You know the key players. You know the faces. You know these clubs sport two of the best lineups in all of baseball. And now, they face off for all the marbles.
The New York Yankees scored the most runs during the regular season in the American League with 915. The Phillies were fourth overall at 820, sans a designated hitter. The Yanks ripped 244 home runs this season, while the Phillies were second in the entire league with 224.
It’s about power and it’s about countless men on base for both squads. Something has to give. In this preview of both offenses, it’s tough to find who has the edge. That said, I’ve put together a ridiculous point scale on how to figure out who has the overall advantage.
- PUSH: 0 pts
- SLIGHT EDGE: 1 pt
- EDGE: 2 pts
- MAJOR EDGE: 4 pts
Based on the merits of Jorge Posada, this would look like a lopsided position. However, Posada has deteriorated with age, though still brings some pop with his bat. In the postseason thus far, Posada is hitting just .258 with two bombs. The five-time all-star will provide adequate offense, but is no longer the game-changing backstop he once was.
Carlos Ruiz is what you would call “en fuego”. He is swinging a fiery stick, hitting .346 in the playoffs to this point, with a 1.000 OPS. His keen eye is the main reason Chooch has taken a step forward in his offensive progression. Ruiz has walk-to-strikeout ratio of 7/2.
Defensively, in what is perhaps the most important position, this is hardly a tough call. Posada is turning into a defensive liability with a bum shoulder, while Ruiz is one of the steadiest backstops in the league. And when A.J. Burnett pitches, you likely will not see Posada, as Jose Molina will come in for duty.
EDGE: Phillies (2)
One of the tougher calls going by position, both Ryan Howard and Mark Teixeira are nightmares at the plate for opposing pitching, but only one man is currently in a zone of his own. Howard has 14 RBI in nine games thanks to those seven extra-base hits. Defensively? Ain’t no thing. Howard does not have an error in the postseason.
Teixeira’s regular season numbers were outstanding (.292, 39, 122) but still paled in comparison to the Big Piece. The postseason has not been very kind to the Yankees slugger as he hovers above the Mendoza Line through nine games. Look for him to snap out of the slump, although the pressure of the World Series isn’t for the faint of heart.
With the glove, Teixeira has the advantage, but Howard has done nothing wrong in this second season.
SLIGHT EDGE: Phillies (1)
Give full credit to Robinson Cano. He is one of the better young middle infielders in all of baseball. His .320 average and 25 regular season homers would attest to that. That said, he’s hitting just .229 in the playoffs without a home run. Cano has hit the skids at the wrong time, as the Yankees could use his pop in the small ballparks in this series.
Chase Utley – you know him. Explaining his resume isn’t necessary. Through the playoffs, he been the same old guy we’ve come to know – Utley is the fourth Phillie hitting over .300 in the playoffs (.303) and he must keep up that ability to get on base. It’s one of the reasons why Ryan Howard has shredded everything in his path.
Defensively, both are very good at what they do. Neither are flashy with the leather, but are more than adequate parts of very good double-play tandems.
EDGE: Phillies (2)
Not sure there is really much to write here. With all due respect to Pedro Feliz and his glove, Alex Rodriguez’s bat more than makes up for whatever it is he lacks in the field. Which, by the way, isn’t much. A-Rod is just fine at third base.
Chalk this up as a loss.
MAJOR EDGE: Yankees (4)
Two heavyweight’s at their respective position going head to head in the fall classic – doesn’t get much better than this. Jimmy Rollins and his well-documented struggles at the plate have done nothing to shatter his confidence. A .244 average is despicable for a leadoff man, but to be fair, he has had some big hits this postseason.
Derek Jeter is not having that same problem. The elder statesman of the Yankees has been hitting all year; from his .334 regular season average, to the .297 postseason mark. Jeter is a model of consistency, although his glove leaves something to be desired. Mike Missanelli here in Philadelphia claims Jeter has “as much range defensively as an office chair.”
Jeter is so much better with the bat right now, but with the glove, there aren’t many players you would rather have in the field than Rollins.
SLIGHT EDGE: Yankees (1)
This is a clean sweep for the Phillies. Jayson Werth has five home runs in the playoffs. Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera, and Nick Swisher have combined for two. Add in Shane Victorino’s three bombs, and a lone shot from Raul Ibanez, and you have a powerful triumvirate roaming the outfield grass.
The long bright spot for New York has been Melky Cabrera and his .314 average through two rounds, however, that is more than negated by Victorino’s gaudy numbers (.361, 3, 7 RBI). Defensively, Cabrera also has range and a strong arm, but he is flanked by two below-average fielders. Damon has the arm of a beerleague softball player, and Swisher is slow and a better first baseman.
The Phillies boast two outstanding arms in Werth and Victorino. Each can cover a ton of ground with their speed, and Raul Ibanez is a serviceable option in left. Drop Ben Francisco in there for two games at Yankee Stadium due to the DH, and you have a fine defensive outfield.
MAJOR EGDE: Phillies (4)
Hideki Matsui is a DH by trade but will be relegated to the bench for games three, four, and five back in Philadelphia. That’s a great option in the late innings for the Yanks. Brett Gardner has great wheels, plus is a nice pinch-hitter as well. That’s about the extent of the Yankes bench.
For the Phillies, you won’t see much of their bench with the DH, but we know about the powerful swing of Matt Stairs. Ben Francisco will be playing in games one and two, so that depletes a weak bench even further. That leaves Greg Dobbs ad Eric Bruntlett, both of whom have struggled.
EDGE: Yankees (2)
Count it all up and the Phillies come away with a 9-7 advantage taking into account defense within the lineup. But man, are these teams so very close.