With the 2022 Major League Baseball season coming down to the final round of the playoffs, let’s take a look at the key statistics that could unlock the winner of the World Series.

Game 1 of the best-of-seven series between the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros is set for Minute Maid Park on Friday night.

More World Series: Preview | Prediction | Winless Verlander?

11 — Bryce Harper's extra-base hits in 11 postseason games

Time and again, Harper has come through in the playoffs, no more decisively than hitting a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series to send the Phillies to the World Series. Harper is slashing .419/.444/.907 with five home runs and two doubles — for an astounding .488 isolated slugging percentage — in 47 plate appearances overall.

The Astros would go a long way in ending the Phillies' run as a wild card by caging Harper, who is a career .200/.378/.286 hitter with 10 walks, 12 strikeouts and one homer in 45 career plate appearances against Houston pitchers currently on the roster. Left-hander Will Smith could reappear with the Astros in this round, as he has handled Harper well (2 for 14 with six Ks), but he did allow a pair of singles in two at-bats against him this season.

1.000 — Kyle Schwarber's NLCS slugging percentage

He wasn't a factor in the first two rounds of the postseason, but Schwarber swung a hot bat against the San Diego Padres, going 6-for-15 with three home runs, six walks and six runs scored. He had an average exit velocity of 97.7 mph, so he wasn't getting lucky with the wind or shorter fences. He was mashing.

One note of caution: Schwarber hurt his right knee late in the regular season and is said to be "grinding through" the injury. Using him at designated hitter isn't an option, with Bryce Harper fitting there because a torn elbow ligament won't allow him to throw a ball until it's repaired in the offseason. Oddly enough, Schwarber also has two of the Phillies' three stolen bases in the playoffs.

5.2 — Runs per game scored by the Phillies in the postseason

Philly collectively is batting .237/.307/.442 with 16 home runs, 23 doubles and 31 walks. Their RPG isn't close to the record for a playoff team that's played at least 11 games (7.1 by the Red Sox in 2007, per Baseball Reference), but only 18 American/National League teams, out of 98 in history, scored at that pace.

Harper and (later on) Schwarber have been big sticks, but the Phillies also have received bursts from Rhys Hoskins. He's not consistent, having started the postseason 1 for 18 and striking out 14 times overall, but he also hit four homers and drove in seven runs to lead the team in the NLCS.

In addition to the bigger names, Philadelphia has gotten periodic contributions up and down its lineup in the playoffs. Rookie Bryson Stott has four doubles and three walks. J.T. Realmuto has 10 hits (including two homers) and five walks. Nick Castellanos has six RBIs and three doubles. Jean Segura and Alec Bohm have driven in five runs apiece.

1.88 — Astros' team ERA in 72 postseason innings

This gaudy number was enhanced by the 18 shutout innings the club posted against the Seattle Mariners in the AL Division Series clincher, but it's not like you can take it off the board. Seven of the 15 earned runs allowed by Astros pitchers have been by ace Justin Verlander, and six of those came in the ALDS opener, which Houston came back to win. Verlander rebounded to strike out 11 and allow one run against the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS, so it's not like they need to be overly concerned.

Which of the Astros pitchers has performed the best?

Setup man Bryan Abreu has allowed three hits and two walks to go with 10 strikeouts in 6 1/3 scoreless innings. Framber Valdez has had two strong starts. Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly have been all business late in games. The pitching has been so good that Houston has only used Luis Garcia once in the entire postseason.

7-0 — Houston's playoff record heading into the World Series

In addition to their nearly perfect pitching, the Astros have gotten just enough offense to advance without losing.

Rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña has emerged in the postseason, winning ALCS MVP and hitting .303/.324/.667 overall with a team-high three home runs and as many doubles. Alex Bregman, who's apparently healthy again, has recaptured some of his previous potency by hitting .333/.375/.600 with a pair of homers and a team-high seven RBIs. Yuli Gurriel .367/.367/.567 has come through after a subpar regular season at the plate, and Chas McCormick (.250/.348/.550) has produced several key hits too. Yordan Álvarez (.241/.371/.517 with two homers and eight RBIs) has been effective, and he'll be looking to improve his washout results from a year ago in the World Series.


Houston Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena (3) hits a single on a broken bat during the third inning in Game 2 of baseball's American League Championship Series between the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

As for Houston's win-loss record: There have been six undefeated teams in MLB playoff history, including five 4-0 clubs that won a World Series before the playoff era began in 1969. That includes the Cleveland Buckeyes of the Negro American League in 1945. Most recently, the Cincinnati Reds in 1976 went 7-0. The Big Red Machine is really the closest thing MLB has ever had to the 1972 Miami Dolphins, the NFL's lone unbeaten Super Bowl champion.

3 for 32 — José Altuve's postseason results so far

It probably should worry the Phillies that Houston hasn't lost despite its leadoff man having such a dreadful time at the plate. Altuve is not hitting the ball hard — his 78.8 mph average exit velocity is 6 mph slower than the regular season, per MLB Statcast — and he's beating the ball into the ground — his average launch angle in the ALCS was 6.3 inches, nearly 10 inches lower than his regular-season output.

Altuve isn't going to hit the ball as hard or as high as Álvarez, but it's time he did better at both.

3-0 — The Oct. 3 score of the only Phillies-Astros game that mattered in the regular season

Behind 6 2/3 innings of two-hit ball by right-hander Aaron Nola, two home runs by Schwarber and another long ball by Stott, the Phillies won their 87th game of the season and clinched a playoff spot with a 3-0 victory in Houston. Nola pitched about as well as he could, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning and striking out nine. One of Schwarber's home runs came against Lance McCullers Jr., so there's that to file away. And Left-hander José Alvarado struck out Kyle Tucker and Trey Mancini.

The Phillies had their biggest party of the season (to date) at Minute Maid Park. Games 1-2 and 6-7 (if necessary) are scheduled for the same stadium.

91 — Total batters faced this postseason by Zack Wheeler

Wheeler has been on point for the Phillies since the start of the wild-card round, allowing five total runs in four starts for a 1.78 ERA to go with a 25-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He has kept his work efficient, averaging 13.6 pitches per inning and 86 per outing. Manager Rob Thomson hasn't let him throw more than 96 pitches, and Wheeler has never gotten more than 21 outs before the bullpen took over.

Wheeler made just three appearances in the regular season after Aug. 20 because of elbow soreness, so the Phillies are taking precautions to not overextend him. It's possible such a tactic could become luxurious in the World Series.

8 — Number of managers in MLB history with more career victories than Dusty Baker

All eight of them — all Hall of Famers — also have won at least one World Series. Baker, in his 25th season as a skipper, has reached the Series for the third time in his career and for the second season in a row. The Astros fell in six games to the Atlanta Braves a year ago, and Baker's San Francisco Giants lost in seven games to the then-Anaheim Angels in 2002.

Of the 24 managers in history with at least 1,500 victories, only three — Baker, Gene Mauch and Buck Showalter — have never won a World Series championship. Mauch, who managed the Phillies, Montreal Expos, Minnesota Twins and Angels, never reached a World Series in 26 years. Showalter, who took over the Mets this season after previously managing the Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees, has yet to reach the Series in 21 MLB seasons.

Philly's Rob Thomson would be the sixth rookie manager to win the World Series, following Alex Cora of the Red Sox in 2018.

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