Friday, November 1, 2013

World Series Game Six: Boston 6, St. Louis 1 (Boston wins 4-2)

Nats fans were disappointed that our juggernaut never quite got going.  But on the whole, it was a fun baseball season.

The Yankees missed the playoffs for only the second time since 1994, and I don't think too many people missed them.

The Pirates had their first winning season since 1992, and their fans were ecstatic.

The A's had another amazing regular season -- followed by another heartbreaking Game Five defeat in the Divisional Series -- both of which will add to the legend of Billy Beane.

The Devil Rays continued to be the Eastern version of the A's, as they win year after year despite apparently having almost no fans at all.

The Braves and Tigers showed that they are still good teams that can't quite get over the hump in the playoffs.

The Dodgers came back in a big way, and they could finally be on their way out of the doldrums that have plagued that franchise for the last 25 years.

The Cardinals won their second National League pennant in the last three years, and showed a bevy of young arms that bodes well for the future.

And the best team in all of baseball -- the Boston Red Sox -- are the well-deserved Champions of the World for the third time in the last ten years.  The Red Sox had the best record in the American League -- and once they stopped making errors, they didn't have too much trouble dispatching the Cardinals in six games.  Games Two through Five of the World Series were full of drama and intrigue, but by Game Six it was clear that:  (a) the Cardinals' pitching staff was finally worn out, and (b) the Cardinals' offense had shut down for the winter.  In the last three games of the year, the Cardinals managed only four runs.

We've been skeptical about the wisdom of the Moneyball approach in playoff baseball, but the Red Sox certainly made it work.  Over the course of six games, the Red Sox batted only .211, while the Cardinals batted .224.  But the Red Sox drew 21 walks (to 13 for the Cardinals), and the Red Sox hit 14 extra-base hits (and 4 home runs), while the Cardinals had 10 extra-base hits (and only two homers, both solo shots by Matt Holliday).  Putting it all together, the Red Sox had an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) of .621, while the Cardinals were at .572.  As the SABR guys have always claimed, OPS tells you more than batting average.

By almost every measure, the Red Sox victory was even more dominant than the 4-2 result in games.  The Sox outscored the Cardinals 27-14 -- even though Boston made 8 errors (to 5 for St. Louis).  The Boston pitching staff had an ERA of 1.84 (St. Louis's ERA was 4.15).  Boston's starters gave up only seven earned runs in 37 1/3 innings.  Cardinal starters only lasted 32 2/3 innings, and they gave up 19 earned runs.

So in the end, the gallant Cardinals were simply beaten by a better team.  This will not make Cardinal fans feel any better, but it certainly shows that we had a worthy champion this year.

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