We're almost halfway through the league championship series schedule. The St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox hold advantages in their respective leagues. The Cardinals are up 3-1, while the Red Sox are up 2-1.
Both teams have managed to get to where they are thanks in large part to great pitching. Sure, there have been a few hiccups here and there, but the pitching is what has each team leading their series.
Both series have been all about one run. And the offense that can get that one run at the biggest time has always come out on top.
After Tuesday's games, the Red Sox are batting .133 in the ALCS, while the Cardinals are batting .148.
With those numbers, can those teams meet in the World Series despite the horrible offense?
A Look at History
When you look back at recent history, you're hard-pressed to find teams that struggled more at the plate during the league championship series that eventually advanced to the World Series.
Here's a look back at the last 10 years:
|AL Team||ALCS Avg.||NL Team||NLCS Avg.|
|2012 Tigers||.291||2012 Giants||.261|
|2011 Rangers||.286||2011 Cardinals||.310|
|2010 Rangers||.304||2010 Giants||.239|
|2009 Yankees||.279||2009 Phillies||.231|
|2008 Rays||.252||2008 Phillies||.266|
|2007 Red Sox||.318||2007 Rockies||.222|
|2006 Tigers||.285||2006 Cardinals||.248|
|2005 White Sox||.248||2005 Astros||.278|
|2004 Red Sox||.277||2004 Cardinals||.255|
|2003 Yankees||.227||2003 Marlins||.266|
There are a few teams on the list that struggled at the plate prior to the World Series, but none were worse than the Cardinals and Red Sox so far.
Even the teams they're beating have better averages than those two. The Tigers currently sit at .225, while the Dodgers are at .223. Not great, but better than the Cardinals and Red Sox.
Still, they lead their respective series.
Pitching Wins Games
When you look over the last 10 years, it's safe to say no LCS saw as great of pitching as both of these series have shown. The Red Sox sit with a 2.00 ERA, while the Cardinals are at 1.62.
Here's how the team ERAs have looked the last 10 years in the LCS for each winning team:
|AL Team||ALCS ERA||NL Team||NLCS ERA|
|2012 Tigers||1.38||2012 Giants||2.80|
|2011 Rangers||4.02||2011 Cardinals||4.25|
|2010 Rangers||3.06||2010 Giants||3.06|
|2009 Yankees||2.91||2009 Phillies||3.07|
|2008 Rays||3.62||2008 Phillies||3.89|
|2007 Red Sox||4.57||2007 Rockies||1.89|
|2006 Tigers||2.25||2006 Cardinals||3.84|
|2005 White Sox||2.20||2005 Astros||2.72|
|2004 Red Sox||5.87||2004 Cardinals||4.26|
|2003 Yankees||3.94||2003 Marlins||5.59|
When you compare the two charts presented, you see teams that struggled at the plate got the job done on the mound. Just look at the 2007 Rockies that batted .222. Their pitchers had an ERA of 1.89 to help them win the series.
While other teams who were below .250 at the plate weren't as good on the hill, their ERAs were still respectable and kept their teams in the series.
The bottom line is, offense is the way to win games. But without great pitching, none of the teams that struggled at the plate would have made it to the World Series.
Who will be playing in the World Series?
Will the Red Sox and Cardinals Meet?
I think there is no question the Cardinals will make it to the World Series. Despite not hitting well at the plate, they've shown throughout the NLCS that they can get the key hit when needed.
They've also been able to match Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw on the mound (next two starters for Dodgers), which was Los Angeles' biggest advantage in the series.
As far as the Red Sox, they've been able to get the key hits when needed. However, the Tigers are getting hits as well. They're just not able to push runs across the board.
In the end, the Tigers have a better set of pitchers that will help them win three of the next four games. And if it gets to a Game 7, you have to go with Justin Verlander. John Lackey may have beaten him in Game 3, but it's not going to happen twice in a row.
Lackey has shown up every now and then throughout his career, while Verlander has shown up just about every time he's taken the hill. Because of that, the Tigers still have to be the favorites in the ALCS.