Posts Tagged ‘raul ibanez’

MLB Postseason Preview: Tigers vs. Yankees

Detroit Tigers (88-74) at New York Yankees (95-67)

OVERVIEW

How the-opposite-of-fitting that in a year dominated by Cinderella stories—Chicago leading the AL Central for most the year; Oakland’s improbable comeback in the West; Baltimore’s first playoff appearance since before Monica Lewinsky was famous—it’s the Yankees and Tigers left in the ALCS. Both teams were expected to repeat as division winners, and both actually had somewhat disappointing regular seasons: Detroit trailed the White Sox for most of the year, and New York didn’t clinch until the last day of the season. The ALCS is also nothing new to either team, with both teams having taken turns losing to Texas the last two years. And if it weren’t for last night’s game in Washington, we’d be talking about the Tigers and Yankees as the biggest dream-killers of all: Justin Verlander stopped what looked like yet another improbable Oakland comeback in its tracks, and New York topped Baltimore with repeated late-inning heroics. In the regular season matchups between these two teams, the Yankees took six of ten from Detroit.

LINEUPS

Detroit didn’t hit much in its series against Oakland: The Tigers scored only 17 runs in five games, and six of those runs came on non-RBI plays. Nobody on the team had an especially good series offensively—Omar Infante was the only regular to hit over .300, and he had only one extra-base hit. A lot of the problem can likely be attributed to great pitching by the A’s, but Detroit needs to get more production out of its big hitters, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Though Fielder did homer in Game 4, neither of those guys did enough to carry the offense, which is the only way the Tigers offense can get carried. Perhaps most troubling: Cabrera and Fielder only walked once apiece in five games. Again, this is likely the result of facing a staff with great control—Oakland pitching walked only seven batters in the series—but Cabrera and Fielder need to at least get on base if they’re not driving in runs.

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MLB Postseason Preview: Orioles vs. Yankees

Baltimore Orioles (93-69) at New York Yankees (95-67)

OVERVIEW

The two teams that battled for the AL East over 162 games now face each other for five to see who advances to the ALCS. Because that’s fair. The teams split the season series 9-9, with Baltimore outscoring New York by two in those games (the Orioles did end the season with a positive run differential, for those of you keeping track). The Orioles are this year’s Cinderella team, making the postseason for the first time since 1997, which was also the last time they had a winning record. The Yankees, meanwhile, are in their 28th postseason series since that year.

LINEUPS

Baltimore’s offense this year was all about the home run. The Orioles don’t walk much—11th in the league in OBP—or hit for a very high average—10th. They are last in stolen bases and 10th in hits. On top of that, their best contact hitter, Nick Markakis, broke his thumb in a totally innocent and not at all suspicious accident and is still out for a few more weeks. But the Orioles were second in the league in home runs, and there are power threats littered throughout the lineup. From Mark Reynolds to Matt Wieters to J.J. Hardy to Chris Davis to Adam Jones—who had a breakout season this year—nearly everyone is a threat to hit it out. Facing the Yankees, who play in a home run haven and trot out pitchers with a tendency to give up the long ball, that will obviously come up. 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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The Sports Revolution: The Wall-Less Stadium

Let me set the scene for you: A very strong, and fairly slow, man is at the plate. He swings his bat and breaks it as the ball flares out to left field. It goes over the fence for a home run.

Let me reset the scene for you: That very strong, and fairly slow, man is at the plate. He swings his bat and breaks it as the ball flares out to left field. The ball is either caught by the left fielder or keeps rolling, because there is no fence in left field.

Take a trip back to baseball’s past. The game was first played on large, boundary-less fields. Home runs were achieved only when you could circle the bases before the defense got the ball back in. Every home run was an inside-the-park home run.
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