2014 National League Division Series Previews and Predictions From WhatIfSports.com image

2014 MLB Playoffs: NLDS Predictions

We simulate the Dodgers vs. Cardinals and Nationals vs. Giants to predict the NLDS winners

WhatIfSports.com
October 2, 2014

Using our MLB simulation engine, we "played" the Dodgers vs. Cardinals and Nationals vs. Giants 2014 best-of-five National League Divisional Series 501 times.

In the predictions below, you will find each team's chances of advancing to the National League Championship Series and how often they win in 3, 4 or 5 games.

National League Division Series Prediction: Dodgers vs. Cardinals

There is some serious postseason pedigree in the NL side of the 2014 MLB playoffs. Here are the top three teams with the most NL pennants: Giants (22), Dodgers (21), and Cardinals (19).

The St. Louis Cardinals have won 11 Word Series titles and the Los Angeles Dodgers have won six World Series titles.

Starting pitching should be phenomenal between these two clubs. Both teams have two starters in the Top 10 among the NL ERA leaders. For the Dodgers, the definite 2014 Cy Young Award winner and probably NL MVP, Clayton Kershaw, leads the pitching staff. For Game Two, they have an arm that could be an ace on a majority of other teams today, Zack Greinke.

Simulation ERAs
Team ERA
Dodgers Rotation 3.04
Dodgers Bullpen 4.11
Cardinals Rotation 3.84
Cardinals Bullpen 4.10

The Cardinals also have a legit one-two punch. Adam Wainwright finished the regular season with the third-best ERA in the NL (2.38 ERA) and was one of three players to win 20 games. Lance Lynn concluded 2014 with a 2.74 ERA (14th best in MLB).

Offensively, these teams took two different approaches. The Dodgers have the highest team salary ($29 million more than the Yankees) this year. Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford are all making over $21 million this season. For the Cardinals, Matt Holliday is the highest-paid everyday-player at $16 million, with Jhonny Peralta ($15.5 million) and Yadier Molina ($15.2 million) next in line.

The money seemed to be worth it for Los Angeles. This season, the Dodgers scored the second-most runs in the National League (718 runs), only trailing the Rockies (playing in Coors Field helps). The Cardinals tallied the 24th most runs in MLB (619 runs). Yet, both have the same opportunity to advance to the NLCS, and possibly go to the World Series.

So which franchise remains in the hunt for more hardware? After playing the series 501, our MLB simulation engine likes the Dodgers to advance. Los Angeles won 64.7 percent of simulations, with the most common outcome being a Dodgers win in five games. Check out the results below:

Dodgers vs. Cardinals: 501 Simulations of Best-of-5 Series
MatchupWin %3-Games %4-Games %5-Games %
Dodgers64.720.421.822.6
Cardinals35.37.014.613.8
Simulate Los Angeles Dodgers vs. St. Louis Cardinals

National League Division Series Prediction: Nationals vs. Giants

The 2014 statistical resume of each team drives our MLB playoff simulation predictions and projections.

That's great news for the Washington Nationals as they dominated on the bump the past six months. We'll begin with the fact they finished with the best ERA (3.03), lowest opponent on-base percentage (.294) and top K/BB ratio of 3.66. On top of those stellar numbers, 66 percent of the pitchers' games started resulted in quality starts (at least six innings pitched with three or fewer runs allowed). Three of their pitchers finished the regular season with ERAs south of 2.85!

On offense, four players finished with 16-or-more homers with 80+ RBI. Anthony Rendon, who earlier this season said he doesn't watch baseball because it's too boring, entertained the Nationals' fan base with a .351 OBP, 111 runs scored, 21 homers and 83 RBI. He doesn't get a lot of ink, but his resume was/is strong.

As a team, Washington's +131 run differential was third best in the majors.

The San Francisco Giants return to the divisional playoffs for the third time this decade. If only they didn't burn a quality Madison Bumgarner start in the Wild Card game against the Pirates.

Bumgarner held the Nationals' lineup in check in 2014 to the tune of a .249 opponent batting average.

Jake Peavy boasted some strong numbers following the trade deadline deal which sent him to the Bay. Since joining the Giants, Peavy is 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. Plus, the Nats' are only hitting .237 off him.

Simulation ERAs
Team ERA
Nationals Rotation 3.84
Nationals Bullpen 3.83
Giants Rotation 4.26
Giants Bullpen 3.86

Earlier this season, we weren't sure if Tim Hudson would walk 10 guys, but he did and Huddy had a September to forget. He posted an 8.72 ERA the final month of the season and lost his last four starts (16 ER).

Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong and Yusmeiro Petit stitched together the rest of the Matt Cain-less rotation and when it came to that trio, life was a box of chocolates.

The Giants' pitching staff as a whole finished seventh in the MLB with a 3.50 ERA and second in opponents' on base percentage at .297.

Buster Posey drove the bus on offense with a .311 batting average and .364 OBP with 170 hits and team-highs in homers (22) and RBI (89).

A healthy Pablo Sandoval played in 157 games and scored the second-most runs of his career with 68.

Hunter Pence's offensive number dipped slightly in homers and RBI, but he played in all 162 games and provided a consistent bat in the lineup.

Based on the statistical make-up of both teams, you have to wonder if the Giants' will be able to generate enough offense against the Nationals' rotation if Giants starting pitchers without "BUMGARNER" strewn across the back of the jersey fail to keep crooked numbers off the board.

So who wins this NLDS matchup? Our MLB simulation engine likes the Nationals to advance. Washington won 58.1 percent of series simulations, with the most likely outcome a Nationals victory in four games. Check out the full results below:

Angels vs. Royals: 501 Simulations of Best-of-5 Series
MatchupWin %3-Games %4-Games %5-Games %
Nationals58.115.423.819.0
Giants41.99.614.817.6
Simulate Washington Nationals vs. San Francisco Giants
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Adam Meyer is a Contributor for WhatIfSports.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FOXSportsMeyer.

Ryan Fowler is the Content Manager for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at rfowler@whatifsports.com.

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