The Phillies face a stiff challenge in this year’s World Series. Don’t expect the Phillies to be favored by pundits anywhere, and don’t be surprised if a lot of them think the Phillies don’t belong in the same mention (they’d be the ones not worth paying attention to, anyhow).
Just how big of a gap is there? How do each of the hitters match up with their opponent? Let’s take a look.
We’ll compare each of the probable starting lineup by slash stats (AVG/OBP/SLG), home runs, OPS+ (player’s OPS relative to the rest of his league; 100 is average), and Wins Above Replacement.
Carlos Ruiz: .255/.355/.425, 9 HR, 103 OPS+, 2.2 WAR
Jorge Posada: .285/.363/.522, 22 HR, 130 OPS+, 4.0 WAR
Ryan Howard: .279/.360/.571, 48 HR, 139 OPS+, 4.9 WAR
Mark Teixeira: .292/.383/.565, 39 HR, 146 OPS+, 5.2 WAR
Chase Utley: .282/.397/.508, 31 HR, 135 OPS+, 7.7 WAR
Robinson Cano: .320/.352/.520, 25 HR, 126 OPS+, 4.3 WAR
Jimmy Rollins: .250/.296/.423, 21 HR, 85 OPS+, 2.4 WAR
Derek Jeter: .334/.406/.465, 18 HR, 129 OPS+, 7.4 WAR
Pedro Feliz: .266/.308/.386, 12 HR, 80 OPS+, 1.2 WAR
Alex Rodriguez: .286/.402/.532, 30 HR, 143 OPS+, 4.6 WAR
Raul Ibanez: .272/.347/.552, 34 HR, 130 OPS+, 4.1 WAR
Johnny Damon: .282/.365/.489, 24 HR, 123 OPS+, 2.8 WAR
Shane Victorino: .292/.358/.445, 10 HR, 109 OPS+, 3.4 WAR
Melky Cabrera: .274/.336/.416, 13 HR, 97 OPS+, 1.6 WAR
Jayson Werth: .268/.373/.506, 36 HR, 127 OPS+, 4.7 WAR
Nick Swisher: .249/.371/.498, 29 HR, 126 OPS+, 3.7 WAR
This comparison comes without mentioning the DH, which would favor the Yankees with Hideki Matsui over Ben Francisco, but that particular matchup isn’t fair, given the disparate sample sizes.
Aside from that, this seems to be a tale of two fields. The Phillies hold the sweep of an edge in the outfield, but the Yankees take three of four infield spots, plus catcher, by a pretty wide margin, and that’s where this matchup is bound to be won or lost.
Everyone knows that these two teams can hit home runs, and the two ballparks set to host this series are quite conducive to allowing those longballs to fly over their walls. Who can outslug the other? Which pitching staff can throw more ground balls and keep batters in the yard?
The three top Yankees starters – Sabathia, Burnett and Pettitte – had HR/9s of 0.70, 1.09 and 0.92, respectively, while the top three Phillies starters – Lee, Hamels and Martinez – had figures of 0.66, 1.12 and 1.41 in the same category. It’s worth noting, though, that Yankee relievers ranked dead last in the Majors in 2009, allowing 1.26 HR/9. The Phillies, for all their woes, were ninth at 0.84 HR/9.
Dinger Control will need to be in full effect if the Phillies are to overcome the Yankee Obstacle.