"Pitching wins championships"That's the adage. Or at least it has been the adage since the New York Yankees made Babe Ruth a full time pitcher back in 1920.
Let's see how the adage is holding up in the 2011 playoffs
8 teams, 4 from each league, made the post season. Where did they rank in terms of pitching prowess?
Phillies #1 in NL
Brewers #4 in NL
Cardinals #7 in NL
DBacks #11 in NL
Yankees #4 in AL
Tigers #6 in AL
Rangers #7 in AL
Rays #8 in AL
I've ranked the teams in order of an average of FIP, tERA, and SIERA. These are defense independent metrics. I use defense independent metrics because I want to isolate how the pitchers did without considering a good or bad defense behind them.
Every team, except the Diamondbacks, were in the top half of their league.
How about offense?
Cardinals #1 in NL
Brewers #2 in NL
DBacks #5 in NL
Phillies #6 in NL
Rangers #2 in AL
Yankees #3 in AL
Tigers #4 in AL
Rays #5 in AL
I've ranked the teams by wRC+. Again, every team ranked in the top half of the league.
You can see that the teams ranked a bit higher in hitting than pitching. The lowest ranked hitting team was the #6 Phillies. Half of the pitching teams ranked lower than #6.
Let's look at the individual matchups
Phillies (#1 Pitching, #6 Hitting) vs Cardinals (#1 Hitting, #7 Pitching)
Brewers (#4 Pitching, #2 Hitting) vs DBacks (#5 Hitting, #11 Pitching)
Yankees (#4 Pitching, #3 Hitting) vs Tigers (#4 Hitting, #6 Pitching)
Rangers (#7 Pitching, #2 Hitting) vs Rays (#5 Hitting, #8 Pitching)
The Cardinals' #1 offense bounced the Phillies' #1 pitching staff.
The Brewers had the advantage in both offense and pitching, and knocked the DBacks out.
The Tigers' inferior pitching and offense managed to send the Yankees home early (or right on time, depending)
The Rangers had the advantage in both offense and pitching, and sent the Rays back to Florida.
In the second round:
The Cardinals' #7 pitching and #1 hitting beat the Brewers' #4 pitching and #2 hitting
The Rangers' #7 pitching and #2 hitting beat the Tigers' #6 pitching and #4 hitting
The two teams in the World Series both had the 3rd best (or 2nd worst) pitching staffs among payoff teams while having the best offenses among playoff teams.
One of them will win the championship.
Probably the one that pitches better (or hits worse).
*All stats from FanGraphs
*Data does not take into account changes made during the season (Cardinals acquiring Edwin Jackson, etc)
*Copious amounts of sarcasm