2005 ALDS: Breaking Down the Series

For the last few years, parity has become the Major League Baseball buzzword. After all, every team in the NL East finished at or above .500, and even the Milwaukee Brewers, showing signs of life, reached the .500 plateau for the first time since they were in the American League East way back in 1992.

But for all of this winning, the 2005 Division Series match-ups look quite similar to those from 2004. Six of the eight teams to make the Division Series in 2004 are right back where they were last year. The only newcomers are the Chicago White Sox and the barely-above-.500 San Diego Padres. As five of the top 10 payrolls made it to the playoffs this year (Yankees, Red Sox, Angels, Cardinals, Braves), money doesn’t ever guarantee a World Series trophy.

For now, I’ll leave the economics for next season. Let’s look at the match-ups instead.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (95-67) vs. New York Yankees of the Bronx (95-67)

Season Series: Angels won 6 out of 10 games.

In 2002, the relentless Anaheim Angles faced the Yankees in the ALDS. The wild-card Angels upset the team with a Major League-best 103 victories. That year, the Yankees had no problems scoring runs or hitting the Angels’ pitching staff. The Bombers blasted seven home runs in four games while hitting .281 as a team. But the Angels were better. Powered by Troy Glaus, they launched nine home runs while hitting .375 with a .624 slugging percentage. For all of the Yankee offense, their pitching couldn’t bring home a championship.

By this time next week, that paragraph may ring true for 2005 as well. The Yankees were second in the Majors with 886 runs scored; Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez became the first two Yankees to be one and two in the AL in runs scored since Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle in 1961. But they had the tenth-worst ERA in the Majors at 4.48. The Angels were 11th in the Majors with 754 runs scored, but they limited opponents to just 3.67 earned runs per game. This will truly be a rematch of 2002.

Keys to the Series:
1. The Yankees’ pitchers are notoriously bad at holding runners; Yankee catchers caught just 29 percent of all would-be base stealers this year. Chone Figgins, the pesky Angels lead-off hitter with a .350 OBP and an AL-leading 62 stolen bases, is notoriously good at stealing bases. The combination could portend many runs for the Angels and many headaches for Jorge Posada.

2. Other than Figgins, the Yankees pitchers must figure out a way to neutralize the reigning AL MVP Vladimir Guerrero. Vlad is as big a threat as David Ortiz, but he lacks a hitter of Manny Ramirez’s caliber in the lineup. While Garret Anderson could potentially force the Yanks to throw to Vlad, with the way Anderson’s second half has gone, Yankee hurlers will probably intentionally walk Vlad to pitch to Anderson. Over the last few months, Anderson has hit just .252/.279/.389 with just 20 extra-base hits in 234 at-bats and 30 RBIs over that time. A long-time Yankee killer, more so in the Bronx than in Anaheim, Anderson could play a decisive role if the Angels are to score enough runs to overwhelm the Yankees’ fragile pitching staff.

3. For the Yanks, the key to any of their games these days has been to get the ball to Tom Gordon and Mariano Rivera. Everyone else out of the bullpen from early-season hero Tanyon Sturtze to Alan Embree to Al Leiter has been unable to get any outs. That means the Yanks’ starters are going to have to pitch at least 6 innings. For some – Shawn Chacon and Randy Johnson – that hasn’t been a problem. Game One starter Mike Mussina, meanwhile, hasn’t pitched more than six innings in one start since Aug. 19. The Angels have a little more depth with Kelvim Escobar backing up Brandon Donnelly and Francisco Rodriguez, but the Yanks have the edge if they can just get the ball to Gordon and Rivera.

4. Since the All Star break, Randy Johnson has gone 8-2 with a 3.31 ERA and 94 strike outs in 98 innings. He’s held opponents to a .208 average and has been everything the Yankees expected. Now, they’ll have to win a series relying on just one game started by their ace. This wasn’t how the Yanks ever envisioned running through the playoffs, but for now, they’ll just have to hope that Mussina and Chacon can hold the Angels before the dominating Unit shows up on Friday. On the flip side, the Angels’ ace has been anything but stellar against the Yankees. Combined, the Yanks have hit .299/.383/.536 off of Colon, with A-Rod leading the pack. Rodriguez has 7 home runs in 43 at-bats against the Angels pitcher and a .442/.458/1.093 slugging. While on paper the Angels have the pitching edge, the Yanks’ offense has never given the Angels much of a break.

Key Stat: Never known as a big-game pitcher, Mike Mussina has started in Game 1 for the Yanks’ last four playoff series. He’s won just once. Since he’ll be relied upon to start game 1 and 5, the Yanks better hope that Mike Mussina the ace shows up.

Prediction: Yankees in 5.

Chicago White Sox (99-63) vs. Boston Red Sox (95-67)

Season Series: Red Sox won 4 out of 7 games.

In 2004, the Red Sox shed 86 years of disappointment to bring home the World Series. Can the White Sox of 2005 break 88 years of bad luck? To do so, the old adage – good pitching beats good hitting – will be severely tested. The White Sox gave up just 645 runs; the Red Sox scored 910. Can the Sox pitching shut down the Red Sox machine?

Keys to the Series:

1. Both teams have to neutralize the offensive keys on the other team. This is never in doubt in any game. But these two teams have two totally different approaches to the game. For the Ozzie-ball oriented White Sox, Scott Podsednik is the table-setter. He’ll get on base; steal; score. For the Red Sox, David Ortiz is the big man. He’ll just mash the ball. Can the White Sox great pitchers shut down Ortiz? Can the Red Sox and Jason Varitek, who threw out just 24.4 percent of base stealers, shut down the White Sox running game?

2. Which Jose Contreras will show up? The Red Sox have long owned Jose Contreras. Prior to this year, he was 2-4 with an 11.67 ERA against the Red Sox in 27 innings. He had given up 40 hits and 9 home runs in seven games. This year, he pitched decently in the one game he pitched against the Red Sox. But more importantly, he’s 11-2 with a 2.96 ERA since the 2005 All Star break. If he can keep up his pitching run while shutting down Boston, the White Sox will win the series.

3. Which Curt Schilling will show up? Curt has been nothing but a big game pitcher recently. He’s shut down the Yankees twice while losing badly the rest of the time. There’s no need to analyze his numbers. Some days, his location is off; some days, his velocity is off; and some days, he faces the Yankees. If Schilling can step it up against the White Sox, he may turn the series in favor of Boston.

4. How will the young guns stand up in this series? The Red Sox bullpen, long in tatters, may be resting on the backs of Jonathan Papelbon and Mike Timlin. The White Sox are calling on Bobby Jenks to close. That means that two 24-year-olds with a grand total of 74 innings of Major League experience between them will be asked to step up and deliver. The White Sox with El Duque out of the bullpen have a major advantage, but these young players will be thrown into the fire. Can they repeat the success of 2002’s Francisco Rodriguez ?

Key Stat: Opponents hit just .249/.310/.396 against the White Sox this season. As a team, the Red Sox hit .280/.356/.453. Can good pitching trump great hitting?

Prediction: White Sox in four.

Advertisements

RSS River Ave. Blues

  • The case for trading Brett Gardner to make room for Darvish January 22, 2018
    The other day, Steven wrote about the rationale of trading David Robertson to clear some salary room to fit Yu Darvish’s hypothetical contract under the $197 million luxury tax threshold. Today, I’m here to make a case for trading away another established veteran player with a +$10M salary: Brett Gardner. We’ve talked about the Yankees’ […] The post The case […]
    Sung-Min Kim
  • Sorting out the Yankees’ potential non-roster Spring Training invitees for 2018 January 22, 2018
    Pitchers and catchers report to Tampa three weeks from tomorrow, and at some point soon, likely within the next two weeks, the Yankees will announce their 2018 Spring Training invitees. These are non-40-man roster players who get a chance to come to big league camp to strut their stuff. Some non-roster invitees are top prospects, […] The post Sorting out the […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Fan Confidence Poll: January 22nd, 2018 January 22, 2018
    2017 Regular Season Record: 91-71 (858 RS, 660 RA, 100-62 pythag. record), second in ALE 2017 Postseason Record: 7-6 (51 RS, 42 RA), won AL WC Game, won ALDS, lost ALCS Top stories from last week: There continue to be rumors connecting the Yankees to Yu Darvish. Unless he signs dirt cheap, there’s no way […] The post Fan Confidence Poll: January 22nd, 2018 a […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Weekend Open Thread January 21, 2018
    ?I finally had a chance to read Kiley McDaniel’s piece on the stats vs. scouts debate, which really isn’t a debate anymore. Every team uses both. There are a few clubs that lean analytical — from what I understand, the Rays use algorithms for basically everything, including the draft — but the very best organizations […] The post Weekend Open Thread appeared […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Sunday Thoughts: Infield, Sonny Gray, Pitch Clock, Luxury Tax January 21, 2018
    In waiting for baseball to begin again, I find myself asking “When will then be now?” Regardless of the actual time between the end of one season and the beginning of a new one, it seems to feel longer each year. Perhaps that’s especially true this year as my non-baseball diversions–college basketball and the New York Giants–have […] The post Sunday Thoughts […]
    Matt Imbrogno
  • Saturday Links: Pitch Clock, Martinez, Betances, Sanchez January 20, 2018
    Only four more Saturdays without baseball. Pretty cool. The Grapefruit League is about a month away. Anyway, here’s some news and notes on this baseball-less Saturday. MLBPA paving the way for pitch clock According to Ken Rosenthal, the MLBPA has formally rejected commissioner Rob Manfred’s latest pace-of-play proposal. That paves the way for MLB to […] The […]
    Mike Axisa
  • River Avenue Blues Podcast, Episode 19 January 19, 2018
    As promised, we’re answering your questions this week. Keep them coming, both to the voicemail and the email. The usual notes: You can subscribe basically anywhere at this point, so hooray for that. Some links of note: Apple Podcasts/iTunes Android Overcast Stitcher You can call our voicemail at 716-393-5330 to leave us questions for future […] The post Rive […]
    Joe Pawlikowski
  • RAB Live Chat January 19, 2018
    The post RAB Live Chat appeared first on River Avenue Blues.
    Mike Axisa
  • Prospect Profile: Freicer Perez January 19, 2018
    Freicer Perez | RHP Background Freicer Perez was signed by the Yankees for the bargain basement price of $10,000 back in 2014. A native of Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, the second-largest city in the country, Perez was a relative unknown in that year’s international free agent class, and was little more than a […] The post Prospect Profile: […]
    Domenic Lanza
  • Mailbag: Shaw, Hicks, Judge, Torres, Lynn, Coaching Staff January 19, 2018
    Ten questions in this week’s mailbag. The first Grapefruit League game is four weeks from today, you know. Baseball is getting closer. Anyway, RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com is the email address. Many asked: What about Travis Shaw? A few days ago Jim Bowden reported the Brewers may sign Mike Moustakas and trade Shaw, and […] The post Mailbag: Shaw, Hicks, J […]
    Mike Axisa

Blog Stats

  • 62,642 hits

%d bloggers like this: