ALCS 2010: Texas Rangers Vs New York Yankees Positional Matchups

Scott GyurinaCorrespondent IOctober 14, 2010

ALCS 2010: Texas Rangers Vs New York Yankees Positional Matchups

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    The Texas Rangers celebrate as they clinch victory in the ALDS, setting up a clash with the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series.Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    After storming out to a 2-0 lead in their ALDS clash with the Tampa Bay Rays, it quickly appeared as if the Texas Rangers had taken firm control of the series and were inevitably headed to their first American League Championship Series appearance in franchise history.

    Tampa however, had their sights set on returning to the World Series, to erase the bitter disappointment of losing the 2008 Fall Classic to the Philadelphia Phillies. The Rays stormed back in Games 3 and 4 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, evening the series at two games apiece, and setting up the decisive Game 5 match-up between the teams' aces, Cliff Lee and David Price.

    The rematch of ALDS Game 1 starters pitted two of the game' s premier left-handed pitchers against one another in what promised to be quite the pitchers' duel. Game 5 didn't disappoint, as the two lefties battled for six innings, with Price being eventually touched for three runs by some timely Rangers' hitting and aggressive base-running. Lee hurled yet another complete game, limiting the potent Rays' offense to only one run on six hits and no walks, while striking out 11. Texas would add two more in the ninth to seal their 5-1 victory which would send them to their first ever ALCS.

    With the Division Series now concluded, the Rangers can now look ahead and begin planning for their ALCS match-up against another AL East powerhouse, this time, the New York Yankees. During the regular season, the Yankees claimed the Wild Card by finishing 95-67, one game behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the Eastern Division race. New York's path to the ALCS began with a definitive three-game sweep of the AL Central champion Minnesota Twins, in which outscored the Twins 17-7. Displaying offensive strength, dominant pitching, and stingy defense, the Yankees easily dispatched the Twins, and their deeply experienced roster makes them a formidable foe for the Rangers in the ALCS.

    Let's take a look at how the two teams stack up against one another, in a position by position analysis of the primary figures at each spot around the diamond.

First Base

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Texas Rangers

    First-base has represented somewhat of a revolving door for the Rangers in 2010. Initially, Chris Davis manned the position, but after his severe struggles to begin the season, he found himself in the minors and Justin Smoak took over. Smoak was then traded to Seattle as a component in the Cliff Lee Trade, opening the door for Davis once again, who struggled just as he had earlier.

    Near the end of July, 25-year-old prospect Mitch Moreland was promoted, and the Rangers acquired veteran Jorge Cantu from the Marlins to provide some experience and depth at first. Over the last few months of the season, Moreland and Cantu have split time, with Moreland making a late-season run to attempt to claim first base as his own.

    With his late season success, Moreland figures to see much of the time at first, but in his limited MLB action, he struggled with LH pitching, making Cantu an attractive platoon partner in those situations. The Rangers were looking to use a strict platoon at first, but in his only start in the ALDS against a lefty, Cantu went 0-4 with three strikeouts, making Texas rethink their strategy. Despite his struggles in his only playoff game, he will likely see some action, as the Rangers could face Sabathia and Pettitte multiple times in the ALCS, depending upon the length of the series.

     

      Bats 2010 Stats PA BA/OBP/SLG  OPS HR
    RBI
    OPS+
     SB
    Cantu RH Reg Season 472 .256/.304/.392 .695
    11
    56
     83 0
        ALDS    4
    .000/.000/.000
    .000
     0 0
     -
    0
    Moreland LH Reg Season 173 .255/.364/.469
    .833
     9 25
    121
    3
        ALDS   15
    .200/.200/.400 .600
     0 1
     -
    0

     

     

     

     

     

     

    New York Yankees

    Although he put together an extremely uneven performance in 2010, Mark Texeira remains one of the premier first-basemen in all of baseball. He struggled mightily at times, yet when he caught fire, he provided a potent switch-hitting bat in the #3 hole for the the Yankees. Despite his struggles at times, he was still able to reach the 30 home run and 100 RBI plateaus for the seventh consecutive year, accomplishing the feat in every year of his career aside from his rookie season. Defensive metrics may sometimes say otherwise, but those who watch Teixeira on a regular basis rave about his tight defense, and strong, accurate throwing arm. Throughout the Yankees' first round sweep, Teixeira worked tough at bats, and his late home run was the difference in the Yankees' Game 1 victory. 



    Bats
    2010 Stats
    PA BA/OBP/SLG OPS
    HR
    RBI
    OPS+
    SB
    Teixeira
    Both
    Reg Season
    712
    .256/.365./481
      .846
    33
    108
    125



    ALDS
     14
    .308/.357/.615
      .973
     1
       3
     -

    Berkman
    Both
    Reg Season
    481
    .248/.368/.413
      .781
    14
      58
    114



    ALDS
      4
    .500/.500/1.500
    2.000
     1
       2
     -

     

     

     

     

     

    Edge: Yankees

    Teixeira's lethal combination of patience, power and defense make him one of the top first-basemen in the game. Although he struggled through stretches of the year, he never gives at-bats away, and even when not hitting, finds a way to get on base. When hot, his powerful bat has the potential to carry an offense, and combined with A-rod and Cano, the Yankee 3-4-5 hitters present a significant challenge for any pitcher to work their way through. The welcoming dimensions at New Yankee Stadium appear tailor-made for Teixeira, as he has hit .300 with a .992 OPS, slugging 43 HR and driving in 135 in 160 career games at his new home. Heading to Texas won't disrupt Teixeira's hitting though, as a former Ranger he is rather comfortable in Arlington. Over his career, he has hit .302 with a .952 OPS at Rangers' Ballpark.

Second Base

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    Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    Texas Rangers

    Although he struggled through an injury plagued 2010 season, Ian Kinsler stepped his game up when the Rangers needed him the most. His was one of the most dynamic bats in the Texas lineup and one of the primary reasons they now find themselves in the ALCS. Kinsler played solid defense all year when healthy, and adds a stolen base threat in the middle of the Rangers order. His three home runs tied teammate Nelson Cruz for most of any player in the Division Series round, and his six RBI led all hitters through the first round. Kinsler will enjoy facing the Yankees, as he will likely see left-handed pitchers several times through the series. In 2010, Ian hit .376 with a .957 OPS versus southpaws. Against the Yankees, in three games he hit .400 with a 1.071 OPS. 

     


      Bats 2010 Stats PA AVG/OBP/SLG OPS HR RBI OPS+ SB
    Kinsler RH Reg Season  460 .286/.382/.412    .794  9 45
    113  15
        ALDS    20 .444/.500/.944  1.444  3  6
     -   0

     

     

     

     

    New York Yankees

    Robinson Cano produced one of the finer seasons of any Major League player during the 2010 season. Long considered one of the top offensive young players in baseball, Cano took a drastic step forward in 2010, improving in all facets of his game, making himself a well-rounded player and a legitimate MVP candidate in the American League. As well as offensively, he improved his second-base defense, utilizing improved range and his incredibly strong arm to leave behind a reputation as a defender who would occasionally lose concentration and give up on plays.  Cano continued his dynamic 2010 season right into the playoffs, providing a potent bat to protect Alex Rodriguez in the Yankees' #5 spot. Cano shouldn't be phased by the Rangers' left-handed starters, as he led all Major League hitters with 13 home runs against lefties in 2010.

     

     

      Bats 2010 Stats PA AVG/OBP/SLG OPS HR RBI OPS+ SB
    Cano   Reg Season 696 .319/.381/.534 .914 29 109 142 3
        ALDS   12 .333/.333/.500 .833  0    1  - 0

     

     

     

     

    Edge: New York Yankees

    Considering Kinsler's powerful display during the ALDS, this match-up grew considerably closer. If he can keep that up, second-base should be an exciting position to keep an eye on throughout this series. Due to Kinsler's injury ravaged 2010 regular season, and the likelihood of Cano finding himself very near the top of MVP consideration, with an all-around blistering campaign, the Yankees get the edge for now. However, with his smashing playoff debut fresh in mind, Ian Kinsler may very well be one of the prime players to keep an eye on as the ALCS begins on Friday.

Short-Stop

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Texas Rangers

    Elvis Andrus struggled mightily down the stretch for the Rangers. After being named to the AL All-Star team, along with his Yankee counterpart Derek Jeter, Andrus struggled with the bat as he only hit .247 with a .592 OPS in the second half. Andrus' value doesn't lie in his offensive prowess though, the Rangers need him to reach base at a reasonable clip so he can wreak havoc on the base-paths with his blistering speed, and to play solid defense at short. The heavy offensive lifting can be done by the bigger bats following him in the order. Elvis did just what the Rangers needed him to in the ALDS, hitting .333 and stealing three bases. His dynamic energy was a prime factor in rattling the Rays, and his heads-up, gutsy base-running inspired his team to a thrilling Game 5 victory over David Price that propelled them into this ALCS match-up against the Yankees. Stealing a run, by advancing two bases on a weak infield grounder by Josh Hamilton, Andrus set the tone for the decisive game. Against a Yankee not known for its ability to throw out base-runners, Andrus could be a significant weapon in the Rangers' quest to dethrone the reigning World Series champs. 


      Bats 2010 Stats PA AVG/OBP/SLG OPS HR RBI OPS+ SB
    Andrus RH Res Season 674 .265/.342/.301 .643 0 35 75 32
        2010 ALDS  24
    .333/.333/.375 .708 0  1  - 3



     

     

     

    New York Yankees

    You may have heard of this guy before. Since 1996, Derek Jeter has patrolled short-stop for the New York Yankees, in the process winning five World Series rings, becoming the Yankees' all-time hits leader, and splashing his name everywhere else on the leader boards of the most storied franchise in baseball history. It may get tiresome hearing how wonderful he is on occasion, but the man has built a truly impressive career for himself, all under the spotlights of an unforgiving city that has crushed the will of other players along the way. Jeter struggled toward his worst statistical season in pinstripes, but he began to come alive in September, and has far too deep of a playoff resume to count him out in October baseball. There is also the factor that Jeter will be a free agent after the playoffs conclude, so he has the next several weeks to restore faith in him and erase the memory of a bad year prior to entering contract negotiations with Yankee management. Not that I believe Derek Jeter plays for anything but the love of the game, but I would also never underestimate the motivational powers of tens-of-millions of dollars.

     

     

      Bats 2010 Stats PA AVG/OBP/SLG OPS HR RBI OPS+ SB
    Jeter RH Reg Season 739 .270/.340/.370 .710 10 67 90 18
        2010 ALDS  14 .286/.286/.286 .572  0  1  -  1

     

     

     

     

     

    Edge: New York Yankees

    Taking nothing away from the dynamic, young Rangers short-stop, how can you really give a head-to-head match-up in a playoff series to a raw 22-year-old, over one of the most decorated playoff participants in MLB history, Derek Jeter? The Yankee captain, while he may be journeying toward the twilight of his baseball career, is still one that I'm not willing to completely bet against when it comes to potentially producing something special in the postseason. He might be a step slower and his hands not able to catch up to some of the hard stuff that pitchers hurl his way, but there is not a situation that could arise that Derek Jeter has not encountered before, and nothing ever overwhelms or intimidates the man. With a fistful of World Series rings and an impressive collection of All-time MLB postseason records to his name, Derek Jeter still, at his relatively advanced age, wins most match-ups at the short-stop position until he simply can't anymore.

Third-Base

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    Texas Rangers

    Michael Young and Alex Rodriguez are former double play partners from their past lives as middle infielders. Young, now the Rangers' third-baseman, played second next to A-rod before eventually shifting to short upon the sluggers' departure to the Yankees. Young then shifted to third to accommodate super-prospect, Elvis Andrus at short for the Rangers. His quiet, steady leadership are a valuable commodity in the Rangers' clubhouse as well as his presence near the top of the Rangers' lineup. Always a steady offensive contributor, he saw his on-base percentage drop 44 points in 2010, but he still hit 21 HR and drove in 91 runs, giving Ron Washington a potent bat in the #2 slot in the order. Young has put together another productive year with the bat, but his defense has been exposed at third, as he ranks near the bottom in most defensive categories. The range of Andrus helps make up for a lack of range at third, but Young is unspectacular with the glove. He had a poor career postseason debut, but his controversial home run in Game 2 was a pivotal point in the series.

     

      Bats 2010 Stats PA AVG/OBP/SLG OPS HR RBI OPS+ SB
    Young RH Reg Season 718 .284/.330/.444 .774 21 91 105 4
        ALDS  20
    .150/.150/.300 .450
     1
     3  - 
    0


     

     

    New York Yankees

    Slowed by his surgically repaired hip and various maladies throughout the year, 2010 was supposed to be a down year for the Yankee slugger. Despite those limitations, he still managed to slug 30 HR and drive in 125 runs, the 13th consecutive season in which he has reached the 30/100 plateau, a Major League Record. His average and power dropped below his normal standards, but he still remains a formidable presence in the cleanup spot, driving in runs and coming up with clutch moments when the Yankees needed him to. His underrated third-base defense is as steady as ever, as his good hands and strong arm solidifying the left side of the Yankee infield as Jeter's range decreases. A-rod had a quiet ALDS, but after his heroic turn in the postseason during 2009, his potential to take over an entire series should not be underestimated. Sandwiched between Teixeira and Cano, A-rod occupies one of the most comfortable spots to hit in all of baseball. 


      Bats 2010 Stats PA AVG/OBP/SLG
    OPS
    HR
    RBI
    OPS+
    SB
    A-rod RH Reg Season 595
    .270/.341/.506 .847
    30
    125
    123
    4
        ALDS  13
    .273/.308/.273
    .580
     0
       1
     - 1

     

     

     

     

    Edge: Yankees

    A-rod's immense potential to change games with a solitary swing of his mighty bat remains among the best in baseball, even as he leaves his prime. After remaking his entire image with a stellar 2009 postseason campaign, A-rod will be looking to solidify his standing amongst Yankee greats as he hopes to add a second consecutive World Series ring to his resume. With the powerful Teixeira in front of him, and the rising superstar Cano hitting behind him, A-rod will likely see some pitches to hit in the ALCS, and if the Rangers aren't careful, he could very well hit them deep into the night. Like Teixeira, A-rod is a former Ranger, and Rangers' Ballpark is one of his favorite places to hit as well. His .331 career average in Arlington and 1.058 OPS rank with his absolute best in any stadium in the game.

Left-Field

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Texas Rangers

    Left-field presents another platoon situation for the Rangers. Against left-handed starters, such as Sabathia in Game 1, Nelson Cruz will start in left, but against right-handed starters, now that David Murphy has been pronounced fit, he will likely start. This scenario gives the Rangers a dynamic duo manning left for them, no matter who is on the mound. Cruz, though he was injured three separate times during the year, did nothing but hit like crazy when he was able to. His mammoth power remained, but this time, he also hit .322, making him a comprehensive offensive threat. He is also quick on the base-paths and savvy, as he stole 17 bases in 21 attempts. Cruz also covers tons of ground in right, smoothly fielding his position, and has a cannon for an arm. Murphy, though he is less powerful than Cruz, is a solid hitter with more gap to gap power, but still possessing pop in his bat. Murphy is a quality base-runner as well, and a solid defender who covers plenty of ground. Either side of the platoon, the Rangers are in good hands. 


      Bats 2010 Stats PA AVG/OBP/SLG OPS HR RBI OPS+ SB
    Murphy LH Reg Season 467 .291/.358/.449  .807 12 65 115 14
        ALDS    7 .143/.143/.143  .286  0  0  -  0
    Cruz RH Reg Season 445 .318/.374/.576  .950 22 78 150 17
        ALDS  20 .400/.400/.950 1.350  3  3  -  1

     

     

     

     

     

     

    New York Yankees

    Many didn't know what to expect when the Yankees cut ties with Johnny Damon after the 2009 World Series and placed their faith in Yankee farmhand Brett Gardner. He performed well in limited playing time before getting injured late in 2009, but the powerless slap-hitter didn't quite seem to fit amongst the multi-millionaire sluggers the Yankees are so often associated with. Handed a starting assignment out of spring training, Gardner too it and ran with it, literally. Utilizing a good eye for the strike zone, one of the most patient approaches in the game, and a knack for hitting with two strikes, Gardner made himself into a unique weapon that the Yankees hadn't seen the likes of for years. His blistering speed and incredible patience make him the obvious choice to replace Derek Jeter atop the Yankee lineup if Jeter's decline ends up being real. He walked 79 times in 2010, second on the team only to Teixeira. Walking Gardner is often a critical error, as he stole 47 bases in 56 attempts, as well as scored 97 times. Austin Kearns provides a veteran right-handed presence off the bench, able to fill in if the Yankees are not getting the production they desire against certain tough left-handed pitchers. He will mostly provide a bat off the bench, but with the Yankees potentially facing Cliff Lee and C.J. Wilson twice each in the ALCS, it wouldn't be out of the question to see Kearns earn a start.


      Bats 2010 Stats PA AVG/OBP/SLG OPS HR RBI OPS+ SB
    Gardner LH Reg Season 569 .277/.383/.379 .762  5 47 106 47
        ALDS   12 .200/.250/.200 .450  0  1  -  1
    Kearns RH Reg Season 461 .263/.351/.395 .746 10 49 107  4
        ALDS DNP         N/A  N/A  -  -  -  -

     

     

     

     

     

    Edge: Rangers

    Gardner is a dangerous weapon for the Yankees, at bat, on the bases, and on defense. Brett the Jet's primary weapon, his speed can sometimes be neutralized batting in front of Derek Jeter, since Jeter has recently shown a propensity for swinging at everything, keeping Gardner from being able to steal.Great player he may be, he doesn't possess the game changing ability that Cruz does. As he demonstrated in the ALDS, Cruz can be a huge bat in the heart of the order, forcing opposition to pitch to the other dangerous bats in the middle of the lineup, making Texas all the more dangerous. His defensive range and rocket of an arm make him a unique weapon in Ron Washington's arsenal. If he continues to hit like he did in the Division Series, Nelson Cruz could become a household name during the 2010 postseason.

Center-Field

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Texas Rangers

    Josh Hamilton put together another monster offensive year that was unfortunately marred by injury once again. He is clearly a favored MVP candidate, however he only managed to play a handful of games in September, making some discount his chances to win the award. When healthy, the slugger was a destructive force, wreaking havoc on pitching across the league. Josh easily won the AL Batting Crown, and if not for his health issues, would have been a legitimate Triple Crown threat, but challenging Jose Bautista's 54 home runs may have presented a challenge. Hamilton hit everywhere and against anyone as well, as he hit .390 with a 1.188 OPS at home, and .327 with an .894 OPS on the road. Against right-handed pitchers, he hit an incredible, league-leading .401 with a 1.163 OPS. He also plays a great defensive center-field, tracking down drives in each gap, and owning a strong throwing arm. If he is healthy, he presents a dominant force in all aspects of the game. His ALDS was poor however, as he looked over-matched by most pitchers with a slow bat. He will have to reverse that if the Rangers want to overcome the Yankees to reach the World Series.


      Bats 2010 Stats PA AVG/OBP/SLG OPS HR RBI OPS+ SB
    Hamilton LH Reg Season 571 .359/.411/.633 1.044 32 100 175   8
        ALDS   20 .111/.200/.111   .311  0    1  -   1
    Borbon LH Reg Season 468 .276/.309/.340   .649  3   42   74 15
        ALDS    6
    .000/.000/.000
      .000
     0
       0
     -   0


     

     

    New York Yankees

    After being traded to the Yankees for one of New York's highest touted prospects in recent years, Curtis Granderson initially struggled to adjust to the increased expectations that accompany playing in the Bronx. He then suffered a groin injury which sidelined him for a month in the middle of the season. and many began to wonder whether bringing in the always affable Granderson was a mistake. Upon returning from injury, he still struggled, especially against his career nemesis, left-handed pitching. Wanting to turn his season around, he spent several days ironing out his swing with Yankee hitting guru, Kevin Long. After struggling through a miserable August, he came alive in September, slugging 9 home runs with 25 runs knocked in, while posting a .958 OPS after September 1. Granderson carried that right into the playoffs, as he was a clutch hitter for the Yankees, coming up big in several key situations, and making himself one of their most valuable contributors in the ALDS sweep of the Twins. He covers significant ground in center, while possessing a strong, accurate arm.  His ever-present hustle and immediately endearing personality make him a fan favorite wherever he plays.

     


      Bats 2010 Stats PA AVG/OBP/SLG OPS HR RBI OPS+ SB
    Granderson LH Reg Season 528 .247/.324/.468  .792 24 67 109 12
        ALDS  13 .455/.500/.727
    1.227
     0
     3
     -  1
    Gardner LH Reg Season 569 .277/.383/.379  .762  5 47 106 47
        ALDS  12
    .200/.250/.200
     .450
     0
     1
     - 
     1


     

    Edge: Tied

    Obviously, if this were based upon the 2010 regular alone, Hamilton would clearly be favored. However, due to Hamilton's injury struggles, the fact that he only played five games after September 1, and his ice-cold ALDS performance, the expectations for him heading into the ALCS have to be minimized to some degree. Granderson on the other hand, may very well have been the Yankees best overall player in the sweep of the Twins, while his power, speed, and defensive skills make him a comprehensive threat for the Yankees.

Right-Field

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    Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    Texas Rangers

    Just like left-field, the Rangers will utilize a platoon partnership. Against lefties, Cruz will shift to left, with Francouer starting in right, but against righties Cruz will stay in right, with Francouer staying on the bench. With Cruz in right, the Rangers have one of the unique power, average, speed, defense threats in all of baseball. If not for his injuries this year, we would likely be hearing his name alongside Josh Hamilton's for MVP consideration. When he's in left, Francouer will start in right, giving the Rangers another good defensive player with a cannon. He hasn't been the offensive player he once was, but he hit very well in his short stint in Arlington, so the Rangers are hoping that he found something about the AL to his liking. 


      Bats 2010 Stats PA AVG/OBP/SLG OPS HR RBI OPS+ SB
    Cruz RH Reg Season 445 .318/.374/.576  .950 22 78 150 17
        ALDS  20 .400/.400/.950 1.350  3  3  -  1
    Francouer RH Reg Season 503 .249/.300/.383  .683 13 65  85  8
        ALDS   8 .125/.125/.250  .375  0  1  -  0


     

    New York Yankees

    Nick Swisher will man right-field for the Yankees. The switch-hitting bundle of personality and energy has quickly become a fan favorite in the Bronx after being practically stolen from the White Sox, after Swisher fell out of favor with Ozzie Guillen. Since coming to the Yankees, Swisher has made himself into a very valuable member of the outfield, providing power from both sides of the plate, a patient hitting approach and solid defense in right. Although it cannot be statistically evaluated, his personality has contributed to lightening the mood in the sometimes stuffy Yankee clubhouse. With a few tweaks to his approach after working with hitting coach Kevin Long, Swisher evolved into a hitter capable of hitting for average, as well as power. His switch-hitting bat could be invaluable to the Yankees if the Rangers focus too much on the Teixeira, A-rod, Cano combo, and forgetting that there are plenty of other bats in the Yankee lineup capable of inflicting significant damage.

     


    Bats
    2010 Stats
    PA
    AVG/OBP/SLG
    OPS
    HR
    RBI
    OPS+
    SB
    Swisher
    Both
    Reg Season
    635
    .288/.359/.511
     .870
    29
    89
    130
    1


    ALDS
     13
    .333/.385/.750
    1.135
     1
     1
      -
    0

     

     

     

     

     

    Edge: Tied

    If this were strictly a Nelson Cruz vs. Nick Swisher match-up, it would likely go to Cruz because of his speed and defensive advantage. Offensively, Cruz and Swisher stack up against each other fairly evenly with each possessing solid on-base skills and run-production ability. Defensively, Cruz covers more ground and has a stronger arm. Swisher has surprised many with his improvements on defense, and solid, accurate arm, but he is still not in Cruz's class. The fact that Francouer will likely start a few of these games rather than Cruz, takes this match-up away from the Rangers. His defense and arm are still superior to Swisher, but his offensive game is inconsistent. Since his early days in Atlanta, Francouer has declined, still swinging at everything thrown his direction, but with less dynamic pop than he once possessed.

Catcher

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    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Texas Rangers

    Much has changed in the catching situation for the Texas Rangers over the last year. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is in Boston, and young back-stops Max Ramirez and Taylor Teagarden have been bypassed in favor of veteran duo Benjie Molina and Matt Treanor. Although Molina is not the offensive threat he once was, he and Treanor provide the young Texas pitching staff with years of experience and leadership to draw from. Molina is also a World Series winner with the Angels in 2002, and a veteran of two other postseason runs with the Angels. Though Molina had a down year with the bat, he called upon his vast reserve of experience to make himself a valuable contributor in the Rangers' ALDS triumph, hitting well and leading a Texas pitching staff beyond the Division Series for the first time in franchise history.

     

      Bats 2010 Stats PA AVG/OBP/SLG OPS HR RBI OPS+ SB
    Molina RH Reg Season 416 .249/.297/.326 .623 5 36 67 0
        ALDS   14 .357/.357/.571 .929 1  2  - 1
    Treanor RH Reg Season 272 .211/.287/.308 .595 5 27 60 1
        ALDS    4 .000/.750/.000 .750 0 0  - 0

     

     

     

     

     

    New York Yankees

    Although certain Yankee pitchers might be more comfortable throwing to Cervelli, due to his offensive potential, Jorge Posada will likely see nearly all the catching duty throughout the playoffs. Little known secret to those paying attention however, aside from the Division Series round, Posada has never hit well in the postseason. After the ALDS, Posada is a .219 hitter in the ALCS and World Series over his career. The switch-hitting Posada, despite recently turning 39, still possesses a powerful bat and a patient approach at the plate, making him another in a long line of difficult Yankee hitters for opposing pitching to tangle with. What the Yankees gain in his bat though, they lose with him behind the plate. He is regularly among the league leaders in passed balls, doesn't block balls in the dirt very well, and can basically be run on at will by opposing base-runners. His throws have suffered greatly in the last couple years, possibly a result of his shoulder injury a few seasons back. Cervelli, while not much of an offensive threat, brings a refreshing enthusiasm and energy to the Yankees that is apparently lacking on occasion. His catching skills are well regarded, but he too only threw out 14 percent of attempted base-stealers after a fantastic 43 percent in 2009. Of course, the Yankees pitching staff must shoulder some of that blame, as a few of them continually struggle to control the running game to even the slightest degree. Cervelli, while not the offensive threat of Posada, is fundamentally skilled however, and will accomplish the little things like bunting, working a tough at bat and his hustle is unparalleled on the Yankee squad. Despite his lack of power, Cervelli still hit .316 with runners in scoring position, and against left-handed pitchers, hit .322 with an .846 OPS, so he could potentially see action in specific situations. 


      Bats 2010 Stats PA AVG/OBP/SLG OPS HR RBI OPS+ SB
    Posada Both Reg Season 451 .248/.357/.454 .811 18 57 116 3
        ALDS   12 .273/.333/.273 .606   0  2  -  -
    Cervelli RH Reg Season 317 .271/.359/.335 .694   0 38  88 1
        ALDS DNP         N/A  N/A  -  -  -  -

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Edge: Tied

    Though Posada has the edge in experience, and has a massive bulk of playoff games caught on his resume, the catching situation in the ALCS appears rather even between the two teams. Despite his significant edge in offensive potential, the fact that he has never hit well beyond the ALDS minimizes the threat that he presents. Molina too has been a solid run producer for years, so the chasm between them may not be as great as raw regular season numbers may indicate. Molina, though his footwork may have slowed, is still a superior defensive catcher, and throws much better than Jorge does as well.

Designated Hitter

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Texas Rangers

    One of the most savvy moves of the off-season, Texas acquired Vlad Guerrero to add muscle to the middle of their order, while simultaneously weakening their chief rivals, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Cast aside after what looked to be a significant decline in 2009, a resurgent Vlad stormed back to make himself one of the premier designated hitters in baseball once again. He appeared to be in better shape than previous seasons, and that carried over to his offensive production. At times carrying the Ranger offense due to the multiple injuries to Hamilton, Kinsler and Cruz, Vlad remained healthy the entire year, rediscovering his immense hitting talents. While his ALDS was quiet, he is capable of exploding at any moment, providing a major run-producing stick in the heart of the order. If Hamilton can find his stroke, the Vlad, Hamilton, Nelson Cruz trio can rival the heart of the Yankee lineup. 


      Bats 2010 Stats PA AVG/OBP/SLG OPS HR RBI OPS+ SB
    Vlad RH Reg Season   .300/.345/.496 .841 29 115 122 4
        ALDS   .263/.300/.316 .616 0 1  - 0


     

     

    New York Yankees

    The Yankees are likely to employ a strict platoon with Berkman and Thames sharing DH duties. Since Berkman is primarily a left-handed hitter that masquerades as a switch-hitter, he will never see any right-handed at bats if the Yankees can do anything to avoid it. Berkman started slow after being traded to NY, but after his short stint on the DL, returned with a flourish, hitting .303 in September. He has already proved valuable in the playoffs, with two clutch extra-base hits. His patient approach at the plate fits in perfectly with the Yankee philosophy. Thames, returning to his original MLB franchise, has been a revelation as a fill-in outfielder and right-handed DH. He has provided a legitimate power threat from the right side in a lineup full of lefties. His presence has been felt greatly, as he helps balance the lineup and has hit both lefties and righties adeptly in 2010. 


      Bats 2010 Stats PA AVG/OBP/SLG OPS HR RBI OPS+ SB
    Berkman Both Reg Season 404 .248/.368/.413  .781
    14
    58
    114
    3
        ALDS    4 .500/.500/1.500 2.000  1  2  - 0
    Thames RH Reg Season 237
    .288/.350/.491
     .841
    12
    33 122
    0
        ALDS    8
    .286/.375/.714 1.089
     1
     2
     - 0

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Edge: Rangers

    While the Yankees have been happy with the production of their platoon partnership since Berkman found his stroke, the edge at DH has to go to Texas. Vlad's track record as a potential Hall of Fame hitter, and his tremendous production in 2010 make him a powerful force in Ron Washington's lineup. He hits both lefties and righties, not making him highly susceptible to relief specialists. Although he still swings at everything, his uncanny ability to hit for a high average with serious power and run-producing capabilities make him one of the best designated hitters in the American League.

Bench

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Texas Rangers

    The Rangers' lineup boasts slightly more fluidity and versatility than the Yankee lineup. Dependent on who they're facing, the Rangers may utilize a slightly different cast of characters to start the game. Against right-handed starters, Mitch Moreland would likely start at first, with either David Murphy or Julio Borbon getting the start in left. Facing lefties, as they will against Sabathia and Pettitte, Cantu will start at first, with Francouer starting in right, with Nelson Cruz shifting to left. Borbon and German offer some base-stealing ability, while Cantu and Francouer provide some right-handed pop off the bench. If Murphy start on the the bench, he offers a high quality left-handed bat with good speed and base-stealing ability as well. Treanor is unspectacular, but a solid, veteran catcher to share the duties with Molina.   


      Bats 2010 Stats PA AVG/OBP/SLG OPS HR RBI OPS+ SB
    Borbon - OF LH
    Reg Season 468 .276/.309/.340
    .649
      3
    42
    74
    15
        ALDS    6
    .000/.000/.000
    .000
      0
     0  -
     0
    Blanco - IF Both Reg Season 185 .277/.330/.349 .679   0 13 82  0
        ALDS DNP
            N/A
     N/A   - 
     -  - 
     -
    Cantu - 1B/2B/3B RH Reg Season 515
    .256/.304/.392 .696  11 56 83
     0
        ALDS    4
    .000/.000/.000
    .000
      0
     0
     -
     0
    Francouer - RF/LF RH Reg Season 503
    .249/.300/.383 .683  13 65
    85
     8
        ALDS    8
    .125/.125/.250
    .375
      0
     1
     - 
     0
    German - IF RH Reg Season  16
    .231/.375/.231 .606   0  1 67  4
        ALDS DNP         N/A  N/A   -
     -
     -  -
    Treanor - C RH Reg Season 272 .211/.287/.308 .595   5 27 60  1
        ALDS    4
    .000/.750/.000
    .750
      0
     0
     - 
     0


     

     

     

    New York Yankees

    With the big-money, superstar laden lineup the Yankees always seem to have, their bench doesn't get as much use as some other teams' reserve players. They do however possess a deeper reserve pool than they have in recent years. To add some veteran experience, the Yankees added Lance Berkman and Austin Kearns to the group. Depending upon whether they're facing a lefty or righty starter, either Berkman or Thames will start at DH. The other will provide Joe Girardi with a veteran power presence on the bench for pinch hitting opportunities. Austin Kearns didn't see any ALDS action, but his right-handed bat has some pop, and he plays solid defense, so it's possible he could see a start against one of the tough Texas lefties to help balance the Yankee lineup. Cervelli is a far superior catcher to Posada, but due to light hitting capabilities, the Yankees prefer Posada's bat in the lineup regularly. Pena is a great glove man, but is generally over-matched with a bat in his hands. He can capably perform small ball duties, bunting and stealing the occasional base. Golson is primarily here for pinch-running and defensive replacement purposes.



      Bats 2010 Stats PA AVG/OBP/SLG OPS HR RBI OPS+ SB
    Berkman - 1B/DH Both Reg Season 481 .248/.368/.413   .781 14 58 114 3
        ALDS    4 .500/.500/1.500 2.000  1  2  - 0
    Cervelli - C
    RH Reg Season 317 .271/.359/.335   .694  0 38 88 1
        ALDS DNP         N/A   N/A  -  -  -  -
    Golson - OF RH Reg Season  23 .261/.261/.348   .609  0 2 61 0
        ALDS   0         N/A   N/A  -   -    -  -
    Kearns - OF RH Reg Season 461 .263/.351/.395   .746 10 49 107 4
        ALDS DNP         N/A   N/A  -  -  -  -
    Pena - IF Both Reg Season 167 .227/.258/.247   .504  0 18 36 7
        ALDS DNP         N/A   N/A  -  -  -  -
    Thames - DH/OF RH Reg Season 237 .288/.350/.491   .841 12 33 122 0
        ALDS    8 .286/.375/.714 1.089  1  2  - 0

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Edge: Tied

    There isn't one particular aspect of either team's bench that stands out from the other. Both of them went out near the trading deadline to acquire veteran help to add depth to their reserve players. Each has some power, speed and defensive help, the three primary components of a useful bench. It remains to be seen how much action any of these players see in what should be a hotly contested series.


Overall

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    J. Meric/Getty Images

    Though the head-to-head match-ups may have fallen in the Yankees' favor with four positions, two for Texas and four ties, the teams are fairly evenly matched. The center-field battle could easily go to Hamilton, but it greatly depends upon his health going forward.

    We know that both of these teams are full of dynamic offensive players, solid defense, and veteran savvy. The series will more than likely depend upon which team's secondary starting pitchers perform the best. It's highly likely that each will get strong starts out of their aces, CC and Lee, but if either of their other starters falter, the opposition will be primed to strike and take advantage of any weakness they see.