Keri: What we learned from the 2013 League Championship Series

From Jonah Keri at on October 21, 2013:

The Red Sox and Cardinals are headed to the World Series, while the Tigers and Dodgers have all winter to ponder two great seasons that still ended in disappointment. Here’s what we learned from the weekend’s games and the two League Championship Series in their entirety.

The healthiest teams have the best chance to win.

You can point to all kinds of possible turning points in this year’s NLCS. But there’s a strong argument to be made that the series turned for good in the first inning of Game 1. That’s when Cardinals starter Joe Kelly plunked Hanley Ramirez in the ribs. From that point on, Ramirez managed just two singles in 15 at-bats, looked worse than his already subpar self on defense, and didn’t look right when he ran, either. We’ve talked about Ramirez’s importance to the Dodgers multiple times this year, and how he was the National League’s best hitter from the time he got off the disabled list June 4 to the end of the season (.341/.398/.628). Ramirez’s rib injury forced a terrible decision on manager Don Mattingly, in which he could either bench his player in favor of Nick Punto (who’s a fine fielder but a weak hitter) or go with Ramirez in spite of his health. For most of the series he chose the latter, which was a tactical mistake. But really, with Ramirez hurt, Andre Ethier playing hurt, and Matt Kemp out for the postseason, this was a severely diminished team, one that didn’t quite have enough to handle the Cardinals pitching staff.

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Originally published: October 21, 2013. Last Updated: October 21, 2013.