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The Rangers’ Last Stand

Why the Yankees will Beat the Rangers

Before the ALDS, I predicted the Twins would beat the Yankees. I was very wrong. I put too much stock in the minor advantages the Twins possessed and glossed over the obvious talent gap in the starting lineup. I also doubted Andy Pettitte’s health and thusly gave the Twins’ rotation an edge that was completely hypothetical and as it turned out, nonexistent. And then there was that song which seemed to signify a higher purpose for the Twins than ALDS fodder for the Yanks. Thankfully, the Twinkies and the song about not calling them Twinkies can now be enjoyed as vanishing points in the rear-view mirror.

I won’t make the same mistake with the Rangers. The Yankees feature the better, deeper lineup, sport a starting-pitching advantage (it’s a push at the very least) in every game not featuring Cliff Lee, and Mariano already filled his decade’s quota for losses to the Rangers. These Yankees are healthy, they are rested and they are still awaiting Alex Rodriguez to make his mark on this postseason. The Yankees will win in five games and Alex will be the MVP (which I thought he earned last year). Cliff Lee will win his game, but he’ll be left watching the Yankees in the World Series as he contemplates his next contract.

Tempting reasons to pick the Rangers abound. They hit the snot out of the ball in Arlington, where they’ll host as many as four games. But almost all of those numbers include Josh Hamilton’s obscene comfort in his home ballpark. The last time I saw him he was tugging at the flak jacket protecting his rib cage as he walked back to the dugout after his sixth and final strikeout of the ALDS. If Hamilton recovers form during the course of the ALCS, the Yankees task becomes decidedly more difficult and I reserve the right to cower.

The Rangers send up have a righty-heavy lineup that dealt with David Price in the first round and figures to give CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte fits. In small samples, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young and Vladimir Guerrero feasted on lefties this year, sporting a cumulative slash of .338/.402/.525. I would ignore their teamwide struggles versus southpaws for much of the regular season as many of the players dragging those numbers down will not be on the roster. 

Containing them is key to the Yankee victory and when Texas does win a game, I think it will be when this group does some damage in Yankee Stadium off Andy Pettitte and Cliff Lee makes it stand up. Luckily, the other lefty starting for the Yankees is CC Sabathia and he is almost identically excellent against righties and lefties for his career and even better against righties this year. I don’t think Sabathia can keep this bunch off the scoreboard entirely, but I’m betting he neutralizes them sufficiently for the Yankee offense to win the games he pitches.

And that offense is mainly why I am picking the Yankees. In the ALDS, Curtis Granderson, the DH platoon of Thames and Berkman and Nick Swisher were good enough to sweep the Twins. When the team is struggling, they still manage runs. When the team is clicking, the runs come in bunches. In the final game versus the Twins, it looked to me like the Yankees were ready to get clicking. Cliff Lee is good enough to beat any offense at any time, but I don’t think the rest of the Rangers’ pitchers measure up to the depth and quality of the Yankee hitters.

Categories:  Bronx Banter  Playoffs  Yankees

Tags:  2010 alds  2010 ALDS preview

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1 OldYanksFan   ~  Oct 14, 2010 2:18 pm

I will agree with one caveat.
The Yankees, as they did against Minn, must hit with RISP.
And when I say hit with RISP, I don't mean .400
If they can simply hit as well with RISP and they do without, they will Win.

2 OldYanksFan   ~  Oct 14, 2010 2:48 pm

Oh.... And just a GREAT line from the Mantle book:

Like one night they were watching Steve McQueen in a late-night movie and Yogi said, 'He musta made that before he died.'?"

There will never be another Yogi!

3 seamus   ~  Oct 14, 2010 3:35 pm

I thought that this was interesting in light of Emma's post the other day.

4 thelarmis   ~  Oct 14, 2010 3:52 pm

ugh. angel hernandez is part of the umpiring crew for this series. baseball has a real serious problem when that fucking clown is working a postseason series. feh.

5 RIYank   ~  Oct 14, 2010 4:15 pm

Good write-up, Jon.

I think there is a huge tendency for baseball pundits and prognosticators to do what you did, namely, discount or just plumb forget about the batting order advantage. I don't know what that's true. Of course, one reason is the conventional wisdom that Pitching Wins in the Postseason. (I think there's no foundation for this wisdom, but the point is that it's conventional wisdom.) Another is that unless a team has a particular hitting talent -- say, the Jays' dinger power -- it seems boring to say "I'm picking them because they're better hitters." Like, oh, so your basis for predicting that they'll win is that they will score more runs? Genius! But, yeah, the team with the better hitters does have an advantage -- the fact that this is too obvious to mention doesn't mean we can ignore it!

I'll be surprised if the Yanks win in five. Not shocked, but surprised. Hm, I'll say six. Hughes will get the decisive W.

6 Jon DeRosa   ~  Oct 14, 2010 4:36 pm

[5] I think 2005-2007 have a lot to do with it. Especially those 2 games in Detroit.

7 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 14, 2010 7:29 pm

[6] I don't care to look up the '05-'07 postseason numbers, but I recall the Yanks offensive struggles seemed to be influenced by the Yanks pitching problems. They always seemed to be trying to hit their way out a 3-4 run hole, and the sluggers were trying to do too much, not working counts etc. I thought the Yanks weren't generally being beaten by great pitching in those final Torre Octobers, but were beating themselves with bad pitching(Johnson, CM Wang, even Moose came up short), and bad plate discipline.

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