Tonight in the Bronx, the Philadelphia Phillies will face the New York Yankees in game one of the World Series. While we predicted this match-up in April, we never really detailed any reasons why; but we’re not going to waste the second chance.
Now, by going through a comprehensive comparison of each team, Against the Spread presents the means in which the Philadelphia Phillies will defeat the New York Yankees in six games:
POSITION BY POSITION BREAKDOWNS
Starting Pitching: It’s hard not to like the Yankees here, considering they are throwing out three of the biggest named pitchers in the sport. ALCS MVP C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettite fix to comprise the rotation for the entire series, as Yankees manager Joe Girardi would like to go with those three for the next seven games. The Phillies will counter with Cliff Lee in game one,, but after that will rely on Yankee-whipping boy Pedro Martinez in game two and most likely Cole Hamels in game three. Game four would likely feature either J.A. Happ or Joe Blanton before Lee could return for a fifth game on Monday night. If there series goes seven, expect to see Sabathia three times, a formula which could be too much to handle for Philly.
Catching: The backstop has been an issue for the past three weeks in New York as Jorge Posada voiced displeasure over A.J. Burnett choosing Jose Molina over the vet. Looking at the numbers, Posada has plenty of reason to bee upset; Burnett has allowed 10 walks in just over 18 innings and has an ERA of close to 4.5. Meanwhile in Philadelphia, Carlos Ruiz has stepped out yet again in the postseason, hitting a big home run in game one of the NLCS and playing solid defense as usual. Ruiz (or “Chooch”, or “Sénor Octobre” as many are now calling him) certainly give the Phillies an advantage here.
First Base: Two of the best in the game at first base highlight this match-up in switch-hitting Mark Texiera and the Phillies left-handed slugger Ryan Howard. Howard has been a terror this October, driving in a playoff-leading 14 runs in the first eight games of the postseason and earning NLCS MVP honors in the process. Texiera’s big blow came in game two of the division series against Minnesota, a home run that won the game in extras for the Yankees. But beyond that bomb, he has hit just .205 in the postseason. Looking at the body of work this year, Howard is the clear-cut better of the two, but Texiera is capable of swinging a hot bat at anytime.
Second Base: Robinson Cano and Chase Utley both have not played up to their potential in this postseason. Utley’s two errors nearly cost the Phillies their first two game of their series against Los Angeles, while Cano was sixth in the AL in batting in the regular season but has hit just .229 in the playoffs. Slight advantage goes to the Phillies here, but if Utley hits it will be a great sign for Philly.
Third Base: Massive advantage, Yankees. Alex Rodriguez is the hottest player left right now, hitting .438 with five bombs and 12 RBI’s in the playoffs. A-Rod has shed his postseason reputation as a player who comes up small in big situations and done so in impressive fashion. While there is no doubt that the Bombers have an advantage at the hot corner, don’t sleep on Pedro Feliz; he’s due, having hit just .161 thus far in October. Phillies fans remember that is was Feliz who had the game-winning hit in the clinching game of last year’s World Series.
Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins v. Derek Jeter. Combined, these two players have played with each team for 3,544 games; or every game of both of their careers (not including postseason games). Thus far in the playoffs, Rollins is hitting .244 with 3 RBI (two coming on his game four winning hit against the Dodgers), while Jeter is batting .297 with three homers for the Yankees. Both players are the faces of their franchise, both are the leadoff hitter on their respective teams and both must have big series’ to secure a championship. Slight advantage to New York here.
Left Field: Raul Ibanez’s first year in Philadelphia has been a memorable one. He hit .272 with 34 home runs despite being hurt for almost an entire month of the season. In October, Ibanez is hitting just .226, but has nine RBI’s and one big homer, a three-run bomb in game one of the NLCS. For the Yankees, Johnny Damon has gone deep twice this postseason and has produced five RBI from his second spot in the Yankee order. If you look at these two players, they bring different attributes to each game, but we’re going to go with Damon based on past postseason experience and production.
Center Field: No Phillie will be booed louder in this series than Shane Victorino. Batting out of the two-spot in the lineup, he is a catalyst for the entire team and produces runs when on base. Only Jeter, Rodriguez and Jayson Werth have scored more runs so far this October and he is one hit shy of having the most of any postseason player. Despite the production coming from first base, Shane leads the team in batting average (.361), and plays an incredibly solid center field. For the Yankees, Melky Cabrera also plays a solid center field and is coming off a very productive series at the plate against the Angels. Victorino is the pick here, but us Phillies fans shouldn’t sleep on Cabrera, who is the x-factor in the potent Yankee lineup.
Right Field: Nick Swisher has been a bit of a letdown for the Yankees in the playoffs, hitting just .125 so far. That and he went to Ohio State, so we’re really hoping he makes an error so we can cross-feature him in Ohio State Hate Week, which begins in just four short days. Both Swisher and Jayson Werth have struck out eleven times, but Werth’s 10 RBI’s and 5 homers, which tie him for the postseason lead with A-Rod, more than make up for the lack of contact. Advantage Phillies.
Designated Hitter: Naturally, the Yankees have any advantage here, but this comparison is closer than past fall classics. Hideki Matsui will DH for the Yankees in games 1, 2, 6 and 7, and has hit a modest .233 this October. For the Phillies, it could be a different left-handed hitter every night. Either Ibanez, who would relinquish his spot in left field to Ben Francisco, or power-hitting Matt Stairs will DH for the Phillies and try to take advantage of the short porch in right field.
Bench Players: In a series full of great positional match-ups, this is not one of them. Neither team will get an advantage here, and barring extra inning games, we may not see much of either one in this series. If these guys do play a role, it will more than likely be in games three through five in Philadelphia, so, advantage Phillies.
Bullpens: The most impressive part of the postseason run by the Phillies has been the resurgence of their bullpen. Brad Lidge has not blown a save in three chances and one of Chad Durbin’s two wins came after shutting down the middle of the Dodgers’ lineup. For the Phillies, the biggest question mark has to be Ryan Madson, who needs to be sharp in order to get close games to Lidge. Madson has blown two saves so far, and was a factor in both of the Phils’ losses this postseason. For the Yankees, they only have the best postseason relief pitcher in the history of the game in Mariano Rivera. Rivera leads in postseason appearances with eight, and has pitched 10 2/3 innings while allowing just one run. Joba Chamberlain has also pitched well for the Yanks in early relief, but it could be the middle relief of Phil Hughes who gets tested most by this Phillies lineup. Advantage goes to the Yankees in this category.
Manager: Us Phillies fans are so proud of Charlie Manuel that were going to look right past the job that Joe Girardi did this season. Managing the egos in that clubhouse and dealing with the A-Rod steroids scandal in spring training are impressive feats. We will see how good he is when he is forced to make moves in the middle games of this series, but we expect to be fine. Charlie, well he’s the manager of the defending World Series champions, and has guided this team to three straight NL eastern division championships. What’s more, he just makes all the right moves at all the right times; see below.
AtS’s Not-So Scientific Breakdown: The 2009 World Series: All these things combined, a slight advantage has to go to the Phillies. Of course I’m biased, but that’s what I feel. The above accounts for a 2-2 series split.
INTANGIBLES: A look at things you may have not have figured into this series.
Stadium: If we were basing this on ambiance, Yankee Stadium would surely be our pick. But the fact of the matter is, the Phillies have won 11 of the last 12 postseason games at Citizens Bank Park. That should be a huge statistic, considering that this series will go back to Philly tied at one.
Fans: A primary reason why you have won 11 of the last 12 vs. OMGYOUHAVETOPAYATONOFMONEYTOSITCLOSETOTHEPLAYERS. Advantage, Phillies.
History/Mystique: Yankee Stadium vs. Veterans Stadium. The City That Never Sleeps vs. The City Where You Are Afraid To Sleep. 16 retired numbers and Monument Park vs. Five retired numbers and Ashburn Alley. 10,000+ losses vs. 26 World Championships. Yeah, about that; advantage, Yankees.
Celebrity Fans: Kate Hudson, Rudy Giuliani, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver (even though he played for the Phillies, he sucks). Advantage, Phillies in an upset.
Mascot: Do the Yankees have one?
Broadcasting: John Sterling vs. Scott Franske. Advantage, push; without Harry Kalas no one wins.
Victory Song: New York, New York vs. That’s the Way I Like It. Not even close, Yankees.
Mascot: Phillie Phanatic vs. George Stienbrenner. Phillies, again.
Due to intangibles, Phillies and Yankees should split another two games, But somehow, some way, they get to Mariano Rivera and win a game they have no business winning (probably game three or four) to win the series 4-2, Jimmy gets to wear Harry’s shoes and the city gets to do this again.
We hope you enjoyed our look at the 2009 Fall Classic; and one more thing…
Phillies win, thhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeee Phillies, win! (In six, of course)