Blog Entry

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

Posted on: October 12, 2010 11:11 pm
Edited on: October 12, 2010 11:39 pm
RZThe ALCS is set, and the Yankees with 27 World Series rings will do battle with a team that just won its first postseason series -- ever.

Cliff Lee That may seem like an obvious advantage, but both teams are rather evenly matched in starting pitching. Although the Yankees will be able to roll with a normal format of the ace in the first game, the Rangers will have to push Cliff Lee (pictured, right) back to the third game.

Game 1 will pit Yankees ace CC Sabathia against fellow lefty C.J. Wilson. While Sabathia holds an edge, it's not a major one as Wilson has his own successful year in the books. Game 2 will see Andy Pettitte go against Colby Lewis. Lewis holds the edge in an ability to go deep in the game and actually has a better xFIP than Pettitte (3.93 to 4.05) but it's close enough that you can't discount Pettitte's pitching from the south and his postseason credentials. Another close matchup.

Then, Lee goes against Phil Hughes. Easy advantage for Texas and Lee, but Phil Hughes is no slouch either. Then you get into the soft underbelly of both teams in Game 4 starters of A.J. Burnett and Tommy Hunter.

Even though the Yankees have a chance to jump out to an early lead, the Rangers will also benefit from being able to throw Lee in Game 3 -- oftentimes a game that sets the tone for the rest of the series -- and a do-or-die Game 7. Unless the Yankees bring CC Sabathia back on three days' rest for Game 7 (and that sounded unlikely given Joe Girardi's comments on the subject), the Yankees might be underdogs going into a possible Game 7.

The starting pitching matchups remain close enough that each team's offense will have to step up in order to guarantee victory -- and each team goes different routes when it comes to offense.

The Yankees paced baseball in runs scored with 859, but the Rangers weren't too far behind at fifth with 787. However, both teams went in very different ways when it came to scoring these runs. The Yankees live and die by plate discipline, also pacing first in the majors in on-base percentage.

Mark Teixeira Mark Teixeira (left) paced the team with 93 walks, but Brett Gardner, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson also cracked or exceeded the 50-walk plateau. That's eight of nine starters, if you weren't counting.

Ah, but the Rangers have their own weapon: a team batting average of .276 paced the league with both Michael Young (.284 batting average) and Josh Hamilton (.359) tying for a team lead with 186 hits. Vladimir Guerrero and Nelson Cruz also topped the .300 batting average mark, so this team can make contact.

The Yankees have the advantage of running up the pitch counts of the Rangers pitchers which will force Texas to dip into what has already been an overworked bullpen. On the other hand, an aggressive approach at the plate might be what it takes to take out the Yankees starters -- but only as long as the club doesn't expand its strike zone. Given the team is 18th in total walks, that could end up a real concern.

Fielding is the last major impact there can be on a series. The Rangers have a team UZR/150 (Ultimate Zone Rating) of 1.9, but the Yankees lurk just behind at 1.8. In defensive runs saved, the Rangers have one to their name, while the Yankees have exactly zero. So even the pitching is evenly matched up.

Both teams are too close in offense, pitching and defense to call any victor. Given the Yankees have the edge in plate discipline and power, that might be enough to tip the scales in favor of New York in what is shaping up to be a battle between two evenly-matched teams.

-- Evan Brunell

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Since: Sep 23, 2007
Posted on: October 15, 2010 12:22 am

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

I must say I haven't read the Yankees message boards, so I don't have a feel for what their outlook is on the series. But if I had to guess what the average Yankees fan is predicting, I would guess they're picking the Yanks in 6... mainly because most couldn't imagine losing to the freakin' Texas Rangers. As a Rangers fan, it was interesting spending the last day and a half with Yankees fan. While most of the NY media seem to be predicting a bloodbath for the inexperienced, history lacking Rangers, the Yankees fan I spent some time with was not so cock-sure. I think Cliff Lee pitching Game 3 could prove to be a huge advantage for the Rangers in the series. I'm not saying that Lee/Rangers couldn't falter in Game 3, but I think it is the closest thing to a lock for either team in the series... even being in Yankees Stadium. So even though the Yankees could play a great game and beat Lee in Game 3, let's say for this scenario the Rangers are going to win that game. I think the Yankees are in trouble if they don't win the first two in Texas. Under my supposed scenario, let's say we go into Game 4 with the Rangers up 2 games to 1. The Game 4 scheduled pitchers are Burnett vs. Hunter. Although Burnett could show up at any time and pitch great, I think if the Yanks go into Game 4 down a game, the Yankees are in serious trouble. Facing the prospect of letting his team go down 3 games to 1 if he doesn't perform at home, I think A.J. would buckle. We'll see if Girardi has the faith in Burnett he claims, if he is down a game going into Game 4. I wouldn't be surprised if Girardi's "vote of confidence" in Burnett were exposed and we see CC in Game 4. No matter, the Yankees had better go all out the first two in Texas or the unthinkable could happen to Yankees fans. Can't wait for tomorrow night!

Since: Jul 1, 2008
Posted on: October 14, 2010 11:10 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

Actually the Rangers would be on the golf course too, Twins would have been in the west, it would have been Rays-Twins in the ALCS

Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: October 14, 2010 10:38 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

Experience, Ok.  Everywhere else Rangers stack up or are better.  Dont overrate the Yankees staff.  and the Offense, Rangers were #1 in average and 2nd in runs."

Actually ramblin 67, the Rangers were fourth in runs.

Yankees 859
Red Sox 818
Rays 802
Rangers 787

Also, notice if you please, that the Rangers in 5 playoff games are batting .253 and scored 4.2 runs per game, while the Yankees are batting .314 and have scores 5.67 runs per game. And the Yanks did it against the Twins, who had the best record in the American League since the All-Star break.

The point is that stats are just that. They show an average over a period of time. What counts in October is who is playing better right now. It doesn't matter how many runs the Yankees scored this year, or what the Rangers batting average was. What matters now is who plays better over the next 9 days, if it goes that far. Based on post season experience the logical edge goes to the Yankees. I say Yanks in 6 games

Since: Oct 14, 2010
Posted on: October 14, 2010 8:57 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

hey pike.... brett gardner had more rbi than ian kinsler this year...the yanks have 7 guys with 50+ rbi the rangers have 5...yanks have 9 players with 10+ HRs the rangers have 5...heres one i really like...michael young had on on base percentage of .330 this year... the yankees had 11 players .340 or better with at least 100 AB.. rangers had 7... you only named 5 guys when u compared the lineups but 9 guys have to bat.. the yankee lineup is just a lot deeper... also if the rangers find a way to split the first two games pettitte will beat lee in game 3.. every analyst and fan is handing every game lee pitches to texas but ill take andy over him in game 3 cause ive seen him come up huge time after time and the yankee lineup will get 2 runs yanks will win 2-1 or 2-0...yanks in 4 or 5 games bet on it

Since: Mar 20, 2008
Posted on: October 14, 2010 8:12 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

Maybe you should check your stuff before you go running your mouth.  Colby lewis had 200+ k's and Hunter ended the season with a 13-4 mark.  I'll take both of those of AJ Burnett and his  15 loses.  Not to mention last time these teams played it was the Rangers doing the sweeping.  I know October is different then September but at least get you SH*T straight.  

Since: Oct 14, 2010
Posted on: October 14, 2010 6:01 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

thanks i will enjoy it.....and i would be angry too if the rangers were swept in the final regular season series by the yankees and if cliff lee signed with the hey back at ya enjoy it will it can, sincerly bucky boy

Since: Apr 25, 2008
Posted on: October 14, 2010 3:49 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

so the yankees would not be in the playoffs if not for the wild card, what a jaded outlok.  thats like me saying if there wasn't a mickey mouse div called the american league west  the rangers would't be in the playoffs ether.  guess what if it was the old way neither of our teams would be in the playoffs cause only the 1st place team makes it just your to stuck up to admit that point about your own team while you point it out about ours.  bottom line there IS a wild card, so suck it up. 

Since: Apr 25, 2008
Posted on: October 14, 2010 3:41 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL darren oliver you have got to be joking?  how dare you even place darren oliver in the same paragraph as Mo. 

yes Mo had a bad series vs texas durring the regular season but then again what was that ranger fans were saying about cliff lee's record vs the rays in the regular season... yeah thats what i though go away with darren oliver and your regular season stats suger dumper.  you fail

Since: Sep 10, 2008
Posted on: October 14, 2010 3:29 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams yanks fans, are not discrediting the rangers,,,,they are a nice little team....................THAT DOESNT HAVE A DAMN CHANCE in this series....its october fella,,,,,what in the world do the rangers know about october baseball????/Enjoy it while you can bucky  boy!!!!!

Since: Oct 14, 2010
Posted on: October 14, 2010 2:42 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

u guys got to be kidding me mariano Rivera is the greatest closer of all time.  DId u happen to see how da yankees pitching staff did against the twins and da texas 3 nd 4 starters r terrible they dont even deserve to b pitchers.  The yankees will win dis series in 6 easy how is colby lewis guna shut us down nd thier 4 starter is guna really dominate us n our home ballpark sure guys.

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