SB Nation: Does Pitching and Defense win championships?

More from my main man Rob Neyer about how pitching and defense can really make you a championship contender:

Via SB Nation:

Beyond the Boxscore’s Bill Petti wonders … Is it better to excel at preventing runs, or scoring them?

Petti comes up with the same answer that I’ve been seeing for a while. Even though the game is nicely balanced, it does seem to be ever so slightly better to prevent runs than to score them. Why? Maybe because playing longer, run-filled games is tiring. Maybe because you can’t lose when you give up zero runs, but you can lose when you score 10 runs. Or maybe something else. Anyway, after the jump Petti reminds us (or me, anyway) that the Giants winning the World Series probably wasn’t some crazy fluke …

Think about 2010. Many prognosticators argued that the Giants were lucky to make it past the Phillies and win the World Series against the Rangers. Upon closer examination, this makes no sense.

The Giants scored only 697 runs all season, but they only allowed 583–for those counting at home, that’s a run differential of 114. That differential was good for 4th in all of baseball and an expected record of 95-67. The Phillies, by contrast, scored 772 runs and allowed 640. They were expected win 96–only one more than the Giants. As for the Rangers, they scored 787 runs and allowed 687, good for the eighth best run differential in the majors. They were expected to win 92 games, four fewer than the Giants. All three teams had what could be considered elite pitching staffs, but the Giants had the best of the three.

That doesn’t mean they’ll be the best this year. But this does make me feel just a little foolish about so consistently picking the Giants to lose as they pitched their way to the World Championship last fall.

…I post this because I truly believe pitching and veteran players are key to a baseball team. When I look at this years teams, who do I see as dominate leaders? Phillies, Red Sox, Rangers, Twins. These teams can all play defense and also pitch the ball pretty well. Notice how the Giants made the playoffs on the last day of the regular season and made this amazing run to make the World Series with 3 phenomenal pitchers and a bullpen that could shut anyone down. They didn’t score many runs until they found the fountain of youth with Cody Ross in the playoffs. Notice the best teams in baseball will have the best pitching and defense. Who always ends up in last place. Royals, Nationals, Pirates, Mariners, and Orioles. Why? They have trouble playing defense and cause way too many errors. Not to mention, the pitching they have is very average if not below average. This is a good example and it gives you readers something to think about…

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