The pitching was not pretty but the bats certainly picked up the slack for Philadelphia. The Phillies took Game One of the National League Championship Series on Thursday night with an 8-6 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
On offense, both left fielder Raul Ibanez and catcher Carlos Ruiz added nails to the Dodgers’ Game One coffin with three-run homers. Ruiz posted a WPA of .275, while Ibanez sat at .151. Ruiz added a single and walk to his performance on Thursday. Ibanez also had a single and scored a second run. For the third straight game, first baseman Ryan Howard made the most of one hit. He drove in two runs, scored once and walked twice. His WPA was .158.
Both left-handed starters, Cole Hamels for Philly (-.196 WPA) and Clayton Kershaw for LA (-.301), struggled. The pitcher of the game was Philadelphia reliever Chan Ho Park, who interestingly enough pitched for Los Angeles last year. He took to the mound in the seventh inning and posted a .240 WPA while striking out a batter and inducing two ground balls. Park missed the National League Division Series with injury woes and is not considered to be at full strength yet.
It’s not often that a team will walk away with a win in Los Angeles after allowing five Dodgers hitters to bang out two or more hits. Both James Loney (.193 WPA) and Andre Ethier (.176) had three hits. Manny Ramirez (-.042) was held to just one hit – but it was a two-run homer off of Hamels.
Let’s take a closer look at Carlos Ruiz’ season. He doesn’t get a lot of attention as a top catcher because he doesn’t hit for a high average or slug a lot of homers, but the Panama native is better than most people realize (at least in the catcher context). For the ’09 season, Ruiz finished tied for fourth with St. Louis’ Yadier Molina in wOBA (.337) amongst catchers in the National League (300+ at-bats).
His ISO of .171 was good for fifth in the league for backstops. Ruiz also had the third highest walk rate and the third lowest strikeout rate. His BABIP of just .266 helps to explain the low batting average. He had the fourth best WPA (0.37) behind Atlanta’s Brian McCann (1.57), Arizona’s Miguel Montero (0.80), and Cincinnati’s Ramon Hernandez (0.62).
Overall, Ruiz was worth about $10 million to the Phillies in 2009 (he’s actually making just $475,000, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts), or slightly more than two runs above replacement. With his post-season contributions to this point added in, Ruiz has been worth much more than that to the Phillies.
Marc Hulet has been writing at FanGraphs since 2008. His work focuses on prospects and fantasy. Follow him on Twitter @marchulet.