I’ve got the Rays winning this series in four games. The American League is simply that much more superior and the best team from the AL’s best division will simply be too much for the Phillies to handle. According to Baseball Prospectus’ EQA and EQR the Rays had a superior run differential of +137 compared to the Phillies +68, a very substantial margin.
While many are expecting Hamels to get the Phillies off to a good start, I keep thinking back to how hard both Upton and Longoria hit Jon Lester in the ALCS. Additionally, the Phillies bullpen is simply bound to give up a lead-something they haven’t done to this point in the season.
Howard over Pena.
While you did not entirely disregard the regular season, even that should not be evidence to giving Howard the leg up on Pena. Check out Howard and Pena’s neutralized statistics. Over the last two season’s, Pena has posted a .345 and .306 EQA. Over that same period, Ryan Howard’s is .311 and .289. Even Howard’s unsustainable career year is a shade below what Pena did in 2007.
Both are lefty bats and both will have the same park effects entering this series. Pena is also an incredibly slick fielder and that should certainly be considered.
I’d say, without a shadow of a doubt, Upton is a fairly superior hitter then Victorino is. I would also like to further investigate the defensive +/- but that can be saved for another time. Similar to Pena v. Howard, Upton is a substantially superior hitter. His EQA this season was 13 points higher then Victorino’s. Consider if we hacked 13 points off of Victorino’s EQA and we’d be sitting at .265 and hardly a feared bat in the lineup. That same 13 point advantage which makes Victorino a nice hitter compared to a weak one can be noted when comparing Victorino as a ‘nice’ hitter to Upton a ’solid’-'great’ one.
While split stats are not often the most reliable measure, due to their poor sample sizes, it must be accounted for that the Rays (and Devil Rays) have absolutely smoked Blanton over his career. 57 hits in 41.2 innings. A home run per 9. Not even a 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio.