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Cardinals vs. Cubs series preview April 16 to 19 '09

The battle for first is already on, and while it is very early in the season, I thought I'd check on some of the stats of the two teams and see how they are faring.

Admittedly, this is sort of meaningless, since we have very few stats to go by and the 2 teams have played different teams, making predictions basically useless. But I still find this interesting....

The Cardinals team batting average so far is .293, third in the majors. The Cubs are not tearing things up so far, sitting in the middle of the pack at .263. The Cards and Cubs have hit about the same amount of home runs so far (the Cubs have the slight edge) but the Friendly Confines is also rather conducive to hitting the long ball.... so that should help guys like Albert, Ludwick, and Duncan add a few to their totals. 

If you look at runs scored, the Cardinals are leading the National League with 46... the Cubs have scored 38. Not a huge edge, but this probably shows that Cards are getting on base more.... although the Cubs are taking more walks.

The Cards and the Cubs have stolen the same number of bases, but the Cardinals have not yet been caught stealing. The Cardinals offense is looking to be quite potent, with a balance of power with some speed and good baserunning while maintaning a high batting average so far. If they improve their plate discipline, they might have the best offense in the National League as the season evolves. Granted, the Cubs are without their new slugger, Milton Bradley, who will undoubtedly increase their offense substantially (if he can stay healthy and start hitting).

Ah, but the Cubs have the slight edge in on base percentage, but boths teams are among the best in the major leagues at .374 for the Cubs, and .368 for the Cards. It is super early in the season, but it looks like both teams will be getting on base quite effectively. It gets even tighter when you look at the 2 teams OPS, the Cubs at .832 and the Cards at .819 so far. Only the Braves (?) are better than them in the NL.

Using Fangraphs' Clutch stat, the Cardinals are a little more "clutch", probably due to Albert Pujols.

As for pitching, surprisingly the Cardinals have been more effective so far... their walks plus hits per inning pitched is a low 1.2, and the Cubs are also very efficient at 1.31. The Cardinals team FIP is at 3.59, while the Cubs' is at 4.86. This will undoubtedly change, but the Cards also have a better team ERA at 2.98, while the Cubs are at 3.45. Again, this doesn't mean much... (but the Cards also are giving up less home runs so far).

While I wouldn't go and say the Cardinals are the favorites in this series, there are a lot of reasons to think that it will be a very interesting series... one team will be in first after the weekend.

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