Stats & Info: 2011 World Series

Rangers, Cardinals all square in Texas

October, 22, 2011
A World Series that was billed as a battle of the bullpens and big bats, has turned into a classic duel of starting pitchers and "smallball" heroics.

With the Fall Classic tied at one game apiece, the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers now head south to Arlington, Texas for a pivotal Game 3 tonight. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, of the 52 times that a World Series has been tied 1-1, the Game 3 winner has gone on to win the title 37 times.

Inside the Series
The Rangers go home with the momentum from their dramatic Game 2 win. It’s not surprising that Texas was able to bounce-back from their loss in the series opener. The Rangers have not lost consecutive games in this postseason and didn’t do so in the last 31 games of the regular season. That was the longest season-ending streak in the majors this season, according to Elias.

The Cardinals lost homefield advantage when they squandered the lead in the ninth inning Thursday. However, they’ve handled the road well this postseason, with four wins in six road games. But history is not on their side, as the team has lost nine of its last 10 World Series games on the road.

Stat to Remember
We could be headed for one of the most dramatic postseasons ever. Not only is this just the second time in the Wild Card Era that we won’t have any series sweeps, but Thursday’s 2-1 win by the Rangers was the 12th one-run game of the 2011 playoffs. That matches the record set in 1995 and later tied in 1997 and 2003.

On the Mound
Kyle Lohse takes the ball for the visiting Cardinals, still looking for the first postseason win of his 11-season career. According to Elias, his 298 career regular-season starts are the second-most by any active pitcher without a playoff victory.

Lohse is 0-4 in his playoff career, and his team has lost his last six postseason outings. If he loses, he’ll become the third pitcher in major-league history to begin his postseason career 0-5 or worse. Doyle Alexander started 0-5 and Aaron Sele started 0-6.

Matt Harrison is on the mound for the hometown team in his fourth career postseason appearance and third start. Harrison has been on a roll lately, going 5-0 with a 2.88 ERA in his last seven starts dating back to the beginning of September.

The southpaw Harrison likely won’t be fazed by the righty-heavy Cardinals lineup, as he has held right-handed batters to a lower batting average (.247) than lefties (.274). The key pitch for him against righties is his 83-mph changeup, against which righties are hitting .194 this season.

He has been dominant throwing the pitch since the start of September, with just two hits allowed in 19 at-bats, and opponents have missed on nearly 40 percent of their swings against his changeups over the last two months.

Most frequent pitch locations for Matt Harrison's changeup to right-handed batters since September 1.
Click here to create your own Harrison heat maps

Bullpens in focus, ready for World Series

October, 19, 2011

US Presswire
Jason Motte and Neftali Feliz have led the dominant 'pens of St. Louis and Texas this postseason.

Last year, the San Francisco Giants rode the arms of their dominant starting pitchers to their first World Series title in more than 50 years.

This year, the team with the league’s best rotation -- the Philadelphia Phillies -- was knocked out in the first round. The two teams that eventually advanced to the Fall Classic have done so largely on the strength of shutdown bullpens.

The Texas Rangers starters (5.62 ERA) and the St. Louis Cardinals starters (5.43 ERA) have combined for a 5.52 ERA this postseason. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, their combined postseason ERA so far is the highest ever by the two teams playing in the World Series.

As the starters have routinely failed, the bullpens have picked up the slack. Among all teams, relievers have pitched 226 innings, the most since an MLB-record 273 in 2004, and won 12 games, just three shy of the record set in 2003.

In the National League Championship Series, the Cardinals joined the 1979 Pirates as the only teams to win a best-of-seven series by getting more outs from their relievers than their starters, according to Elias.

Not only have the bullpens been relied on like never before, but they have also dominated opposing hitters. There have been only two blown saves this postseason, and the Rangers and Cardinals both own bullpen WHIPs under 1.00.

Let’s use heat maps to introduce you to three of the many relief pitchers you’ll likely see put to significant use in the World Series.

Jason Motte
Motte has put together a dominant postseason, as opponents are 1-for-25 against him in eight innings. He throws a 98 mph fastball that hitters have had trouble catching up to. Motte has seven strikeouts, all but one of which have come on high fastballs. This includes the heater that Mark Kotsay swung through for the final out of the NLCS.

Jason Motte’s strikeouts in this postseason
Click here to create your own Motte heat maps

Octavio Dotel
Dotel was a trade-deadline pickup for the Cardinals. Right-handed hitters are 10-for-73 against Dotel since he joined the team, including 2-for-19 in the playoffs.

He has succeeded at keeping the ball away from righties. Of the 72 pitches he’s thrown to them this postseason, 63 percent have been on the outer third of the plate or further away. Of the 12 at-bats ending on pitches away to righties, six have been strikeouts.

Primary location of Octavio Dotel’s pitches to right-handed hitters this postseason
Click here to create your own Dotel heat maps

Alexi Ogando
Ogando has been a valuable setup man for Neftali Feliz, converting back to the bullpen from the starting rotation after pitching in relief last season. He has an 0.87 ERA in 10 ⅓ postseason innings.

Right-handed hitters have seen Ogando’s slider frequently. He’s thrown 85 pitches to righties, with 40 being sliders. Similar to Dotel, he’s had success at keeping the ball away.

Of those 40 sliders, 30 have been on the outside part of the plate or further away. Righties are 0-for-7 in at-bats ending in a slider thrown to that location against Ogando this postseason.

Primary location of Alexi Ogando’s slider to right-handed hitters this postseason.
Click here to create your own Ogando heat maps
The 107th edition of the Fall Classic kicks off on Wednesday night in St. Louis, with the Texas Rangers looking for their first World Series title and the St. Louis Cardinals trying for their 11th all-time.

The Rangers are one of eight current major-league franchises that have never won a World Series. Among those teams, the Rangers have been in existence the longest, playing their inaugural season in 1961.

They are the fifth AL team in the Divisional Era to make it to the World Series in back-to-back seasons, and the first since the Yankees went to four straight from 1998-2001.

However, the pressure is on the Rangers to win this year after losing to the Giants in 2010. The previous three AL teams to go back to the World Series the season after a loss have each won the title in their return trip. The last AL team to lose back-to-back World Series was the Yankees in 1963 and 1964.

The Cardinals are making their 18th World Series appearance all-time, tied with the Dodgers and Giants for second-most in major-league history. This is their third appearance since the start of the 2004 season, the most of any team in that span.

The Cardinals this year were one of the most unlikely teams to ever make the World Series. On August 27th, a loss to the Pirates dropped them to 69-64 and put them 10½ games back in the division.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Cardinals are the first team to be at least 10 games out in through the games of August 27 or later in either the league, division or wild card race and reach the World Series.

Home-field Advantage
Thanks to the NL’s win in the All-Star Game, the Cardinals have home-field advantage in the World Series. Since 1985, the team hosting Game 1 in the World Series has won 20 of the 25 titles.

Last-day Momentum
The Cardinals clinched a postseason spot on the final day of the regular season. Of the 15 teams to do this in the Wild Card era, only four have reached the World Series, including the Cardinals. Two of the previous three won the title: the Giants last year and the Cardinals in 2006.

Regular-season Performance
• The team with the better regular-season record is 5-5 in the last 10 World Series. The Rangers were 96-66, the Cardinals were 90-72.
• The team that averages more runs per game in the regular season has won 11 of the last 15 World Series. The Rangers averaged 5.3 runs per game, the Cardinals averaged 4.7 runs per game.
• The team with the better regular season batting average has won 14 of the last 21 World Series. That Rangers hit .283, the Cardinals hit .273.
• The team with the better regular season ERA has won only 5 the last 20 World Series. The Rangers had a 3.79 ERA, the Cardinals had a 3.74 ERA.