Statistical Breakdown of the Yankees-Orioles ALDS
The New York Yankees won the American League East with 95 victories, but it was not easy. The upstart Baltimore Orioles surprised everyone by making the postseason for the first time since 1997. The team was led by none other than Buck Showalter, who in 1995 led the Bronx Bombers to their first postseason since 1981 and set the stage for the current Yankee dynasty.
The Yankees barely held on to win the division title, forcing the Orioles to play a one-game wild-card playoff in Arlington, TX. Led by a solid effort by journeyman left-hander Joe Saunders and their outstanding bullpen, Baltimore knocked off the two-time AL Champion Rangers, who had just come off blowing a huge lead in their own division to Oakland, 5-1.
Now the Orioles get one more shot at the Yankees.
In the regular season, the teams split 9-9. The Yankees were 6-3 at Camden Yards, while the O's were 6-3 in the Bronx, NY. The Yankees swept the first series in April at Baltimore by taking two extra-inning ballgames. In April/May, the Orioles went into Yankee Stadium and took two of three. They would split a two-game set in the middle of May in Oriole Park.
In July/August, the Orioles pounded a banged-up Yankee rotation and just missed out on sweeping at the New House. They took yet another series in the Bronx in the first week of September.
Then in the middle of the last month, the Yankees took a one-game lead into Baltimore for a huge four-game series. After falling behind in the first game, the Yanks came back to tie in the eighth, but the bullpen blew it in the bottom of the inning.
In the Saturday game, the O's roughed up CC Sabathia, and the game ended on a controversial call at first base by Jerry Meals. The Yanks took the other two games with ease and barely escaped Charm City with a series and season split.
Now, none of that matters. This is the playoffs, and things are very much different. Anything can happen.
Let's take a look at the numbers by each team.
SS Derek Jeter: .316/.362/.429/.791, 114 OPS+, 15 HR, 58 RBI, 99 R, 216 H, .346 wOBA, 3.2 WAR
LF Ichiro Suzuki: (With NYY) .322/.340/.454/.794, 114 OPS+, 14 SBs, .345 wOBA
3B Alex Rodriguez: .272/.353/.430/.783, 112 OPS+, 18 HR, 57 RBI, 13 SBs, .346 wOBA, 2.2 WAR
2B Robinson Cano: .313/.379/.550/.929, 149 OPS+, 33 HR, 94 RBI, 48 doubles .392 wOBA, 7.9 WAR
1B Mark Teixeira: .251/.332/.475/.807, 116 OPS+, 24 HR, 84 RBI, .344 wOBA, 2.9 WAR
RF Nick Swisher: .272/.364/.473/.837, 126 OPS+, 24 HR, 93 RBI, 36 doubles, .360 wOBA, 4.0 WAR
CF Curtis Granderson: .232/.319/.492/.811, 116 OPS+, 43 HR, 106 RBI, .346 wOBA, 2.6 WAR
C Russell Martin: .211/.311/.403/.713, 92 OPS+, 21 HR, 53 RBI, .316 wOBA, 2.2 WAR
DH Eric Chavez: .281/.348/.496/.845, 126 OPS+, 16 HR, 37 RBI, .358 wOBA, 1.8 WAR
OF Raul Ibanez: .240/.308/.453/.761, 104 OPS+, 19 HRs, 62 RBIs, .325 wOBA, 1.1 WAR
OF Brett Gardner: Played in just 16 games, 37 plate appearances
INF Eduardo Nunez: .292/.330/.393/.723, 96 OPS+, 11 SBs in 38 games, 100 plate appearances
INF Jayson Nix: .243/.306/.384/.690, 4 HRs,
C Chris Stewart: .241/.292/.319/.611, 67 OPS+
Overall Totals and Rankings
804 runs (2nd in AL and MLB)
.265 average (4th in AL and 8th in MLB)
.337 OBP (1st in AL and 2nd in MLB)
.453 SLG% (Best in MLB)
.790 OPS (Best in MLB)
2503 total bases (Best in MLB)
112 OPS+ (2nd in AL and MLB)
245 HRs (Best in MLB)
Jeter has had an astounding season, leading the majors in hits at age 38 and finishing in the top five in the AL in average. Ichiro has been huge since coming over from the Mariners in July, especially in September.
A-Rod has been hurt AGAIN, and his numbers continue to decline, especially against RHP. They need him to get hot badly if they are to score runs.
Cano has been up and down, but mostly up, and at most times you cannot get him out. Despite struggling with runners in scoring position, he still ended up with outstanding numbers.
Teixeira has struggled this season and has played in just four games in the past month, dealing with a calf injury. They need him too. Swisher has carried much of the load in the second half, finishing with 93 RBIs and often filling in for Teixeira at 1B.
Granderson has regressed this season average wise and struck out almost 200 times but remains a legitimate power threat at the bottom of the Yankee order, setting a new career high in HRs. Martin struggled at the plate all season but heated up in September (.886 OPS) and had so many big hits.
Chavez has been outstanding this season and was huge filling in for A-Rod when he was on the DL with a broken wrist. He is likely to be the DH against RHP and a late replacement at 3B for Alex.
The Yankees have probably their best bench in years. Beyond Chavez, Ibanez has been solid and delivered so many clutch hits, especially in the last month. Gardner has been out for pretty much all year thanks to an elbow injury but will likely be used as a late-inning replacement and pinch runner.
Nunez was also hurt for much of the year but could see some time at DH against LHP, as he has hit them well. Nix has served as a good backup infielder behind Jeter and Cano and could be used as a PH for LHP. Stewart will be unlikely to play as long as Martin's healthy.
Overall, the Yankees have arguably the best offense in baseball and will be very hard to beat if they can keep hitting the long ball. Still, they can play the small ball with guys like Jeter, Ichiro, Gardner and Nunez.
LF Nate McLouth*: .268/.342/.435/.777, 111 OPS+, 7 HR, 18 RBI, 12 SBs, .348 wOBA, 1.3 WAR
SS J.J. Hardy: .238/.282/.305/.588, 61 OPS+, 22 HR, 68 RBI, 85 runs, .289 wOBA, 2.8 WAR
RF Chris Davis: .270/.326/.501/.827, 121 OPS+, 33 HR, 85 RBI, .348 wOBA, 2.1 WAR
CF Adam Jones: .287/.334/.505/.839, 125 OPS+, 32 HR, 82 RBI, 103 R, 16 SBs, .360 wOBA, 4.6 WAR
C Matt Wieters: .249/.329/.435/.765, 107 OPS+, 23 HR, 83 RBI, .331 wOBA, 4.1 WAR
DH Jim Thome*: .257/.348/.396/.744, 103 OPS+ in just 28 games, 115 plate appearances
1B Mark Reynolds: .221/.335/.429/.763, 107 OPS+, 23 HR, 69 RBI, .331 wOBA, 0.5 WAR
2B Ryan Flaherty: .216/.258/.359/.617, 66 OPS+, .270 wOBA, -0.4 WAR
3B Manny Machado: .262/.294/.445/.739, 98 OPS+, 1.3 WAR
Overall Totals and Rankings
712 runs (9th in AL and 15th in MLB)
.247 average (10th in AL and 20th in MLB)
.311 OBP (11th in AL and 23rd in MLB)
.417 SLG% (6th in AL and 11th in MLB)
.728 OPS (7th in AL and in 12th MLB)
2319 total bases (6th in AL and 10th in MLB)
97 OPS+ (8th in AL and 13th in MLB)
214 HRs (2nd in AL and MLB)
The loss of Nick Markakis (126 OPS+) is very big and unfortunate for the Orioles. This forced them to put 1B/DH Chris Davis into RF.
They lost Nolan Reimold (Career 111 OPS+) very early in 2012, so Buck Showalter put Nate McLouth out in LF, and he has produced, especially in the clutch. Showalter also recently started Ryan Flaherty over Robert Andino at 2B.
The middle of the order is solid. Adam Jones is the star, and he has owned CC Sabathia in his career. They need to get him out. Chris Davis, who came over from the Rangers in the trade for Koji Uehara last season, has had a very solid year, and getting him out will also be important for the Bombers.
The rest of the offense is average. Wieters has plenty of power from both sides of the plate and is a solid hitting catcher. Reynolds is a strikeout machine but has been a thorn in the Yankees' side this season. Hardy has hit HRs but otherwise has been absolutely abysmal at the plate, as has Flaherty. The bench doesn't have much depth at all.
Thome hasn't played much for the Orioles thanks to a herniated disk in his neck. The young infielder Machado has been solid since being called up and has plenty of talent at just 20 years old.
Overall, this offense can be dangerous because it hits home runs, a lot of them. Other than that, you just need to keep them in the park to limit their effectiveness, no easy task in the two stadiums they'll be playing in for this series
CL: Rafael Soriano: 42/46 save chances 2.26 ERA, 185 ERA+, 1.17 WHIP, 9.2 K/9, 3.32 FIP, 3.75 xFIP
SU: David Robertson: 2.67 ERA, 157 ERA+, 1.17 WHIP, 12 K/9, 4.26 K/BB, 2.48 FIP, 2.67 xFIP
RHP Joba Chamberlain: 4.35 ERA, 97 ERA+, 1.55 WHIP, 9.6 K/9, 3.67 K/BB 4.01 FIP, 3.55 xFIP
LHP Clay Rapada: vs. LHB- .186/.263/.255/.518 against, 3.00 K/BB
LHP Boone Logan: vs. LHB- .231/.293/.372/.665 against, 4.20 K/BB
RHP: David Phelps: 99.2 IP, 3.34 ERA, 125 ERA+, 1.19 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, 2.53 K/BB
Overall: 3.43 ERA, 14th in MLB, 7th in AL
The Yankees' bullpen took a massive hit when Mariano Rivera, the greatest of all time, went down with a tragic ACL injury while shagging flyballs in Kansas City. David Robertson was the original replacement, but he went down with an injury.
Instead, Rafael Soriano stepped in. He was originally signed by the Yankees to be their set-up man last year and struggled after saving 45 games in Tampa Bay a year prior. In a familiar spot, however, Soriano thrived, saving 42 of 46 opportunities and re-solidfying the back end. Robertson came back and continued to pitch well
In the front end you have David Phelps, who did well as both a starter and and long-man reliever and should be the first guy out of the pen in case Phil Hughes runs into trouble. Clay Rapada and Boone Logan have been often overused against righties, but they absolutely shut right-handers down.
Former phenom Joba Chamberlain, freshly returned from Tommy John and an ankle injury, struggled when he came back in August but hasn't given up an earned run since September 6 and has gotten some big outs, so he could be a big factor in the sixth or seventh inning.
All in all, even without Mo, the Yankees still have a solid and reliable bullpen that should be able to hold on to a lead if given one.
Closer: Jim Johnson: 51/54 save chances, 2.49 ERA, 170 ERA+, 1.02 WHIP, 3.25 FIP, 3.63 xFIP
RHP Luis Ayala: 2.64 ERA, 160 ERA+, 1.27 WHIP, 3.64 K/BB 3.67 FIP, 3.98 xFIP
RHP Darren O'Day: 2.28 ERA, 185 ERA+, 0.94 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 4.93 K/BB, 2.96 FIP, 3.40 xFIP
RHP Pedro Strop: 2.44 ERA, 173 ERA+, 1.34 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 1.57 K/BB, 3.59 FIP, 4.00 xFIP
LHP Troy Patton: 2.43 ERA, 175 ERA+, 1.02 WHIP, vs. LHB: .212/.262/.292/.554, 5.17 K/BB
LHP Brian Matusz: As reliever: 1.35 ERA, 1.89, 1.91
Overall: 3.00 ERA, 5th in MLB, 3rd in AL
The bullpen is the heart and soul of the Baltimore Orioles. They are the very reason why they are in the playoffs and are playing the Yankees in the ALDS.
The O's are a stunning 29-9 in one-run ballgames, a feat that has not been matched since the dead ball era. They have won 16 straight games that have gone onto extra innings.
When the offense gets just enough to hold a lead, Baltimore almost always shuts it down. The O's are 74-0 when leading after seven innings this season. One has to wonder when this historical run of luck, clutch, or whatever you wanna call it, has to end.
Otherwise, this all gives an advantage to the Orioles over the Yankees if they end up playing close games. If they're down late, the Yankees could be in trouble.
Courtesy of fangraphs.com and ESPN.com
C Russell Martin: 24.1% of runners thrown out, 0.2 dWAR
1B Mark Teixeira: 10.5 UZR, 12.7 UZR/150, 1.0 dWAR
2B Robinson Cano: 9.7 UZR, 9.2 UZR/150, 1.9 dWAR
3B Alex Rodriguez: -3.9 UZR, -8.8 UZR/150, -0.4 dWAR
SS Derek Jeter: -15.2 UZR, -16.4 UZR/150, -1.4 dWAR
LF Ichiro Suzuki: 1.8 UZR, 9.1 UZR/150, -1.1 dWAR
CF Curtis Granderson: -17.8 UZR, -18.2 UZR/150, -0.7 dWAR
RF Nick Swisher: 2.7 UZR, 3.4 UZR/150, -0.3 dWAR
The Yankees are a very below-average team defensively, ranking 22nd in MLB in UZR/150. Still, they do not make mistakes when they are able to get to balls hit to them, ranking third in MLB in fielding percentage.
The Yankees pitching staff also ranked second in the AL and sixth in MLB in strikeouts, which limits the amount of times the ball is put into play.
Courtesy of fangraphs.com and ESPN.com
C Matt Wieters 38.6%% of runners thrown out, 1.3 dWAR
1B Mark Reynolds: -3.2 UZR, -5.9 UZR/150, -1.7 dWAR
2B Ryan Flaherty: 2.3 UZR, 24.8 UZR/150, 0.0 dWAR
3B Manny Machado: 4.5 UZR, 13.2 UZR/150, 0.9 dWAR
SS J.J. Hardy: 11.4 UZR, 10.1 UZR/150, 2.8 dWAR
LF Nate McLouth: -1.5 UZR, -5.2 UZR/150, -0.3 dWAR
CF Adam Jones: -6.7 UZR, -5.6 UZR/150, -1.3 dWAR
RF Chris Davis: -2.3 UZR, -12.1 UZR/150, -1.5 dWAR
Baltimore was in the middle of the pack in errors and fielding percentage. Like the Yankees, they were very below average range wise, except for some notable exceptions, Hardy, Flaherty, Machado, and Wieters.
To their advantage, their pitching staff ranked third in the AL in strikeouts, so that could take some pressure off the defense.
Breaking Down the Matchups: Starting Pitchers
Game 1 (Camden Yards): CC Sabathia vs. Jason Hammel
Game 2 (Camden Yards): Andy Pettitte vs. Wei-Yin Chen
Game 3 (Yankee Stadium): Hiroki Kuroda vs. Miguel Gonzalez
Game 4* (Yankee Stadium): Phil Hughes vs. Joe Saunders/Chris Tillman
Game 5* (Yankee Stadium): CC Sabathia vs. Jason Hammel
* if necessary
Sabathia: 200 IP, 3.38 ERA, 124 ERA+, 197 K, 1.14 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, 4.48 K/BB, 3.33 FIP, 3.20 xFIP
Pettitte: 75.1 IP, 2.87 ERA, 146 ERA+, 69 K, 1.14 WHIP, 8.3 K/9, 3.29 K/BB, 3.48 FIP, 3.27 xFIP
Kuroda: 219.2 IP, 3.32 ERA, 126 ERA+, 167 K, 1.17 WHIP, 6.8 K/9, 3.27 K/BB, 3.86 FIP, 3.67 xFIP
Hughes: 191.1 IP, 4.23 ERA, 99 ERA+, 165 K, 1.27 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 3.58 K/BB, 4.56 FIP, 4.35 xFIP
Sabathia dealt with elbow problems for much of the year but still had a solid season. He led the league in K/BB ratio and finished off the season with eight innings in each of his last three starts, to a 1.50 ERA. In his career he has dominated at Camden Yards and against the Orioles.
Pettitte came out of retirement and was pitching outstandingly until a comebacker off his ankle kept him out from July until September. He came back and had a 1.62 ERA in his last three starts. He should be pitching without a pitch count restriction.
Girardi decided to switch Pettitte and Kuroda in the order, so Kuroda gets the start at Yankee Stadium, where he has a 2.72 ERA. The veteran right-hander has been huge coming over from the National League, and has carried the rotation after the injuries to Sabathia and Pettitte.
Still, he has set a career high in starts and innings pitched, so Girardi may have decided to make the switch to Kuroda gets an extra two days off, as he last pitched in the season finale against Boston, the AL East clincher.
Phil Hughes has been inconsistent all season, as shown by his 16-13 record. He has turned in a lot of good starts and a lot of god-awful ones. The key for him is keeping the ball in the park, but he gave up 35 HRs this year.
He led the league in fly ball rate and was second in the majors in HR/9. That could be a problem at Yankee Stadium against the Orioles lineup. Ironically, he has pitched about a full run lower at home. Still, he's about as good a No. 4 starter as there is in the playoffs.
Hammel: 118 IP, 3.43 ERA, 123 ERA+, 113 K, 1.24 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 2.69 K/BB, 3.29 FIP, 3.46 xFIP
Chen: 192.2 IP, 4.02 ERA, 105 ERA+, 154 K, 1.26 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 2.70 K/BB, 4.42 FIP, 4.34 xFIP
Gonzalez: 105.1 IP, 3.25 ERA, 130 ERA+, 77 K, 1.21 WHIP, 6.6 K/9, 2.20 K/BB, 4.38 FIP, 4.63 xFIP
Saunders*: 44.2 IP, 3.63 ERA, 117 ERA+, 23 K, 1.28 WHIP, 4.6 K/9, 2.88 K/BB, 3.77 FIP, 4.44 xFIP
Tillman: 86 IP, 2.93 ERA, 144 ERA+, 66 K, 1.05 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, 2.75 K/BB, 4.25 FIP, 4.34 xFIP
Hammel was easily the best starter for the Orioles this season. He came over in a trade with the Rockies for Jeremy Guthrie. His strikeout rate has jumped by a lot.
However, he has dealt with a right knee injury and has pitched just 11.2 innings since the All-Star Break and hasn't pitched since September 11. This could be a serious factor, but Hammel has pitched well in three starts vs. the Yankees
Chen had a solid first season in the United States after pitching eight seasons in Japan. However, the Taiwanese left-hander gives a ton of flyballs and home runs, finishing sixth in the AL in FB% and ninth in the league in HR/9. This could be a huge red flag at Camden Yards against the best home run hitting team in baseball.
Miguel Gonzalez came over as a minor league free agent and has pitched well in 18 appearances and 15 starts. However, his peripherals suggest he's been more lucky than good. Like Chen, he gives up a ton of flyballs. He would be seventh in the AL in flyball percentage if he qualified.
It hasn't been announced who will be the Orioles' Game 4 starter, but my guess is it will be easier Chris Tillman, who has pitched really well in a short sample size this season, or Joe Saunders, who lifted the Orioles into the ALDS by pitched 5.2 inning of 1-run ball against the Rangers.
The Yankees look like the better team. They have the better, more consistent offense. They have the rotation edge now that they have Sabathia and Pettitte back and healthy. The Orioles' bullpen is the key to their success, but the Yankees have a solid bullpen too, even without Mariano Rivera.
However, this is why the games are played on the field. The Orioles have defied the odds all season long thanks to their shutdown bullpen, clutch offense and, of course, their manager. They already know how to win close games and ending the season on a good note, as well as winning a do-or-die game in Texas, should give them plenty of good emotions.
The Yankees and Orioles have been locked in tough battles all season long, so expect more of the same in this best of five. I still believe, however, the Orioles' magic is going to run out any time soon. The Yankees are the better team on paper, and they will prove it in this series.
Game 1: CC Sabathia will shut down the Orioles offense, and the Yankees offense will get enough runs off Hammel and take the opener
Game 2: Wei-Yin Chen will surprise and out-duel Andy Pettitte, as the Orioles will take Game 2 to tie the series going to New York.
Game 3: This will be a high scoring fest, but Hiroki Kuroda will provide just enough to keep the Yankees in the game, and the Bombers will take Game 3 in a close affair.
Game 4: All-out slugfest, but the Yankees offense will be just too good to contain, and they will take the fourth game and finish off the series to move on to the ALCS.