The playoffs will be a special treat this year, simply because I’ll be able to watch them. Last year on this coming up Sunday, I got married, and a few days later, went to Europe on a wonderful honeymoon. While we had a great time, I was lucky to even get scores while I was gone, so when I got back, I had to piece together what happened at around game 3 of the World Series.
And with Boston comfortably in the lead tonight, I can write this knowing Seattle won’t be able to pull off a miracle and completely invalidate what I wrote. And since it looks like Houston is going to tie the Cubs for the division lead in the west, I might as well start with the league that’s all sorted out.
Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees
I definitely know the Twins better then Yankees, because they’re the Tigers division rivals (i.e. the Tigers are their doormat). The Yankees are the Yankees. Top notch pitching staff with established veterans like Mussina, Pettitte, and Clemens (not to mention Wells and Weaver. Yes, the Weaver thing is a joke). And their offense is formidable, with former AL MVP Jason Giambi, and one of the best lead off hitters in the game Alfonsio Soriano. The Yankees should finish with the best record in the AL, and have a solid shot at winning 100 again this year.
The Twins are a little more tricky to figure. On the one hand, if you were to swap either Toronto or Seattle with the Twins, putting either team in the AL Central, the Twins probably wouldn’t even be in this analysis. You can argue that they’re not only the weakest of the four teams, but you could also argue that two other teams that didn’t make the playoffs are better ball clubs then them.
But they’re there. And on the other hand, the Twins are simply the hottest team in baseball right now. I got in an arguement last year with a coworker who complained about OSU’s football championship ladt year, saying they didn’t play anyone good outside of UM. My arguement was, they won. Plain and simple. There’s something to be said about a team that goes out and wins every game, whether they’re playing the Tigers, or the Yankees. And that’s what the Twins have done. They’ve come out, and many more times then not, they’ve walked off the field a winner.
Statistically, the Yankees probably have a slight edge in hitting. They have a slightly lower batting average (.270 vs. .277), but they have a better OBP (.341 vs. .356) and a better slugging percentage (.452 vs .430). The Yankees have a large lead in home runs (222 vs. 150) and the Yankees have scored on average about a half run more a game.
The Yankees have a slight edge in pitching as well. Better ERA (4.09 vs. 4.36), and a marginally better WHIP (1.30 vs. 1.31). The Yankees also average around 3/4 of a strikeout more a game as well.
But, I think the Twins are going to ride their winning streak past the Yankees. I’m not a big proponent of momentum, but I think the Twins are winning for a reason. The Metrodome is always an interesting place to play, and I think the Twins will go down 2-0, win their two home games, then come back to Yankee Stadium and win the series in 5.
Oakland Athletics vs. Boston Red Sox
Another interesting series. The Boston Red Sox are an offensive powerhouse. They lead the major leagues in batting average (.288), runs (935, next closest is Atlanta at 890), OBP (.359), and SLG (.489). Oakland on the other hand, is near the bottom in some of those categories, and is no better then middle of the pack.
Pitching however, is another matter. Oakland has the best ERA in the AL (only the Dodgers have a better ERA), and on average give up nearly an earned less the the Red Sox (3.54 vs. 4.51). Oakland also has a large edge in WHIP (1.26 vs. 1.37). So on the face of things, it’s a classic good hitting vs. good pitching match up.
However, this is the playoffs. And although Oakland has one of the best rotations in the majors, Boston’s wild card is Pedro Martinez. You’d expect Pedro to pitch twice in the series, probably against Hudson. So, I expect Pedro to get the better of Boston in the first game, then Oakland will bounce back, win the next two, and go up 2-1. The Hudson will get the better of Pedro in game four, and the A’s will go on to face the Twins in the AL Championship, and the master (Beane) beats the student (Epstein).
Minnesota Twins vs. Oakland Athletics
I went through a lot of the numbers above, so this one will be shorter. Bottom line, Santana and Radke are good, but they’re not Hudson and Zito (at least Santana isn’t quite there yet), and the A’s, behind Eric Chavez (who I predict will be the MVP of the series), will go on to beat the Twins 4-2, and will go on to play…
Well, we’ll see when I write who I think will win over in the NL. Not as many surprises over there though.
And the Tigers have now finished off the Twins, and have extended their winning streak to three. Shane Halter hit a solo shot off of Brad Thomas did for the Tigers, as the Twins waste another great start by Johann Santana. Boston did end up winning, so they clinched the wild card.
Carlos Delgado became the 15th player in major league history to hit 4 homeruns in one game. Up until last year, when Cameron and Shawn Green did it, nobody had hit four since Mark Whitten did it in 1993. And it had never been done in back to back seasons, much less having it done three times in two years.