Phillies: Ryan Howard. By almost any measurement, Howard had another good season, hitting over 30 homers and driving in over 100 runs for the fifth straight year. It's just that in comparison to the standards he has set for himself, those numbers were way down. His previous full-season lows were 45 homers and 136 RBI. This year he had 31 and 108. On the plus side, his strikeouts were down to 157 and his average against lefthanders (.262) was far higher than his career number (.226) coming into the season.
Reds: Brandon Phillips. He might be best remembered for getting into a fight with Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, triggering a bench-clearing brawl, but that obscures another fine season. He was an NL All-Star for the first time and had the best fielding percentage of any second baseman with at least 500 chances (.996). Missed six starts after being hit by a pitch on Aug. 25 and batted .198 in his first 28 games after returning, but went 12-for-34 (.353) in his last 11 games to finish strong.
Phillies: Chase Utley. On paper, he still is the player who has made the NL All-Star team each of the last 5 years. On the field, though, his batting average has slid from .332 in 2007 to .292 to .282 to .275 ever since and his homers and RBI have gone from 33-104 in 2008 to 31-93 in '09 to 16-65 this season when he missed 43 games following surgery to repair a sprained right thumb. The Phillies have to be encouraged that he was .313-5-24 with a .426 on-base percentage in his last 30 games.
Reds: Orlando Cabrera. Batted .326 against lefthanders but just .240 against righthanders. Also hit .335 at Great American Ball Park compared to .269 on the road. Missed most of August with strained left oblique. Ranked third among NL shortstops in fielding percentage, committing just 11 errors. One of few Reds with significant postseason experience, 141 at-bats with Red Sox, Angels, White Sox and Twins.
Phillies: Jimmy Rollins. Might be the biggest question mark the defending National League champions have going into the series, largely because a player for whom speed is such a big part of his game missed 77 starts with leg-related injuries. He came back from a tight hamstring to start the last five games of the season, but admitted he won't be close to 100 percent in the postseason. At the same time, he has a reputation for being at his best when the game matters most. "He's still Jimmy Rollins," manager Charlie Manuel said.
Reds: Scott Rolen. Emerged as Cincinnati's clubhouse leader and the team has a .607 winning percentage when he starts over the last two seasons. Bothered late in the season by stiffness in his upper back and neck, his average slipped from .337 in June to .319 in July to .261 in August to .241 in September/October. After hitting 17 homers in the first 3 months of the season, he hit just three after June 30, but remains one of the best gloves in the game.
Phillies: Placido Polanco. He turned out to be even better than the Phillies could have hoped after they signed him as a free agent to replace Pedro Feliz. He's the prototypical No. 2 hitter they lacked who seamlessly made the transition from second base to third. But after being hit on the left elbow by a pitch early in the season, played with pain all year and received a cortisone shot as recently as last week. Despite all that, he still batted .298 with 27 doubles in 132 games.
Reds: Ryan Hanigan and Ramon Hernandez. Hanigan batted .349 in his last 18 starts. Hernandez made 85 starts behind the plate and batted .311 in 40 games after coming off the disabled list (left knee inflammation). Reds pitchers went 38-20 with a 3.36 ERA in Hanigan's starts compared to 45-40 and 4.80 with Hernandez.
Phillies: Carlos Ruiz. Might have been the Phillies' most valuable player except for Roy Halladay. The organization has long praised his ability to run a game from behind the plate and believed he was better offensively than his career .246 average. This year he proved it. He was the only regular to bat .300 with an .847 OPS. It remains to be seen how he will be affected by being hit by a pitch on the left elbow during the final regular-season game.
Reds: Jonny Gomes. Might be the biggest surprise on Cincinnati's roster. Signed just before spring training opened, he reached career highs in games (148), at-bats (511), runs (77) and RBI (86). A streaky hitter, he comes into the playoffs on a roll after hitting .323 in his last 16 games. Ranked eighth in the NL in hitting with runners in hitting with runners in scoring position (.338). Generally bats fifth behind Joey Votto and Scott Rolen.
Phillies: Raul Ibanez. Coming off sports hernia surgery, Ibanez was batting just .236 as late as July 1. Since he had just turned 38, the reaction was predictable: Rauuul was throuuugh. Or maybe not. From that point until the end of the season, he went .307-10-47 in 79 games. In his last 23 games: .370-4-18. While he has consistently refused to use the injury as an excuse for his slow start, he seems to be getting hot at the right time.
Reds: Drew Stubbs. In his first full year in the majors, the 25-year-old established himself as a player Cincinnati can build around in coming seasons. He was the only NL centerfielder with at least 20 homers and 30 stolen bases and one of only two in the majors along with Alex Rios. He also finished strong, raising his average from .237 to a season-ending .255 by going .350-7-18 in his last 24 games.
Phillies: Shane Victorino. Didn't have the kind of season the Phillies have come to expect, batting just .259 after being between .281 and .293 each of the previous 4 years. The switch-hitter was far less effective against righthanders (.233) than lefties (.321). He could lead off instead of the less-than-100-percent Jimmy Rollins. Hitting first this season, he batted .276 with a .345 on-base percentage in 82 games. He finished strong, hitting .296 in September/October.
Reds: Jay Bruce. Another of Cincinnati's building blocks. Just 23 years old, he already has 68 homers and was the NL final regular-season player of the week (.444-4-5). His walkoff homer against Houston on Sept. 28 clinched Reds' first postseason spot in 15 years. Was sidelined from Aug. 31-Sept. 12 with pain in his right side, but batted .346 in 18 games after returning to the lineup.
Phillies: Jayson Werth. Had career highs in hits (164) and runs (106) and became just the 25th player in team history with at least 40 doubles. And he did that despite a massive midseason slump when he batted just .224 with 4 homers and 17 RBI in 44 games from May 26-June 18, not to mention constant speculation about whether he will be back after qualifying for free agency after the season. Interesting splits: Batted .320 at home but .270 on the road, .341 in Phillies wins and .226 in losses.
Reds: RHP Edinson Volquez, RHP Bronson Arroyo, RHP Johnny Cueto. Volquez, coming off Tommy John surgery, made just 12 starts this season. He didn't face the Phillies this year but is 2-0, 0.73 against them in his career. He has the stuff to dominate on any given night. Arroyo is a veteran with plenty of big-game experience, but hasn't had much success against the Phillies: 1-5, 5.54 lifetime including 0-1, 10.38 at Citizens Bank Park. In his last four starts vs. Philadelphia, he's 0-4, 8.10. Cueto made a pair of starts against the Phillies this season and was 1-0, 1.20, allowing just 10 hits in 15 innings. Manager Dusty Baker decided against using rookie LHP Travis Wood even though he took a perfect game into the ninth at CBP in July, citing his inexperience.
Phillies: RHP Roy Halladay, RHP Roy Oswalt, LHP Cole Hamels. It will be an upset if Halladay doesn't win his second Cy Young Award this year. He agreed to be traded from Toronto to Philadelphia because he craved an opportunity to pitch in the postseason and now gets his first chance. Although he led the majors in innings pitched, he should be well-rested after skipping his final start of the regular season. Oswalt was spectacular for the Phillies after being acquired from Houston before the trading deadline, going 7-1 overall and 5-0, 1.76 in six starts at Citizens Bank Park. Game 3 starter Hamels had a 2.07 ERA in his last 16 starts and could have flirted with 20 wins if the Phillies hadn't scored 2 or fewer runs in 14 of his starts. Career at Great American Ball Park: 3-0, 1.67 in four starts.
Reds: RHP Francisco Cordero (closer), LHP Aroldis Chapman, LHP Arthur Rhodes, LHP Bill Bray, RHP Nick Masset, RHP Logan Ondrusek. Cordero converted 40 of 48 save opportunities despite a high (3.84) earned run average. Much of the attention is on Chapman, the Cuban defector, whose fastball has been clocked at up to 105 mph this season. The fact that the Reds have a quartet of lefthanders in the bullpen gives manager Dusty Baker plenty of flexibility to play matchups against Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez. Wood, the rookie starter who dominated the Phillies in his only start against them, has been moved to the bullpen for the NLDS. Rhodes, in his 19th big-league season, made the All-Star team for the first time. Masset ranked third in the NL with 82 appearances.
Phillies: RHP Brad Lidge (closer), RHP Ryan Madson, RHP Joe Blanton, RHP Jose Contreras, RHP Chad Durbin, LHP J.C. Romero, LHP Antonio Bastardo. Lidge turned his season around after a spectacular blown save against the Nationals on July 31. At the time, his ERA was 5.57. In his last 26 appearances it was 0.73 and he failed to convert just one save opportunity. Madson appeared in 46 games after coming off the DL (broken toe) with a 1.64 ERA. One concern is Romero, who had to leave the regular-season finale with tightness in his back. He is on the roster, which is important because without him, Bastardo would have been the primary lefthander. Durbin allowed just 5 of 31 inherited runners to score.