similar to the 1927 Yankees (2.44 per game), and even better than the 1906 Cubs (2.13), 2001 Mariners (1.85), 1998 Yankees (1.90), and anyone else I could think to check. Including postseason, they’re now winning games at a .738 clip – that’s a 119-win pace over 162. This is, arguably, one of the great teams of all-time. We’ll see, of course. But as for individuals, Mookie Betts looks decently likely to become the second-ever player to win MVP awards in both leagues. Clayton Kershaw, who is supposed to fade in the postseason, has been lights-out in two postseason starts: 14 innings, 3 R.

So, folks, stay tuned for what will hopefully be two outstanding postseason series. And stay tuned to the comments for conversation and analysis of the games!

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Richard Chester
Richard Chester
12 days ago

Teams with 2 players batting .330/.430/.630: 1927, 1930 and 1931 Yankees (Ruth and Gehrig); 2001 Rockies (Helton and Walker).

Doug
Doug
10 days ago
Reply to  Dr. Doom

It is actually the worst year ever for HOF deaths, with a total of 6 players passing (so far), and 5 of them (in my view) inner circle players. 1972 also had 6 players pass but the last (Clemente) was, of course, not yet a HOFer, and the others (Traynor, Bancroft, Wheat, Hartnett, Jackie Robinson) were mostly not inner circle types.

Dr. Doom
Dr. Doom
10 days ago
Reply to  Doug

519.4 position player WAR among the dead and 354.8 pitching WAR; we’re not yet 5/6 of the way through the year. Jim Wynn and Tony Fernandez, with over 100 WAR between the two of them, weren’t Hall of Famers, but are also notable losses this year (Lou Brock, Al Kaline, Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson, Whitey Ford, and Joe Morgan are the Hall of Famers). My personal favorite among those who have passed away this year is Angel Echevarria. He is a player whom no one has any reason to remember; he had a pretty unremarkable career. But in 2000, I… Read more »

Dr. Doom
Dr. Doom
10 days ago

The undefeated postseason dream continues for the Braves. The Braves’ Max Fried and three innings of bullpen work masterfully four-hit the Dodgers, with a Kike Hernandez homer in the 5th being the Dodgers’ only scoring chance. No Dodger reached base twice in the course of the game. If the Braves continue to put up performances like that, the Dodgers won’t have a chance. Of course, these are the 2020 Dodgers we’re talking about, and it seems pretty unlikely to me that this kind of a performance would continue for the rest of the series.

Doug
Doug
10 days ago

The Rays are living right. Bring in their closer for the 9th and he gives up three hits and two walks, yet allows only one run. That’s the sort of good fortune you have when it’s your year (though I still can’t quite see the Rays going all the way).

KDS
KDS
8 days ago

I think you missed the best team all time at RS-RA. The 1939 Yankees were almost +2.7 net runs/game. Looking at their stats compared to their opponents, what impressed me the most was not their hitting, as great as it was, or their very good pitching, but their defense was out of this world. The team defense stat you want to start with is DER, the % of balls in play that are successfully fielded for (an) out(s). The Yanks were at .730, with no other team at .700. With roughly 5000 balls in play per team season, their advantage,… Read more »

Doug
Doug
6 days ago
Reply to  KDS

The other team since 1901 with a Run Differential per game better than the Dodgers is the 1902 Pirates at 2.38 per game. Their .739 (102-36) winning percentage is second only to the 1906 Cubs.

Doug
Doug
7 days ago

Marcell Ozuna’s 5-3-4-4 box score line in game 4 is unique in the post-season in a 5 PA game. Gary Sheffield had the same box score line in 6 PA in game 3 of the 2004 ALCS.

Last edited 6 days ago by Doug
Doug
Doug
6 days ago

The Braves’ Jacob Webb pitched one inning of game 5, allowing 3 ER, his first earned runs allowed of the regular or post-season. Webb’s career 1.06 ERA for the regular season is second lowest over the first two seasons of a career among relievers with zero starts and 40+ IP for those seasons combined.

Dr. Doom
Dr. Doom
5 days ago

2020 joins 2003 & 2004 as the only seasons in which both the ALCS and NLCS went 7 games. (1972 & 1973 also both went the limit, but those were best of 5.)

trackback
4 days ago

[…] posted this in the comments of the last thread, but this year was the fifth time in history the two LCS series have both gone the distance, […]