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ALCS Preview: Angels/White Sox

You've probably realized, by now, that I dislike postseason preview articles. I don't mind writing them or reading them because it's something to do, but they're fairly useless. Once the first website/outlet clarifies the misconceptions about the teams involved, that's really all we need to know, right? Then it's just a matter of picking out "things to watch for" when you sit down at 8:00 or whenever, tonight, to watch the game.

For many reasons, the White Sox are being viewed as the sensible pick, based on the scheduling crisis, the pitching staffs, and everything else.

Of course, this is October, and there are some brave souls from around the internet who are going with the Angels. Here are some picks from various places:

Peter Gammons - White Sox in 6
Jayson Stark - Angels in 7
Jerry Crasnik - White Sox in 7
Buster Olney - Angels in 6
Jim Caple - White Sox in 6
Steve Phillips - White Sox in 5
Gary Gillette - White Sox in 7
Eric Neel - Angels in 6
Pedro Gomez - Angels in 6
Gary Miller - Angels in 5
Aaron Gleeman - White Sox in 7
Joe Sheehan - Angels in 7

Please, feel free to comment in your predictions. I won't make one (although my two from the first round were right, by virtue of luck).

So, essentially, everyone's all over the place. That's good for discussion and such, but its bad for buying stocks and gambling and all sorts of other things that we like to do when we try and forecast the future.

I'll go on record as saying that I don't think that the travel thing is going to be a huge issue. It's more the inability to set the rotation that will hurt the Angels. Paul Byrd and TBA will be matching up against Jose Contreras and Mark Buerhle, in Chicago, for Games 1 and 2. The White Sox will be heavy favorites in both games (they're at -190 now, for Game 1).

No matter how you slice this, it's a disadvantage for the Angels. Worse, though, is that Colon and Washburn are both questionable for the series. The Angels live by their pitching, which is balanced and above average. They'll be facing a weak-hitting team but one of the best pitching staffs in the league.

Perhaps the best news I heard in the last few days was that Baseball-Reference.com updated its site with the 2005 stats. This is a great development and it makes comparisons a bit easier.

            OPS+         ERA+
Angels        98          114
White Sox     95          123
Yankees      111           98
Red Sox      114           93
I included the Yankees and Red Sox in there for the sake of showing "what might have been."

These teams are quite similar. They both have below-average offenses and very, very good pitching, with the White Sox as the more extreme version of the two. More of the Angels' value in pitching comes from their bullpen (they have a 3.43 component-ERA and the Sox have a 3.70 ERA), and the White Sox' starters have been solid all year (but much better in the first half).

Somebody online mentioned how they'd prefer to see a series between the Yankees and White Sox rather than the Angels and White Sox because these two teams are so similar. They score runs differently, I think, but otherwise, they're much the same team. (The White Sox rely on the longball more than the Angels do; the Angels steal bases very efficiently, which the White Sox do NOT do. They also hit very well with RISP this year, for some reason.)

The teams are about equal. Injuries, homefield, and rest favor the Sox. I don't know if that's enough to overcome the inevitable variations in a 7-game series.

If you like to gamble, stay away from this series.