The World Series mercifully begins tonight and what better way to prepare than to inundate sports fans with predictions? What kind of sports writer would I be if I didn’t throw my hat into the prediction ring?
First Base: Mark Teixeira vs. Ryan Howard
It most cases it would be nearly impossible to pick against a switch-hitting first baseman who tied for the American League lead in home runs. However, when his competition is a guy who hit 47 home runs, has dominated throughout the playoffs, and doesn’t look like Whitney Port from The City, I have to pick against Teixeira.
Plus Teixeira has been an awful hitter this postseason.
Second Base: Robinson Cano vs. Chase Utley
This matchup is much closer than most people would guess. Phillies fans will likely overrate Utley and underrate Cano, while Yankees fans will overrate Cano and underrate Utley. And, just for good measure, everyone else will underrate both.
What we have this World Series, however, are the two best second basemen in baseball going head-to-head.
Their stats are very similar, and the fact that Cano hits seventh in the Yankees lineup proves how unbelievably deep their team is. Utley, though, has a better career track record and is the superior fielder to Cano.
Apparently taking Myoplex really does give Utley that extra boost as he edges out Cano.
Shortstop: Derek Jeter vs. Jimmy Rollins
I hate defensive statistics. Let me just say that right now. I don’t believe in them. I consider myself a baseball stats nerd to a certain degree, but I draw the line at range factor and all that garbage. You know how you can tell how good someone is at defense?
By watching him play.
Derek Jeter is the smartest shortstop in baseball. Period. Nobody knows how to play shortstop better than Derek Jeter. So, please, sabrematricians pass on Jeter for your team because of defensive stats. I will gladly take him on mine. And you know what? My team will win.
Third Base: Alex Rodriguez vs. Pedro Feliz
Catcher: Jorge Posada vs. Carlos Ruiz
Yes, Phillies fans, I’m sure Carlos Ruiz calls an immaculate game. I bet he calls the best damn game this side of Crash Davis. But he’s a career .246 hitter with little power. Ruiz does have a higher-than-expected career OBP, but he’s no Jorge Posada. He just isn’t. Sorry.
Left Field: Johnny Damon vs. Raul Ibanez
Remember how Raul Ibanez was leading the league in home runs for a while? Remember how he had 22 before the all star break? Remember that? Turns out he, um, fell off the map a little bit since then.
Ibanez ended with a solid season though, one pretty much right on par with his career average, so you can’t really complain.
Johnny Damon, on the flip side, had arguably his best year as a Yankee, and it was still about equal to Ibanez.
They’re both left handed so Yankee stadium will help them equally, and they’re both aging outfielders. Seems like a wash.
Center Field: Melky Cabrera vs. Shane Victorino
I can’t decide if Shane Victorino is overrated or underrated. I’m not sure how to feel about that, but I do know that Melky Cabrera is properly rated. And he is rated as average at best.
Right Field: Nick Swisher vs. Jayson Werth
Few things in life have made me happier than watching Nick Swisher flail around this offseason like me at the site of a bee. He has just been awful.
On the flip side, I kind of think Jayson Werth looks like a serial killer. He has actually been able to get some hits this postseason, though, so I’d say he’s the better option.
DH/Bench: Matsui, Gardner, Hinske, Hairston, Molina vs. Stairs, Francisco, Dobbs, Bruntlett, Bako
They Yankees’ bench is sneakily bad.
Remember the good old days when they had guys like Chad Curtis, Tim “Rock” Raines, and Daryl Strawberry available on the bench?
Now they have Brett Gardner and one of the Molinas.
Plus, when you have Joe Girardi making the managerial decisions, who knows how those guys will be utilized.
Girardi realizes putting in a pinch runner means that player stays in the game, right? This isn’t Little League. There are no courtesy runners. If you pinch run for Alex Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez is out of the game. Someone might want to note that in Girardi’s binder…
Starting Pitching: Sabathia, Burnett, Pettite vs. Lee, Martinez, Hamels, Blanton
I went through this entire spiel, and broke everything down position by position, only to decide starting pitching will decide this World Series.
Both the Yankees and Phillies have great offenses (which will be made abundantly clear by Fox when they continuously mention that the Phillies have “an American League offense”). Neither team should be worried about getting hits, because if someone slumps, both teams have three or four guys to pick up the slack.
As for pitching…
A.J. Burnett and Cole Hamels have the talent to dominate any lineup, but I don’t foresee them being consistent throughout a full series. Pettite, Martinez, and Blanton can also be gotten to, especially by great offenses.
There really is one man who will decide this World Series: C.C. Sabathia.
In a three-man rotation, Sabathia would throw three games. If he can pitch like he has all postseason, the Yankees will win the World Series. So can Sabathia dominate all three games?
I say yes.
I know the Phillies beat up Sabathia last year, but he just seems unstoppable right now. And with the ridiculous amount of time off between games, he has gotten plenty of rest. Plus, if Girardi tries some stupid bullpen move with Sabathia on the mound, C.C. will literally eat him.
Bullpen: Rivera, et al vs. Lidge, et al
The Yankees' setup guys have struggled this postseason.
The Phillies' setup guys struggled down the stretch this regular season.
The Yankees have Mariano Rivera.
The Yankees and Phillies are surprisingly equal on paper. My first inclination was to pick the Yankees because they have been a juggernaut all season. The Phillies, however, are just as capable of winning as the Yankees are.
Ultimately, however, I think Sabathia will prove to be the deciding factor. I say his pitching proves to be the difference in a World Series that will be mostly driven by offense.
Yankees win in seven.