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: Oct 1, 2006
Posted on: October 14, 2010 2:23 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. 

Since: Dec 14, 2008
Posted on: October 14, 2010 2:22 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

AllUNeedIsLove- the Rangers' lineup doesn't stack up to the Yankees' lineup?  Really?  Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero, Nelson Cruz, and Ian Kinsler don't stack up against Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Nick Swisher?  The stats say otherwise.  Yankees have more runs scored, the Rangers have a better batting average.  Young's numbers compare well to Jeter's, Kinsler is right there with Cano in terms of run-producing capability, Vlad had a better season than Teixiera, Hamilton had a better season than A-Rod, and Cruz has better stats per game than Swisher.  I'm not discounting the Yankees in any way, as they have an awesome lineup.  They are deep and every bit as good as the Rangers.  But to suggest the Rangers don't even compare to the Yankees hitters is just wrong. 

Since: Dec 14, 2008
Posted on: October 14, 2010 2:15 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

DBOX- you have a very selective memory.  Go look up what happened the last two times the Rangers faced Mariano Rivera.  Go ahead.  While you're at it, look up the ERA's and WHIP's of Darren Oliver, Darren O'Day, Alexei Ogando, and Neftali Feliz.  That "junk" bullpen has better stats than your supposed mighty Yankees group of relievers.  Kind of stinks when the facts don't support your false claims, doesn't it?

Since: Sep 15, 2008
Posted on: October 14, 2010 1:54 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

everyone may have this as a David vs Goliath series, but as a Yankee fan, don't sleep on the Rangers. these guys are fun to watch. not only their bats will kill you, but their speed will get you too as well as their pitching. this is gonna be one fun series. but i'm extremely confident that the yankees will face Lee only once and not twice bc they'll pull it out in 5  hard fought games. then it's on to prehaps philly for the rematch vs the reloaded phillies for the 2k10 world series in which yankees could face halladay only once  instead of twice. yankees should beat the phils again in 6 and remain world champions! GO YANKS! Win it for THE BOSS!

Since: Jan 22, 2007
Posted on: October 14, 2010 1:10 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

Now, that's funny.  If there was no Wild Card, there would be no Yankees in the playoffs, and the Rangers would already be headed to the World Series....just sayin'.  

Since: Dec 7, 2008
Posted on: October 14, 2010 12:08 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

how can they throw Lee 3 times if he doesnt pitch until game 3?

Since: Mar 9, 2007
Posted on: October 14, 2010 8:28 am

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

Not closing out the Rays in 3 or 4 will come back to haunt Texas. If they were able to throw Cliff Lee three times this series, they would be in significantly better shape. But the Yankees better look to close early though because if this series goes 7, and Lee hits the mound again, the tables dramatically turn. Yankees in 5, but the longer this series goes, the stronger the Rangers become.

Since: Mar 23, 2008
Posted on: October 14, 2010 1:49 am

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

I'm not a Yankees fan, but it's obvious to any objective person that this article is just a fluff piece to hype up the series.  The Rangers are serious underdogs.  Neither their lineup, starting pitching, or bullpen stack up to NYs.  They also lack experience.  Props to them if they win but they are a longshot...

Since: Jan 29, 2007
Posted on: October 13, 2010 9:44 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

i hope texas wins this series and shuts all you yankee fans up. but of course there will be some excuse for why you lost. cant wait to here it. rangers win it in arlington, and you can take all of those stats to bed with ya. 

Since: Oct 2, 2009
Posted on: October 13, 2010 4:08 pm

ALCS has battle of evenly-matched teams

In the sweep of the Yankees, New York started Vazquez, Burnett and Moseley. Not exactly what you'd call spectacular. The Rangers started Wilson, Hunter and Lee. So no, that's not evenly matched. The reason AL East stats for the Rangers largely don't matter is because of the relatively small sample size. Instead of playing TB, BOS and NY 8 times, they would play them 18-19 times. Big difference. And if you don't think division stats don't matter, why do you then cite them?

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