NLCS Preview: Cardinals-Dodgers features 2 top-ranked NL Box-Toppers teams, top 3 overall players—Kershaw, Wainwright, Greinke

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The National League Championship Series beginning Friday features the top two NL teams in Box-Toppers Team Rankings and the top three players in overall Box-Toppers points.

Game 1 of the best-of-seven series between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Los Angeles Dodgers begins in St. Louis. The Dodgers just edged out the Cardinals as top NL team in Box-Toppers points for the season with 122.7 (second place overall, behind the Detroit Tigers). The Cardinals were in second in the NL (third overall) with 122.4. 

The Cardinals had the best actual winning percentage in the NL (.599). The Dodgers were in fourth (.568), behind the Cardinals, Braves and Pirates. 

The Cardinals prevailed over the Pirates in the National League Division Series. The Pirates had 115.6 Box-Toppers points for the season, ranked seventh overall. The Dodgers beat the Braves in their NLDS. The Braves had 111.0 Box-Toppers points, ranked 11th overall. 

The NLCS between the Cardinals and Dodgers features the top three players in Box-Toppers Player Rankings for the season:

  • Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw has 21.7 Box-Toppers points, ranked first in player rankings.
  • Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright has 20.2 points, ranked second. 
  • Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke has 19.4 points, ranked third. 

In addition, Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn and Shelby Miller are both in the top 10 in Box-Toppers points among NL pitchers. Lynn ranks seventh with 16.1 points and Miller ranks ninth with 15.4. 

Below are position-by-position match-ups of each player likely in the starting line-up for both teams, along with the four most likely starting pitchers, the team's top closer and an extra pitcher. Also listed are each player's Box-Toppers points earned in 2013, along with their overall rank among players for the season.

If you simply add together the Box-Toppers points of these 14 key players from each team, the Cardinals have 103.7 points and the Dodgers 98.7.

If you compare them position-by-position, the Cardinals have more players with higher Box-Toppers points totals. The Cardinals have the edge in seven positions, the Dodgers in six and they tie in one position (both first basemen Matt Adams and Adrian Gonzalez have 5.0 Box-Toppers points).

In general, the Cardinals edge the Dodgers among batters, with more offensive players with higher Box-Toppers points—in fact, Hanley Ramirez is the only Dodger batter with a higher Box-Toppers point total (5.0) than his Cardinals shortstop counterpart Pete Kozma (2.5).

All three likely starting outfielders for the Dodgers have Box-Toppers point totals of 2.0 or less, meaning they were very rarely the key contributor to Dodgers wins. Carl Crawford was Player of the Game twice during the season earning 2.0 Box-Toppers points. Rookie sensation Yasiel Puig was NL Batter of the Day in his second career game June 4, earning 1.5 points, his only points of the season. And Skip Schumaker, though he appeared in 125 games, did not earn Player of the Game honors during the season, earning 0.0 Box-Toppers points.

To be fair, Dodgers pitchers were often the key contributor to the team's wins, with higher Box-Toppers game scores and earning Player of the Game honors. In fact, Dodgers pitchers have a slight edge over the Cardinals, with two of the three top overall players in Box-Toppers points (Kershaw and Greinke). The Dodgers' closer, Kenley Jansen has more Box-Toppers points than Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal (9.7 to 6.0).

So: The Dodgers have the overall higher Box-Toppers Team Ranking. The Cardinals have a better winning percentage. The Dodgers have a slight edge in pitching. The Cardinals have a seeming clear edge among batters. The Dodgers have the edge in the pitching match-up in Game 1. The Cardinals have home-field advantage. Baseball's best three players this season (by Box-Toppers measures) will be in action. It promises to be a great series. 

Coming Friday: Here is the pitching match-up for Game 1 of the NL Championship Series:

NLCS Game 1, Dodgers at Cardinals

Dodgers: Zack Greinke, 19.4 Box-Toppers points, ranked third overall (see the Top 10 Player ranking list on the home page)

Cardinals: Joe Kelly, 4.0 Box-Toppers points, ranked 264th overall

In regular season games, 2.0 Box-Toppers points are awarded for Player of the Day, 1.7 for top player in the opposite league, 1.5 for top batter in each league and 1.0 for the top player in each of the other games. However, no Box-Toppers points are awarded during the postseason. 

NL Championship Series player comparisons 

Likely starting players for the Cardinals and Dodgers listed by position with their Box-Toppers point total (BTP) for the 2013 regular season and their overall player rank among all players

CardinalsBTPRank DodgersBTPRank
1BMatt Adams5.0198 Adrian Gonzalez5.0175
2BMatt Carpenter7.5100 Mark Ellis3.5295
SSPete Kozma2.5408 Hanley Ramirez5.0177
3BDavid Freese5.5154 Juan Uribe3.0323
CAYadier Molina4.0253 A.J. Ellis2.5387
CFJon Jay5.5162 Skip Schumaker0.0920
LFMatt Holliday6.5121 Carl Crawford2.0450
RFCarlos Beltran2.5378 Yasiel Puig1.5542
SPAdam Wainwright20.22 Clayton Kershaw21.71
SPLance Lynn16.111 Zack Greinke19.43
SPJoe Kelly4.0264 Hyun-Jin Ryu9.761
SPMichael Wacha3.0361 Ricky Nolasco9.760
CPTrevor Rosenthal6.0147 Kenley Jansen9.759
PIShelby Miller15.417 Chris Capuano6.0134