Previewing the Playoff Matchups: AL

With the number of games remaining for teams dwindling into a single digit territory, I thought it a decent time to evaluate the possible postseason match ups that we will be viewing this coming October. Lets start in the American League.

Three of the four playoff spots are all but fixed at this point. New York will win the East, Anaheim the West and Boston the Wild Card. Because of the rule preventing the team with the best record in the league, which will be New York, from playing the Wild Card team if said team is from their division, which Boston is, New York gets the benefit of playing the lower win totaled team that captures the AL Central crown.

Boston will face off against the Angels in the Divisional Series for the fourth time. Each previous time, 2004 (sweep), 2007 (sweep) and 2008 (3 games to 1) was won by Boston. Will the Angels be able to overcome their first round nemesis this season?

The Yankees meanwhile, who have a Divisional Series bug of themselves to boot having not advanced past the first round in their last three trips to the postseason, will face off against either the Detroit Tigers in a rematch of the 2006 ALDS or the Minnesota Twins in a rematch of the 2003 and 2004 ALDS’ which were both won by New York, who hasn’t won a Divisional Series since.

As for which team might present a tougher task to New York, the Twins and Tigers are remarkably evenly matched in value this year. I guess that’s not much of a surprise given their nearly identical records, but when you consider how often it seems the won-loss records are out of whack with the team’s underlying performances, I was interested it note the combined hitters (includes defense) + pitchers WAR for the two teams:
Tigers: 20.9 + 14.8 = 35.7
Twins: 19.2 + 15.4 = 34.6

Neither team is markedly stronger than the other and it would come down to simple matchups and which team might benefit more from the dropped 5th starter in the playoffs.



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Matthew Carruth is a software engineer who has been fascinated with baseball statistics since age five. When not dissecting baseball, he is watching hockey or playing soccer.



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Pat
Guest
Pat

Matt,

Not to be a jerk, but I’ve come to expect a lot more out of fangraphs. I thought there would be more to this article than simply telling me the match ups everyone knows and then saying that Boston has dominated the Angels in the playoffs of late (thank, I wasn’t quite sure) and that the Yanks haven’t made it to the LCS in a few years (thanks for the update).

Please include an actual preview next time rather than reading off the standings for everyone.

If this is a 5th grader submitting an article I will now feel bad. Otherwise, try harder next time.

don
Guest
don

Trapped by “small sample size”, what sort of matchup preview do you expect from Fangraphs? ESPN can talk about everything they learned from things like a 4 game series 3 months ago, but really, who cares?

If there’s one thing that consistently amazes me about this site it’s the demeanor of the comments.

Ryan
Guest
Ryan

Don, are you serious? You really think the only criteria that one could use to preview a series is head-to-head results? Come on. Strength of pitching match-ups, how X pitcher is likely to fare against Y line-up, etc.

Pat’s comment may have been overly rude, but that doesn’t mean he’s wrong. My reaction to this piece was one of surprise and disappointment as well.

Pat
Guest
Pat

Don,

The crazy thing is that he even put at the end that it will “come down to simple matchups and which team might benefit more from the dropped 5th starter in the playoffs”. Hey, great idea! Lets analyze these “simple matchups”!

As Ryan said, my comment was rude and over the top – I do apologize for that, but in no way do I think I am wrong in pointing out that this was a lazy, useless article.

Titodawg did more analysis with his comment –

“No Morneau for the twins, no verlander-type shutdown starter either, I think the Yanks would prefer minnesota”.

Do you think Titodawg’s comments mean more in these matchups than pointing out that the Yanks played the Twins in 2003 and 2004 and the Tigers in 2006? Because I sure do.

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