However, despite what you may read, the Yankees' previous success against the Twins in both the regular season and postseason has absolutely no bearing on how this latest series between the two teams will play out.
Bowing to pressure from several of my loyal readers, I've decided to present Yankeeist's ALDS Series Preview in several installments, as cramming all of the information I want to discuss into one post was quickly becoming information overload.
There's a lot of information to dissect, so let's dive right in. Here are the two teams' offense and pitching numbers, with AL ranks (yellow highlight denotes the superior ranking):
And here are a smattering of the two teams' baserunning and situational hitting numbers:
Got all that? Good, because there's a test tomorrow.
As an offensive unit, the Yankees have the clear edge, although it's not as if the Twins are the 2010 Mariners. If the Twins were a beer, they'd basically be Yankees Lite™ -- they get on base at a nice clip, but not quite as frequently; they hit for decent power, but not quite as much.
The Twins starters have clearly outperformed the Yankees starters as a unit, but that's not particularly hard to do when two-fifths of one's rotation was comprised of A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez. The Yankees' starters do strike more batters out and allow less hits.
The bullpen is not quite as cut-and-dry. Everyone knows the Twins' greatest strength -- among both the starting rotation and its relievers -- is that they will not give you extra baserunners via the walk, underscored by an AL-leading 2.37 BB/9. Though a lot of the rate stats in the above table are close, the Yankees' bullpen appears to have the slight edge, due to superior K and strand rates. That's not to say the Twins' bullpen can't shut you down; they most certainly can, but this isn't, say, the Rangers' 'pen where they've got 80 guys who can throw 110mph.
Both teams have struggled a bit during the last 30 days -- the Yankee pitching staff in particular has of course been abysmal, with the worst ERA and FIP in the American League during that time period. Between the fact that everything resets once the playoffs start and the fact that the Yankees were sending non-postseason pitchers to the mound in a lot of those innings, the stats over the last 30 days aren't all that instructive, but I thought it'd be helpful to at least show what the two teams have been doing leading up to this series.
The home/road splits are pretty unsurprising -- both teams hit better at their home ballparks. As Mike has touched upon previously, the Yankees' home/road split is actually pretty disturbing -- they lose .070 points of slugging when away from the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium. The flip side is that they pitch much better away from the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium. The Twins both hit and pitch better at home, which helps explain their AL-leading 53-28 home record. Of course, the Yankees are right behind them as far as enjoying playing at home goes, with a 52-29 mark. The Twins' pitching staff in particular performs significantly worse away from Target Field, with an ERA nearly a full run higher.
As far as baserunning and situational hitting goes, the Twins have the edge as far as taking extra bases, making the most of their scoring opportunities, delivering productive outs and sacrificing runners over, while the Yankees are superior at -- well, stealing bases. Clearly the Yankees' patience + power offensive strategy doesn't align itself well with doing some of the smaller things on the basepaths, but in a five-game set the differences between the two teams will be minimal. And it's not as if the Yankees don't have any players who run the bases well, but they do have high-OBP, awful-baserunning players like Jorge Posada, who by himself probably skews a fair amount of these numbers.