World Series matchup: offense

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


What We've Learned So Far:

-- That Alex Rodriguez is in a very good place. Physically and emotionally healthy, A-Rod is on a monster tear this postseason, batting .438/.548/.969 (BA/OBP/SLG) and forcing opposing teams to treat him like Albert Pujols or Barry Bonds -- pitching around him whenever possible.

-- That they don't have to hit home runs to win. Despite being the most prolific home run hitting team in the majors this season (244), the Yankees failed to hit any homers in half their games against the Angels in the ALCS -- and went 2-1 in those games. In the clinching Game 6, in fact, they had zero extra-base hits.

What We Still Don't Know:

-- Whether they can afford to stick with Nick Swisher in right field. Swisher nearly killed them in the ALCS, batting .150 in the series and popping up with the bases loaded to end a Game 5 loss. Girardi has stuck with him, because Swisher is a switch hitter and has the ability to work counts and draw walks. But another poor game or two, and the Yankees may turn to Brett Gardner or Jerry Hairston Jr.

-- If Mark Teixeira is slumping. His heroic turns in the Division Series and his stellar defense have obscured his struggle at the plate (.205/.273/.308) this postseason. The Yankees need him to get hot to take some of the load off Rodriguez.


What We've Learned So Far:

-- That their game is power. After leading the NL in homers this season, the Phillies bashed 10 of them in five games against the Dodgers in the NLCS. Every starter in their lineup except leadoff man Jimmy Rollins has hit one this postseason. -- That they remain vulnerable to lefties. The splits tell the full story: .286/.366/.493 vs. RHPs, and .189/.355/.432 vs. LHPs this postseason. It doesn't always hold true (just ask L.A.'s Clayton Kershaw or George Sherrill), but the most dependable way to tamp down the Phillies' offense is with quality left-handed pitching.

What We Still Don't Know:

-- Whether Rollins can again be a productive leadoff man. His game-winning double in the ninth inning of Game 4 against the Dodgers wipes away a lot of sins, and Rollins has had many, starting with his .279 on-base percentage this postseason.

-- Whether Chase Utley is hurt. Some observers have suggested Utley, the Phillies' second baseman, is dealing with a sore foot, or perhaps a recurrence of the hip injury he hid last postseason. Utley himself has denied it. In any case, his offensive numbers are down and he's had some difficulty with footwork in the field. Prediction: Yankees in 7.

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