NLCS Preview: Cardinals have slight Box-Toppers points edge, but Giants have 2 of NL's top stars

The St. Louis Cardinals are fifth in Box-Toppers team rankings, the highest-ranked team remaining in the playoffs. That would seem to give them the advantage as they take on the eighth-ranked San Francisco Giants in the National League Championship Series.

But the Giants can lay claim to two of the league’s top players—pitcher Madison Bumgarner (22.6 Box-Toppers points, ranked third among all players and second among NL pitchers) and catcher Buster Posey (8.5 Box-Toppers points, ranked second among NL batters). The best-of-seven game NLCS begins Saturday in St. Louis.

Below are position-by-position match-ups of each player likely in the starting line-up for both teams, along with the highest-rated starting pitchers in Box-Toppers points, the top closing pitcher and an extra pitcher. Also listed are each player’s Box-Toppers points earned in 2014, along with their overall rank among all players.

Cardinals players accumulated more Box-Toppers points than the Giants during the regular season—114.8 vs. 110.8. (Team rankings report.)

Both the Cardinals and Giants will have two players each on Box-Toppers end-of-season NL All-Star team. Bumgarner and Posey are the Giants’ All-Stars—Posey led NL catchers in Box-Toppers points and Bumgarner was second among NL pitchers. Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright (18.7 Box-Toppers points, ranked fourth among NL pitchers) and Matt Holliday (7.5 points, ranked third among NL outfielders) will also be on Box-Toppers NL All-Star team.

Matching up the eight prospective starting batters on each team position-by-position, the teams are evenly split—both have the advantage in four positions. However, the Giants may have the advantage from the bench. Their top batter who has not started recently is Mike Morse, who has 6.5 Box-Toppers points.

Matching up pitchers from highest to lowest Box-Toppers points, the Giants have the advantage matching up Bumgarner’s 22.6 Box-Toppers points against anyone, including Wainwright and his 18.7. But after that, the Cardinals have the advantage matching up the remaining three starting pitchers, the closing pitchers and the next highest-rated pitcher. We’ve listed Sergio Romo as the closer for the Giants (even though Santiago Casilla has been closing games recently) because Romo has more Box-Toppers points.

Adding up Box-Toppers points for the eight batters and six pitchers listed below, the Cardinals have the slight point total advantage—85.8 Box-Toppers points vs. 85.6.

The Giants had the largest opening day payroll of the four playoff teams remaining, $154 million, ranked seventh among all teams. The Cardinals had an opening day payroll of $111 million, ranked 13th, above both American League Championship Series teams (Orioles, 15th and the Royals, 19th).

NLCS Game 1, Giants at Cardinals

Both teams will start their aces Saturday:

Giants: Madison Bumgarner, 22.6 Box-Toppers points, ranked third among all players, second among NL pitchers.

Cardinals: Adam Wainwright, 18.7 Box-Toppers points, ranked eighth among all players, fourth among NL pitchers.

Box-Toppers tracks who most helps their team win the most games. Using standard box score statistics, Box-Toppers uses a simple formula to determine a Player of the Game for each Major League Baseball game played. That player is the person who contributed most to his team’s win. In regular season games, players earn 1.0 Box-Toppers point for being named Player of the Game and can earn bonus points for being Player of the Day or top player or batter in their league for the day.

NL Championship Series player comparisons

Likely starting players for the Giants and Cardinals listed by position with their Box-Toppers point total (BTP) for the 2014 regular season and their overall player rank among all players

Pos Giants BTP Rank Cardinals BTP Rank
1B Brandon Belt 2.0 412 Matt Adams 1.0 530
2B Joe Panik 1.0 701 Kolten Wong 5.5 182
SS Brandon Crawford 3.0 322 Jhonny Peralta 6.0 112
3B Pablo Sandoval 4.5 220 Matt Carpenter 2.0 407
CA Buster Posey 8.5 76 Yadier Molina 0 754
CF Gregor Blanco 3.0 346 Jon Jay 3.0 314
LF Travis Ishikawa 1.0 644 Matt Holliday 7.5 97
RF Hunter Pence 2.5 367 Randal Grichuk -* -*
SP Madison Bumgarner 22.6 3 Adam Wainwright 18.7 8
SP Tim Lincecum 10.4 54 Lance Lynn 10.7 48
SP Tim Hudson 8.7 71 John Lackey 10.7 50
SP Ryan Vogelsong 8.7 74 Shelby Miller 9.0 64
CP Sergio Romo 4.0 242 Trevor Rosenthal 5.0 187
PI Jake Peavy 5.7 165 Justin Masterson 6.7 124

* Randal Grichuk has yet to earn Player of the Game honors and has not made his Box-Toppers debut. He made his Major League debut April 28 and played in 47 regular season games.