The National League Championship series features a pair of teams that within the last few days were both on the brink of elimination and fighting for their postseason lives. In this round only one team’s magical season will continue.

The Vegas odds slightly favor the Giants — primarily because of home-field advantage if this goes seven games — but I am expecting just about anything to happen.

Here is the statistical breakdown for each squad:


Giants 0.269 0.327 0.397 0.315 99
Cardinals 0.271 0.338 0.421 0.329 107


Giants 97 101 101
Cardinals 97 95 95

The Cardinals are a better team than the Giants, but it is fairly close. The Cardinals had the best offense in the NL this season while the Giants were fourth best. On the pitching side, the teams are even in ERA- while the Cardinals have the edge in the fielding independent statistics.

On paper this is a very close matchup that leans toward the Cardinals, however this is a short series and sometimes a guy like Cody Ross hits like vintage Barry Bonds over a short stretch. You never know and that is why we all love this crazy game.

Next let’s move on to the projection. In case you forgot or haven’t seen the explanation, here is a quick description of how the model works:

  • I start by estimating the runs scored and allowed for each team given the starting pitcher, bullpen, defense and each team’s offense.
  • The data used in the projection model is based on the current season’s statistics to date and if a player has less than a full season of data it is supplemented with the ZiPS projections
  • The estimated run differential is then converted into a projected winning percentage using the pythagorean expectation.
  • Then, it’s converted into an odds of winning the game using the log5 method developed by Bill James


Sunday, October 14, 5:00 PM: Lance Lynn vs. Madison Bumgarner

Monday, October 15, 5:00 PM: Chris Carpenter vs. Ryan Vogelsong

Wednesday, October 17, 1:00 PM: Kyle Lohse vs. Matt Cain

Thursday, October 18, 5:00 PM: Adam Wainright vs. Tim Lincecum*

Friday, October 19, 5:00 PM**: Lance Lynn vs. Madison Bumgarner

Sunday, October 21, 1:30 PM**: Chris Carpenter vs. Ryan Vogelsong

Monday, October 22, 5:00 PM**: Kyle Lohse vs. Matt Cain

*Not announced but it is what I am hoping for

**If necessary


Giants Cardinals
Game 1 57% 43%
Game 2 54% 46%
Game 3 49% 51%
Game 4 39% 61%
Game 5 48% 52%
Game 6 54% 46%
Game 7 58% 42%

In each game the home team is the favorite but outside of Games 1, 4 and 7, all of the matchups are fairly close to toss-up games where neither team has a large advantage.

Here is how the different permutations turn out for the series, with the odds of each team winning in a certain number of games:

Giants Cardinals
Sweep 6% 6%
In 5 games 12% 13%
in 6 games 17% 15%
in 7 game 18% 13%
Total: 53% 47%

The Giants enjoy the slight advantage in the odds right now due to the benefit of home-field advantage. The longer the series goes the more it swings in the Giants’ favor and on paper it looks like there is a decent chance of that happening. The probability of a sweep is slim, with neither team having much of an edge in the first four games.

According to my projections, we should all prepare ourselves for a long series. The odds of at least six games right now are sitting at 63% and this is probably a good thing that favors the Giants with the last two games at home.

The experts at ESPN are split as to who will win but it sure seems that the Cardinals’ bandwagon is a bit fuller at this moment. I actually don’t mind that at all and I am a bit reassured by these numbers giving the slight edge to the Giants. This plus the underdog role seems to fit into the pattern of what happened in 2010, and we all remember what happened then.