Sunday, October 14, 2012

Cardinals vs Giants NLCS Preview



The National League Championship series features a pair of teams that within the last few days were both on the brink of elimination and were fighting for their postseason lives. This round only ones teams magical season will continue.

The odds slightly favor the Giants (primarily because of home field advantage if this goes seven games) but I am expecting just about anything to happen.

Here is the statistical breakdown for each squad:

Offense

AVGOBPSLGwOBAwRC+
Giants0.2690.3270.3970.31599
Cardinals0.2710.3380.4210.329107

Pitching

ERA-FIP-xFIP-
Giants97101101
Cardinals979595


The Cardinals are a better team than the Giants, but it is fairly close. On offense the Cardinals were the best hitting team in the NL this season while the Giants were the fourth best. On the pitching side, the teams are even in ERA- while the Cardinals have the edge in the fielding independent statistics.

On paper this is a very close match up that leans toward the Cardinals, however this is a short series and sometimes a guy like Cody Ross hits like vintage Barry Bonds over a short stretch, you never know and that is why we all love this crazy game.

Next let's move on to the projection. In case you forgot or haven’t seen the explanation, here is a quick description of how the model works:
  • I start by estimating the runs scored and allowed for each team given the starting pitcher, bullpen, defense and each team’s offense.
  • The data used in the projection model is based on the current season’s statistics to date and if a player has less than a full season of data it is supplemented with the ZiPS projections
  • The estimated run differential is then converted into a projected winning percentage using the pythagorean expectation.
  • Then, it’s converted into an odds of winning the game using the log5 method developed by Bill James

Probables:

Sunday, October 14, 5:00 PM: Lance Lynn vs. Madison Bumgarner

Monday, October 15, 5:00 PM: Chris Carpenter vs. Ryan Vogelsong

Wednesday, October 17, 1:00 PM: Kyle Loshe vs. Matt Cain

Thursday, October 18, 5:00 PM: Adam Wainright vs. Tim Lincecum*

Friday, October 19, 5:00 PM**: Lance Lynn vs. Madison Bumgarner

Sunday, October 21, 1:30 PM**: Chris Carpenter vs. Ryan Vogelsong

Monday, October 22, 5:00 PM**: Kyle Lohse vs. Matt Cain

*Not announced but it is what I am hoping for

**If necessary

Odds:
GiantsCardinals
Game 157%43%
Game 254%46%
Game 349%51%
Game 439%61%
Game 548%52%
Game 654%46%
Game 758%42%

In each game the home team is the favorite but outside of games one, four and seven all of the match ups are fairly close to toss up games where neither team has a large advantage.

Here is how the different permutations turn out for the series, with the odds of each team winning in a certain number of games:

GiantsCardinals
Sweep6%6%
In 5 games12%13%
in 6 games17%15%
in 7 game18%13%
Total:53%47%

The Giants enjoy the slight advantage in the odds right now due to the benefit of home field advantage. The longer the series goes the more it swings in the Giants favor and on paper it looks like there is a decent chance of that happening. The probability of a sweep is slim with neither team having much of an edge in the first four games.

According to my projections, we should all prepare our selves for a long series. The odds of at least six games right now are sitting at 63% and this is probably a good thing that favors the Giants with the last two games at home.

The experts at ESPN are split as to who will win but it sure seems that the Cardinals bandwagon is a bit fuller at this moment. I actually don't mind that at all and I am a bit reassured by these numbers giving the slight edge to the Giants. This plus the underdog role seems to fit into the pattern of what happened in 2010 and we all remember what happened then.

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