Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago White Sox
New York Yankees vs. Anaheim Angels
By Keith Glab 10/04/05
Normally, I don’t like to lump Divisional Series together like this, but these matchups are so similar that I’d just be repeating myself to write two separate previews.
Red Sox: 95-67 910 RS(1st) 805 RA(11th)
White Sox: 99-63 741 RS(9th) 645 RA(3rd)
Yankees: 95-67 886 RS(2nd) 789 RA(9th)
Angels: 95-67 761 RS(7th) 643 RA(1st(t))
The first thing that should strike you about these teams is just how even they are: three 95-win teams and a 99 win team. The Angels are seeded higher than the Yankees by virtue of a 6-4 head-to-head matchup between them, while the Yanks rank higher than Boston due to a 10-8 record against the BoSox. That’s absolutely the closest you’ll ever see three playoff teams in the same league, and probably the closest you’ll ever see all four.
That small edge for Anaheim could turn out to be huge in this series. They, along with Chicago, have proven themselves capable of winning either at home or on the road, while Boston and New York are just a combined four games over .500 on the road.
Next, notice that both matcups depict classic offense versus defense battles. The Red Sox scored 169 more runs than their White counterparts, but also allowed 160 more runs! The Yankees and Angels seem relatively balanced in comparison, though it’s still a clear cut case of the home team favoring pitching and the away team favoring hitting.
The Angels and the White Sox each have 2 players with an OPS above .785:
Vlad Guerrero (.393/.565)
Casey Kotchman (.343/.484)
Paul Konerko (.375/.534)
Jermaine Dye (.330/.505)
Meanwwhile, the Red Sox have eight such players and the Yankees have five.
Scott Podsednik (59) and Chone Figgins (60) each have more staels than the entire Red Sox team (45) and aren’t all that far from the Yankee total of 84.
On the other hand, the Angels have four starting pitchers with ERAs below 3.75, and the White Sox have four below 3.90. The Red Sox’ best starter has a 4.15 ERA (Wakefield), and the Yankees are starting someone in game 2 who has a 1.33 K/BB ratio (Chacon).
The Yankees and Red Sox have bullpens with save percentages of 69% and 67% respectively, while the Angels and White Sox are at 76% and 74%.
I’m telling you , these matchups are the same. Either the Yankees and Red Sox will win, or the Angels and White Sox shall. There is no mixing and matching. Now, most people will tell you that home field advantage is important and that good pitching beats good hitting, and I usually tell you that most people are full of it. But in this case, I’m gong with Chicago and Anaheim.
The usefulness of home field advantage and a good defense is always overstated in postseason play. But all other things being equal (and it’s pretty clear that everything else IS equal), they can be the determining factors. They should all be close games, and two of these teams have loads more experience in one-run games this year.
White Sox in three
Angels in three