So we've already seen the Giants knock off the Phillies for the National League crown in 2010. Apparently that didn't sit well with Philly, seeing our pitching staff shut them down and beat their allegedly superior starting pitching staff. So what did they do? They went out and convinced Cliff Lee to come back to them.
Is there any doubt they did this because they feared matching up with the Giants again in 2011? I can't help but think so. The Phillies had a far superior offense to the Giants on paper. And Halladay/Oswalt/Hamels should have matched up very well with Lincecum/Cain/Sanchez. Which should have meant the Phillies should have won, right? Well, wrong. It's why they play the games. And the games said the Giants were so good, they didn't even have to take the series to a seventh game.
It also had a lot to do with the fact that our fourth starter was better than their fourth starter.
So Philly went out and got the prize free agent of the offseason (Lee) and added him to Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt. And now every baseball writer, blogger, and so-called expert outside of Giantsland is calling Philly's rotation historically good while completely ignoring the San Francisco rotation that completely shutdown the Phillies O (not to mention the uber powerful Texas offense!) to win a championship.
One question going into the 2011 season will be which team has the best rotation? A lot of people will pick the Phillies. After the Cliff Lee signing, MLBTR readers were polled as to who they thought had a better rotation: Philly or SF. The answer? A resounding 77% said Philly. And that's no east coast bias, MLBTR readers are from all over the place. It's much different than, say, if ESPN had conducted the poll. 77% said Philly. That's just blatant disrespect for a staff that just won a World Series title and a team that beat all of the pitchers in that Phillies current rotation at least once, and mostly twice.
Now, I get that the Giants play in a much friendlier pitching division. And that the Phillies ballpark is a joke. But still, are the Phillies starters THAT much better than SF's? Are they better at all? Let's take a look:
Lincecum (3.04 ERA, 1.18 WHIP)
Halladay (3.32 ERA, 1.18 WHIP)
Cain (3.45 ERA, 1.22 WHIP)
Lee (3.85 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)
Sanchez (4.26 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)
Oswalt (3.18 ERA, 1.18 WHIP)
Bumgarner (2.90 ERA, 1.29 WHIP)
Hamels (3.53 ERA, 1.17 WHIP)
Zito (3.86 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)
Blanton (4.30 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)
Lots of similar pitchers there. If the Phillies rotation is "historically" good then what is the Giants staff? I guess we'll settle it in 2011.
Overall, the pitching in the NL is the best it has been in years. With the Brewers acquisition of Zack Greinke (a great trade for both teams if you ask me) the NL boasts arguably all of the top starting pitching talent in baseball. I mean, when you're talking aces, who would you choose in the AL over Halladay, Lincecum, Greinke, Lee, Carpenter, or Josh Johnson? Felix Hernandez I'll give you. Then who? CC Sabathia? Maybe, maybe not. Probably not. Jon Lester? Josh Beckett? Verlander? Maybe.
And the #2 guys are just as good: Cain, Wainwright, Kershaw, Gallardo, Hamels, Oswalt, Hudson, Latos, Jimenez, Cueto?
Lots of fantastical pitching in the NL. Perhaps the tide is turning in MLB with the NL coming back to the strong side. Then again, the Red Sox did get Carl Crawford AND Adrian Gonzalez and the worst hitter in their line-up is probably Marco Scutaro.
Oh that's right, the pundits already have the Red Sox and Phillies in the 2011 World Series. We'll see what happens. All I'm saying is don't underestimate that Giants pitching. You know, that staff that just helped win the 2010 World Series???