Sunday, October 01, 2006

Grrr. Rar. Tigers

If a feat similar to the New Jersey Devils last year in the NHL, the Twins came from behind to secure the AL Central on the last day of the season. Detroit fell in 12 innings to the little Royals.

What does this mean? It means that the Yankees don't have to face Johan Santana in a 5 game series! I for one was surprised by this to the extent that I already typed up a series preview against Minnesota.

Now that I have something new to talk about, let's take a look at this matchup. The Yankees won the season series against Detroit 6-2, including three of four games in Detroit.

1st Base: Gary Sheffield vs Sean Casey

The Yankees have a huge edge at this position. Sean Casey is a sub-.800 OPS hitter this year. I don't doubt that Casey will outplay Sheffield on defense, but we're going to come up big in this matchup.

Edge: Yankees

2nd Base: Robinson Cano vs Placido Polanco

Entering the year, the Tigers were expected big things from their 2005 team MVP. A season later, they are still hoping that he returns ot form. Polanco was hurt by injuries all season which slowed both his offensive and defensive game. Even if he had both back, he wouldn't be able to compete with Cano. Robby Cano is the best 2b in the game, without a doubt.

Edge: Yankees

Shortstop: Derek Jeter vs JCarlos Guillen

Carlos Guillen is a terrific player. He batted .317/.398/.518 this year, and would be in the debate for MVP during the average major league season. He played excellent defense. Unfortunately for the Tigers, they are running in to the only player at shortstop better than Carlos Guillen. Derek Jeter is a legit MVP candidate and one hell of a hitter. We'll see if his postseason heroics continue.

Edge: Yankees (but not by a whole lot)

Third Base: Alex Rodriguez vs Brandon Inge

Brandon Inge is a one of the best defensive 3b in the game. He's an excellent athlete. That said, he can't bat alongside Alex Rodriguez. Arod may have had a bad year, but he's still far and away the AL's best third baseman. Good defense or not, Inge batted just .254/.315/.461.

Edge: Yankees (by a whole lot)

Catcher: Jorge Posada vs Ivan Rodriguez

Pudge Rodriguez is going to the hall of fame. Jorge Posada may just be making a similar case for the Hall if he keeps it up, but he's no I-Rod. That said, Posada's bat right now is so clearly superior to Pudge's that I have to give it to him. I-Rod has done his usual thing in terms of defense behind the plate, but his hitting skills are degrading with age. The old SABR law of "Power and Patience age better than average" shows why Posada has retained his effectiveness while Pudge is losing it.

Edge: Yankees

Left Field: Hideki Matsui vs Craig Monroe

Craig Monroe is possibly the most overrated left fielder in the game. If you hear the pundits on ESPN talk about him, you'd think that he was vintage Magglio Ordonez. The guy hits for power, but that's about it. He posted an OBP of .301 this season, marking him as a modern day Tony Batista. 28 home runs can only go so far. Despite the injury, Hideki finished this season batting an incredible .302/.393/.494. He has shown that his bat is as good as ever (maybe better, thanks to the rest and training he got in while injured). He was a special player in 2004. Maybe we'll see it this postseason.

Edge: Yankees (And a huge one)

Centerfield: Johnny Damon vs Curtis Granderson

Granderson is a fine player. He batted .262/.336/.442 while playing a fine centerfield. Despite a nasty September slump (Damon entered the month as the Yankee's second best player batting .300/.371/.515, but batted .205/.286/.307 in September), I am going to give this one to Damon. Unless he is hiding some sort of injury, Damon is certainly capable to turning it back up when the lights are brighter. It is said that being strong up the middle of the field is key to success, and the Yankees are definately proud of their centerfielder.

Edge: Yankees (Even though Damon's slump worries me)

Right Field: Bobby Abreu vs Magglio Ordonez

Ordonez never really recovered from his knee surgery. He's been able to play this year, but his hitting has been incredibly average (.298/.347/.474). Bobby Abreu on the other hand has been one of the best since switching leagues, batting .330/.419/.507. The monkey-man hasn't made the playoffs since his rookie year with the Astros, so it will be interesting to see how he reacts.

Edge: Yankees (Big time!)

Designated Hitter: Jason Giambi vs Omar Infante / Marcus Thames

I was really worried about Jason Giambi until a few days ago. His wrists were bothering him so badly that he couldn't drive the ball. He batted .192 in September, although he took enough walks to post a .364 OBP. Giambi has been very streaky this year, but I would not be at all surprised if a new streak starts in October. His 3-5 night against the O's gave me that confidence. He might end up sitting against left handers. Thames is a fine player, but he can't hold a candle to Giambi.

Edge: Yankees

I'll do the pitching and benches later tonight.