The World Series — or any championship competition, really — always sparks a bunch of position-by-position comparisons. The Red Sox have the edge in center field; the Cardinals have the edge in left field; that sort of thing. I’ve seen a few of them already and wondered how many times the Yankees would have been given a positional edge over either team in this World Series. Let’s take a look.
Chris Stewart vs. Jarrod Saltalamacchia vs. Yadier Molina
Seems like a pretty obvious 1-2-3 ranking. Molina might be the best all-around catcher in baseball, and Saltalamacchia is coming off a strong offensive season. Quite a bit of distance between each one.
1. Molina, 2. Saltalamacchia, 3. Stewart
Lyle Overbay vs. Mike Napoli vs. Matt Adams
The Cardinals have all all-right-handed rotation, and the Yankees could potentially throw two lefties at Adams. In this hypothetical three-way matchup, that even the playing field a little bit, but still…
1. Napoli, 2. Adams, 3. Overbay
Robinson Cano vs. Dustin Pedroia vs. Matt Carpenter
The position where you’d expect the Yankees to have an easy edge against almost any team, except that these are arguably the three best second basemen in baseball. Giving an edge might depend on who’s hot at the time. I’ll go with this order, acknowledging any one of these could easily outperform the others in a seven-game series.
1. Cano, 2. Carpenter, 3. Pedroia
Eduardo Nunez vs. Xander Bogaerts vs. David Freese
Kind of the opposite of second base. I’m not sure any team would fully expect to have the edge here given the uncertainties that come with each player. Bogaerts is young, Freese is coming off a bad season and Nunez isn’t really a third baseman. Give the edge to the postseason hero.
1. Freese, 2. Bogaerts, 3. Nunez
Brendan Ryan vs. Stephen Drew vs. Pete Kozma
Only one of these three provides much at the plate. He’s the best of the bunch. The other two are in the lineup strictly for defense, and if that’s the case, I think the edge between them has to go to the guy who’s considered by some to be the best defensive shortstop in the game.
1. Drew, 2. Ryan, 3. Kozma
Alfonso Soriano vs. Jonny Gomes vs. Matt Holliday
The top spot here depends entirely on how heavily you weigh Soriano’s final two months of the season. If you expect him to be that good in a seven-game series, he’s the best bet. If you go for the more sustained track record, it’s Holliday.
1. Holliday, 2. Soriano, 3. Gomes
Brett Gardner vs. Jacoby Ellsbury vs. Jon Jay
This is assuming Gardner would have been healthy in time for our hypothetical World Series. If that’s the case, then I think the rankings are pretty easy.
1. Ellsbury, 2. Gardner, 3. Jay
Curtis Granderson vs. Shane Victorino vs. Carlos Beltran
A pretty interesting group. Victorino’s name is probably going to appear on some MVP ballots this season, but I still think it’s a pretty close call between him and Granderson in a seven-game series.
1. Beltran, 2. Victorino, 3. Granderson
Alex Rodriguez vs. David Ortiz vs. Allen Craig
Assuming Rodriguez would have stayed in the lineup had the Yankees been playing for something. Even if he hadn’t, the Yankees wouldn’t have a go-to option any better than the Red Sox or Cardinals projected DHs. That said, Craig hasn’t played in a while.
1. Ortiz, 2. Craig, 3. Rodriguez
Hiroki Kuroda vs. Jon Lester vs. Adam Wainwright
Just naming the guys I would predict for a Game 1 start. CC Sabathia likely wouldn’t have been healthy in time for the World Series. Even if he were, it wouldn’t have made a difference in these rankings.
1. Cardinals, 2. Red Sox, 3. Yankees
Mariano Rivera vs. Koji Uehara vs. Trevor Rosenthal
Obviously it’s about more than the closers, and both the Boston and St. Louis bullpens have looked awfully good this postseason. The Yankees would have their dominant postseason weapon in Rivera — and Dave Robertson matches up with any other setup man — but Boston and St. Louis have shown impressive relief depth.
1. Cardinals, 2. Red Sox, 3. Yankees
I have the Yankees last in seven of the 11 categories, and I have them first only once (at a position where it’s acknowledged that all three teams are very strong).
None of this comes as a surprise. A team that struggled to stay in the playoff hunt really shouldn’t matchup very well against the two teams in the World Series, but it’s a pretty clear indication of just how out-of-their-league the Red Sox and Cardinals really were at the end of the year. The Yankees were still a team plugging holes and hoping for best-case scenarios. The Red Sox and Cardinals had found their solutions.
Associated Press photos