2011 NLCS Preview and Predictions by Whatifsports.com From WhatIfSports.com image

Grab a Brew: Milwaukee Headed to World Series

Milwaukee wins high-scoring series

By Ryan Fowler, WhatIfSports.com
Oct. 8, 2011

If you thought Nyjer "T-Plush" Morgan dropping uncensored F-bombs on national television was a surprise, all you had to do was wait roughly three more hours for Chris Carpenter and the Cardinals to shock you once more.

Back in February, the 2011 World Series was set ... on paper. The Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies had gone Tom Cruise and busted out "all the right moves" in the offseason. The Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, and Cliff Lee signings drew national attention and warped the two major market franchises into the World Series without an out recorded.

Now, Boston is on the outside looking in after one of the most epic late-season collapses in baseball history and the Phillies are left to wonder what-if we didn't start Roy Oswalt in Game 4?

NLCS 1001 Simulations of Best of 7 Series
MatchupWin%4-Games%5-Games%6-Games%7-Games%
St. Louis42415158
Milwaukee581410 2212

Morgan's game-winning single back up the middle gave Milwaukee its first postseason series win since 1982.

The Brewers advance to the NLCS behind one of the most powerful lineups in MLB. The team finished the season with the most home runs in the National League. In fact, seven guys on the roster blasted 10 or more bombs, led by Prince Fielder's 38.

The team wrapped up the regular season 11th in runs scored with 721 (4.45 runs per game) and eighth in batting average (.261 BA).

To some, the team's pitching staff may have outshined the big boppers in 2011. Behind Yovani Gallardo's 17-win season, the rotation and bullpen finished with the ninth-best earned run average in the majors (3.63) and the eighth-best opponent batting average of .246.

With Prince Fielder a free agent this winter and all signs pointing to him exiting stage left, the Brewers best shot at advancing to and winning the World Series is right now.

Sample Box Score
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Cardinals270Boxscore
Brewers8140Simulate Game

Speaking of free agents, you may know Albert Pujols' address and uniform will probably change in 2012. The first baseman led the team in hits, runs, home runs and runs batted in, again. That set the tone for a Cardinals' team that finished the season with the fifth-most runs scored in MLB and the fifth-best batting average of .273.

As sharp as Carpenter looked in Game 5 of the NLDS, the St. Louis pitching staff underachieved in 2011. They were 12th in ERA at 3.74 and 20th in opponent batting average (.261). That will need to change in the NLCS to keep the Brewers off the scoreboard.

Like the Tampa Bay Rays' story in the AL, the best part of the Cards' journey to the NLCS was what it took to get here. They trailed the Atlanta Braves in the wild card race by 10.5 games on August 25th. St. Louis rattled off a 23-8 record the rest of the way and thanks to, of all teams, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Cards edged out the Braves by one game to qualify for the playoffs.

I guess it's true. Every now and then a rally squirrel finds a nut.

Using our MLB simulation engine, we "played" the 2011 NLCS 1,001 times and it's the Brewers winning 58 percent of the time with a six-game set the most likely scenario. Behind their big bats, Milwaukee is projected to hit .297 for the series compared to .281 for the Cardinals. Ryan Braun leads the way with a projected .354 average. On the bump, Brewers' starting pitchers also possess a better projected ERA of 5.04 compared to St. Louis' 5.78.

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

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