Marlins pulled off rarity in 2003 playoffs
BY JOHN GROCHOWSKI For Sun-Times Media October 14, 2013 7:48PM
Dejected manager Dusty Baker descends into the Cubs’ dugout after the team’s loss to the Marlins in Game 7 of the 2003 NLCS. | AP
Updated: November 16, 2013 6:16AM
With the hoopla this week surrounding the 10th anniversary of the Steve Bartman play and the Cubs’ collapse in the National League Championship Series, it should be pointed out that the Marlins accomplished a rarity that season.
They were outscored by the Cubs in the NLCS. They were outscored by the Yankees in the World Series. And they won both.
That’s something that hasn’t happened since. In the last decade, the only other teams to win an LCS while scoring fewer runs than their opponents were the 2004 Red Sox, who beat the Yankees in seven games despite being outscored 45-41, and the 2010 Giants, who eliminated the Phillies in six despite being outscored 20-19.
Both of those teams went on to win the World Series without any such anomaly. The Giants pounded the Rangers in 2010, outscoring them 29-12 in five games. The Red Sox cruised to a sweep of the Cardinals in 2004, outscoring them 24-12.
The Marlins’ two series couldn’t have been more different. Their series against the Cubs was an exchange of offensive explosions. Fans remember the Bartman controversy in an eight-run eighth inning that turned a 3-0 Cubs lead into an 8-3 Marlins victory in Game 6, but the Marlins won Games 1 and 7 with their bats, too, opening with a 9-8 victory and closing with a 9-6 triumph.
During the 2003 regular season, the Marlins averaged 4.64 runs and allowed 4.04. In the NLCS, they averaged 5.71 runs and allowed six, far exceeding their norms.
Against the Yankees, they strayed from their usual outputs in the opposite direction, averaging 2.83 runs and allowing 3.5. In six games, the most they scored was six runs — in a 6-4 victory in Game 5. They won 3-2 in Game 1, 4-3 in Game 4 and 2-0 in Game 6.
Winning both series while being outscored isn’t typical of the postseason, but the split between winning a series with hitting against winning a series with pitching is. Postseason play tends to be a little lower-scoring, with some attributing that to teams tightening their rotations and taking innings away from their fifth starter.
Bill James has suggested the weather is an issue. When the postseason runs through October, cold weather can be as tough on hitters as it is in April.
A check of the 20 LCS winners and 10 World Series champions of the last 10 seasons shows 17 teams that won while scoring more runs per game than they did during the regular season and five that won despite allowing more runs per game than they did during the regular season.
The 2004 Cardinals beat the Astros in the NLCS despite scoring fewer runs (4.85 to 5.28) and allowing more (4.43 to 4.07) than they did during the regular season.
But the Marlins had it both ways. They won one series with their bats and one with their arms and won a title while being outscored two series in a row.