PLEASE READ - Regina McCombs at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune wrote a great article about the Twins Bloggers. It includes a couple of quotes from me and the others, as well as links to all the sites. Pick up a copy Tuesday morning and read the Variety section. Each day, the Tribune's Twins page will also have The Best of the Blogs, which will be a paragraph or so from each Twins blogs' entry.
If you are coming to this site because of the Tribune article, please e-mail me and say hi. Also, take a minute or two to check out the About Me page for me, creatively, about me. Also check the Photo Album and the Archives for past entries.
Tuesday, October 5, 2004
THE OTHER SERIES
NFL "Expert" Picks
LET THE PLAYOFFS BEGIN
The Twins versus The Yankees. The Twins versus Yankees Stadium. Twins versus Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe Dimaggio, Elston Howard, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra and Reggie Jackson. Oh wait, you say those guys donít play for the Bronx Bombers anymore? They just have plaques out beyond the outfield wall?
Iím sorry. Let me start overÖ Twins versus the Yankees Aura. The Twins versus Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, Bernie Williams, Mike Mussina, Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui. OhÖ maybe Iíd rather face that first list of names. But Twins fans, relax and enjoy this series! Donít forget, the Yankees have to try to score runs against the Aura of Johan Santana.
Tonight, Mike Mussina will stand atop the mound and throw a pitch to Shannon Stewart, and the series will begin. Johan Santana will tote the rubber in the bottom of the first inning and face the Yankees powerful, potent lineup.
Now, this is a blog. My blog. So, I could just end it here by saying, "I think that the Twins will win this series in four games." But you know I canít just do that. Iím a numbers guy. An analyst. So, I need to look a little deeper. Today, Iím going to take a look at all of the positional matchups and put some numbers to them.
Many people say that baseball is 1/3 hitting, 1/3 pitching and 1/3 defense. I disagree. I believe that there are just two parts to baseball. First, is hitting, offense, the ability to score runs. The second is not allowing the other team to score runs by pitching and defense. So, I am going to use my theory to develop an equation (which I will explain more below) to show who will win this series.
Sound fun? Letís get to the analysis and see how it goes:
HITTING (50%) and FIELDING (10%)
Letís take a look at the positional matchups for this series:
Twins - Henry Blanco (.206/.260/.368, 19 doubles, 10 HR and 37 RBI)
Yankees - Jorge Posada (.272/.400/.481, 31 doubles, 21 HR and 81 RBI)
This isnít a fair matchup even! Henry Blanco is a bad hitter! Only Eric Hinske had a worse RCAA (Runs Created Above Average) in the American League. Jorge Posada is one of the best hitting catchers in baseball, although he was down from previous years. On the other hand, defensively, there is also no comparison. Blanco is great behind the plate while Posada is no better than average.
Hitting - Blanco (1 bat), Posada (4 bats)
Defense - Blanco (4 gloves), Posada (2 gloves)
Twins - Justin Morneau (.271/.340/.536, 17 doubles, 19 HR and 58 RBI)
Yankees - John Olerud (.259/.359/.374, 20 doubles, 9 HR and 48 RBI)
Take a look at Morneauís offensive numbers again, and then remember that he did that in basically half a season. So, take those numbers times two (which I realize is only a guess, but makes a point) and see how much of a force he is in the middle of the Twins lineup. John Olerud has been a good hitter much of his career, but things really started out poorly for him in Seattle, and he was released. He is a solid, veteran performer who can do the job, but certainly is past his glory days. Defensively, Olerud is about as smooth as it gets a first base. I have been surprised with just how good Morneau has actually been at first base. Twins officials continued to talk about how rough he was defensively, but I think heís done well.
Hitting - Morneau (4 bats), Olerud (2 bats)
Defense - Morneau (3 gloves), Olerud (5 gloves)
Twins - Michael Cuddyer (.263/.339/.440, 22 doubles, 12 HR and 45 RBI)
Yankees - Miguel Cairo (.292/.346/.417, 17 doubles, 5 triples, 5 HR and 42 RBI)
Ron Gardenhire has said that Cuddyer will start games at 2B for the Twins because of the pain still in Luis Rivasí elbow. Twins fans should be thrilled. Cuddyer can at least hit a little. Miguel Cairo is a decent hitter, certainly not to be mistaken for Alfonso Soriano, but heís solid. Defensively, both provide question marks to their team (although I think that Cuddyer has done quite well at 2B in limited time and I look forward to him getting better as the full-timer there next season). Rivas would probably enter the game as a defensive replacement in late innings. It is possible that Enrique Wilson could do the same for the Yankees.
Hitting - Cuddyer (3 bats), Cairo (2 bats)
Fielding - Cuddyer (2 gloves), Cairo (2 gloves)
Twins - Corey Koskie (.251/.342/.495, 24 doubles, 25 HR and 71 RBI)
Yankees - Alex Rodriguez (.286/.375/.512, 24 doubles, 36 HR and 106 RBI, 28 SB)
Corey Koskie has really struggled with that batting average this year, but even so, he continues to take walks and get on base and he has hit for some power as well. Alex Rodriguezís numbers are way down from previous years. He is simply All-Star caliber instead of super-human. Non-the-less, he is still incredible. Defensively, I would argue that Koskie is the best defensive 3B outside of Eric Chavez (and Scott Rolen in the NL). Alex Rodriguez was a Gold Glover at SS the last couple of seasons and has really done well at 3B this year, especially considering the change.
Hitting - Koskie (3 bats), Rodriguez (5 bats)
Fielding - Koskie (5 gloves), Rodriguez (4 gloves)
Twins - Cristian Guzman (.274/.309/.384, 31 doubles, 4-3Bs, 8 HR and 46 RBI, 10SB)
Yankees - Derek Jeter (.292/.352/.471 with 44 doubles, 23 HR and 78 RBI, 23 SB)
Cristian Guzman has been better offensively this year. His numbers are still not good (3rd worst RCAA in the AL), but at least he seems to be putting together quality at bats and making the pitcher work. I donít know what happened to his speed game. It is pretty much non-existent anymore. Remember when Derek Jeter was hitting .161 on April 28th? How about when he was hitting .189 on May 25th? Well, since that time, Jeter has done what he has done his whole career. He wasnít quite able to get to .300, but he has put up very solid numbers. Defensively, Guzman is very underrated! He makes the plays if he gets to them and he does have decent range. As we all know, Jeter is not a good shortstop, but he isnít as bad as some want to think either.
Hitting - Guzman (2 bats), Jeter (4 bats)
Fielding - Guzman (4 gloves), Jeter (2 gloves)
Twins - Shannon Stewart (.304/.380/.447, 17 doubles, 11 HR and 47 RBI)
Yankees - Hideki Matsui (.298/.390/.522, 34 doubles, 31 HR and 108 RBI)
Stewart missed a lot of time again this year, this time with foot problems and other leg injuries. But there is no question that he is the catalyst of the Twins offense. He just takes great at bats every time. Matsui is incredibly underrated. When he came into the league, I think a lot of people expected a lot of power from ĎGodzilla.í But the fact is that he is just a great all-around, very professional hitter, and his numbers completely back that sentiment. Stewart is an adequate defensive outfielder. He does have good range, but he has a Johnny Damon-esque arm that teams should run on at every opportunity. Matsui is an average outfielder at best.
Hitting - Stewart (4 bats), Matsui (4.5 bats)
Fielding - Stewart (2 gloves), Matsui (3 gloves)
Twins - Torii Hunter (.271/.330/.475, 37 doubles, 23 HR and 81 RBI, 21 SB)
Yankees - Bernie Williams (.262/.360/.435, 29 doubles, 22 HR and 70 RBI)
Hunter has actually had a pretty productive year this year. Although his numbers are not great, he did miss some time due to injury. He still has a lot of really bad at bats, however, a lot fewer. Williams is just solid. He is anything but spectacular, but like most of the Yankees, he doesnít give away a lot of at bats. Defensively, I may be biased, but I feel that Hunter is the best defensive centerfielder in baseball (again, apologies to Braves fans!). He gets to everything and has a strong, accurate arm. Everything I just said about Hunter, well, the opposite can be said about Williams. The former gold glover has lost a couple of steps and his arm is arguably worse than Shannon Stewartís. Kenny Lofton may get some time in center, but heís not a lot better.
Hitting - Hunter (3 bats), Williams (3 bats)
Fielding - Hunter (5 gloves), Williams (2 gloves)
Twins - Jacque Jones (.254/.315/.427, 22 doubles, 24 HR and 80 RBI)
Yankees - Gary Sheffield (.290/.393/.534, 30 doubles, 36 HR and 121 RBI)
Jacque Jones hit .300 the last two seasons but has been unable to keep his average up at all. His power numbers are pretty good and he has had a lot of RBI considering. But offensively, itís fair to say that Jonesí season has been disappointing. Gary Sheffield is being touted as a top candidate for AL MVP. Despite being hurt and needing offseason surgery, he has put up great numbers and been the one consistent Yankee all season. Defensively, Jones still isnít as good in RF as he was in LF, but he is better than average. Sheffield lacks the range of Jones, but makes up for it with a very strong (and accurate) arm. (Note - It is uncertain is Jacque Jones will be back from his father's funeral and ready to play tonight. If not, Lew Ford will play RF and Jason Kubel will DH.)
Hitting - Jones (2 bats), Sheffield (5 bats)
Fielding - Jones (4 gloves), Sheffield (3 gloves)
Twins - Lew Ford (.299/.381/.446, 31 doubles, 15 HR and 72 RBI)
Yankees - Ruben Sierra (.244/.296/.456, 12 doubles, 17 HR and 65 RBI)
Lew Ford wasnít even on the opening day roster and he was the Twins best, most consistent hitter all season. He puts together great at bats, has amazing speed and decent power. It is possible that he could play some left field in this series as well if Stewart is not 100% physically. This is something that should also make Twins fans happy! He is also 20-22 on stolen base attempts. The DH spot for the Yankees could be a revolving door. Sierra has done a lot of DHing, but it is also possible that Bernie Williams, Kenny Lofton, or even Jason Giambi, could fill the spot.
Hitting - Twins (4 bats), Yankees (2 bats)
Twins - Matthew LeCroy, Jason Kubel, Jose Offerman, Augie Ojeda, Luis Rivas, Pat Borders
Yankees - Tony Clark, Enrique Wilson, Kenny Lofton, John Flaherty, Jason Giambi
When you read these lists, be sure not to read just the names. Take a second and youíll realize that the Twins bench, despite the lack of big names, is set up very nicely. LeCroy can be a right-handed pinch hitter. Kubel can pinch hit from the left-side. Jose Offerman can switch hit and batted over .400 this year when pinch-hitting. Augie Ojeda and Luis Rivas can provide infield defensive help. The Yankees have the better names on their bench, none bigger than Jason Giambi. Sure, heís making big money and still would be intimidating at the plate, but there is a reason that they are considering leaving him off the postseason roster. Wilson is the equivalent to Ojeda or Rivas. Lofton and Clark are veterans who have been around the league for a long time (and in many post-seasons in Loftonís case), but neither is really producing anything.
I really donít see an advantage for either team here, so I will call it even and give no bats or gloves to either side.
TWINS - 26 bats, YANKEES - 32 bats
TWINS - 29 gloves, YANKEES - 23 gloves
As I mentioned before, I believe that 50% of the game is trying to score runs (hitting) and 50% of the game is keeping the other team from scoring runs. That is done through pitching and defense. I have randomly determined that I think that pitching is the key, and that defense only aids a pitcher. So as you see above, I will give defense 10% grade while I will make pitching 40% of my equation. I will analyze the pitchers starting each game, and then the bullpens and closers.
GAME 1 STARTERS
Twins - Johan Santana (20-6, 2.61 ERA, 10.5 K/9, 0.92 WHIP)
Yankees - Mike Mussina (12-9, 4.33 ERA, 7.2 K/9, 1.32 WHIP)
Simply put, Johan Santana is the best pitcher in baseball. He should be the unanimous AL Cy Young Award winner. Mike Mussina, after struggling with command and injuries much of the season, actually went 3-1 with a 2.16 ERA in September. Despite putting up Hall of Fame-like numbers against the Twins throughout his career, Mussina only pitched once this year and gave up four runs on five hits in four innings this year. However, it was a game right after he came off the Disabled List. You thought Mussinaís September numbers were good, how about Johan Santanaís 5-0, 0.45 ERA month that won him his third consecutive pitcher of the month award?
Twins - 5 arms, Yankees - 3.5 arms
GAME 2 STARTERS
Twins - Brad Radke (11-8, 3.48 ERA, 5.9 K/9, 1.16 WHIP)
Yankees - Jon Lieber (14-8, 4.33 ERA, 5.2 K/9, 1.32 WHIP)
Brad Radke has been the recipient of very poor run support this year. His 11 Wins are really a shame because a lot of people will not look past it. He was a Top 5 pitcher in the American League this year. Jon Lieber won 20 games for the Chicago Cubs in 2001, then had Tommy John surgery. He was slowly brought along this year and ended up doing fairly well for the Yankees. He has 14 wins though despite allowing almost a run more per game than Radke. That says a lot about the Yankees offense. Lieber likely gets the Game 2 start because he has been incredible in Yankees Stadium this year. He has gone 11-3 with a 3.68 ERA at home. He has been good against righties (.250 AVG, .615 OPS), but lefties have hit well off him (.346, .881 OPS).
Twins - 4 arms, Yankees - 3 arms
GAME 3 STARTERS
Twins - Carlos Silva (14-8, 4.21 ERA, 3.4 K/9, 1.43 WHIP)
Yankees - Orlando Hernandez (8-2, 3.30 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 1.29 WHIP)
Sometimes it is about how your start, and sometimes it is about how you finish. Carlos Silva got good run support early and jumped out to a 4-0 start in April. He saved his best for last though, going 4-0 with a 1.72 ERA in September! Silva gives up hits, but he will really need to keep the ball down against the Yankees! El Duque was the Yankees best pitcher. After missing all of the 2003 season and the first half of this year, Hernandez was incredible until a tired arm sidelined him last week. He was awful in his start on Friday night. Which El Duque will show up?
Twins - 3 arms, Yankees - 3 arms
GAME 4 STARTERS
Twins - Kyle Lohse ( 9-13, 5.34 ERA, 5.2 K/9, 1.63 WHIP)
Yankees - Javier Vazquez (14-10, 4.91 ERA, 6.8 K/9, 1.29 WHIP)
It will be interesting to see if this is the pitching matchup that actually happens in Game 4. If the Twins are down 2-1 in the series, we know that Johan Santana will pitch. If the Twins are up 2-1, I like the idea of Lohse going at home, and just taking their chances. Javier Vazquez was one of the best pitchers in the National League the last couple of years, and his record with the Yankees is not bad. However, since the All-Star break, he is just 4-5 with a 7.06 ERA. In other words, worse than even Lohse (if thatís possible). So will Torre actually go with Vazquez, or could Kevin Brown make this start.
Twins - 1 arm, Yankees - 2 arms
GAME 5 STARTERS
Twins - either Radke or Santana
Yankees - Mike Mussina
I would prefer Santana on regular rest here if necessary, but I would feel good about Radke making that start in Yankees Stadium too!
Twins - 4 arms, Yankees 3 arms.
For the Twins, they would love to get seven innings out of Santana and Radke and hand the ball to Juan Rincon for the 8th and Joe Nathan for the 9th. The question mark comes when the other starters go and someone may have to pitch the 7th. JC Romero has been terrible, and Jesse Crain and Grant Balfour are young, and I wonder if Ron Gardenhire will use them in a close game. Terry Mulholland is an option for long work or to get a lefty.
Likewise, the Yankees would love to have their starters go seven innings before handing the ball to Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera, each of whom could pitch two innings. It will be very interesting to see how Kevin Brown is used in this series. Paul Quantrill has been doing this for a long time and is very good. Tanyon Sturtze has done well of late out of the Ďpen. Felix Heredia is really about their only option from the left-side.
Primary - Twins (Rincon) - 4.5, Yankees (Gordon) - 5
Secondary - Twins - 2.5 arms, Yankees - 3 arms.
Joe Nathan only had one career save coming into this season. He went out and saved 44 games, blowing just three games. His stuff is just nasty as evidence by his 1.62 ERA, 11.1 K/9 and 0.98 WHIP. Mariano Rivera is the best postseason closer ever. Of course he is because heís been in so many of them. However, since 1997, he has blown just 2 games in the playoffs. He has been almost unhittable. He also has an ability to pitch two or even three innings if necessary. This year, he has saved 53 games in 57 opportunities. He has a 1.94 ERA, struck out 7.6 per nine innings and had a 1.08 WHIP.
Twins - 4.5 arms, Yankees 5 arms.
For the pitching portion, letís assume a 10 inning game (for mathematical purposes). We want a starter to go six innings (60%), the bullpen to pitch two innings (20%) and the closer to pitch one inning (10%). I add the extra inning to account for the rest of the bullpen, the guys that the managers really hope not to use. If a starter is unable to go six innings, or if secondary bullpen guys have to pitch, it hurts that team's chances.
Starters - Twins - 17 arms, Yankees - 14.5 arms
Bullpen (Primary) - Twins - 4.5 arms, Yankees - 5 arms
Bullpen (Secondary) - Twins - 2.5 arms, Yankees - 3 arms
Closer - Twins - 4.5 arms, Yankees - 5 arms.
Total - 0.6(Starters) + 0.2(Primary Bullpen) + 0.1(Secondary Bullpen) + 0.1(Closer))
Twins - 11.8
Yankees - 10.5
OK, so letís put our formula into the perspective of the whole team. Remember my equation from the beginning:
0.5 (Hitting) + 0.4 (Pitching) + 0.1 (Fielding) - 100%
Hitting - Twins - 26, Yankees - 32
Fielding - Twins - 29, Yankees - 23
Pitching - Twins - 11.8, Yankees - 10.5
To be mathematically accurate, we need to be looking at the same thing. We need to find a "normal." Since Iím a Twins fan, the Twins will be the normal. Letís change all of these numbers to a scale where the Twins number in each category is 100.
Hitting - Twins 100, Yankees - 123
Fielding - Twins 100, Yankees - 79.3
Pitching - Twins - 100, Yankees - 89
And finally, letís put these numbers into our equation:
Twins - 0.5 (100) + 0.4 (100) + 0.1 (100) =100
Yankees - 0.5 (123) + 0.4 (89) + 0.1 (79.3) = 105
So what does this tell us? First, the Yankees may hold a slight advantage over the Twins in this series and should be favored. These are two very evenly matched teams, and this could be an absolutely incredible series! I am really looking forward to it! (Although this means nothing in the playoffs, it is important to note that these two similar teams have one huge discrepancy - Twins payroll - about $55 million, Yankees payroll - approaching $200 million!)
It is vital for the Twins to win Game 1 with Johan Santana on the mound. Losing that game, with your ace pitcher on the mound could be devastating. But winning Game 1 would help the team and Brad Radke relax heading into Game 2.
But the fact is that you can look at all of the numbers above. You can try to predict who will do well based on who did well during the regular season. But to be truthful... all that means absolutely nothing at this point. All that matters is what happens in this small sample size, Best of 5 series. Who knows? Maybe Henry Blanco or Enrique Wilson will be the series MVP. Maybe Johan will get shelled in Game 1 and someone Kyle Lohse will throw a shutout in Game 4? That is what makes the playoffs so interesting. Everything is magnified. And we will likely have Joe Buck and Tim McCarver saying really dumb things the whole series. That is about the only thing I can really predict with any certainty. But, just for fun, let's finally give a series prediction.
I know I am going to sound like a homer with my pick, but I really believe that the Twins will split in New York and then come home and win both games at the Metrodome to win the series. Wishful thinking? Maybe. Realistic? Absolutely. I think that the Twins have better starting pitching and Rincon and Nathan are nearly as capable as Gordon and Rivera. Offensively, clearly the Yankees hitters are better than the Twins hitters, just look at their numbers. However, their hitters have to face the Twins pitchers. Likewise, the Twins hitters get to face the Yankees pitchers. So, I am going to stick with my prediction: Twins Win Series in FOUR games.
What do you think? Can the Twins win? Will the Twins win? Send me your thoughts and predictions for the series? What are the keys? Who will be the MVP? Which player will totally step up in the limelight? What worries you? Or, what do you think of my analysis? Does my logic make sense to you? E-mail me your thoughts on this series.
If you have any questions or comments, please e-mail me.
THE OTHER SERIES'
Obviously I don't have the time to go quite as in-depth on the other playoff series'. But I do want to make a few comments on each of them, as well as make my predictions.
BOSTON RED SOX vs ANAHEIM ANGELS
The Angels have been as hot as any team in baseball of late. They stormed right past the Oakland A's to claim the AL West. Boston is actually the second best team in the American League but because of the Yankees, they come into this tournament as the Wild Card. Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez will be the first two starters for the Red Sox. Jarrod Washburn and Bartolo Colon get the nod in those games for the Halos. Advantage, Red Sox! The Red Sox have a better offense (led by Johnny Damon, Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz), with all due respect to Vlad Guerrero.
Seth's Prediction - Red Sox in four games. (If the Red Sox win, and the Twins beat the Yankees, the Twins would have home field advantage in that next series.)
LOS ANGELES DODGERS vs ST LOUIS CARDINALS
The question for me with the Cardinals is their pitching staff. Can the no-names keep it up, or will Matt Morris and Woody Williams step up? The Dodgers have question marks in their pitching staff too though. And, led by Scott Rolen, Jim Edmonds and Albert Pujols (three guys in the Top 5 of my National League MVP ballot, which will be posted on Friday, so check back!), the Cardinals have arguably the best offense in baseball. I do believe that the Cardinals are the best team in baseball at this point. The Dodgers, outside of Adrian Beltre (also in my Top 5), just don't have enough offensive weapons to keep up.
Seth's Prediction - Cardinals in three games.
HOUSTON ASTROS vs ATLANTA BRAVES
The Braves have really been a huge surprise this year. After all of their losses the last couple of seasons, it is easy to cheer for JD Drew, Chipper Jones and the Braves. But the Killer B's in Houston (Biggio, Bagwell, Beltran and Berkman) have never been out of the first round of the playoffs, so it would be nice to see them win too. It sure would be nice if the Astros had a healthy Andy Pettitte, but with Roger Clemens and Roy Oswalt, I do think that the Astros have better staring pitching than the Braves (Russ Ortiz, Mike Hampton and John Thomson).
Seth's Prediction - Astros in five games.
NFL "EXPERT" PICKS
Finally, here are the results of our football picks for Week 4. As I mentioned yesterday, Melissa Olson, Michael Labuda and Mike Brasel (again!) won this week, each going 9-5. Three were a game behind and the other six went 6-6. Being the only person to pick the Chiefs to win last night kept me from being in last place all by myself! But as you can see, I have organized these standings by the overall ranking through four weeks. Mike Brasel currently has a four game lead over both Aaron Gleeman and Ryan Maus. If you want to see all of the picks and the up-to-date standings, go to our FB Picks page.
Thru Week 4 Total Name Site
L Win% W L Win % Mike Brasel Fantasy FB Guru 9 5 64.3% 45 15 75.0% Aaron Gleeman Aaron's BB Blog 8 6 57.1% 41 19 68.3% Ryan Maus Twins Chatter 8 6 57.1% 41 19 68.3% Jeremy Kovash Wolf Lake Mgr 7 7 50.0% 38 22 63.3% David Bergner Baseball Savant 7 7 50.0% 38 22 63.3% Michael Labuda ChiSox Daily 9 5 64.3% 37 23 61.7% Melissa Olson SethSpeaks.net 9 5 64.3% 37 23 61.7% Vic Quick KDUH-TV Sports 8 6 57.1% 36 24 60.0% Ben Jacobs Hardball Times 7 7 50.0% 35 25 58.3% Seth Stohs SethSpeaks.net 7 7 50.0% 35 25 58.3% David Bloom Ya Gotta Believe 7 7 50.0% 34 26 56.7% John Bonnes The Twins Geek 7 7 50.0% 31 29 51.7%
And on that note, thank you for stopping by my site. If you have any questions or comments, send me an e-mail.
Back to Archives Home