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head-to-head matchups - phillies v. cardinals

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the red baron did a fine job this winter of taking a look at our competitors within the division. i thought it would make some sense to take a look at the teams most likely to make the postseason. today, i want to take a look at the matchup between the cardinals and the phillies.

the pitching WAR projections use the FANS system. i won't vouch for the accuracy of the FANS system, but i will say the numbers seem pretty reasonable on all points.

first, the starting pitching:





Chris Carpenter


Roy Halladay


Adam Wainwright


Cole Hamels


Brad Penny


Joe Blanton


Kyle Lohse


J.A. Happ


Jaime Garcia


J. Moyer/K. Kendrick






*no FANS projections exist, so i made these numbers up. if you like other numbers, adjust accordingly. i doubt either player should be expected to be worth more than a win. jaime's CHONE projected FIP is 4.76 and kendrick's is 4.90.

the bullpens are fairly unimportant in terms of overall value. a WAG for the phils bullpen: should it feature lidge (0.6), madson (1.2), romero (0), baez(0.3), durbin(0), bastardo (0.1), contreras (0.5*), it would be worth 2.7 wins. the cards bullpen, featuring franklin (0.3), reyes (0.3*), miller (0.4*), mcclellan (0.3*), motte (0.6), boggs (0.2**), and hawksworth (0.1), for a total value of 2.2 wins.

** this value is made up too, since the existing projection looks at boggs as a starter, not a reliever.

both teams are fairly evenly matched, with the phillies leading the cards by about a win on pitching, at roughly 18 to 17 runs total. 

to provide a comp, the 2009 cards ran up a 19.3 pitching WAR total for 8th best in the majors, so the cards should expect a modest drop from the 2009 performance but not necessarily huge. last year, the phils had a total pitching WAR of 13.3, which put them in the bottom third of the majors, so they will likely be FAR better on the pitching front than they were last year. obviously, having roy halladay for a full season will almost certainly be more valuable than having cliff lee for two months. 

a small quibble is that they are paying moyer a ridiculous amount of money to be a marginally-above replacement value starter, if they don't give the job to kendrick. having only tolerable options for your fifth starter is not a huge problem, but they really missed out on a chance to add a cheap win in that last rotation spot. had they limited moyer to a one-year deal in 2008 (and i find it hard to believe anyone else was offering a 45 year-old a two-year deal), the payroll flexibility would have let them pick up a decent 5th starter like doug davis. braden looper could do about what moyer will do for a mil or so.

let's take a look at how the phillies starters stack up against the cardinals starting eight.






Yadier Molina



Carlos Ruiz


Albert Pujols



Ryan Howard


Skip Schumaker



Chase Utley


Brendan Ryan



Jimmy Rollins


David Freese



Placido Polanco


Matt Holliday



Raul Ibanez


Colby Rasmus



Shane Victorino


Ryan Ludwick



Jayson Werth






i feel bad for doubting my team - i readily admit that i expected the difference between the two squads to be much different. i would have guessed that the phillies were 2-3 wins better in the field. if you throw in the bench figures, the cardinals take the lead.

my uneducated stabs at the likely phils bench give us infielder juan castro (-0.5), greg dobbs (0.6), ross gload (-0.3), ben francisco (2.2), and backup catcher brian schneider (1.5), for a net of 3.5 WAR. a lugo (0.6), lopez (2.5), mather (0.6), craig (1.4), and larue (0.4) bench would make for a 5.5 WAR bench.

if you're a phillies fan, there's a ton to like about this team. first off, no one should be allowed to discuss the phillies without pointing out that chase utley remains the most underrated player on the team. he is consistently among the five best position players in the league. the phillies as a whole are a very well-rounded team. they don't have a single starting position player below average. their rotation is good, though not overwhelming, featuring maybe the best pitcher in the league.

if the phillies have a weakness, they should be concerned about their depth, especially in the infield. both infielders on their roster are projected to be at or below replacement value. remember that they are backing up an infield of players all 30 years old or older. the outfield depth is more likable, especially ben francisco. francisco is a great young talent to watch - an average defensive corner outfielder, he brings a nice bat. he projects to have a .352 wOBA. schneider is a talented backup, but had trouble staying on the field last year.

to provide a reference for the values above, the phillies had a total position player value of 28.0 - adding in the bench values, the phillies will likely get a bump of a couple wins from last year, mostly from a rollins rebound and polanco being an upgrade over feliz. 

the cardinals on the other hand project to have a huge bump from last year's 19 WAR performance by position players - around ten WAR. that's a tremendous improvement. only two players project below replacement value and both are within spitting distance of it; the difference will likely be made up by platooning with felipe lopez. you also have to like the depth we have on the bench over the below replacement value players we put out there last year. our bench players are both more talented and more defensively flexible than our bench players last year. it is somewhat concerning that two of our hardest to replace players have already gotten injured - brendan ryan and yadier molina.

only two teams got a 30 WAR or better performance from their position players last year (the yanks and the rays), but both the phillies and the cardinals project to put out that kind of value this year. these two teams are the class of the NL and look, on paper, like 90+ win teams. 

they match up fairly evenly in a series as well. one thing worth considering in one-on-one play is the left-handedness of the philadelphia team. 

ryan howard's lifetime wOBA v. RHP: .431

ryan howard's lifetime wOBA v. LHP: .322

albert pujols' lifetime wOBA v. RHP: .433

albert pujols' lifetime wOBA v. LHP: .457

garcia is our only left-handed starter, barring a resurgent rich hill in the next couple months. however, we have a set of very effective left-handed relievers who could be well-employed against howard and the other sinister phillies.

 obviously, there's a lot of baseball to be played between now and october but this seems like a pretty even matchup between the cardinals and the phillies.