It's the World Series and here's two great reasons to choose a team
Manager and slugger, each with their own histories and a history together, too
The World Series begins Friday.
Philadelphia at Houston, Phillies at Astros, 7:03 p.m. first pitch on Fox.
We’ll explore soon why you might want to root for one or the other.
First, a crash course.
Claiming 106 games, nobody in the American League won more than Houston this season. The Yankees, whom the Astros swept out of the ALCS, were next with 99.
One National League team won more than Houston, but it wasn’t Philadelphia, which won just 87 to secure the NL’s third and final wild card slot in the very first season in major league history a third wild card slot existed to be secured.
Since reaching the postseason, Philadelphia’s won two straight to eliminate St. Louis, which won 93 games; three of four to eliminate defending world champion Atlanta, which won 101 games; and four of five to eliminate San Diego, which won 89, one series after San Diego knocked out the Los Angeles Dodgers, who won 111, becoming only the second NL team ever to win so many, the last being the 1906 Cubs, who won 116.
The Astros went .248/.319/.424.
The Phillies went .253/.317/.422.
Those numbers, of course, represent batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Watch the games and you’ll here “OPS” thrown around, which means on-base plus slugging, the current agreed-upon analytic that best measures plate prowess, and the addition required to get there’s as simple as it sounds:
Astros .743, Phillies .739.
Houston averaged 4.55 runs per game this regular season.
Philadelphia averaged 4.61.
Houston batters struck out 7.28 times per game, second least in all of baseball.
Philadelphia struck out 8.41, 13th least.
To the mound:
The Astros’ 2.90 earned run average was better than all but the Dodgers 2.80 during the regular season, well in front of the Phillies’ 3.97, which ranked 18th. Astro pitchers also racked up more strikeouts than Philly pitchers, 9.41 per game to 8.78.
The postseason’s inherently a much smaller sample size than the regular season, but it’s more recent and likely better explains how Houston and Philadelphia got here.
Since the regular season ended, the Astros ERA has been 1.88 and Philadelphia’s 3.06. The Astros have gone .227/.300/.402 at the plate and the Phillies have gone .237/.307/.442.
Houston’s won all seven games it’s played. Philadelphia’s won 9 of 11.
Of course there are more numbers and you can find every conventional stat, regular season and post, hitting and pitching here. Should you want that and a whole lot more, though it might be too much to digest, you can find it here.
Who should you root for?
Great question but I’m not answering. Instead, I’ll offer the best reason to root for each, and if you’re not sure about continuing, here’s a tease.
• One manager’s story is singularly sentimental. He’s had more regular-season success than almost any manager over the last 30 years, even been to the playoffs a bunch of times. He just hasn’t won it all.
• One slugger, believe it or not, briefly played for a wood-bat summer team out of Westmoore High School as a traveling 16-year-old prodigy the same week he first appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated at the ripe old age of 16. Yet it’s his big league career that’s already one for the ages, so many ups and downs already.
You should probably keep reading.
Oklahoma Columnist is a reader-supported venture. Free and paid versions are available, yet the best way to support this project is to take out a paid subscription for $6/month, less if you purchase 12 months. Thanks for reading — Clay
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Oklahoma Columnist, by Clay Horning to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.