Who Astros Fans Should Want to Face in the ALCS - by the numbers
Updated: Oct 18, 2022
One of my favorite people on Twitter asked me for an article on who Astros fans should cheer for in the NLCS. THAT article is still coming but tonight we have game 5 in the other ALDS. Who SHOULD Astros fans WANT to face in the ALCS? I recognize MANY of you will have strong opinions on this but I thought I would give you some numbers to think about.
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I am working on the pitch by pitch matchups (here was the ALDS matchup guide), so that data is not available yet. But what can we learn from the basics?
For those that prefer the video here is the YouTube link or click the video to the right
Due to the schedule of the ALCS- five games (ALCS3- ALCS7) in a row!- it is likely both teams will need a 5th starter or at least someone they will lope with in one of those five games. This is where the Astros have a big advantage. I have also added what I THINK are a 13th pitcher option for both teams.
Most of this will be in the ALCS Matchup Guide that comes out - except the other ALDS loser info will be gone. :)
Let's first look at the summary tables for the Guardians
The Guardian pitching is good. The xwOBA of many of these pitchers is NOT as good as their wOBA. Similarly the FIP of many of these pitchers is not as good as their ERA. It is very RHP centric, but several of the Guardians pitchers have reverse splits or are statistically the same.
Edit Note- The original version of this article had wOBA and NOT xwOBA stats for the Yankees and Guardians pitchers. This was corrected. I apologize for this! I am trying to do too much data mining.
The average here are calculated on the weighted PA of who is listed as the starters. I will review the ALDS more in detail to see if this seems accurate.
Overall, this lineup is not near the threat of the Astros. If you rank the STARTING
players by their OPS it would look like this.
The Astros would have the advantage in seven of the nine spots.
The Guardians lineup have six batters that are good vs. RHP, but only two vs. LHP. I strongly expect Smith would be on the Astros ALCS staff vs. the Guardians. Teams will go from 12 to 13 pitchers.
An interesting thought exercise might be could the Astros move Framber Valdez to the bullpen and let him face this lineup in say the 6th-8th innings in games 1, 4, and 7? The relative weakness of the Guardians vs. LHP is an opportunity and a challenge for the Astros RHP centric staff. To be clear, I am NOT saying the Astros SHOULD do this. With all of their SP available I am saying they COULD.
I am GUESSING that the Yankees WILL NOT add Chapman as their 13th pitcher
1. He is LH and
2. there is so much dysfunction there
The Yankees pitching staff is very good. The team has been hit hard by injuries and that really limited so key players and has shelved others for the season.
The RP does have some of the issue the Astros RP had in 2021 where key pitchers have significant platoon splits.
- Trivino is terrible vs. LHH
- Schmidt is hittable for LHH
- Luetge is hittable for LHH
- Peralta is far better vs. LHH than RHH
- Castro is hittable (0 IP in ALDS through 4 games)
- If they add Abreu, he is hittable for RHH
Overall, the Yankees pitching looks better than I expected.
I also added DJ LeMahieu as an option here. I am not clear whether he could be available on the ALCS or not yet. (I will research or count on you all to tell me.)
This lineup looks very top heavy and EXTREMELY dependent on Judge. Carpenter had been on the 60-day IL before the ALDS and only has 1 PA through 4 games. If we compared the starters in OPS rankings it looks like this.
The names in this lineup are scarier than their performance this year. Anthony Rizzo has the second highest OPS/ wRC+ of players that are likely to play a lot and the Astros have four players almost as good or better.
The Astros are better but not by a ton.
Overall, the Astros pitching is better than the similar Guardians and Yankees pitching.
The Yankees and Astros are better in batting than the Guardians.
If I had to chose my ALCS opponent it would be the Guardians. Please do not mistake this as disrespect to Cleveland. They are a very good team. I think there are ways that the Astros can matchup favorably against them.
Tell me what you think. Subscribers, PLEASE leave your comments here or in the chat.
The statistics referenced here come from Fangraphs.com.
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