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October 09, 2008   |   By: Dayne Myers   |   Posted in: CEO Posts, Company News, Diamond Mind, Industry News, MLB Playoffs, SIM Analysis, SIM Stats, Tips

Mr. Sim Says Dodgers Will Defeat Phillies in NLCS, Advance to World Series

Last week, our Diamond Mind simulation predicted that the Philadelphia Phillies would dispatch the Milwaukee Brewers, most likely in four games, and projected that the Los Angeles Dodgers would upset the team with the NL’s best record in the regular season, the ill-fated Chicago Cubs.  Sure enough, both the Phillies and Dodgers came through as projected, with L.A. sweeping Chicago and Philadelphia finishing off the Brewers in four games.


Our simulations projected that Manny Ramirez would continue his torrid hitting to lead the LA offense, but the key would be the Dodger pitching, which we predicted would shut down the Cubs’ line-up, particularly Alfonso Soriano and Derrek Lee.  Sure enough, Manny was Manny at his best, going 5 for 10 in the series with 2 home runs, 3 RBI and 5 runs scored, while the Dodgers pitchers lived up to their simulation results, posting a team ERA of 2.00 and holding the Cubs to a .240 batting average and, perhaps more importantly, only a .286 on-base percentage.  Though Lee had a much better series than we projected, Soriano was limited to just one hit, a single, in 14 at-bats.


For the Phillies-Brewers series, our simulation projected the Phillies with a 54.9% chance of winning, most likely in four games, and that the Brewers’ chances were heavily dependent on the pitching of C.C. Sabathia.  That was a risky proposition for the Brewers, given that Sabathia had made several starts on three-days’ rest during the stretch run and would need to do it twice more in the playoffs.  Game 2 was especially problematic, as Sabathia threw 122 pitches in the final game of the regular season and would need to turn around and pitch again on three-days’ rest.  Sure enough C.C. ran out of gas, as we projected, and lost game two.  Our simulations showed the Brewers facing an uphill battle if they lost that game two and extremely tough odds if they had already lost game one.  Further, our simulation projected the Phillie pitching staff would keep the Brewers in check, and Cole Hamels and company lived up to the projection with a team ERA of 2.31 and holding the Brewers to a team batting average of just .206.


So, what does our Diamond Mind simulation project for the National League Championship Series? 

Before revealing our projected results for the NLCS, here is a brief recap of our methodology:  

  • We updated our projections and ratings for each player based on his 2008 regular season performance.
  • Although playoff rosters were not yet finalized, we used our best judgment about whom would be selected, the starting rotations, the batting orders, and the bullpen and bench roles.
  • We made judgments about players carrying an injury into the post-season.  Beyond deciding, for purposes of setting these roles, whether or not a player would play, we did not attempt to simulate how such an injury might hamper the player, except to the extent already reflected in his regular season performance.
  • We then simulated the series 2,000 times.

As unpredictable as the outcome of the regular season can be, luck can play an even greater role in a short series.  Nevertheless, the results of our simulations project the Dodgers will continue their Manny-led run, most likely in 6 games and maybe even 5, and advancing to face the winner of the American League.  In fact, the Dodgers-Phillies series did not project to be as close as we expected, as L.A. won 1231 of the 2,000 simulated series, which equates to 61.6% chance of winning the series: 


PHI sweep

PHI in 5

PHI in 6

PHI in 7

LA in 7

LA in 6

LA in 5

LA sweep












Pitching appears to have the upper hand, as this projects to be a low-scoring series – the Dodgers averaged just 4.7 runs per game while tfurcal_416he Phillies averaged only 4.1 in our 2,000 simulations of the NLCS.

Yet again, Manny Ramirez was the hitting star for the Dodgers, with a batting average of .333 for the series and an OPS of 1.042, which is even better than he projected for the NL Division Series against Chicago.  He also averaged 2 homers and 6 RBI.  But if Manny is the engine that driving the Dodgers, Rafael Furcal looks like he will be the spark plug.  Furcal led both teams in on-base percentage (.429) and runs scored (5) for our NLCS simulations.  But the Diamond Mind simulations also project that Nomar Garciapara, Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier as showing good odds of providing strong contributions at the plate.  

For the Phillies, the simulations show Chase Utley and Ryan Howard as having the highest probability of being the offensive stars.  Utley led the Phillie starters with a .304 batting average and an OPS of .907, while Howard averaged an OPS of .815 and led the team with 4 rbi.  Shane Victorino hit .292 with an on-base average of .346, but the rest of the Phillie line-up projects to struggle against the L.A. pitching.  Philadelphia’s team batting average was .246 for the 2,000 simulations, with an on-base percentage of .311 and slugging percentage of .350, indicating the L.A. staff should keep the ball in the ballpark.  In contrast, the Dodgers hit .279 and sported an on-base percentage of .341 and slugging of .441.  So, if you’re looking for a key factor that might turn this series in the Phillies’ favor, look to the long ball – if the Phillies are to out-perform the projections, home runs are a key leverage point.

The simulation projects the Dodgers’ pitchers to post a team ERA of 3.88, led by Derek Lowe (projected ERA of 3.65) and Hiroki Kuroda (3.12).  However, it’s the Dodger bullpen that truly shines in the simulations, with strong performances from Takaski Saito, Jonathan Broxton, Joe Beimel and Clayton Kershaw.  The Phils’ bullpen also projects to have a strong series.  Other than Cole Hamels, however, the Philadelphia starting rotation struggles.  Hamles projects to match Lowe’s 3.65, as they split their match-ups in most sim runs.  However, the rest of the rotation struggles, posting ERAs of 4.50-5.06 for the simulations. p1_chase_utley_310

If the Phillies are to win, therefore, it appears the key will be the ability of the hitters to produce more power than the projections and/or the Phillie starters other than Cole Hamels having a good series.

As we noted in our division series previews, the odds can swing dramatically in favor of the winner of Game One of a short series.  In fact, the winner of first game went on to win every series in the 2007 playoffs, and the same is true so far in 2008.  However, our simulations show that the Dodgers are still slight favorites even if they lose the opening game.  Conversely, our simulations show that the Phillies really need that first game win if they’re to have a good shot at taking the series.  So, the pressure is on Cole Hamels when he faces Derek Lowe in Game One.  That said, we still see the Los Angeles Dodgers beating the Philadelphia Phillies and making a trip to their first World Series since Kirk Gibson limped on to the field at Dodger Stadium and created one of baseball’s most memorable moments, sparking another surprising L.A. team.


Want more detail on Mr. Sim’s predictions in the League Division Series?  See the links below:


Phillies-Brewers Series (prediction, result)

Game 1 (prediction, result)

Game 2 (prediction, result)

Game 3 (prediction, result)

Game 4 (prediction, result)

Phillies Win Series 3-1 


Dodgers-Cubs Series (prediction, result)

Dodgers-Cubs Game 1 (prediction, result)

Dodgers-Cubs Game 2 (prediction, result)

Dodgers-Cubs Game 3 (prediction, result)

Dodgers Win Series 3-0



Angels-Red Sox Series (prediction, result)

Game 1 (prediction, result)

Game 2 (prediction, result)

Game 3 (prediction, result)

Game 4 (prediction, result)

Red Sox Win Series 3-1


Rays-White Sox Series (prediction, result)

Game 1 (prediction, result)

Game 2 (prediction, result)

Game 3 (prediction, result)

Game 4 (prediction, result)

Rays Win Series 3-1




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