World Series offensive breakdown

by Eric Schwartz World Series offensive breakdown thumbnail

We are now just one day away fro Game 1 of the World Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees. There promises to be plenty of drama as these two teams face off in the World Series for the first time in 50 years.

Bellow is a breakdown of how the teams match up position-by-position.

 First Base: This would be the marquee position with two players who are not only of All-Star caliber, but MVP worthy. Ryan Howard has been a monster year after year, producing 40-plus home runs and 140 RBIs a season. His defense has improved and he defines the word clutch. Most people credit Jimmy Rollins for being the engine of the team but it became clear this season that the Phillies would go as far as Howard takes them.
On the other side, Mark Teixeira has been as good as advertised. The Yankees paid him big money in the offseason and he delivered with 39 homers and 122 RBIs. He has also delivered Gold Glove play at first base. Howard’s knack for getting the big hit gives him a slight edge on offense, but Teixeira seems to save a run a game with his glove, making this a toss up.

Verdict: draw

Second base: Robinson Cano has developed into the type of players that could be a cornerstone for the Yankees for many years. He hits for average (.320) and power (25 home runs).
Chase Utley also had a strong regular season, though his average dipped to .282. Something just doesn’t seem quite right with his swing right now and he only has two RBIs in the postseason. Utley may just be the hardest-working player in baseball and if there is something wrong there is a good chance he will fix it.

Verdict: Slight edge Yankees

Shortstop: This was nowhere near Jimmy Rollins’ best year, but his second-half was certainly acceptable. Rollins is hitting just .244 in the postseason, but it was his two-run double in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the NLCS that all-but finished off the Dodgers.
Meanwhile Derek Jeter is having a career year, which is saying something given his track record. He hit .334 during the regular season and his playoff performances in the past have been well-documented. If Rollins was having a typical year this would be a tough call. Since he has struggled, the check mark has to go to the Yankees’ captain.

Verdict: Edge Yankees

Third base: Alex Rodriguez finally learned how to hit in the postseason. Like Howard, A-Rod has been an RBI machine with 12 and is hitting .438. Clearly he is making up for lost time.
Pedro Feliz has been a great defensive presence throughout his career and even with his age creeping up continues to play the position well. Offensively Feliz is not a big cog, but had a three-run homer against the Dodgers in the NLCS and has given the lineup great depth.
He’s just not A-Rod.

Verdict: Edge Yankees.

Catcher: Carlos Ruiz or “Chooch” has been a monster this postseason, both behind the plate and as a hitter. Ruiz is hitting .346 and has driven in seven from the eight-hole. His pitchers love throwing to him and he has become one of the best in the league when it comes to throwing out base stealers.
Jorge Posada is not the player he once was. He still had good numbers with 22 homers and a .285 average, but his shortcomings defensively have led to the Yankees using Jose Molina more than anticipated. In fact, the Phillies will likely see Molina in games that A.J. Burnett pitches.

Verdict: Edge Phillies.

Left Field: The Phillies could not have asked for more than what Raul Ibanez gave them this season. He was an NL MVP candidate the first half of the year and hit a career-high 34 home runs. Even at 33, his defense is not a shortcoming. “Rauuuul” instantly became a fan favorite and remains one.
The Yankees counter with Johnny Damon who can still swing the stick, but has nothing in terms of an arm in the outfield. He is a liability out there and is usually replaced in the late innings.

Note: Ben Fransisco will star in left field on the road and Ibanez will DH. We still list Ibanez as the left fielder because he will play there during the home games.

Verdict: Edge Phillies

Center field: Shane Victorino made the first of what is likely to be many All-Star game appearances this season. He led the team in several offensive categories, including hits (181), average .292 and steals 25. He also provided Gold Glove defense. Last season he introduced himself to all of baseball. This year he announced that he isn’t going anywhere.

Melky Cabrera didn’t quite meet the expectations he ha set for himself with a big 2008 season, but still hit a respectable .274 and is an outstanding defender. Cabrera has good speed, but can not compete with Victorino in that department. In fact, there is not one part of his game that is clearly superior to Victorino’s.

Verdict: Edge Phillies

Right field: What a player Jayson Werth has become. Finally healthy, Werth had a huge season and has kept it up in the postseason. Werth is the team-leader in home runs during the playoffs, knocking five out of the park. He is making opposing pitchers pay for pitching around Howard.

Few people would have predicted that Nick Swisher would be starting for the Yankees in the playoffs when the season started. Xavier Nady was the opening day starter but an injury erased his season after seven games. Swisher stepped in and stepped up. He is not the player Werth is, but the pop in his bat still makes him a threat.

Verdict: Edge Phillies

Designated hitter: Ben Fransisco is the extra bat added during games in New York. Seen as a throw-in in the Cliff Lee trade, Fransisco has been solid in limited action. He hit .278 on the year and is 0-for-4 in the playoffs. Matt Stairs could also see a game in this role with Ibanez playing left.

Hideki Matsui is on the south-side of his career, but can still come up with the big hit. He hits lefties and righties about the same and finished with 28 home runs and 90 RBIs.

Verdict: Edge Yankees.

There you have it, a pretty even matchup on paper. The Yankees get the edge of the infield, mostly due to A-Rod at third, while the rest of the infielders are pretty similar. The Phillies get a big edge in the outfield in both fielding and hitting. There is a reason all three players were All-Stars.


Check back later for the breakdown of the pitching matchups.

Filed Under Phillies


6 Responses to “World Series offensive breakdown”

  1. Brandon on October 27th, 2009 9:11 pm

    Eric, do you just make this stuff up or are you basing it on facts? Jorge Posada is just fine. He has good numbers and is a clutch player. He knows how to bring it when it’s needed. The Yankees use Molina for Burnett yes, but not because of any shortcomings. Plain and simple: Burnett is more comfortable throwing to Molina.

    While Damon’s arm may not be the strongest, he has his bat and knows how to hustle out there. He usually gets replaced in the late innings with Gardner who comes in for his speed on the bases. Ibanez is injured and you HOPE he’ll be playing during the home games.

    I’m fine with Swisher defensively. He has made some terrific plays and his bat is strong.

    Again, the Yankees pitching runs much deeper than the Phillies. They’ve got much stronger starters and much deeper bullpen. No question.

  2. SilverAndGreen on October 27th, 2009 9:34 pm

    You must be kidding me, thinking the Yankees pitching is deeper. They use three starters because they don’t have four and outside of Rivera their bullpen is a mess. You will find out just how bad the Yankees pitching is when the Phillies put up 6-8 runs a game and put this thing away in 5!

  3. Eric Schwartz on October 27th, 2009 9:46 pm

    Brandon, Posada is still an solid offensive player, but you are reaching on his defense. Mike Schmidt had a column today where he summed it up perfectly.

    “Behind the plate the Yankees have concern about stopping the Phillies’ running attack, for sure. Posada is not the guy. He’s closing in on a Hall of Fame career, but the green light will be lit from the get-go. Posada has serious postseason and career experience, compared to Ruiz, who only has last year’s run in October. I just feel, right now, Ruiz is better defensively. Not offensively, of course, but the two are too close to call.”

  4. Brandon on October 27th, 2009 9:47 pm

    A mess? Geez. Loyalty knows no bounds. Good luck with that Silver. I’m placing my Greens on the Yankees.

  5. Brandon on October 27th, 2009 9:50 pm

    I’m not worried about Posada’s guns. He is a solid seasoned postseason player and with the Core 4, there will be no stopping the Yankees.

  6. Doug on October 28th, 2009 9:41 am

    Yeah… Posada aka Let me get caught in a run down.

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