Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Divison Series Preview Part 4: Twins/Yankees

Well, the playoff field is finally set. It took them 163 games, a crazy September run and a New York Met style choke-job by the Tigers but the Twins are in the playoffs this year.

They get to face a loaded Yankees squad that is in the midst of an oh-so long 9 year World Series drought. Enough with the intros onto the match-up

Joe Mauer .364/.442/.586 176 OPS+
Jorge Posada .285/.363/.522 130 OPS+

Joe Mauer has been a Beeeeeassst this year. Despite missing almost a month of the season he is the front runner for MVP.

Jorge Posada has had a nice year but nothing with MVP-implications.

Advantage: Twins

First Base
Michael Cuddyer .276/.342/.520 130 OPS+
Mark Teixeira .292/.383/.565 146 OPS+

Cuddyer has stepped up BIG time in September. The Twins had a heavy blow dealt to them when Justin Morneau went down with an injury. Cuddyer has stepped up and seems to get a clutch hit on a daily basis.

Mar Teixeira had a good first year in New York. He got a massive contract to hold down First Base and didn't disappoint . Teixeira has had the better season/career (but I don't buy the MVP talk--) but Cuddyer is the hottest hitter in baseball right now and I see him carrying the momentum into the playoffs

Advantage: Twins

Second Base
Alexi Casilla .198/.227/.256 46 OPS+
Robinson Cano .320/.352/.520 126 OPS+

Casilla did get the game winning hit in today's game but he's struggled so much at the plate he makes David Eckstein look like a power hitter.

While Cano's power numbers have been inflated by a short porch at the new yankee stadium, he is one of the better second basemen in the league and leaps and bounds better than Casilla.

Advantage: Yankees

Orlando Cabrera .292/.316/.424 99 OPS+
Derek Jeter .334/.406/.465 129 OPS+

Orlando Cabrera has done a good job of solidifying the shortstop position for the Twins. While his numbers aren't eye popping he does have lots of post-season experience. For what its worth the two times he's been on a team playing the Yankees ('04 Red Sox/'05 Angels).....the Yankees have gone home

Derek Jeter has had a typical Derek Jeter-esque season. Talk about him being an MVP is a stretch and he is generally overrated but i'd still place him above Cabrera

Advantage: Yankees

Third Base
Brendan Harris .262/.307/.363 82 OPS+/ Matt Tolbert .228/.301/.306 66 OPS+
Alex Rodriguez .286/.402/.532 143 OPS+

Third base has been a weakness for the Twins, especially after losing Joe Crede to injury. Regardless of who starts...the Twins won't get much offensively from third base.

A-Rod is the starting 3rd baseman for the Yankees. While he is a very unlikeable player and seems headed to be the Dan Marino of MLB (great player, great stats no rings) he still is one of the greatest hitters of this generation and he's not as bad of a post-season hitter as his reputation indicates (.279/.373/.483 170 At-Bats)

Advantage: Yankees

Left Field
Delmon Young .285/.307/.428 97 OPS+
Johnny Damon .282/.365/.489 123 OPS+

Delmon Young has all the talent in the world but hasn't quite put it all together yet...still he's only 24 so he could be a star...still he doesn't quite stand out.

Johnny Damon has churned out a solid-season. He's tied a career high in homers and has benefited heavily from the short porch at new yankee stadium.

Advantage: Yankees

Center Field
Carlos Gomez .227/.285/.335 68 OPS+
Melky Cabrera .274/.336/.416 97 OPS+

Gomez has the potential to be a great player. He can play some good D, he can run like the wind but has yet to put it together at the plate.

Melky Cabrera is definitely the weak link of the Yankees offense....he's improved from a disastrous '08 and is probably only holding down center until the Yankees can find someone to throw $100 million-plus at and replace him...

Advantage: Yankees

Right Field
Denard Span .312/.392/.417 121 OPS+
Nick Swisher .249/.371/.498 126 OPS+

Denard Span followed up a strong rookie season with a solid but not spectacular '09...the main thing sticking out is he led the league in triples.

After a disappointing '08 Nick Swisher returned to form and had a solid season. Although they are different types of hitters they both about equally as useful offensively. Swisher gets the nod here since hes been to the post-season before.

Advantage: Yankees

Designated Hitter
Jason Kubel .300/.369/.535 142 OPS+
Hideki Matsui .274/.367/.509 128 OPS+

Jason Kubel has quietly had an excellent season. Hes not the biggest name on this team but hes gotten it done all year.

If this were based on how well known the players were...Matsui would win in a landslide. He has bounced back to have a very solid year...but Kubel has just been better.

Advantage: Twins

Starting Rotation
Nick Blackburn
Scott Baker
Carl Pavano
Brian Duensing


C.C. Sabathia
A.J. Burnett
Andy Pettite
Joba Chamberlain

I'm not too crazy about either rotation. The Twins may have been able to win the AL Central counting on players such as Baker and Pavano but it's probably insufficient for a playoff run regardless of how many clutch hits they get out of Michael Cuddyer.

The Yankees are flawed as well. C.C. Sabathia has always been a great regular season pitcher but has never gotten it done in the playoffs. A.J. Burnett gets paid like an elite pitcher, he just doesn't pitch like one (unless its a contract year) Pettite isn't as great as he was but hes still a solid pitcher with lots of post-season experience. I have no idea whats going on with Joba. Either way the Yankees seem to be derailing a promising career with the Joba rules. Still, the Yankees have a talent edge in the rotation so they get the nod.

Advantage: Yankees

If the game is on the line, these are pitchers likely to be in the game
Joe Nathan
Matt Cuerrier
Jose Mujares


Mariano Rivera
Philip Hughes
Phil Coke

Both of the closers are amongst the most dominant in the league. Rivera has a massive experience edge but Joe Nathan is just as capable of having a long, dominant stretch. The set-up/middle relievers for the Twins have been better than those for the Yankees so they get the advantage here.

Advantage: Twins

X Factor:
The Yankees have a massive payroll and field a real-life equivalent of a fantasy baseball team so they need no X Factor.

The Twins have been playing with a purpose. They are one of the hottest teams in baseball. They might not look that great in the standings but they picked the right time to get hot. They've playing their last season in the Metrodome and they overcame an injury to Justin Morneau.

Advantage: Twins
Final Tally: Yankees 7 Twins 5

The Twins are short on talent but they come into the post-season playing over their heads. They don't quite have enough to upset the Yankees but they'll at least make it interesting

Prediction: Yankees in 5

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