Alex Rodriguez

What in the World Series is going on here?


We’re 10 days into the 2012 postseason and the American League finalists can’t hit, the National League contenders can’t get any starting pitching and none of the teams still playing seem to be any better than the ones that were eliminated.

Here are the hitting lines of the four teams still standing:

Detroit: .258/.299/.351, 3 HR, 20 RBI in 248 AB
New York: .205/.277/.326, 6 HR, 20 RBI in 258 AB

St. Louis: .249/.342/.438, 9 HR, 40 RBI in 233 AB
San Fran: .196/.270/.332, 5 HR, 20 RBI in 199 AB

If these were actual regular-season player lines, the Cardinals would be a fringe regular as a corner outfielder and the other three would be riding the pine. The Yankees have scored fewer runs in their seven games than the NLDS-losing Reds did in five games.

The AL contenders have combined for 198 hits and 239 strikeouts so far. Obviously, that’s not the norm. In the regular season, AL teams had 20 hits for every 17 strikeouts. In the postseason, it’s been 20 hits for every 24 strikeouts.

Overall, AL hitters are batting .218 and slugging .310 this postseason. To put that in perspective, Justin Verlander limited major league hitters to a .217 average and a .306 slugging percentage this season. So, essentially, every AL pitcher this month is Justin Verlander.

The NL, on the other hand, hasn’t had it so bad for offense. Not early in games anyway. What is odd is just how bad the starters are getting roughed up, especially with four of the league’s top five rotations represented. Going by ERA, the Nationals had the NL’s best rotation this year, followed by the Dodgers, Cardinals, Reds and Giants. And yet…

Cardinals starters: 2-2, 4.22 ERA
Reds starters: 1-2, 4.30 ERA
Nationals starters: 0-2, 5.25 ERA
Giants starters: 1-3, 6.49 ERA

Outside of Washington’s, the bullpens have been far more effective, which is fortunate since they’ve so often needed to cover five innings per game. The Cards’ bullpen has a 1.80 ERA in 30 innings. The Giants are at 2.51 ERA in 28 2/3 innings.

So, what are we left with 10 days in? The AL’s best offensive team has a .650 OPS, a mark that would have rated the worst in the major leagues this season. NL starting pitchers are 4-8 with a 4.92 ERA, which is a worse ERA than every NL team besides the Rockies posted this year. And for all of the exciting games, it’s hard to argue that we’ve actually seen a great caliber of play from any of these teams this month. While there have been thrills and chills, it hasn’t exactly been a showcase.

Video: Justin Turner gives Dodgers early Game 4 lead with two-run double

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
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Clayton Kershaw has looked sharp on the mound and at the plate so far in this must-win NLDS Game 4 at New York’s Citi Field.

After no-hitting the Mets in the first two frames, Kershaw smacked a one-out single to left-center field in the top of third inning. Howie Kendrick followed soon after with a two-out single to left and then Adrian Gonzalez blooped a ball to shallow center that drove in Enrique Hernandez, who had reached earlier on a fielder’s choice grounder to second base.

That all set up this Justin Turner two-run double down the left field line that put Los Angeles up 3-0

That’s now four doubles this postseason for Turner, which is a Dodgers franchise record for the Division Series. Los Angeles is trying to force a Game 5.

Video: Hector Rondon closes it out, Cubs advance past Cardinals to NLCS

Hector Rondon
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

In the first postseason meeting between the two longtime archrivals, the Chicago Cubs prevailed over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Watch as Cubs closer Hector Rondon whiffs Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty with a nasty 0-2 breaking ball to clinch a Division Series victory and send Wrigley Field into a frenzy (this is actually the first time in franchise history the Cubs have won a playoff series at home) …

Chicago dropped Game 1 but took three straight to finish off St. Louis. Next up is a matchup against either the Dodgers or Mets in the National League Championship Series.

Cardinals miss Martinez even more than Molina

Carlos Martinez

After taking Game 1 of the NLDS in an outstanding performance from John Lackey, the Cardinals dropped three straight to the Cubs by scores of 6-3, 8-6 and 6-4. It’s not difficult at all to imagine a healthy Carlos Martinez swinging one of those games.

Martinez wasn’t the Cardinals’ best starter this year, but he was the one who could shut a team down by himself, with little help from the defense needed. Martinez struck out 184 batters in 179 2/3 innings while going 14-7 with a 3.01 ERA. He left his next-to-last regular season start with a shoulder strain that was going to cost him the entirety of the postseason no matter how far the Cardinals advanced. It was a killer blow for a team whose offense had already been slowed by injuries.

October just came at the wrong time for the Cardinals, what with Martinez down, Yadier Molina nursing a significant thumb injury, Matt Holliday and Randal Grichuk far from 100 percent and Adam Wainwright still weeks short of potentially pulling off a Marcus Stroman-like return to the rotation.

It’s Molina absence Thursday and lack of effectiveness otherwise that serve as a popular explanation/excuse for the Cardinals’ loss. And the downgrade from him to Tony Cruz behind the plate was huge, even if Molina is no longer the hitter he was a couple of years back.

Martinez, though, had the potential to even up the NLDS just by doing what he did in the regular season. And had Martinez been in the rotation, the Cardinals wouldn’t have moved up Lackey to start Game 4 on three days’ rest. They’d have been the clear favorites in a Game 5 Jon Lester-Lackey rematch back in St. Louis, though we’ll never know how that might have worked out.