The World Series starts tomorrow, thanks to the TV networks and their stranglehold on Bud Selig's pubic hair. Let's see what the matchups look like. The Yankees, as a team, sport a wOBA of .366, best in the majors. The Phillies come in tied for 5th with the Rockies at .340, best in the NL. How about OBP? Yankees, 1st (.362), Phillies 14th (.334). Slugging? Yanks with the gold(.478), Phils with the bronze (.447). Runs scored? Yanks on top again (915), Phils 4th (820, best in the NL). The Yanks hit the most HRs--244--but the Phils are right behind at 224. The Yanks have the most hits and the most walks and the third fewest strikeouts--the Phils are middle-of-the-pack in all three. On paper, it's a mismatch. The Bombers have the best lineup in baseball. The Phils, of course, have Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jason Werth, and Raul Ibanez, all serious mashers, throw in Shane Victorino and the 2008 Jimmy Rollins and you've got a hell of a team. But no team in the game can match the Yanks for firepower: Jeter, Damon, Teixeira, A-Rod, Posada, Matsui, Cano, and Swisher all sport an OPS above .850 and a wOBA over .370! Of the 2009 Giants, only Pablo Sandoval (.943/.396) could crack that lineup, and he'd be up against Tex and A-Rod for a spot to play. Scary. One plus for the Phils? They only hit into 90 DPs, best in the game, 54 fewer than the Yanks.
How about pitching? The Yanks are 13th in team FIP (4.32), the Phils 17th (4.36). The Yankees bring some cheese with 1260 strikeouts, good for 4th (SFG #1 at 1302), while the Phils are 12th at 1153. The Phillies, on the other hand, don't walk people (489, 3rd best), while the Yanks do (574, 18th). The Phils gave up 709 runs (8th best), while the Yanks yielded 753 (11th). Both teams give up a lot of HRs (181--NYY, 189--PHI), but both play in hitter-friendly parks. The Phillies have 8 complete games (3 by Happ, 2 by Hamels, 3 by Lee) and 5 shutouts (2 Happ, 2 Hamels, 1 Lee). The Yankees have 2 CG by Sabathia, 1 a shutout, and 1 CG by Burnett. Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia have both been dominant in the post-season so far--will we get 3 starts by either of them if it goes seven? If I were Philly, I'd be tempted. The Yanks can counter Hamels with Pettite and Happ or Blanton with Burnett. The X-factor for Philadelphia will be Pedro Martinez. If he can pitch like the vintage Pedro we have all seen in the past that will be a huge plus for Philly. The other starters after Hamels--who has looked shaky so far--are eminently hittable. The Yankees have a huge advantage in late and close situations with Mariano Rivera, who seems to be just as good as he's always been, which means he's one of the best of all time.
The Phils will need to have the big guns delivering the big hits and will need Cliff Lee to neutralize C.C. Otherwise the Yanks will roll. The Phils are the defending champs--that counts for something. But the Yanks can wear anyone down with the bats--there's a reason they had the most regular-season wins. In a short series, we know that anything can happen and the "best" team doesn't always win. I'll root for the Phils, naturally, being the NL rep and all that, not to mention that rooting for the Yanks is like rooting for the Roman Empire. But my head says the Yanks will get the ring even though my heart says otherwise.