Greetings from somewhere between New York and Baltimore. I’m on a train with Sweeny Murti — both of us relieved to have avoided an early morning flight to Texas — and I’m working on standard position-by-position matchups for tomorrow’s newspaper.
You know the drill: Compare the Yankees and Orioles at each position to determine who has the advantage at each spot. It’s more of a discussion-worthy exercise than meaningful analysis, but it’s a good way for unfamiliar readers to learn the important players on each side, so it’s worthwhile. And it’s generally easy enough — center field advantage Orioles, second base Yankees — but there are two I’m debating, and they’re unusual.
First base and third base.
These two spots should be easy. Clearly, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez have proven themselves to be far superior players to Mark Reynolds and Manny Machado, but for the next five games, who would you rather have at the infield corners?
Even as Teixeira’s batting average has dipped the past few years, he’s still not quite the all-or-nothing hitter that Reynolds is. Teixeira is the better player, no doubt, but he’s also played four games in the past month. My hunch is that Teixeira is still the better bet to have a big series, but it’s not the slam dunk that it should be. Reynolds is dangerous, he’s crushed the Yankees this season, and he’s been playing regularly.
Machado is one of the elite prospects in the game, and at 20 years old, he hit seven home runs in just 51 big league games this season. His .262/.294/.445 shows that he has some limitations — he strikes out quite a bit and hardly walks — but still, he’s a good young player who’s had an impact down the stretch. Rodriguez has been a better overall hitter this season — .272/.353/.430 — but if the past three weeks are a true indication of Rodriguez’s current ability to drive the ball, the kid might be a better option than the future Hall of Famer.
Given the names involved, it seems silly to ask the question, but right now, in a five-game series, under the current circumstances, which pair would you rather have?
Associated Press photo