October 10, 2007

ROCKY MOUNTAIN HIGHER AND HIGHER:

NLCS: Forget luck, Rockies will win with hits (David Pinto, 10/10/07, Sporting News)

The lesson I take away from the Diamondbacks' defeat of the Cubs is a corollary to the the famous statement, "Good pitching beats good hitting." It doesn't stop bad hitting. That statement grew out of play in the Thirteenth Floor Strat-O-Matic league during college and was meant as a joke. As I actually started to research baseball, I discovered there are circumstances when, indeed, good pitching doesn't stop bad hitting. Low batting average teams with high power can pull that off, and that's what we saw in the Cubs-Diamondbacks series. Arizona hit .266 in the series, the lowest batting average of the four winners. But they slugged .532, the highest of all the teams playing in the LDS. Eleven of their 25 hits went for extra bases. They didn't hit often, but their hits did damage.

That was true in the regular season, as well. Isolated power measures the difference between slugging percentage and batting average. The higher the number, the more bases gained per hit. More important, a high number indicates the ability to move base runners a long distance (first to home, for example). Despite the Diamondbacks' low ranks in batting average and slugging average, they finished fifth among NL teams in isolated power. They hit for quality, not quantity.

Can the Rockies' pitchers contain that kind of offense? They did in the first-round matchup against Philadelphia. The Phillies were a more extreme power team than the Diamondbacks, ranking second in isolated power among NL teams. The Rockies worked on the batting average side of the equation, reducing the Phillies' batting average so low (.172) that there just weren't enough runners on base for the power to make a big difference. That should be easier against a team that does a poor job of getting on base like the Diamondbacks, and in fact the Diamondbacks only posted an isolated power of .138 against the Rockies this season.

Unlike the Cubs, the Diamondbacks are now facing one of the top offenses in the National League. During the regular season, however, Arizona held Colorado to 4.8 runs, half a run less than Colorado normally scores. The Diamondbacks accomplished this by limiting the Rockies' power, holding them to a .404 slugging percentage. Colorado's ability to hit and get on base wasn't affected. That leaves us with a series pitting Arizona's power vs. the Rockies filling up the bases. Both are good ways to score, power having the advantage of striking quickly.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 10, 2007 11:01 AM
Comments

The Rockies build up those power ratings in Coors Field. In Chase Field, those hits will fall gently into the gloves of Chris Young and Justin Upton.

D-backs in six.

Posted by: Brandon at October 10, 2007 2:19 PM
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