2014 National League Championship Series Preview and Prediction From WhatIfSports.com image

2014 MLB Playoffs: NLCS Prediction

We simulate the Orioles vs. Royals to predict the NLCS winner

WhatIfSports.com
October 8, 2014

Using our MLB simulation engine, we "played" the Cardinals vs. Giants 2014 best-of-seven National League Championship Series 101 times.

In the predictions below, you will find each team's chances of advancing to the World Series and how often they win in 4, 5, 6 or 7 games.

National League Championship Series Prediction: Cardinals vs. Giants

Come October, the St. Louis Cardinals are a big deal. Just ask their mayor.

While the open letter is filled with smugness, malapropisms, outdated pop cultural references, terrible jokes, erroneous statements and distorted conclusions...the man does have a point. The Redbirds are making their fourth straight postseason appearance, which includes a World Series title in 2011. Helmed with one of baseball's best starting staffs and a veteran-laden offense, the Cards seemingly have the makings of a fall contender.

Simulation ERAs
Team ERA
Cardinals Rotation 3.63
Cardinals Bullpen 3.72
Giants Rotation 3.45
Giants Bullpen 3.18

However, St. Louis has not been alone in its Senior Circuit dominance. With a win in the National League Championship Series, the San Francisco Giants would be making their third trip to the Fall Classic in five years. And don't tell St. Louis this, but, judging by the numbers since 2011, the best fans in baseball reside in the Bay Area, as the Giants boast the highest attendance figures in that span. Using the WhatIfSports.com baseball simulation engine, let's see who comes out on top in this 2012 NLCS rematch:

Despite an abundance of proven bats in their arsenal, the Cardinals went through an identity crisis this summer at the plate. After leading the National League in runs a season ago, the lumber went quiet in 2014, ranking 24th in scoring behind such offensive juggernauts like the Phillies, Mets and Astros. Worse, Oscar Taveras, the highly-touted prospect that the team was so invested in that it let Carlos Beltran walk, had a horrendous debut, posting a .239/.278/.312 line. With a debilitating injury to leader Yadier Molina in July, the Cards appeared to be going belly-up as the dog days of summer approached.

Yet in this adversity, St. Louis answered, and answered with vigor. Behind strong second-half performances from Lance Lynn (2.22 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) and Shelby Miller (2.92 ERA, 0.99 WHIP), as well as help from the Milwaukee Brewers' epic collapse, the Cardinals surged back into the postseason. This momentum carried into the LDS as the club proved its temerity, coming out on top in three closely-contested games against the Dodgers. Running out stud Adam Wainwright in Game 1 of the ALCS, the Cards are in prime position to make another run at a World Series ring.

However, Wainwright will have no walk in the park, as the Giants will counter with Madison Bumgarner or Jake Peavy. Both have been brilliant as of late: Peavy held the Nationals to just two hits in 5 2/3 innings of work in Game 1 of the LDS, while Bumgarner has surrendered only two runs in 16 postseason innings this fall. As of writing, San Francisco has not announced its intention, but don't be surprised if Peavy gets the call, as a Game 2 start would allow Bumgarner to take the mound in St. Louis for a Game 6. This is noteworthy as Bumgarner has been gang busters on the road this season (2.22 ERA) but vulnerable in the "friendly" confines of AT&T Park (4.03 ERA in 15 games).

When the Giants are at the plate, don't expect an aesthetically-pleasing affair. San Francisco ranked 18th in on-base percentage, and their power numbers were nothing of consequence. Not helping matters has been the absence of Angel Pagan, who's out with a back injury. Luckily for the Giants, the top of the lineup does pack enough pop to be formidable. The quartet of Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence and Brandon Belt can do plenty of damage on the scoreboard, and the offense should get a shot of life with Michael Morse returning from an oblique strain.

So who is taking the 2014 National League pennant? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com baseball simulation engine, the Giants are heading to the World Series, winning 60.4 percent of the time with a five or six-game series the most likely outcome.

Cardinals vs. Giants: 101 Simulations of Best-of-7 Series
MatchupWin %4-Games %5-Games %6-Games %7-Games %
Cardinals33.72.05.010.915.8
Giants66.35.021.821.817.8
Simulate St. Louis Cardinals vs. San Francisco Giants
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Joel Beall is the Assistant Content Manager for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at jbeall@whatifsports.com.

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