The Phillies have made the NLCS for the first time since 1993. Time to trot out a position-by-position match-up analysis for the Phillies and Dodgers.
Player, Team, BA/SLG/HR/RBI
Carlos Ruiz, Phillies, .219/.300/4/31
Russell Martin, Dodgers, .280/.396/13/69
Ruiz is a very good defensive catcher. However, Martin is even better on the field, and he can actually hit a baseball without grounding into a double play once in a while. He has the edge over Ruiz in almost every offensive category, especially batting average and over Ruiz's woeful .300 slugging. Big advantage to the Dodgers.
Ryan Howard, Phillies, .250/.543/48/146
James Loney, Dodgers, .289/.434/13/90
In the field, Howard committed a terrible 19 errors. If the Phillies want keep runs off the board, they must not let Howard throw the ball. Loney is a bit better at fielding, but Howard is a freak-of-nature home run threat every time he comes up to bat. Edge to Phillies.
Chase Utley, Phillies, .292/.535/33/104
Blake DeWitt, Dodgers, .264/.383/9/52
DeWitt is a rookie who's filling in for Jeff Kent. He's an okay hitter. Utley is the premier second baseman of the National League, if not all of baseball. The Phillies' 2B has been playing hurt and struggled in the post-season, but he is still far better than DeWitt. Advantage Phillies.
Jimmy Rollins, Phillies, .277/.437/11/59
Rafael Furcal, Dodgers, .357/.573/5/16 (36 games)
Furcal missed most of the season with an injury, but was scorching hot when he did play. Both are good defensive shortstops and excel at stealing bases. J-Roll is the heart of the Phillies, so he gets the edge here.
Pedro Feliz, Phillies, .249/.402/14/58
Casey Blake, Dodgers, .274/.463/21/81
Feliz, for the Phillies, is an improvement over Wes Helms last year, but still an average-at-best 3B. His fielding is good, and if you feed him a fastball, he can hit it, but Feliz is a one-trick pony at the plate. Blake was a midseason acquisition for the Dodgers and has panned out well. Edge Dodgers.
Pat Burrell, Phillies, .250/.507/33/86
Manny Ramirez, Dodgers, .332/.601/37/121
Yes, Burrell is a good hitter, but do I really need to tell you why this is an edge for the Dodgers?
Shane Victorino, Phillies, .293/.457/14/58
Matt Kemp, Dodgers, .290/.459/18/76
Kemp is Victorino with a little more power. Both play very good defense. Edge to Kemp.
Jayson Werth, Phillies, .273/.498/24/67
Andre Ethier, Dodgers, .305/.510/20/77
Werth finally won the starting job in Philadelphia following Geoff Jenkins's injury. Ethier has graduated from a hot prospect into a good ballplayer. Ethier is a better hitter, but Werth is faster, going 20/21 on steals (Ethier stole just six of nine). Werth is playing against a team that gave up on him after a wrist injury. Edge to Ethier.
Pitcher, Team, Record/ERA/WHIP
Cole Hamels, Phillies, 14-10/3.09/1.08
Derek Lowe, Dodgers, 14-11/3.24/1.13
The staff aces had very similar regular season stats. Both ought to have had more than 14 wins. In their post-season openers, Lowe allowed 2 runs in 6 innings to the Cubs, while Hamels threw 8 shutout innings against the Brewers. Edge to Phillies, though barely.
Brett Myers, Phillies, 10-13/4.55/1.38
Chad Billingsley, Dodgers, 16-10/3.14/1.34
How does Billingsley end up with such better W-L and ERA than Myers with this similar of a WHIP? Allowing only half as many stolen bases might be part of it, but one suspects there's a little luck involved in both directions. Still, Myers has gone 7-4 with a 3.06 in the second half. Billingsley allowed one run over 6 2/3 and Myers two in 7 in their first starts of the post-season. Closer than a first glance would say, but still advantage Dodgers.
Jamie Moyer, Phillies, 16-7/3.71/1.33
Hideki Kuroda, Dodgers, 9-10/3.73/1.22
Moyer is the ultimate crafty veteran. His fastball hovers around 81 mph, sometimes climbing to 83 or 84, and his breaking ball is known to dip below 70. Kuroda is a Japanese import and serviceable pitcher. Both are clutch- Kuroda clinched the NLDS for the Dodgers, and Moyer has clinched the division in back-to-back years. I might take Moyer, but this ought to be a push.
Brad Lidge, Phillies, 2-0, 41/41 saves, 1.95 ERA
Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers, 3-5, 14/22, 3.13
Lidge has been lights out in Philly, and his team hopes he stays at 100% in save opportunities. Broxton's 3.13 ERA isn't bad, and he's gone 14/17 since the All-Star break, but that doesn't hold a candle to Lidge this year. Clear advantage Phillies.
Charlie Manuel, 574-484 total, 354-294 in Philly
Joe Torre, 2151-1848 total, 84-78 in LA
Manuel is a players' manager who helped the Phillies improve past their Larry Bowa-era performances. Joe Torre has four rings. Edge Dodgers.
Phillies: One championship in 125 years of existence. The city hasn't won a major sports championship since 1983.
Dodgers: Were on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week.
My call: Howard and Utley feast on right-handed pitchers. Phillies in 7.