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Rays In Four. (Yeah, You Heard Me Right.)

Last year, I knew the Red Sox were a million times better than the Rockies. I knew it would be a massacre. But I chickened out and only picked the Red Sox in five, instead of four. No such hesitance this time around, as the Rays prepare to mop up on the Phillies. You heard it here first: Sweep!

Look, the AL is so much better than the NL, it's ridiculous. In interleague play this year, the tally was 149-103 in the AL's favor. That's a .591 winning percentage. To put that into perspective, a team playing at that clip for 162 games wins 96 games. Yes, that means the average AL team would be a 96-win team if it played all its games against the NL. (Or, a 135-win team if it played all its games against the Nationals. [Apologies for the gratuitous rip].)

There's really not much more to it than that. I could go on and on about how the Rays just got done beating the defending World Series champs, surviving the ugliest single-game collapse in postseason baseball history in the process -- while the Phillies merely steamrolled a fundamentally flawed team, the Dodgers, that had one great player and that was a .500 team (in the worst division of an inferior league) for the first five months of the season. If the Red Sox had beaten the Rays in Game 7 Sunday night to advance to the World Series, I'd be picking them in four, too. (Heck, if it were the Orioles representing the AL, I'd have to think about picking them in seven.)


There are other reasons to like the Rays: They have three lefties in their bullpen to utilize against Ryan Howard, including the phenomenally talented David Price. Howard against lefties this year went .224 with a .755 OPS, which means, as powerful as he is, against lefties he suddenly turns into Skip Schumaker. The hit 16 homers in the ALCS, the most ever in a single postseason. They play exceptional defense. There really is no weakness -- especially now that Price has emerged as a stopper in their bullpen.

The problem with a sweep is that the Rays have to find a way to beat Cole Hamels (3-0, 1.23), statistically speaking the best pitcher in either league this postseason. I use the qualifier "statistically speaking" because, of course, Hamels has been facing only NL lineups. I certainly don't think Hamels is any better than Boston's Jon Lester, whom the Rays beat twice in the ALCS.

So, the Rays steal Game 1 off Hamels, and then it's all over. The next three pitching matchups all favor the Rays.

By Dave Sheinin  |  October 21, 2008; 1:24 PM ET
 
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Next: Yep. Another One For The Rays (In Six)

Comments

right with you dave. rays dont lose at home and let upton and longoria loose at citbank and you have all the makins of a sweep. look out for david price loging major innings shutting down the phils left handed bats. he will be the AL rookie of the year next year and win 18 games for a rays team that returns to the post-season

Posted by: love | October 21, 2008 2:48 PM | Report abuse

price got a great arm but can he handle the pressure being a closer? he didn't even play the full season in MLB yet and i think if he can handle the pressure and close the door for rays, we are looking at another K-Rod or Rivera emerging; otherwise, another good talent get washed up after going the metal hell. good ex. Byun Hyun Kim from Arizona when he gave up 2 HRs against Yanks.... never the same pitcher after that...

Posted by: lanboy | October 21, 2008 4:10 PM | Report abuse

A sweep? pfft... crazy talk.

Posted by: Johnnie Futbol | October 21, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

No problem with you making this prediction with conviction, as long as you are prepared to thoroughly eat crow, with absolutely no qualifiers, if it doesn't happen. Too often wanna-be soothsayers make bold predictions only to weasel out of copping to their errors after the fact.

Posted by: Lil' Danny's Wallet | October 21, 2008 4:16 PM | Report abuse

I agree, the Phillies are no better than the 4th place Blue Jays who had a similar run differential but in an infinetly tougher league. Jamie Moyer would have a 10.00 ERA in the real big leagues, the O's comment was funny but had a ring of truth also, we kicked the Cubs tail in Chicago before the team was decimated with injuries.

Posted by: O's fan in VA | October 21, 2008 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Game 1 is monumentally huge for the Phillies. They can't win the series if they lose a Cole Hamels start.

Posted by: Brian | October 21, 2008 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Dave - great article today on how the Rays were rebuilt. Similar comment from me on your article under my nom-de-registration. Bottom line is this team shows what a good GM can do redeploying assets. You point out maybe the biggest myth about this team is that the players are draftees and system developed. Actually, it was a series of sales to contenders (Zambrano, Hendrickson, Wigginton bringing in Kazmir, Navarro, Jackson, Wheeler), a gutsy trade of a purported star in the making (Young), picking over fringe guys from non-contenders (the Gathright / Howell trade deserves mentioning), and cheap FAs that compose the bulk of the team.

I hate the Phillies (Utley's number should be 666 for taking out Flores) and follow the AL East, so my heart is with your pick even if my head is duped into thinking the Phils are at least as hot as the Rockies last year. I will be cautious and say Rays in 5.

Posted by: PTBNL | October 21, 2008 4:40 PM | Report abuse

I say the Phillies will win the series in 7 games.

Posted by: joeb | October 21, 2008 4:41 PM | Report abuse

You people are smoking the dope. I will be sure to post back here Thursday morning after the Phils take game one so you can all enjoy eating some crow.

Jon Lester can't sniff the jock strap of Cole Hamels. The best pitcher this post season thus far is Hamels. Jaime Moyer is also going to find success against the young and jumpy Rays, as long as he has an ump who doesn't shrink the strike zone. Both his starts featured umps with tiny zones.

Interleage stats mean NOTHING this time of year as every team is completely scouted. The Phils had the toughest interleague schedule in the MLB this year. (Boston, LAA, and Texas when they were hot) Out the window. Means nothing now.

Ryan Howard hasn't hit since September, so who cares about the Rays and their lefties? The Phils 5-8 (Victorino, Werth, Burrell, Ruiz, MYERS) hitters have done the most damage this post season, aside from Utley and the occassional Rollins lead-off homer.

All you guys hate on the Phils like the rest of the country does and you especially hate them b/c they destroy the sorry Nats every season. HATERS.

Posted by: PhilliePhan | October 21, 2008 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Sweep? C'mon, this game is much more likely to go to 7 games. Phillies are a consistent team regardless of what league or division they are in. They made quick work of their playoff opponents with solid hitting despite being a homerun leading team.

As for the AL leading NL in interleague play, let us not forget the farce that is the DH. A blatantly unfair and sham "position" where a diminished or one-dimensional player can survive in the purity this sport deserves.

Posted by: Daniel | October 21, 2008 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Well, I agree with you on most of what you said. But Cole Hamels is better than John Lester. Both are great players however.

Posted by: David | October 21, 2008 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Only a dope makes predictions like this.

Posted by: Bob | October 21, 2008 5:29 PM | Report abuse

I hope the Phillies are so rested that they hit 25 homers in the series and the Rays jaws are bouncing off rails of the dugouts.
The Rays fans better hope the Phillies don't all hit or "they" will be swept!

Posted by: Phillyforlife | October 21, 2008 5:37 PM | Report abuse

you must have bumped your head! Phils in 6!

Posted by: rayssuck | October 21, 2008 5:39 PM | Report abuse

Even if you give the Rays a 3:2 advantage
every game, the probability of a sweep
would only be 13%. It's not very likely.

Posted by: Cary Rhode | October 21, 2008 5:41 PM | Report abuse

Your are all haters. Hamels is a beast and the Rays are just a flook. They got lucky they beat the Red Sox because the Red Sox are getting old and will lose a seven game series. The Phillies are going to win this series and I say in five games. Dave Sheinin, I am sorry to say but your are what is classicly called a HATER!! GO PHILLIES!

Posted by: Phillies_Will_Beat_The_Rays | October 21, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

let me see if I've got this straight. Strictly on the basis that the American league beat the National league 149-103 during the course of the season, you're picking the Rays to sweep the Phillies? Not win in 5 or 6 games, but sweep. You don't care that the Phillies, playing under pressure virtually every day, won something like 20 of their last 25 games? That in Howard, Utley, Victorino, Rollins and Burrell they've got some genuine hitters and that they've got a world-class bullpen (which tends to help in the World Series)? No what you care about is that the American League beat the National league during the season. That's like picking the Patriots over the Giants because the AFC beat the crap out of the NFC over the course of the season. Bob is right - only a dope makes predictions like this.

Posted by: pdiamond | October 21, 2008 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Your one sided comments makes you sound like all those political left wing nut jobs. Go vote for Obama you dope and change the world.

Phitin' Phils in 6.

More experience, more depth of talent, hot bullpen, and passionate fans who won't need cow bells and ding-a-lings to help win at home.
Go Phils.

Posted by: B Nolan | October 21, 2008 5:49 PM | Report abuse

LETS GO PHILLIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | October 21, 2008 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Haha. The Rays that have never been to a world series are gonna win in four games? Laughable. They will be lucky to win game 1 you fool. Wait until those kids get into Philadelphia. They will have never heard a crowd as loud!!!

Posted by: Tyson | October 21, 2008 5:57 PM | Report abuse

The author is an an idiot!

Posted by: RPC | October 21, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Where's all the Tampa Bay love on this post? oh that's right. NO WHERE!!!

Posted by: Tyson | October 21, 2008 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Hey, I live in Philly and will tell you that Philly teams are always choking when the big games are on the line. All their teams.

The Rays have faced much better teams than the inferior NL.

Hammels is good but he also has never faced this type stage. The Rays are a more patient offense than the Phils.

Jon Lester is better than Hammels in bigger games. I don't give a crap who the Phillies beat. The Cubs coughed it up and The Dodgers have 1 player in Manny.

Rays will kick the Phillies Ass!

I see Rays in 4 if not 5!

Yes, I put my money where my mouth is.


David

Posted by: David | October 21, 2008 6:02 PM | Report abuse

He's right. The AL East is BRUTAL. Just look at the stats. The Dodgers would have placed NEXT-TO-LAST if they were in the AL East. Any team that can beat the Sox and the Yankees has got something going on. It may not be a sweep, but it's not gonna be close.

Posted by: Fran Taylor | October 21, 2008 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, aren't you the same guy who said the Cubs would win it all? *LOL*

Posted by: Bob Michaels | October 21, 2008 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Hey David,

What part of Philly would have you? You probably root for the Cowboys, too! Phillies in six!!

Posted by: PhillyFan | October 21, 2008 6:19 PM | Report abuse

We beg to differ.

"Wait until those kids get into Philadelphia. They will have never heard a crowd as loud!!!"

Posted by: Boston and NY fans | October 21, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

@ David

No issue with the healthy voicing of opinion, but I find your reasoning suspect. What does the past history of the Flyers/Sixers/Eagles/whoever have to do with the Phillies' ability to win the series? Cole Hamels and Jon Lester are both great pitchers, but only one of them is still in contention.

The Rays have put on quite a show, but I'll take the Phils to win it all.

If you are not all talk and indeed put your money where your mouth is, I suggest we make a wager:

If the Rays win, I'll give myself one of those stupid "Ray-hawks". If the Phillies win, you have to wear a Rays jersey and stand on the corner of Broad & South for an hour the night they win it. You live in Philly right?


Posted by: Bigs | October 21, 2008 6:30 PM | Report abuse

Crazy reason to pick TB in four. Wasn't it just two years ago when the Cards whipped the Tigers? How did the NL do in interleague play that year? These are two excellent well-matched teams. Don't know who'll win, but it will go seven games.

Posted by: LTachner | October 21, 2008 6:32 PM | Report abuse

In interleague play this year, the tally was 149-103 in the AL's favor. That's a .591 winning percentage. To put that into perspective, a team playing at that clip for 162 games wins 96 games. Yes, that means the average AL team would be a 96-win team if it played all its games against the NL.

By Dave Sheinin | October 21, 2008; 1:24 PM ET

Statistics obviously not your best subject, because that's not at all what "that means."

Posted by: Barno | October 21, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

You might be surprised as to how great this series is going to be. Right up to the seventh game when Philly takes it.

Posted by: Tony | October 21, 2008 7:27 PM | Report abuse

To PhillyPhan (and others): Actually, Lester was a better pitcher than Hamels this season, when you factor in league and park effects. Lester had a VORP of 58.2 (fifth in the at majors among pitchers), while Hamels is seventh at 56.3.

Posted by: Dave Sheinin | October 21, 2008 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Dave Sheinin,

You're insane!

I'll be laughing when there is no broom.

Posted by: Tony | October 21, 2008 7:55 PM | Report abuse

First of all, the AL with its Designated Hitter is an abomination. According to Doubleday's rules of baseball, the AL is not even baseball. With their trashing the rules and the sport, you can't even compare the leagues its like comparing baseball teams to whatever it is you want to call the AL.

Secondly, the Phillies will beat the Rays for sure. Secondly part two, if the Phillies do not win the series, there surely will not be a sweep.

Thirdly, I know all the media except ESPN and MLB.com hates everything Philly, but you are smoking crack if you think that the Rays will sweep the Phillies!!!

Posted by: Philly Joe | October 21, 2008 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Like seriously, have you guys even looked at the stats. 4-12 against the al for the phillies which is second worst in NL. 12-6 for the rays. Anybody, see the all star game, brad lidge blew a save to the al

Posted by: da dude | October 21, 2008 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Would you have predicted any of what's happened so far this postseason? Dodgers sweeping Cubs only to be manhandled by the Phillies, Red Sox hammering the Angels but being first throttled and then outlasted by the Rays? Yeah, me neither. So I admire your courage in making a Series prediction this bold, but will respectfully disbelieve you.

Posted by: Mike | October 21, 2008 9:02 PM | Report abuse

I think that the interleague record stat is a complete sham, and I do agree Hamels is better than Lester....but! the Rays will win the series. I think it will be Rays in 6, Hamels will pitch twice and win one of his starts and the Phils will take another as well. I do think the Rays are not a fluke like the Rockies of last year, they are a really good, complete, and deep team. The Phils are not pretenders either and have been consistently good in the past few years. The Rays do not feature a David Ortiz type DH, but will still win this series. Best of luck to all for an entertaining WS!

Posted by: Sublimetb | October 21, 2008 9:16 PM | Report abuse

ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD

Remember?
Well, for 3 years in a row it has been
communicated to someone in Philly
that unless they remove a profanity-laced
promotion video that the Phillies will not win.

Laugh if you will.

I personally am happy they didn't listen.
GO RAYS !!!!!!

Posted by: Maria B. | October 21, 2008 9:23 PM | Report abuse

The whole argument of season based stats is irrelevant in the post-season. The entirety of the season is merely to make it to the playoffs, and progress. Sure, having a better record looks better, but that's as far as it goes. As for the whole designated hitter thing? Wooooo. You surely are something special here.

Predicting a sweep based on raw regular season stats is almost like basing the Superbowl off of pre-season games. Or even season games.

Remember the "UNDEFEATED DYNASTY OF THE PATRIOTS?" Last I checked, they lost to a Wild Card team.

Go figure? Stats are irrelevant, for the most part.

Let the games speak for themselves, and stop gazing into your PCP laced numerical crystal ball.

Posted by: Jim | October 21, 2008 9:58 PM | Report abuse

The AL East is not that great and only a fool with no knowledge of baseball would suggest the Orioles might beat the Phillies in seven games.

Posted by: Jordan | October 21, 2008 10:10 PM | Report abuse

The logical weakness of your argument is that you assume because the AL is better overall than the NL that the AL's best team must, therefore, be better than the NL's best team. It doesn't take a logician to laugh that one off. I think the Series will go at least 6, likely 7.

I like the Phillies a little bit more because of the BP, but I think the real difference is between those of us who believe it will be close, and those who are drinking the AL Kool-Aid.

Posted by: BaseballinDC | October 22, 2008 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Point proven. WHERE IS YOUR CASMIR NOW? That's right, failing. Hard.

Posted by: Jim | October 23, 2008 6:27 AM | Report abuse

YEAH YOU HEARD ME RIGHT, RAYS IN FOUR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAAAHAHAHAHAAAAHAHAAHAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well there may be a sweep, but it ain't the Rays doin it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Looks like you were wrong.

Looks like many of the comments were wrong.

Looks like it won't be the Rays in 4!!!!

Stick with Obama, baseball is too complicated for you to understand.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 23, 2008 7:43 AM | Report abuse

Quack, Quack!

You were wrong. Phillies in six.

Posted by: Phillie Phan | October 23, 2008 8:58 AM | Report abuse

I told you so. Sticking to my early prediction. Phils win in 5.
Rays might pull it out tonight at home. But they are doomed in Philly. You heard it here first.....

(my post from the other day)
You people are smoking the dope. I will be sure to post back here Thursday morning after the Phils take game one so you can all enjoy eating some crow.

Jon Lester can't sniff the jock strap of Cole Hamels. The best pitcher this post season thus far is Hamels. Jaime Moyer is also going to find success against the young and jumpy Rays, as long as he has an ump who doesn't shrink the strike zone. Both his starts featured umps with tiny zones.

Interleage stats mean NOTHING this time of year as every team is completely scouted. The Phils had the toughest interleague schedule in the MLB this year. (Boston, LAA, and Texas when they were hot) Out the window. Means nothing now.

Ryan Howard hasn't hit since September, so who cares about the Rays and their lefties? The Phils 5-8 (Victorino, Werth, Burrell, Ruiz, MYERS) hitters have done the most damage this post season, aside from Utley and the occassional Rollins lead-off homer.

All you guys hate on the Phils like the rest of the country does and you especially hate them b/c they destroy the sorry Nats every season. HATERS.

Posted by: PhilliePhan | October 21, 2008 4:43 PM

Posted by: PhilliePhan | October 23, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Let me guess, Rays in Seven, right?

Posted by: tondiep2003 | October 27, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

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