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ALCS, MLB Postseason, Red Sox, Astros

Previewing the 2021 ALCS: Red Sox vs. Astros

  • Manuel Gómez - East Coast Contributor & Podcast Director Manuel Gómez, East Coast Contributor & Podcast Director
  • October 14, 2021

The Red Sox and the Astros battle for the American League pennant.

For the fifth time in as many years, the Houston Astros are headed to the American League Championship Series. Standing in the way of their third World Series appearance in that time span are the Boston Red Sox.

The last time these two teams met in the postseason was in the 2018 ALCS. In that series, the Red Sox eliminated the Astros in five games. Houston was only able to muster 21 runs compared to Boston’s 29. In the end, the Sox walked away with their fourth Championship since 2004.

This year, Houston had the edge over Boston in the regular season. They faced off seven times, and the Astros won five of those games.

ASTROS 95 67 +205 5 – 2 +17
RED SOX 92 70 +80 2 – 5 -17

ALCS Positional Matchups

Now, the reality is that these two teams are elite offensively. They feature high-caliber hitters who can hit for power, contact, and strike out very few.

Here’s how both teams fare by position:

C – Martín Maldonado – 12 HR | 63 wRC+ C – Christian Vázquez – 6 HR | 77 wRC+
1B – Yuli Gurriel – 15 HR | 134 wRC+ 1B – Kyle Schwarber – 32 HR | 145 wRC+
2B – José Altuve – 31 HR | 130 wRC+ 2B – Christian Arroyo – 6 HR | 106 wRC+
3B – Alex Bregman – 12 HR | 115 wRC+ 3B – Rafael Devers – 38 HR | 134 wRC+
SS – Carlos Correa – 26 HR | 134 wRC+ SS – Xander Bogaerts – 23 HR | 130 wRC+
LF – Michael Brantley – 8 HR | 123 wRC+ LF – Alex Verdugo – 13 HR | 107 wRC+
CF – Jake Myers – 6 HR | 111 wRC+ CF – Kiké Hernández – 20 HR | 110 wRC+
RF – Kyle Tucker – 30 HR | 147 wRC+ RF – Hunter Renfroe – 31 HR | 114 wRC+
DH – Yordan Álvarez – 33 HR | 138 wRC+ DH – J.D. Martinez – 28 HR | 128 wRC+
Players in bold have the edge against their positional opponent

Who has the offensive edge?

Based solely on regular season numbers, the Astros have the edge. They feature five players – Altuve, Correa, Brantley, Tucker, and Álvarez – with a higher wRC+ than their positional opponent.

What’s more, the Astros have a 116 wRC+ and 19.4 K%, both the best in the Majors. They also edge the Red Sox in home runs, 221 to 219.

However, thus far, Boston has the postseason edge offensively. They lead all playoff teams with 63 hits, 32 runs, 11 homers, a .328 AVG, and a .919 OPS. The key number is the home runs.

So far this postseason, in any game, the team with the most home runs wins. The Astros’ four homers this postseason,m pale in comparison to the Red Sox.

Overall, I trust the larger sample size. For that reason, I give the Astros the edge offensively.

ALCS pitching matchups

Statistically, both of these pitching staffs are very even. Postseason experience might give the Red Sox the edge, however, and here’s why.

Though the Astros’ 3.78 regular season ERA is better than the Red Sox’s 4.27 ERA, Boston edges Houston in FIP 3.95 to 4.12. FIP is like ERA, only it doesn’t take fielding into account. Some consider this a more accurate measure of a pitcher’s performance.

In essence, Boston might be better, but its  poor defensive play negatively impacts its pitching. Conversely, Houston’s elite defensive play enhances their pitchers performance statistically.

Here’s how each team’s top three starters fare against one another:

José Urquidy – 3.62 ERA | 0.99 WHIP Chris Sale – 3.16 ERA | 1.34 WHIP
Framber Valdez –  3.14 ERA | 1.25 WHIP Nathan Eovaldi – 3.75 ERA | 1.19 WHIP
Luis Garcia – 3.30 ERA | 1.17 WHIP Eduardo Rodriguez – 4.74 ERA | 1.39 WHIP
Players in bold have the edge

Overall, two of three Astros starters have very limited experience. For this reason, the Red Sox get the edge in this area. Both Sale and Eovaldi were prime reasons for Boston’s 2018 World Series championship and should not be taken lightly.

My final prediction is that the ALCS will be decided in seven games. The Houston Astros will win and advance to their third World Series in five years, a modern day dynasty.

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