Dodgers, Astros Shaping Up as Likely World Series Matchup

If newly acquired Yu Darvish matches Friday’s seven scoreless-inning, 10-strikeout performance in the playoffs and his Dodger teammate Clayton Kershaw is 100%, and the Astros’ line-up continues to hit anything like it did Friday when they scored 16 runs with all three starting All-Stars on the bench, it could be a great World Series clash. But look out for the Washington Nationals based on the OPS and ERA of their top 11 players.

When comparing the top three starting pitchers and eight position starters for all 19 contenders (see these figures for the top 11 players for all 19 contenders by clicking here), those three teams and the Arizona Diamondbacks are tops in both pitchers’ Earned Run Average (ERA) and On-Base Percentage Plus Slugging Average (OPS). The league averages as of August 4 were a 4.34 ERA and a .751 OPS. Among these 11 players on each team:

The Dodgers are 4th in batting (OPS) and 2nd to the Nats in pitching (ERA).

The Astros are 1st in batting and third in ERA, but…the Nats are even better with the second best batting among their eight every day starters and the best average ERA of their top starters.

The Diamondbacks are also in the top four in both, and no other team is close to those four.

The Red Sox are 5th in ERA from their top three starters, but much worse in batting, coming in only 10th in OPS, with the 5th best OPS belongs to the New York Yankees, who are only 13th in ERA.

Team 8 Pos OPS Bat ERA 3 SP Overall
Nationals 0.878 2 2.71 1 1
Astros 0.885 1 2.90 3 2
Dodgers 0.854 4 2.79 2 3
Diamondbacks 0.871 3 3.02 4 4
Red Sox 0.792 10 3.33 5 5
Brewers 0.800 9 3.56 6 6
Indians 0.837 6 3.97 12 7
Yankees 0.842 5 4.02 13 8
Rays 0.762 15 3.57 7 9
Mariners 0.768 13 3.79 10 10
Cubs 0.790 12 3.88 11 11
Rockies 0.819 7 4.40 17 12
Royals 0.757 16 3.76 9 13
Twins 0.738 18 3.72 8 14
Rangers 0.792 11 4.17 15 15
Orioles 0.816 8 5.07 19 16
Tigers 0.763 14 4.41 18 17
Blue Jays 0.737 19 4.10 14 18
Angels 0.744 17 4.22 16 19

These stats assume players on 10-day disabled return for the playoffs.

The Astros entered Saturday slugging .504 (total bases divided by at bats), easily ahead of the .491 posted by the 2003 Boston Red Sox and NL record .481 by the 1930 Chicago Cubs. The Astros’ On-Base Percentage is .355, giving them an OPS (On-base plus Slugging) of .859 — ahead of the Nationals second best .810. On-base percentage is actually almost twice as important as wlugging so should count more, but OPS was a huge advance over the reliance of batting averages as the main indicator of a batter’s value.

The Astros analytics team is sure to realize they had an even better line-up than what manager A.J. Hinch was putting on the field each day.

Norichika Aoki was weighing down their offense with a well-below average OPS of .691 as he passed 2,000 career hits between Japan and MLB. He was unloaded at the trade deadline to make room for Jake Marisnick, who was sitting on the bench despite adding an incredible .851 OPS to his incredible defensive play in center field.

Ironically the stat-crazy Astros play Yuri Gurriel almost every game at 1st base, where he is a defensive liability and provides a just above average .783 OPS that really indicates a very average hitter when you factor that he rarely walks and 0n-base percentage should really count almost twice as much as slugging. The Astros could easily substitute Marisnick in the line-up every day to replace that .783 with a .851, and play Marwin Gonzalez (.958) at first base. That being said, the Cuban defector Gurriel could be rookie of the year at the age of 32.

And despite this historically great team of sluggers, the Dodgers are easily the best team in the majors to date even before adding Darvish. Here are the players for the three teams (the players from all 19 contenders are here).

Team Pos Name OPS/ERA
Astros SP1 Dallas Keuchel 2.15
Astros SP2 Brad Peacock 2.62
Astros SP3 Lance McCullers 3.92
Astros 2b Jose Altuve 1.000
Astros cf George Springer 0.974
Astros ss Carlos Correa 0.966
Astros lf Marwin Gonzalez 0.958
Astros rf Josh Reddick 0.838
Astros 3b Alex Bregman 0.816
Astros 1B Yulieski Gurriel 0.783
Astros C Brian McCann 0.748
Dodgers SP1 Clayton Kershaw 2.04
Dodgers SP2 Alex Wood 2.33
Dodgers SP3 Yu Darvish 4.01
Dodgers 3b Justin Turner 0.979
Dodgers 1B Cody Bellinger 0.954
Dodgers lf Chris Taylor 0.913
Dodgers ss Corey Seager 0.913
Dodgers cf Joc Pederson 0.806
Dodgers rf Yasiel Puig 0.801
Dodgers C Yasmani Grandal 0.792
Dodgers 2b Logan Forsythe 0.674
Nationals SP1 Max Scherzer 2.21
Nationals SP2 Gio Gonzalez 2.66
Nationals SP3 Stephen Strasburg 3.25
Nationals rf Bryce Harper 1.041
Nationals 3b Anthony Rendon 0.997
Nationals 2b Daniel Murphy 0.945
Nationals 1B Ryan Zimmerman 0.928
Nationals lf Adam Lind 0.9
Nationals cf Brian Goodwin 0.807
Nationals ss Trea Turner 0.746
Nationals C Matt Wieters 0.66


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