Commentary

Defensive difference

The role that defense plays on the road to the World Series

Updated: September 25, 2010, 1:43 PM ET
By Ben Jedlovec | Baseball Info Solutions
Troy Tulowitzki/Pat BurrellIcon SMITroy Tulowitzki and Pat Burrell are at opposite ends of the defensive spectrum.

This weekend, the Colorado Rockies and San Francisco Giants face off at Coors Field in a crucial series that could decide the NL West. However, despite the ballpark, it might not be offensive firepower that decides these teams' fates.

Last week, I uncovered the secret to the Rockies' success at home: their ground ball pitching staff and fly ball offense gives them a decided home-field advantage in the thin Denver air. A month ago, I discussed how the Giants' outfield transformation would end up costing their extreme fly ball pitching staff. They've managed to avoid the issue by morphing into a ground ball staff over the past month, and it's kept them at the top of the NL West for the time being. Still, the Giants' season might rest on how Pat Burrell and Jose Guillen navigate the Coors Field outfield this weekend.

This wouldn't be the first time a team's fate rested on its defense. As the old baseball adage goes: "Pitching and defense win championships." There might be some truth to that -- in "Baseball Between the Numbers," Nate Silver and Dayn Perry found that defense had one of the highest correlations with playoff success, and they included a fielding metric in their "Secret Sauce" recipe for winning in the postseason.


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