Yankees vs. Phillies: Which Superteam Is Better Poised for Another World Series?
Inhabiting two of America's major sports cities, the Yankees and Phillies have both seen astounding success in recent years.
Although the Yankees have long been a dynasty in baseball, the Phillies are working on solidifying their own spot as one of the historically dominant franchises.
The Phillies won their last title in 2008 and returned to the World Series the next year to face none other than the Yankees.
The series furthered the sports rivalry between the two cities. Ever since the New York Yankees took home the rings that year, both teams have had their sites set on another title.
The only question is: Who is poised to make a run for the crown in 2012?
The best way to look at this comparison is to break down each team categorically.
In 2011, the Yankees finished second in the MLB in runs (867), seventh in batting average (.263), second in on-base percentage (.343) and third in slugging percentage (.444).
The Phillies finished the 2011 season 13th in the MLB in runs (713), 16th in batting average (.253), 11th in on-base percentage (.323) and 17th in slugging percentage (.395).
The Yankees recently made waves by signing former Phillies left fielder Raul Ibanez to a one-year, $1.1 million contract. The Phils also grabbed the attention of the media back in November by trading for utility player Ty Wigginton from the Colorado Rockies.
The Yanks intend on using Ibanez as their designated hitter, while the Phillies' current depth chart shows Wigginton listed ahead of Jim Thome at first base. This is, of course, expected to change as soon as Ryan Howard returns from his Achilles injury.
Both teams will also retain important role players who didn't get to see a full season with their respective franchises last season.
The Yankees will get power hitter Alex Rodriguez back at the plate after an injury-riddled 2011 season and a trip overseas to undergo the "Kobe Bryant miracle surgery."
The Phillies will get to see a full season out of 28-year-old Hunter Pence, who was extremely impressive after being obtained from the Houston Astros during the latter half of the 2011 season.
The Yankees expect their most production at the plate to come from Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira and veterans Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. They also expect to receive a boost from newly acquired Raul Ibanez, who averaged a .264 BA, 23 HRs and 87 RBI in his three seasons with the Phils.
On the Philadelphia side, the most productive hitters should be Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard (when he returns) and Hunter Pence. They also expect veteran Placido Polanco to continue his usual production after battling injuries through the majority of the 2011 season.
While I expect both teams to be solid in their lineups, the Yankees have only improved from their already impressive 2011 outing at the plate, and I expect their continuity to carry them past the Phillies in the hitting department.
Both the Phillies and Yankees made some changes to their rotations during the offseason.
The Phillies' biggest change was losing Roy Oswalt to free agency and partial retirement. The Yankees' shakeups were losing A.J. Burnett and obtaining starters Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda.
In 2011, the Phillies boasted the best rotation in the MLB, perhaps even of all time.
The Yankees rotation showed flashes of greatness, but also times of despair.
Coming into the 2012 season, the Phillies expect their rotation to once again be the best in the MLB. Their top five pitchers are projected to be Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley and Joe Blanton.
The Yankees rotation consists of six pitchers battling for five spots. Their depth chart lists the pitchers in this order: CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia. While the top four pitchers are expected to remain the same, most feel that Garcia may claim the fifth spot by the season opener.
The Yankees rotation is greatly improved from last year and should be one of the best in the MLB this year. The Phillies rotation, however, should be THE best in baseball again in 2012.
When Cliff Lee is your No. 2 pitcher, you're in great shape. When Cole Hamels is your No. 3 pitcher, you're in amazing shape.
Both the Yankees and the Phillies have undergone changes to their bullpens since the end of the 2011 season.
The Yankees lost Luis Ayala to Baltimore and Hector Noesi to Seattle. The Phillies lost J.C. Romero, Danys Baez, Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge.
Despite losing players, both teams also picked up relievers. While the Yankees didn't make too much noise picking up George Kantos, the Phillies blew out the speakers by obtaining Jonathan Papelbon from the Yankees' rival Boston Red Sox.
The Phillies also signed lefty Dantrelle Willis and righty Chad Qualls.
The difference is that the Yankees may not have needed to make as many waves in the bullpen as the Phillies this offseason.
They returned a number of big arms, leading to a bullpen that should look something like this: Mariano Rivera, Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, Boone Logan, Cory Wade, Dellin Betances, George Kantos, Joba Chamberlain (when fully recovers from Tommy John surgery) and perhaps Phil Hughes or Freddy Garcia.
The Phillies bullpen is a little more tricky to figure out, but it should look something like this: Jonathan Papelbon, Jose Contreras, Antonio Bastardo, Michael Stutes, David Herndon, Kyle Kendrick, Justin De Fratus, Michael Schwimer and Joe Savery.
The fact of the matter here is that the Yankees have a more proven bullpen than the Phillies do. While the Phillies are essentially starting from scratch, the Yankees are returning relievers who have already seen great success in New York.
Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer of all time, David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain have shown repeated signs of greatness, and Cory Wade displayed his great accuracy last year.
Expect the Yankees bullpen to only improve from last year.
This is the category in which there is the greatest disparity between the two teams.
Which Team Is Better Poised For Another World Series?
While the Yankees play in one of the strongest divisions in the MLB, the Phillies play in one of the weaker ones.
In 2011, the Phillies had a 102-60 record, finishing 13 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves, 23.5 games ahead of the Washington Nationals, 25 games in front of the Mets and 30 ahead of the Marlins.
The Yankees went 97-65, finishing six games ahead of the Rays, seven games ahead of the Red Sox, 16 games ahead of the Blue Jays and 28 games ahead of the Orioles.
Although the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals expect to be much improved teams from last year, the Phillies will most likely come out victorious.
The Yankees are also many people's favorites in their division coming into the 2012 season, but it certainly won't be a walk in the park to trump the Rays and Red Sox, who are also expected to be improved from last year.
The gap between the teams in each division clearly shows which team will face more local league-wide competition.
Both teams possess advantages in different aspects of the game. They are both expected to continue their regular season success from 2011 during the 2012 season.
With massive fanbases, the Yankees and Phillies are both expected to take home another World Series in the near future.
The only question is who is going to get there first?
So, I'll pose the question to you: Which superteam is better poised for another World Series title in 2012, the Phillies or the Yankees?
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