Monday, October 02, 2006

Twins/Athetics Position-by-Position

Looking at the teams position by position probably doesn't give us a great indication of who is actually going to win the series, but it does provide a nice overview and preview for what is to come. So let's do it:

Catcher: Joe Mauer vs. Jason Kendall
Jason Kendall isn't necessarily a bad catcher, but Joe Mauer is the batting champion, the best Catcher in the MLB, and a legitimate MVP candidate. Joe is much better offensively, much better defensively, and that makes this the most lopsided difference between the 2 clubs.

First Base: Justin Morneau vs. Nick Swisher
Nick Swisher is a very solid, patient hitter with a little bit of power. But Justin Morneau he is not. Morneau is the better all-around hitter... he hits for a higher average, and his slugging is a bit higher than Swisher as well. Add in that Morneau is an above-average defensive first basemen, and Morneau gets the clear edge.

Second Base: Luis Castillo vs. Mark Ellis
Luis Castillo is not as good defensively as he once was, and he doesn't hit for much power at all, but I give him a slight edge over Ellis. Castillo is very good at at taking pitches at the top of the lineup, and gets on base at a respectable rate of .358. Even with his declining range, I give the edge to Castillo.

Shortstop: Jason Bartlett vs. Marco Scutaro
Once again, I give the slighest of edges to Bartlett and the Twins. Bartlett has very good range and a good arm at SS. Offensively, both are similar players. They have some patience at the plate, but aren't going to be supplying a lot of power. Bartlett gets on base at a slightly better rate, which is why I give him the edge.

Third Base: Nick Punto vs. Eric Chavez
I like what Punto has brought this year, but Chavez gets the edge this year even though he hasn't been his normal self at the plate. Both are getting on base at a similar rate, but Chavez does hit for more power. Also, while I think Punto has been very good defensively at 3B, Chavez is still the class of the American League when it comes to that category.

Left Field: Rondell White vs. Jay Payton
The Twins have sorta had a mismatch group and you're never really sure who's going to be out there, but I think Rondell is the most likely. As we all know Rondell was just absolutely atrociously awful to start the year, but he hit very well in July and hit very well in September, showing why the Twins went out and got him. Which Rondell White will show up? Good question, and that's I give Jay Payton the edge here.

Center Field: Torii Hunter vs. Mark Kotsay
Both are excellent defensive outfielders, and with Hunter being a step slower because of injury, things may be pretty equal in that department. So it comes down to offense. Kotsay is the more patient hitter, but Hunter hits for a lot more power. After 9 HR in September, Hunter has the edge here.

Right Field: Michael Cuddyer vs. Milton Bradley
They are actually very similar players. Neither guy hits for a great average, but they both hold their own. Both have pretty good plate discipline. Neither has great power, but both can hit it out of the ballpark. In the end, I think that the fact that Cuddyer hits so many doubles, and that he has a great arm in the OF gives him an edge over Bradley.

Designated Hitter: Jason Tyner vs. Frank Thomas
Frank Thomas has the edge here by about a million bazillion miles. Not even worth really talking about.

#1 Starter: Johan Santana vs. Barry Zito
Zito has been solid this year (though don't look now, his ERA is 4.55 since the AS break), but Johan is in another class from all pitchers.

#2 Starter: Boof Bonser vs. Esteban Loaiza
If you'd have told me earlier this year Boof would be starting game 2, I would have laughed. But he's earned it with his pitching over the last 2 months. For Loaiza, he is also pitching well after a horrid first half, and has a 4.01 ERA since the AS break. If he can keep the ball down and get the Twins pitchers swinging early in the count, he can be effective. I call this one about a draw. I think if either guy goes 6 strong innings, their team will be happy.

#3 Starter: Brad Radke vs. Rich Harden
Both pitchers have been effective when healthy, but that has been a problem for both. For Radke, the problems with his shoulder have been well documented and this is his last hurrah, as he will retire at the end of the year. For Harden, he's always had some of the best stuff of anyone in the Majors, but he can't seem to stay healthy. He's made 3 starts since coming off the DL, with 2 of them being solid, but he struggled in his last start. Still, when he's on, he's on, which is why I give Harden the edge. But it wouldn't surprise me at all if Radke gives the Twins a great outing... what he's done this year is unlike anything I have seen in sports.

#4 Starter: Carlos Silva vs. Dan Haren
If Carlos Silva pitches in this series, that will be a good thing, because it means the Twins will be leading in this series 2-1. However, I don't like his odds against Dan Haren, a very solid SP.

Bullpen: Joe Nathan vs. Huston Street
Out of all playoff teams, I'd rank these teams 1 and 2 in this category. But as I've said before, I think the Twins have the best bullpen in the MLB. If they can get the lead after 6, they're in very good shape, especially with Joe Nathan anchoring things down at the backend. Plus, I'm not sure Oakland has anyone that can consistently get lefties out.

So what does this all mean? Well, maybe nothing. But it gives us a little better idea of what we're dealing with.

For the record, I've got the Twins in 5.