Monday, September 18, 2006

Comparing the Playoff Teams: Position Players

This is the first of a two part series where I will do a quick and dirty analysis of the four current playoff teams (Detroit, New York, Minnesota, Oakland) in the American League. At present, it seems like these four have their races locked up. I will rank each position and list their VORP.

First Base

1. Justin Morneau (Minnesota) 50.4 VORP
2. Jason Giambi (New York) 45.7 VORP
3. Nick Swisher (Oakland) 23 VORP
4. Sean Casey / Chris Shelton / Whomever (Detroit) 5 VORP

Pretty straight forward here. The Yankees and Twins have a big edge at the big position. Strangely, the National League is much stronger in this department, with Pujols, Howard, Berkman, Delgado, and others. The Yankees need Jason Giambi to be himself for the playoffs, and overcome his wrist injury.

Second Base

1. Robinson Cano (New York) 38.9 VORP
2. Luis Castillo (Minnesota) 18.4 VORP
3. Mark Ellis (Oakland) 5.6 VORP
4. Omar Infante / Placido Polanco (Detroit) ~8 VORP

I put Ellis over the Detroit duo purely out of defense. Ellis may be the best defensive 2nd baseman in the American League. The Yankees may have their biggest edge at this position. Especially considering that Cano not only missed a month and a half but also didn't start hitting like a Monster until June.


1. Derek Jeter (New York) 74 VORP (leads all playoff teams)
2. Carlos Guillen (Detroit) 59 VORP
3. Jason Barlett (Minnesota) 20 VORP
4. Marco Scutaro (Oakland) 6.1 VORP

Another great position for the Yankees. He's the MVP, and he is damn good. We have a 7 win advantage over Oakland at shortstop! Damn, how Bobby Crosby has fallen.

Third Base

1. Alex Rodriguez (New York) 44 VORP
2. Eric Chavez (Oakland) 12 VORP
3. Nick Punto (Minnesota) 14 VORP
4. Brandon Inge (Detroit) 7.8 VORP

I cannot list Eric Chavez below Nick Punto. After a really hot start, Chavez has really looked bad. Really bad. But his defense is still Eric Chavez-like and he has some real power potential when he is on. Still, the Yankees hold another commanding edge here... with even more potential. Interestingly, all four of these guys (all right... the three besides Arod) are absolutely stellar defenders.


1. Joe Mauer (Minnesota) 60 VORP
2. Jorge Posada (New York) 33.9 VORP
3. Pudge Rodriguez (Detroit) 16 VORP
4. Jason Kendall (Oakland) 11.7 VORP

In addition to being four of the more offensively valueable catchers in the American League, all four of these guys deserve a gold glove. Minnesota probably holds one of the two real advantages at a position over the Yankees, and that's not a knock on Jorge Posada. Joe Mauer having a season to rival some of Piazza's, Dickey's, and Yogi's.

Right Field

1. Bobby Abreu (New York) 41 VORP
2. Matt Cuddyer (Minnesota) 31 VORP
3. Milton Bradley (Oakland) 13 VORP - Limited time
4. Magglio Ordonez (Detroit) 20 VORP

Magglio Ordonez has been batting sub-.200 for quite some time now. The Tigers have to be regretting that stupid little contract. Bobby Abreu was one hell of a pickup. Bernie Williams has a VORP of 10 right now.


1. Johnny Damon (New York 44 VORP
2. Torri Hunter (Minnesota) 25 VORP
3. Curtis Granderson (Detroit) 20 VORP
4. Mark Kotsay (Oakland) 7.6 VORP

Boy, Kotsay was a budding star a few years ago. His offense and defense have been really hurt by (I believe) back problems. Glad the Yankees didn't trade for him now? I should be the first to admit that I wanted Kotsay over Damon. Damon has certainly earned his pay this season, being roughly equal to Alex Rodriguez in value. Hopefully he'll strut his stuff in the postseason.

Left Field

1. Marcus Thames / Craig Monroe (Detroit) 19 / 9 VORP
2. Jay Payton (Oakland) 10 VORP
3. Melky Cabrera (New York) 10 VORP
4. Who the hell knows (Minnesota) 0 VORP

I have to give the nod to Payton over Cabrera purely because of defense. Oakland has three bonafide centerfielders playing the three outfield positions, and Payton is no slouch. I'll take Melky next year though.

Designated Hitter

1. Frank Thomas (Oakland) 45 VORP
2. Hideki Matsui / Gary Sheffield / Bernie Willaims (New York) ??? VORP ~30
3. Marcus Thames / Craig Monroe (Detroit) 19 / 9 VORP
4. Phil Nevin? (Minnesota) 0 VORP

Minnesota and Detroit really feel the lack of a 9th hitter in the lineup. We really don't know what we will get out of our DH this postseason, but we can't expect better than Frank Thomas. Buy low worked out well this time. Thomas may be the best overall hitter entering the playoffs. Too bad he can't do more than truffle shuffle to 1st base or around the bases.


New York Yankees (5 1st place, 3 2nd place, 1 3rd place) 331.6 VORP
Minnesota (2 1st place, 3 2nd place, 2 3rd place, 2 4th place) 218.8 VORP
Detroit (1 1st place, 1 2nd place, 2 3rd place, 3 4th place) 163 VORP
Oakland (1 1st place, 2 2nd place, 3 3rd place, 3 4th place) (134 VORP)

Looking at these numbers, it's hard to imagine the Tigers or Athletics getting much support at all from their position players throughout the playoffs. Luckily, they both have great pitching staffs. Still, the overall Yankee superiority here is absolutely amazing. We have huge advantages at 2b, 3b, SS, RF and CF. The other positions aren't bad either.

Now to see how the pitching staffs shape up... tomorrow. Good night.