As a general rule -- never mind as a matter of common sense -- you have to have baserunners to score runs. Somehow, though, the Diamondbacks have bucked that nugget of wisdom. In two World Series games, Arizona has scored 13 runs despite putting only 19 runners on base.
|Matt Williams and the Snakes have scored six of their runs on the strenghth of three homers.
The secret? Power, of course. And a little help from the Yankees' defense.
Like they did all year long, the Diamondbacks hit the ball hard at their home park in Games 1 and 2. They scored six of their runs on three homers, and another four on doubles (they hit four in the series). They drew just two walks in the two games, and both were intentional.
That's right in line with the Snakes' typical production at home this season. It doesn't get the publicity of Coors Field or Enron Field -- nor should it -- but Bank One Ballpark was one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the National League this year. And appropriately, the D-Backs were a different team with the bats at home than they were on the road.
At home, where the ball had a tendency to get out of the yard, the Diamondbacks hacked more. They ranked third in the NL in slugging percentage at home, third in batting average at home and third in on-base percentage at home. They came in fourth in the NL in runs per game at their own park. However, they ranked just sixth in walks at home.
In the less cozy parks away from home, the numbers looked quite a bit different. Arizona ranked 11th in the NL in road batting average and seventh in slugging. Yet they still managed to place fourth in road OBP and fifth in runs scored on the road. That's because they drew a lot more walks when they went on the road. The Diamondbacks ranked second in the NL in walks drawn away from home.
Perhaps the clearest difference comes in pitches seen. At home, Arizona averaged 3.737 pitches seen per plate appearance. That was seventh among the 16 teams in the National League, more than .26 P/PA shy of first-place San Diego. On the road, Arizona took 3.815 pitches per plate appearance, third in the NL and just .03 short of the Padres.
In an interesting twist, that more patient approach may be particularly rewarding in Games 3 and 4 against the Yankees. With Roger Clemens starting the first game at Yankee Stadium and Orlando Hernandez getting the second start, the pitch count will be vital. Clemens has been injured lately, and if his hamstring is still even a little sore, then a high pitch count will be essential. Similarly, "El Duque" has battled injuries all year long. The more that the D-Backs can make him work, the better off they will be.
That's not good at all
While Randy Johnson and Derek Jeter have put up some out-of-character postseason performances lately, Bernie Williams has been consistent as ever. Johnson had some awful luck in the playoffs before turning it around. Jeter enjoyed some terrific October showings before falling into a wretched slump (now 2-for-24).
But Bernie's still Bernie -- a force in the ALCS, nowhere to be found in the World Series.
Williams now has 78 career World Series at-bats... and 11 hits. He has walked 14 times in his World Series career, but has just three homers and four extra-base hits. He's a lifetime .141 hitter in the World Series. Yes, .141. He's got a .272 OBP and a .269 SLG. That's an OPS (on-base plus slugging, for the uninitiated) of .541. That's pretty rough.
Matthew Leach is editor-at-large for MLB.com.