Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Wondering Who To Root For?
It has been very nice to simply celebrate the Sox's AL Pennant (it's nice to write it as well) in the last few days. It is amazing to see the team you love, which has failed so many times before, had early exits from the playoffs, and early fades in the regular season, to finally succeed and to do so convincingly. I would never have expected a 7-1 playoff record through the first two rounds, although given how terrible I felt after the one loss, I'm not sure I could have withstood a 7-5 record through the first two rounds, even if the Sox would still be going to the World Series.
Now I've turned my attention somewhat to the World Series. For a while, I've thought that the Sox would be better off playing the Houston Astros. The Sox's right-handed power would play well in that bandbox down in Houston. In addition, there's a key difference between the Cardinals and Astros:
Houston, 609 Runs Allowed. St. Louis, 639 Runs Allowed.
Houston, 693 Runs Scored. St. Louis, 805 Runs Scored.
The St. Louis offense is much better than the Houston offense (and was easily better than the Angel offense when you factor in the lack of DH), yet the Cardinals' pitching is not that much worse. All in all, the Sox should have an easier time shutting down the Astros' offense than the Cardinal offense.
But it goes much further than that. The one remarkable thing about the Cardinals and Astros is that 2 of the top 3 starters from each team spent much of their time in the American League. Indeed, until 2004, Clemens, Pettite, Mulder and Carpenter had only pitched in the AL. Thus, the White Sox have a lot of experience against these pitchers.
The difference is pretty extreme. Carpenter and Mulder - who would presumably pitch 4 of the 7 games against the White Sox - have absolutely owned the White Sox. Here are their career records against the Pale Hose:
Carpenter - 7 wins, 1 loss, 1.97 ERA
Mulder - 5 wins, 1 loss, 2.47 ERA
On the other hand, the Sox have fared comparatively better against Pettite and Clemens:
Pettite -10 wins, 7 losses, 4.30 ERA - higher than his career 3.9x ERA. Pettite is 3-6 with a 6.33 ERA at US Cellular Field.
Clemens - 17 wins, 8 losses, 3.35 ERA - higher than his career 3.12 ERA. Clemens is 4-3 with a 3.94 ERA at US Cellular Field.
In my mind, there is no doubt that the Sox would be much better off facing the Astros than the Cardinals, if only to avoid Carpenter and Mulder. And that does not even take into account this man.