Wondering just why the Astros are heavily favored over the Phillies in the World Series — which kicks off with a pair of games in Houston on Friday?
In addition to having nearly 20 more regular season wins, the ‘Stros have a potent lineup and the best group of pitchers in major league baseball. The Phillies have momentum, two aces and red hot bats (like Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins). The Astros are perfect this postseason (7-0, with sweeps of the Mariners and Yankees), while the Phillies are 9-2 and perfect at home.
As we’ve done before each of the Phillies three prior rounds of these playoffs, let’s examine which of these teams is stronger in several key categories ahead of the World Series starting this weekend:
There are very few weaknesses on the Astros roster, and it might even be a stretch to say catching is one of them, but Martin Maldonado is by definition a defense-first backstop who has a little bit of power — but he is perhaps the one guy in the batting order who isn’t worth sweating over. He hit .186 during the regular season with 15 homers.
The Phillies on the other hand have the BCIB (best catcher in baseball) in J.T. Realmuto, who many would agree played like the team’s regular season MVP. His numbers, while also playing some mean defensive are impressive: .276/.342/.478, 22 HR, 84 RBI, 21 SB. He also had the first inside the park homer in team postseason history against the Braves and has been hitting well overall.
Hitting for power
The Phillies and Astros couldn’t be more similarly built when it comes to a power perspective. Each is in the top 6 in most relevant power-related categories of all 30 MLB teams and create a similar percentage of their runs from homers.
|Runs/gm||4.61 (7th in MLB)||4.55 (8th)|
|Homers||205 (6th)||214 (4th)|
|Slugging||.422 (6th)||.424 (5th)|
|20+ HR hitters||3*||5|
*Harper had 18 and missed 60 games due to injury
The Phillies have gotten clutch postseason home runs from Bryce Harper, Rhys Hoskins, Kyle Schwarber and Realmuto and the Astros will surely be concerned with those bats every time they come to the plate. But on the other side, Kyle Tucker, Alex Bregman Jeremy Pena, Yordan Alvarez and even Jose Altuve have a ton of pop as well.
Don’t be surprised if there are multiple games decided by one swing of the bat.
Getting on base
The numbers are fairly close in this department too, as each of these two World Series combatants are in the middle of the pack in getting on base, using timely hitting and power to do most of their damage offensively. The Phils are a more aggressive base-running team which is something to look out for.
|Batting avg.||.253 (9th)||.248 (12th)|
|OBP||.317 (10th)||.319 (7th)|
|Walks||478 (16th)||528 (9th)|
|Stolen bases||105 (5th)||83 (17th)|
The Astros get on base at a respectable clip, but the Phillies have been pretty good this postseason at not surrendering free passes. That will need to continue with threats all over the lineup.
Wheeler and Nola are as good a one-two punch as there is in baseball and having those two slated to pitch on the road in Houston is certainly a winning strategy. The hope of course, is that the Phils can find a way to bring home field advantage back north by winning at least one of the games started by their aces.
|Game 1||Aaron Nola
11-13, 3.25 ERA
18-4, 1.75 ERA
|Game 2||Zack Wheeler
12-7, 2.82 ERA
17-6, 2.86 ERA
|Game 3||Ranger Suárez
10-7, 3.65 ERA
11-9, 2.54 ERA
|Game 4||Noah Syndergaard
10-10, 3.94 ERA
|Lance McCullers Jr.
4-2, 2.27 ERA
However, beating this Astros starting rotation four times in seven tries is going to be… a tall order. The Astros were one of two teams in the majors with an ERA below 3.00 in 2022, their 2.90 mark is just behind the Dodgers for second best in baseball. They also have the forth most strikeouts as a team and the second-best WHIP.
The Phillies will be relying on Ranger Suarez at least once, and a bullpen game led by either Bailey Falter or Noah Syndergaard at least once. If the Phillies win the World Series, it will be because of their offense overcoming a formidable staff of pitchers coming from the Houston side.
As expected, the Phillies’ bullpen is not as good as the Astros’ bullpen. Not even close.
|Bullpen ERA||4.27 (24th)||2.80 (1st)|
|Bullpen saves||42/60 (70%)||53/69 (77%)|
|Key relievers||David Robertson
(6-5, 3.00 ERA)
(2.98 ERA, 33 saves)
The Phillies bullpen has been a strength this postseason but not nearly to the degree that Houston’s has been.
Knowing that once the Phillies find a way to knock a Houston starter out of the game leads to even more talented arms is going to make for tough run-scoring conditions.
Phillies manager Rob Thomson had an incredible first season as an MLB manager, as shown by his recent two-year extension that takes the “interim” tag off his job title. He also was one of the main reasons they won in the first two rounds of the postseason. He is experienced and seems like he has the team firing on all cylinders right now.
Dusty Baker is one of the biggest household names in baseball managing but he’s never won a World Series title. Both of these skippers know what they’re doing and have players who love playing for them respectively.
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