HOW DO WE KNOW DEREK JETER WILL HAVE A GOOD ALCS?
1. He’s comfortable against all four of the starting pitchers in this series
JeterDerek Jeter has a .432 batting average and 1.081 OPS against Cliff Lee, combining both regular season and postseason. There are 62 hitters who have faced Cliff Lee at least 25 times in their careers. None has a better batting average than Jeter.
Jeter homered in his first career at-bat against C.J. Wilson in 2005, and is 5-for-14 with three walks against him. Sometimes he gets a little lucky – two of his three hits against Wilson this season have been of the infield variety.
It’s been a long time since Jeter saw Colby Lewis, but he’s 3-for-5 against the Rangers righty, homering twice against him in their last meeting – in 2003.
Jeter also went 2-for-3 in his career against Tommy Hunter.
2. He’s looking better at the plate
Jeter had hits in all three games of the ALDS, going 2-for-4 in the third game of the sweep after a pair of 1-for-5s. Perhaps of greater significance, he’s getting better swings. He hit five line drives in his 14 plate appearances, a small-sample rate more commensurate with an effective Jeter, rather than the one who had issues throughout 2010.
3. History says he’s due for some hits
Jeter is a .313 career hitter in postseason play, but his LCS numbers (.262 batting average) don’t quite match that level of performance. It’s been awhile since Jeter last had a good LCS. In his last four, he’s hit .118 (2001 vs Mariners), .233 (2003 vs Red Sox), .200 (2004 vs Red Sox) and .259 (2009 vs Rangers). So he’s due to match the likes of 10 years ago, when he hit .318 with two home runs and five RBI in a win over the Mariners.
HOW DO WE KNOW THE GIANTS OFFENSE WILL STRUGGLE?
1. They had the worst offense of the eight playoff teams during the regular season
Most GIDP, NL teams 2010
They were the only team to make the postseason scoring less than 700 runs, ranked in the middle of the pack in batting average and in the bottom half of the league in walks and OBP. Despite such trouble getting on base, the Giants managed to ground into 158 double plays, with 3B Pablo Sandoval leading the NL with 26. That's the most double plays grounded into by a National League team since 1958, when the Cardinals grounded into 166.
This explains why the Giants ranked ninth in the National League in runs scored during the regular season. Keep in mind, only two teams since 1974 have won the National League pennant with a ranking that low.
2. Their offensive struggles continued in the NLDS
The Giants grounded into six more double plays in the NLDS after finishing one behind the Minnesota Twins for the major league lead during the regular season. And after finishing last in the National League in BA with RISP (.248) during the regular season, they hit just .185 (5-for-27) in that situation against the Braves in the NLDS.
3. The Phillies pitchers are pretty good
Everyone knows by now that the Phillies have a star-studded rotation, and their entire staff allowed only 11 hits in three games in the NLDS. During the regular season their pitching staff was fifth in the National League by inducing 132 groundball double plays – even though they were next to last in GIDP opportunities! In fact, three of their pitchers ranked in the top 14 of the league in that category. How did they do that? Their pitching staff was third in the majors this season in groundball percentage.