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You can’t predict baseball, they say. Yet, when it comes to the postseason, that’s exactly what we attempt to do, using any relevant statistic, trend or storyline to contextualize individual performances and head-to-head matchups.

After all, with 162 regular-season games and two playoff series in the books, it’s not as though there’s a shortage of information.

With the American and National League Championship Series set to begin Friday and Saturday, respectively, it’s time to take an in-depth look at some of the stats that define (either for better or for worse) the four remaining teams seeking a World Series berth.

Here are 10 crucial stats that could project the 2014 ALCS and NLCS winners.

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For the second time in the last three years, the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals are set to square off in the NLCS.

The series begins at Busch Stadium, with Game 1 scheduled for Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on FOX.

The Cardinals didn’t have as strong of a season as they did in 2013, when they lost the Boston Red Sox in the World Series, but they played well enough down the stretch to edge out the Pittsburgh Pirates for the NL Central crown. In the NLDS, St. Louis knocked off the Dodgers in four games, beating Clayton Kershaw twice in the process.

The Giants, meanwhile, captured the second Wild Card spot and promptly ended both the Pirates’ and Nationals’ seasons within a five-game span. The team has won 11 of its last 12 playoff games dating back to the 2012 NLCS.

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Surprise, surprise: The St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants are back in the National League Championship Series.

But there’s been one decorated pitcher noticeably absent from each team’s winning formula this postseason.

The Giants used basically every pitcher on their postseason roster in the National League Division Series other than Tim Lincecum. The two-time Cy Young Award winner was a key component in the team’s World Series titles in 2010 and 2012, but his ongoing struggles as a starter resulted in a bullpen assignment for the postseason.

Meanwhile, the Cardinals have been reluctant to use 2013 NLCS MVP Michael Wacha this October, opting to omit him from their starting rotation in favor of 24-year-old Shelby Miller. Like Lincecum, Wacha was moved to the bullpen for the playoffs but didn’t take the mound in the NLDS.


The Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals pulled off the unexpected with their respective sweeps of the Tigers and Angels in the American League Division Series.

Now, the two teams will square off in an ALCS that’s sure to keep fans on the edge of their seats.

The series begins at Camden Yards, with Game 1 scheduled for Friday at 8 p.m. ET on TBS.

Few pegged the Orioles as favorites in the AL East entering the season. But they wound up running away with the division, finishing with a 12-game lead over the second-placed New York Yankees, and made quick work of the Tigers in the ALDS.

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The field of four for the National and American League Championship Series has been set, with the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals, the underdogs from each League Division Series, moving on to the next round.

The aforementioned teams feature plenty of stars, whether it’s Adam Wainwright, Madison Bumgarner, Buster Posey, Alex Gordon or Adam Jones.

However, the eliminations of the Angels, Dodgers, Tigers and Nationals—arguably the favorites to win the World Series heading into October—means we’ll be forced to move forward without Mike Trout, Clayton Kershaw, Miguel Cabrera and Bryce Harper.

For some of those players, the fact that their team failed to reach the LCS falls on their shoulders.

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The Detroit Tigers’ once-promising season is over.

The Tigers’ roster seemingly was built for October baseball, with a starting rotation comprised of the Cy Young Award winners Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and David Price as well as perennial All-Star hitters Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Ian Kinsler.

However, the AL Central champions ultimately came up short in their bid to return to the World Series, suffering a three-game sweep by the Baltimore Orioles in the ALDS.

To make matters worse, the Tigers’ early departure from the postseason means they’ll now have to face the reality that Scherzer’s impressive run with the organization might be over.

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FINAL SCORE: Nationals def. Giants, 4-1 (Giants lead series, 2-1)

The Washington Nationals will play at least one more game this season.

Facing Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants in a must-win Game 3 of the NLDS, the Nationals were able to push across four late runs en route to a 4-1 victory, forcing a Game 4.

Bumgarner was stellar through six innings, as he kept the Nationals off the board while piling up six strikeouts. The six scoreless frames pushed the 25-year-old left-hander's postseason scoreless innings streak to 22.

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The first week of the MLB postseason has had it all.

We’ve seen teams mount unimaginable comebacks late in games, whether it be the Kansas City Royals rallying to defeat the Oakland A’s in the AL Wild Card Game or the Baltimore Orioles getting to the Detroit Tigers bullpen for four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning in American League Division Series Game 2.

We’ve also seen some historical collapses, most notably Clayton Kershaw yielding seven earned runs to the St. Louis Cardinals during the seventh inning of National League Division Series Game 2. It certainly wasn’t what anyone was expecting for the soon-to-be three-time NL Cy Young Award winner.

In general, the first week of the postseason has been full of surprises. And based on how some of these series are playing out, it’s a safe bet there’s going to be even more in the coming weeks.

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The Detroit Tigers made a statement when they acquired David Price from the Tampa Bay Rays at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.

With a starting rotation that already featured a pair of Cy Young Award winners in Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander as well as Anibal Sanchez and Rick Porcello, adding Price gave the Tigers arguably the top staff in the American League—a unit built for the postseason.

"Simply put, Price makes the Tigers’ rotation the envy of the bulk of the baseball world," wrote Grantland's Jonah Keri in the wake of the trade. "While Detroit was going to make the postseason with or without Price, he’ll give them an undeniable edge in October."

Naturally, one would think that being traded to a playoff contender, let alone a preseason favorite to win the World Series such as the Tigers, would come with a tremendous amount of pressure.

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The Detroit Tigers' bullpen was their glaring weakness during the regular season, as late-inning collapses at times overshadowed their top-flight starting rotation and potent offense.

That trend carried over into Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles. The Tigers bullpen coughed up eight runs in the eighth inning en route to a 12-3 loss in the opener.

The game was closer than the final score suggested. The Tigers trailed by just one run, 4-3, heading into the bottom of the eighth inning. And then the wheels fell off for Detroit.

Starter Max Scherzer recorded the first out of the inning before a double by Alejandro De Aza signaled the end of his night. Relieving the 2013 AL Cy Young Award winner was right-hander Joba Chamberlain, who promptly allowed two runs (one earned) without retiring a batter.