Posts Tagged ‘Hideki Matsui’

MLB Preview Bonanza: AL East

Well, we’ve reached the big boys of the American League, which, despite what Tim might tell you, means we’ve reached the big boys of MLB. Each of the last three AL Champions, and two of the last three World Series winners, have been from the AL East, and it’s been a different team each time. You can make a very reasonable argument that three of the six best teams in baseball are in the AL East, which means one of them is going to get left out of the playoffs. There’s also the fact that—allegedly—the Baltimore Orioles are getting better, meaning the 19 “easy” games in the division won’t be as easy anymore. Even so, the Wild Card will almost certainly come out of this division. After all, it has every year since 2006. Continue reading

MLB Preview Bonanza: AL West

Now that Tim has started breaking down the archaic, stuck-in-the-19th century National League, it’s time for John S to focus on the American League, where our lineups actually go nine-deep and pitchers aren’t forced to pretend to know how to hit. As Tim did, we’ll being in the West.

The AL West is the most wide-open division in the American League, and probably in all of baseball this year. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim won the division easily last year, as we’ve become accustomed to: They’ve won it five of the last six years. But the Angels lost their ace, John Lackey, their leadoff hitter, Chone Figgins, and their slugger, Vlad Guerrero, to free agency, and only really replaced Guerrero (by adding World Series MVP Hideki Matsui). Add in the fact that Guerrero and Figgins went to division rivals, and that every other team in the division made a significant addition to their rotation, and the Angels seem particularly vulnerable this year. Continue reading

In Defense of the Designated Hitter

Ben SheetsOh Pierre. Oh young, naïve, stupid Pierre. Where do I even begin with all the inaccuracies and logical fallacies in your argument?

I think I ought to start with your most ludicrous claim: that somehow the AL benefits from interleague rules more than the NL. Tim and I touched on this briefly before, but this argument is practically indefensible.

Here’s why: Adding a DH to your lineup can never—I repeat, NEVER—make a team worse. Pierre points out that Matt Stairs and Ben Francisco are not as good as Hideki Matsui. Well, duh. And Mark Teixeira is better than Mark Teahen. But guess what? Stairs and Francisco are a lot better than the hitters they replaced: Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez. There is also the added defensive upgrade of playing the better fielder—Francisco—in left over Raul Ibanez for two games.

On the other hand, losing the DH always makes a team worse. And for AL teams, it often makes them significantly worse. Hideki Matsui, the eventual World Series MVP, had to essentially sit out half of the games because of the NL’s antediluvian rules. People made a big deal—rightfully so—about Chase Utley tying Reggie Jackson’s record of five World Series home runs. Well, at Matsui’s rate—3 HRs in 14 plate appearances—he would have surpassed the record with as many opportunities as Utley. But, hey, Andy Pettitte got an RBI, so it all evened out! Continue reading

The Sports Revolution: The NL and the DH

Let me set the scene for you: It is the World Series, and designated hitter Hideki Matsui goes 8-for-13 en route to winning Series MVP for the Yankees. The men the Phillies add to their order in the Bronx, Ben Francisco and Matt Stairs, go 1-for-11.

Let me reset the scene for you: It is the World Series, and designated hitter Hideki Matsui has a tremendous hot streak en route to winning Series MVP for the Yankees. The Phillies, however, acquitted themselves nicely, stretching the series to seven games with the aid of their own designated hitter, Jim Thome.

Now, Pierre should not need to tell you that he is against the designated hitter. Pierre is a man of reason, and that should inform you of his stance on that issue.* But since he sees no hope for the elimination of the designated hitter in the near future, he is forced to advocate for an even more extreme solution: The National League must begin using a designated hitter, as well.

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MLB Postseason Preview: The World Series!

After about as many off-days as game days, we’re finally down to two teams in Major League Baseball: the last dynasty against a team hoping to build one. It’s Yankees-Phillies in what many expect to be the most exciting World Series since 2001.

Resident Yankee fan John S. and Phillie hater Tim break it down.

THE LINEUPS

LEADOFF: ROLLINS V. JETER

TIM: So, John, make the case to me that Derek Jeter is not only a better leadoff hitter than Jimmy Rollins (which he is), but that he’s the best leadoff hitter the Yankees have had during this 15-year run. Am I forgetting somebody better?

JOHN: As for why he’s better than Rollins, do I need to say more than that Rollins OBP this year was .296? That’s 110 points less than Jeter’s. As for in the last 15-years of the Yankees, that’s similarly obvious. NY has basically had 3 lead-off hitters since then: Chuck Knoblauch, Alfonso Soriano and Johnny Damon. Knoblauch was good his first 2 years, but never as good as Jeter’s been this year. Soriano was always miscast in the leadoff role, and Damon’s best years were in Boston. Jeter wasn’t actually new to the leadoff spot this year, as many people thought him to be; he did it for pretty much all of 2005, and he’d done it over 400 times in his career before 2009.

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MLB Postseason Preview: ALCS (Just the Regular Kind of Match)

Los Angeles Angels at New York Yankees

ALCSOVERVIEW

The Yankees and Angels were the two best teams in the AL during the regular season, and both are looking particularly impressive right now. They are each coming off sweeps in the ALDS (in which they each came back once against the other team’s dominant closer down two in the ninth). These teams have met in the playoffs twice already this decade, with Los Angeles bumping New York in the ALDS in 2002 and 2005. In 2009, the two teams split the 10 regular season games they played against each other, but the Yankees, and their fans, certainly remember when the Angels swept them in the last series before the All-Star break, when the Yankees were at their hottest. New York was better in the regular season, but expect the teams to be pretty evenly matched in the ALCS. Continue reading