Phillies in Six Games, for the Title and Parade
By Jeff Lyons
Phillies in six.
Now that the prediction is out of the way, I'll explain why the Philadelphia Phillies will defeat the Tampa Bay Rays in six games to win the 2008 World Series. Let's break it down by position, shall we?
Ryan Howard vs. Carlos Pena
Howard is baseball's biggest run producer. He led the planet with 48 HRs and 146 RBIs. Pena is a nice player, but let's face it – he's not Ryan Howard. Advantage Phillies.
Chase Utley vs. Akinori Iwamura
Utley is the best second baseman in baseball; Iwamura isn't. Advantage Phillies.
Jimmy Rollins vs. Jason Bartlett
Rollins is the 2007 National League MVP and the Phillies sparkplug. Bartlett is solid defensively, but his offense is a non-factor. Advantage Phillies.
Pedro Feliz/Greg Dobbs vs. Evan Longoria
Longoria is a stud. He’s going to the AL Rookie of the Year. Big advantage to the Rays here.
Pat Burrell vs. Carl Crawford
Burrell is the Phillies main right-handed power bat. He's maddeningly inconsistent and slothlike on the bases. But he's underrated defensively and has a great arm. Crawford was limited to 109 games this year because of injuries. He's like Bobby Abreu without the power or high on-base percentage. And he can run. But Burrell's OPS is 150 points higher than Crawford's. Slight edge to the Phils.
Shane Victorino vs. B.J. Upton
Both have shown surprising power in the playoffs. Both can run like the wind and flash the leather in the field. Call it even.
Jayson Werth vs. Rocco Baldelli
Baldelli was on his way to stardom before injuries slowed his career. Werth became an everyday player this year and showed power, speed and defense. Slight edge to the Phils.
Carlos Ruiz vs. Dioner Navarro
Navarro is much better offensively but the Phils pitchers love throwing to Ruiz, whose catcher’s ERA is slightly lower than Navarro’s. But the edge goes to the Rays.
All five Tampa starters won at least 11 games. Cole Hamels is one of the best pitchers in baseball. Brett Myers (the one who pitched after his return from the minors) is a solid No. 2. Jamie Moyer, who has struggled in October, is the wild card. Moyer will confound the young Rays with an assortment of slow, slower and slowest breaking pitches and keep the fastball-loving Rays out of sorts. The Rays will hear all kinds of horror stories about pitching at Citizens Bank Park. They'll believe the hype. Slight edge to the Phils.
The Phillies had the best bullpen in baseball. The Phils were 79-0 this year when leading after eight innings. Closer Brad Lidge was almost perfect all season, converting 41 out of 41 save opportunities. When the Phils get the lead late, they keep it. But the Rays have three lefties in their pen, which could mean trouble for Howard. But the edge goes to the Phils.
So here's how it shakes out. Hamels wins game one and the Rays manage a split in a slugfest against Myers in Game 2. Moyer frustrates the Rays in Game 3 and Joe Blanton loses a heartbreaker in Game 4. Hamels wins again in Game 5 and Brett Myers redeems himself with a Schilling-like start in Game 6 for the World Series championship. And then it's time to find your place along Broad Street for the parade.
Jeff Lyons, senior managing editor of the Philadelphia Bar Reporter and Bar Reporter Online, is a fanatical Philadelphia sports fan. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.