World Series Preview?
We have a possible World Series preview tonight, as the Boston Red Sox start a 3 game series with Philadelphia Philies. Entering this season, after all the off-season moves made by both teams, most everyone felt a Red Sox-Philies World Series was inevitable. A slow start by the Red Sox though put those discussions on ice. The Sox have climbed their way back to the top, and somehow find themselves half a game behind the AL East leading Yankees. The Philies meanwhile have been dominating this season from the get go. They have the best record in the big leagues at 49-30. They have arguably the best pitching rotation in baseball, with 2 Cy Young winners in Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, a NLCS MVP in Roy Oswalt, and a World Series MVP in Cole Hamels. Oswalt though is on the DL, and likely won’t return until August. Where the Red Sox might be able to capitalize on is the Philies hitting.
Philadelphia has struggled this season with the bats. Not having Chase Utley to start the season hurt them, but they also are not getting contributions from other stars. Philadelphia only has 1 hitter with an average above .300. That would be Ross Gload, who only has 50 at-bats. The Red Sox have 3 players batting over .300 with at least 250 at bats. Lead off hitter, and former NL MVP Jimmy Rollins is batting a measly .260 with a .332 On Base Percentage. Compare that to Red Sox leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury, who’s hitting .303 with a .365 OBP. The Philies have 1 hitter with 10+ homeruns, while the Red Sox have 3 (and 1 player with 9). The Red Sox have superior hitting, and when you combine that with great pitching they should have the advantage. But, the Sox have not played that way recently. Two of the worst teams in the Majors, the San Diego Padres and Pittsburgh Pirates, almost swept the Sox recently. If the Sox want to win, they need to capitalize on their offensive chances. They won’t have many of them, but hopefully the Sox pitching staff can keep the weak Philly offense off the board.