I'm psyched -- the Twins finally have a chance to redeem themselves against the Yankees and the postseason jinx they've put on us. My last experience at Yankee Stadium was the Kubel walkoff, and I'm hoping that I have a few more of those instead of what I had to deal with last year.
While I'm always nervous during the postseason, I'm not quite as edgy as I've been before. While last year I was talking trash with Yankee fans but secretly wringing my hands and hoping, hoping, hoping that we wouldn't screw things up, this year is a different story. The Twins can match up with any team in baseball this year.
To put that to the test, let's examine the two opposing lineups today:
Joe Mauer: .327/.402/.467, 9 HR, 75 RBI, 42 2B, 65 BB, 52 K
Jorge Posada: .250/.358/.458, 18 HR, 57 RBI, 23 2B, 58 BB, 98 K
Francisco Cervelli: .271/.359/.335, 0 HR, 38 RBI, 11 2B, 33 BB, 42 K
- I think this one is pretty clear cut and it's a nice way to start out. Joe Mauer is obviously the better catcher between the two teams. While Jorge still has the jolt in his bat, Joe Mauer is a hitting machine. He's also got the best plate discipline of anyone in the two starting lineups, being the only person to actually draw more walks than strikeouts. Advantage: Twins. And by a long shot.
Michael Cuddyer: .271/.336/.418, 14 HR, 81 RBI, 37 2B, 57 BB, 93 K
Mark Texeira: .258/.366/.484, 33 HR, 108 RBI, 36 2B, 92 BB, 121 K
- Texeira has better power, plate discipline, and probably fielding skills as well. Although this isn't a knock on Cuddyer, who still shows solid numbers. Cuddyer doesn't have awful plate discipline, he's been serviceable in the field, and he has decent power and average. The advatage goes to the Yankees, but not by as much as you'd think.
Orlando Hudson: .267/.337/.372, 6 HR, 37 RBI, 24 2B, 50 BB, 87 K
Robinson Cano: .320/.382/.535, 29 HR, 108 RBI, 41 2B, 57 BB, 77 K
- Just like it was clear that Mauer was the better catcher, it's pretty clear that Cano is the better second baseman. Cano is probably the most complete player on the Yankee roster. Hudson's overall numbers have shown a drop in September, and he's clearly an upgrade over anyone the Twins have seen at second in a longtime, but they have a long way to go to match Cano's production. Advantage: Yankees. By a longshot.
JJ Hardy: .269/.320/.396, 6 HR, 38 RBI, 19 2B, 27 BB, 53 K
Derek Jeter: .269/.340/.369, 10 HR, 66 RBI, 30 2B, 63 BB, 104 K
- This is a pretty tough call. Hardy's overall numbers are down by the lack of games due to injury, but he actually stacks up pretty evenly with Jeter. Clutch and leadership are not a factor in this decision, this isn't the MVP race... Hardy is a much, much, superior defender, and I think it comes down to that. They are about even at the plate and Hardy has the edge on defense. Advantage is going to the Twins, although not by a whole lot.
Danny Valencia: .314/.354/.453, 7 HR, 40 RBI, 18 2B, 20 BB, 45 K
Alex Rodriguez: .270/.341/.508, 30 HR, 124 RBI, 29 2B, 58 BB, 96 K
- Valencia is having a monster year. It's too bad he's only played a half season because you have to take his numbers with a grain of salt. Alex Rodriguez is typical Alex Rodriguez. There's no doubt that the edge is going to the Yankees, although the question is which A-Rod will show up this post season? The '09 version or the choke artist we've seen every year before. Advantage is to the Yankees, but the Twins don't have a slouch at third for the first time in a long time.
Jason Kubel: .250/.324/.427, 21 HR, 92 RBI, 23 2B, 56 BB, 116 K
Nick Swisher: .288/.358/.506, 28 HR, 88 RBI, 33 2B, 57 BB, 137 K
- Kubel is having a down year, and Swisher is going to be as annoying as ever. They are about equal in all facets. Kubel probably has more potential and he's shown he can be dangerous against the Yankees. Swisher is better in the field, and so he gets the nod. Advantage: Yankees, although slight.
Denard Span: .266/.333/.350, 3 HR, 58 RBI, 24 2B, 60 BB, 73 K
Curtis Granderson: .247/.325/.469, 24 HR, 67 RBI, 17 2B, 53 BB, 115 K
- It really depends on what you're looking for here. Granderson has the power and Span has the average. Granderson strikes out a lot, Span has better plate discipline. Granderson probably has a slight edge in the field. I think the edge actually goes to the Twins, Span isn't meant to hit for power but he can sure as hell get on base and that's what he's there for. This is a pretty tough one for me but it's hard to ignore that power disparity. Advantage: Yankees. I think...
Delmon Young: .299/.334/.495, 21 HR, 112 RBI, 46 2B, 28 BB, 81 K
Brett Gardner: .275/.383/.377, 5 HR, 47 RBI, 19 2B, 79 BB, 100 K
- No comparison. As pesky as Gardner is, Delmon is a beast and there's no denying the year that he's having. He might not be the best fielder, and Gardner has more of a penchant for walks, but Delmon will likely get MVP votes (even if unwarranted), Gardner will not. Advantage: Twins. Not close.
Jim Thome: .280/.410/.625, 25 HR, 59 RBI, 16 2B, 60 BB, 82 K
Lance Berkman: .248/.368/.413, 14 HR, 58 RBI, 23 2B, 77 BB, 85 K
Marcus Thames: .288/.352/.495, 12 HR, 33 RBI, 7 2B, 19 BB, 61 K
- Thome is putting up a monster year. He's got the best slugging % of anyone on this list and also a killer slugging percentage. The job of the DH is to hit the ball, and Thome does that perhaps better than anyone on either roster. Hopefully the lefty duo of Sabathia and Pettite don't neutralize this advantage, but it is an advantage. Berkman and Thames are solid players, but they are no Thome. Advantage: Twins. Not really close.
The Yankees are better at 5 positions. The biggest disparity is obviously the Cano/Hudson, followed by Rodriguez/Valencia. The margins between Texeira/Cuddyer, Swisher/Kubel, and Granderson/Span are not that big though, and the Twins are right there with the Yankees at those spots.
The Twins have the advantage at 4 positions, and 3 of them aren't even close. Mauer/Posada/Cervelli is a huge gap, likewise Young/Gardner and Thome/Berkman/Thames. The only place it's really even close is Hardy/Jeter.
Basically these are going to be some very competitive matchups, the likes of which we have never had before in the postseason against the Yankees. The Twins have 3 vastly superior matchups at positions, and the Yankees have 2. The other four matchups are going to be pretty close. It will be interesting to see...
Next up: rotation comparisons.