While biding my time before heading to Philadelphia to attend Game 1 of the NLCS (the second post-season experience of my life), I came across an interesting article centered on the Diamond Mind simulation. It is an extremely in-depth simulation, and explained quite well in layman's terms in the article, so I won't try to rehash it here. It's a good article and worth the read anyway. What I found interesting about it is that the Dodgers win in 62% of the simulations. After reading Rob Neyer's blog yesterday, I was fairly convinced that the Phillies were indeed the better team in this series. I still feel that the Phillies are the better team in this series, but this is obviously a closer series than the numbers might indicate, and I think that like the simulations suggest the Dodgers will emerge victorious (there is probably some bias there). One of Neyer's points in yesterday's blog was that the Phillies were hotter than the Dodgers, noting their September records were equal, but the Phillies finished better over their last 16 games. While this may be true it is worth noting that the Dodgers' September run differential was +49 compared to the Phillies' +17.
Today Rob is back discussing the Diamond Mind simulation as well as another article, and he comes to the same conclusion I had after reading his post yesterday. While the Phillies may be a better team, it doesn't make them favored to win this series. The matchup has been examined a ton, and while much has been made of the the Dodgers having low-ball pitchers and the Phillies being low-ball hitters, Neyer addresses this:
"the Dodgers are exceptionally skilled at preventing home runs, giving up only 123 all season, fewest in the majors. And it's across the board. All three of their top starting pitchers gave up only 13 or 14 homers this year."
This is a great point to make, especially coming off the heels of a series in which the Phillies did much of there damage with the long-ball, and consistently won on the strength of one big inning. The Dodgers also made a roster adjustment today; dropping Takashi Saito and adding Hong-Chih Kuo. This will likely improve their chances in the series as Kuo is devestating to lefties, and has the ability to neutralize the Phillies big duo of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. He is a bit of a question mark as he has only thrown once in the last month, but Saito was pretty questionable himself coming off of an injury.
Neyer concludes by saying "The Dodgers are the trendy pick and the Phillies are the better team. But sometimes being better isn't good enough." And I couldn't agree more.