2005 MLB Playoff's: I Dream of Pitching
Atlanta vs. Houston
Looking at the stats in the table above, I'm surprised either of these teams made the playoffs. In the case of the Astros, great pitching and lousy hitting usually lands you in the middle of the pack. In the case of the Braves, while their hitting and pitching are both above average, neither is stand out great. I would have guessed the Braves would be fighting for a Wild Card instead of winning the division.
The difference in the offenses is the spread of talent. The Astros have two terrific hitters in Berkman and Ensberg. Both get on base and hit for power. But the talent falls off steeply after that. Not a lot of people getting on base, but there are a good number of extra-base hits. The Braves just have Chipper Jones doing both extemely well. But the falloff from Chipper is gradual. The Braves had eight players with at least 100 plate apperances with OBA's over .340. Among those, of course, is Andruw Jones who supplied plenty of power.
On the pitching side, this is one of the rare times that Atlanta goes into a series without the dominant staff. If all you need are three starters in the playoffs, it's difficult to find a better trio than Clemens, Pettitte and Oswalt. They finished 1,2 and 7 in the majors in ERA. The three combined to allow just 46 home runs (Eric Milton gave up 40 all by himself). And while Atlanta's starters had an excellent 3.65 ERA, the bullpen was at 4.74, walking batters at a much higher rate than the starters.
So the question on my mind is, can Ensberg and Berkman supply enough runs to support great performances by the big three? My guess is a series of very low scoring close games. And if it comes down to the bullpens, my money is on Houston.