On-Base Perception

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Boston Red Sox vs. St. Louis Cardinals World Series primer

Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester smiles during

Boston Red Sox pitcher Jon Lester smiles during a team workout at Fenway Park. (Oct. 1, 2013) (Credit: AP)

Before the World Series kicks off Wednesday, we go inside the hitting and pitching numbers the St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox have posted this postseason to give you the inside info on how these two powers match up:

OFFENSE

The Red Sox have the edge here, but there’s not as big a gap as may appear at first.

The Sawx have batted .236 with a .315 on-base percentage and .365 slugging percentage (.680 on-base plus slugging percentage) during the postseason, scoring 4.5 runs per game. The Cardinals, meanwhile, have hit .210 with a .280 OBP and .324 slugging percentage (.604 OPS) and have scored 3.8 runs per game.

But the Red Birds’ totals can be deceiving.

For one thing, those marks include Cardinals pitchers, and each stat in the Cards’ triple slash line goes up by about 10 points when hurlers are removed from the equation (Cardinals pitchers are 1-for-21 with two walks and 12 strikeouts this postseason).

Then consider this, the Red Sox isolated power is .129 while the Cardinals are at .114. That’s only a 15-point difference, and the gap closes even further when you take into account the context of where the teams have played this postseason. Boston has played eight of its 10 postseason games in the relatively comfortable offensive environments of Fenway and Comerica Parks. The Cardinals, meanwhile, have played all 11 of their playoff games in surroundings that profile as pitcher’s parks.

The Red Sox have also been lauded for their patience this season and in the playoffs. In fact, Boston is walking in 10.4 percent of its plate appearances in the playoffs. The Cardinals, though, also exhibit a very good eye at the plate and have walked in 8.9 percent of their postseason plate appearances.

STARTING PITCHING

No surprise – the Cardinals rule.

The Cardinals lead the Red Sox starters in nearly every category: ERA (2.64 to 4.28), WHIP (1.07 to 1.30), strikeout to walk rate (3.8 to 2.6), strikeouts per nine innings (8.7 to 7.4), innings pitched (68 to 56.2).

Remove Lance Lynn’s seven runs in 9.2 innings as a starter and the trio of Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and Joe Kelly have combined for a 2.00 ERA in 58.1 innings.

RELIEF PITCHING

Both the Cardinals and Red Sox have excellent bullpens with their own strengths.

The Red Sox pen has a 0.84 ERA. In 32 postseason innings they’ve allowed just two earned runs. That bests the Cardinals 1.68 relief ERA.

But the Cards have a lower WHIP (0.78 to 1.06) and a better strikeout to walk rate (3.0 to 2.5) than the Sox pen, displaying their superior control.

Tags: Boston Red Sox , St. Louis Cardinals , World Series , Adam Wainwright , Lance Lynn , Joe Kelly , Michael Wacha

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