Coming into baseball’s final day, the St. Louis Cardinals and Atlanta Braves were tied in the lead for the N.L. Wild Card, after St. Louis’ dramatic comeback (or Atlanta’s tragic collapse) in September. The Cardinals sent their ace onto the mound, a fellow by the name of Chris Carpenter to the mound against baseball’s worst team the Houston Astros, while the Braves went up against their division rivals the Philadelphia Phillies in a seemingly meaningless game for the Phillies. Yet, the Phillies had something to play for, seeing as if they could get a win against Atlanta, their first round opponent would be the Cardinals, instead of N.L. West division winner Arizona Diamondbacks.
For those who do not recall what happened on that final day, Chris Carpenter cruised to a completed game shut out victory (which he seems to have a knack for doing lately), while the Braves took a 3-2 lead into the 9th inning with their stud closer Craig Kimbrel on the mound to shut the door, it seemed inevitable that a playoff would be necessary to decide, the N.L. Wild Card winner. But Kimbrel ended up crumbling, blowing the lead and the Phillies eventually won the contest in 13 innings. Thus, single-handedly the Phillies decided their NLDS opponent.
After tonight’s conclusion to the 2011 division series, one may wonder if the Phillies are regretting that defeat of Atlanta on the season’s last day. Many people are shocked that the Phillies lost to the Cardinals and did not reach the World Series. And after investing over $170 million into their team and $67 million into just their starting staff, people may have a fair point. However, some people may not have realized how good of a matchup the Phillies were for the Cardinals. First off, the Cardinals won the season series against the Phillies in the regular season. But, that is not the main reason, the main reason is hitting. The Cardinals are the best hitting team in the National League with a team WAR of 34.3 and a team wOBA of .332. The Phillies on the other hand had the worst hitting team of any team to make the playoffs (WAR of 24.1 and wOBA of .316). Their pitching was heads and shoulders above the competition (and when you spend $67 million on five players it should be). However, Chris Carpenter is still very good, with a FIP of 3.06 and WAR of 5.0, he is still an extremely difficult matchup for a team as bad at hitting as the Phillies. Many will point to the fact that Halladay’s numbers are that much better (2.20 FIP, 8.2 WAR), that it should not have been a competition between the two pitchers.
It is a proven fact, however, that you cannot win a baseball game by 0-0 or merely shutting out the opponent. You have to score runs to win the game, and in Game 5 against the opponent the Phillies put in the playoffs, they could not score runs. Phillies fans have every right to complain about Ryan Howard, because not many people realize that he makes the same amount of money as Mr. Roy Halladay, yes that 0 for 15 string to end the Phillies season, came at a cost of 20 million dollars, or roughly $30,000 per PA, $588k per HR, or $111,111 per strikeout. Money will not buy a championship in baseball, unless it is spent correctly, no matter how much money is spent.