One comment grabbed my attention in Buster Olney’s blog post about rival evaluations of the Rangers and Cardinals… An American League evaluator said, “the Rangers feature the strongest 25-man roster assembled in the MLB this year.”
How do the Yankees compare to that roster?
The Yankees outscored the Rangers this season, but only barely. The Yankees scored 867 runs, the Rangers scored 855. Both scored the majority of their runs at home — Rangers more so than the Yankees — which may be a product of two teams knowing how to construct rosters for their home park. Based on the Rangers most-used lineup, I’d guess Texas has the offensive advantage at five of nine positions.
C: Napoli over Martin
1B: Teixeira over Moreland
2B: Cano over Kinsler
3B: Beltre over Rodriguez
SS: Jeter over Andrus
LF: Hamilton over Gardner
CF: Granderson over Chavez or Gentry
RF: Cruz over Swisher
DH: Young over Posada
Clearly Beltre was outhitting Rodriguez at the end of the season, and Cruz is the choice because of his postseason success. I’ll give Jeter the nod based on his second half production. Whichever lineup you prefer, it’s not lopsided one way or the other. These are two good-hitting teams
By basically every measurable statistics, the Rangers had a better rotation than the Yankees this season. Granted, Texas played weaker competition in the American League West, but the statistics show a rotation that pitched more innings with a lower ERA, lower WHIP and lower opponents batting average than the Yankees. Ultimately, the Rangers rotation was deep enough that they could afford to move Alexi Ogando back into the bullpen late in the season and into the playoffs.
Game 1: CC Sabathia over C.J. Wilson
Game 2: Derek Holland over Ivan Nova
Game 3: Freddy Garcia over Colby Lewis
Game 4: Matt Harrison over A.J. Burnett
Sabathia over Wilson is a close call (Wilson definitely had a better second half than Sabathia), so is Holland over Nova (check out Holland’s second half). Games 3 and 4 are fairly easy decisions, but the Rangers would seem to have the better matchup in each game if they flipped Harrison to Game 3 and dumped Lewis to Game 4.
The Rangers have the lower bullpen WHIP for the season. The Yankees have a slightly lower bullpen opponents batting average and a significantly lower opponents OPS. But the overall bullpen production is hard to judge because the Rangers didn’t really get their bullpen together until the second half when they traded for Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez. Those three with Darren Oliver — plus Ogando available for multiple innings — give the Rangers a bullpen with Yankees-like depth.
The Yankees bullpen was outstanding in the division series, but the Rangers bullpen was just as good in the American League Championship Series. The Yankees bullpen is an absolute strength, and it’s one the Rangers can at least come close to matching. Another spot that’s not heavily favoring one team or the other.
Bits and pieces
Each team has a key platoon player — David Murphy against right-handers for the Rangers, Andruw Jones against lefties for the Yankees — and those two have done their jobs well. The emergence of Jesus Montero obviously changes things for the Yankees designated hitter situation, but Young legitimately had a season worth MVP discussion. And Young gives the Rangers lineup flexibility that the Yankees don’t have. Craig Gentry gives the Rangers speed off the bench; Eduardo Nunez and Chris Dickerson would do that for the Yankees.
Obviously, you’d rather be the Rangers right now. But a straight swap of 25 players for 25 players, which roster would you rather have? Which team is best equipped to win a seven-game series against the Cardinals, the Yankees or the Rangers?
Associated Press photos