Yankeeist's 2010 ALDS Series Preview, Part 1: Head-to-Head Overall Team Numbers
Edited, 1:24pm. So of course the roster was announced five minutes after this post went up. Greg Golson did indeed make the roster over Eduardo Nunez, while Dustin Moseley got the nod over Ivan Nova for some reason. A.J. Burnett is also on the roster.
I haven't heard word on the Twins yet, but I feel pretty good about the 14 position players I expect Minnesota to use. I couldn't narrow Gardenhire's pitching staff down to 11 from 13, so do not take these as gospel.
I have 10 Yankees listed as starters, as Lance Berkman will be platooned with Marcus Thames. The Twins' two clear advantages lie at DH and catcher, where Jim Thome throttles the Berkman/Thames two-headed monster, while Joe Mauer of course continues to be the best catcher in baseball, though Jorge Posada didn't exactly have a bad year.
The rest of the Yankees' infield dominates the Twins outfield, with Mark Teixeira even in a down year outproducing Michael Cuddyer, Robinson Cano killing Orlando Hudson, Derek Jeter besting J.J. Hardy (you know it's a strange year for shortstops when a .320 wOBA represents a superior mark), and Alex Rodriguez edging Danny Valencia. However, Valencia's no pushover, and his impressive .351 wOBA has him in the running for AL Rookie of the Year.
In the outfield the Yankees boast three players with 3.0-plus yWARs in Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson and Nick Swisher. The Twins counter with Delmon Young, Denard Span and Jason Kubel. While Young and Kubel are solid offensive threats, they give a lot of their value back on defense, as evidenced by their surprisingly low yWARs. The Yankees also have the clear edge in the outfield, as well. So out of nine position players, the Yankees have the advantage in seven of them. There's probably a case to be made for Young over Gardner, but I feel that Gardy's defensive contributions outweigh any advantages Young might bring on the slugging end of the spectrum.
The Twins look to have the slight edge with their bench, with Alexi Casilla and Wilson Ramos providing near-league average performances, and Jason Repko and Matt Tolbert just above replacement level. Of Austin Kearns, Francisco Cervelli, Ramiro Pena and Greg Golson, only Kearns provides any pop, which will make any late-game pinch-running/defensive substitutions Joe Girardi may opt for very difficult to swallow.
The Yankees' trio of CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes is probably slightly better than the Twins' planned foursome of Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing and Nick Blackburn, although Blackburn's numbers are dragging the rest down pretty significantly. Likewise, the Yankee bullpen is being dragged a bit by Burnett's numbers, and it's not even clear whether A.J. Burnett will throw a pitch in this series.
I would take the Yankees' endgame of Mariano Rivera-Kerry Wood-David Robertson-Joba Chamberlain over the Twins' Matt Capps-Jon Rauch-Brian Fuentes-Jesse Crain, despite the fact that the Twins' foursome have absurdly low FIPs -- that just means they don't walk anybody. Not that that attribute should be discounted, but the Twins' 'pen is more likely to yield a base hit or a home run. If Sergio Mitre and Ivan Nova do make the roster, I wouldn't expect to see either get any significant innings and they may not pitch at all unless a game gets out of hand. As for Gardenhire, he'll have starters Scott Baker and Kevin Slowey available as long men.
It's pretty clear that these two teams match-up very closely. Again, the Yankees obviously get the edge on offense, and their three-man starting rotation is arguably stronger than the Twins' four starters, given that the Yankees would be running a 5.2 yWAR pitcher out to the mound twice in those head-to-head matchups. The bullpens are also very close, but I like the Yankee relievers' ability to miss bats more than the Twins' propensity to let the opposition put the ball in play and see what happens.
Please also be sure to check out SG's position player and pitcher postseason previews, Cliff Corcoran's ALDS lineup breakdown and Part 1 and Part 2 of TYU's ALDS Preview.