2011 MLB Playoff ALDS Preview: Rays vs. Rangers

NLDS Preview: Cardinals vs. Phillies | Diamondbacks vs. Brewers
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Friday at 5:07pm EST, the Rays and Rangers will kick-off the 2011 playoffs. The Rays landed in the playoffs in spectacular fashion and will have one day to regroup before heading to Arlington.

All year, the Rays rode their superior run prevention while the Rangers, while a pretty balanced team, slugged their way to the AL West title. However, we need to take into account park factors. Yes, the Rays run prevention was sterling this year, but they also play their home games in the second least-friendly park for hitters in the majors. Conversely, the Rangers played in the most run-friendly park in the bigs.

The big question, then, for this series is whether or not the Rays will be able to depress the Rangers offense enough on the road. This year, Rays pitchers have a HR/FB ratio of 10.8% on the road. That's a 2% jump from home and ranks in the bottom quarter for the league. Meanwhile, the Rangers offense boasts the second-highest HR/FB ratio in the league at home (15.2%).

The Rangers hit pretty well at the Trop this year, and were about average in terms of home runs per plate appearance relative to the rest of the staffs and parks they've played in. That's saying something, considering how much the Trop depresses home runs and how good the Rays staff is at home.

It's a tough call, as I absolutely love the Rays (I am an official fanboy). They have some tremendous talent position-player wise as well as a bevy of young, power arms. That being said, I am going to call this one for the Rangers, three games to two. They just have a fantastic lineup that seems able to hit, home or away, regardless of who is on the mound. And their pitching staff does a great job on the road.

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Graphic Guide: League average is scaled to 100. Scores higher than 100 indicate performance better than league average, less than 100 indicates performance worse than league average regardless of the statistic. For example, if a team has a FIP of 110% on the graph their actual FIP is 10% better than league average.

Statistics have not been park adjusted, but are adjusted for each team's respective league.

Offense

RS/G: Runs Scored per Game

wOBA: Weighted On-base Average

OBP: On-base Percentage

SLG: Slugging

BABIP: Batting Average on Balls in Play

LD%: Line-drive Percentage

HR/FB: Home run to Fly Ball Ratio

Defense

RA/G: Runs Against per Game

FIP: Fielding Independent Pitching

tERA: True Runs Allowed

SIERA: Skill-Interactive Earned Run Average (FanGraphs' version)

BABIP: Batting Average on Balls in Play

K/BB: Strikeouts to Walk Ratio

HR/FB: Home run to Fly Ball Ratio

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