The New York Yankees have only missed the playoffs once since 1995. The Minnesota Twins have made the playoffs six times over the past nine seasons. The 2010 MLB ALDS features two teams that have become staples in the AL playoffs over the past decade, but only one of these teams can advance to the ALCS.
New York Yankees 2010 MLB NLDS Playoffs Preview
The Yankees led all of baseball in runs scored in 2010, scoring 859 runs over the course of the season (41 more than the second place team, the Boston Red Sox). They also led the majors in run differential, sitting at +166 at season’s end (+13 better than the Tampa Bay Rays). So, the Yankees are a shoe-in to make the World Series, right?
New York’s biggest weakness is their pitching. C.C. Sabathia has been brilliant this season, but behind him the Yankees’ starting rotation is barely treading water. Andy Pettite missed significant time with a groin injury. A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez have been inconsistent and, at times, downright awful. Phil Hughes has pitched extremely well, but he’s never logged more than 86 innings in a major league season before this year, when he finished with 176 1/3 innings. Hughes’ strikeout rate dropped steadily through the season, and although he’s a better option than Burnett or Vazquez, Hughes isn’t exactly unbeatable.
Minnesota Twins 2010 MLB NLDS Playoffs Preview
The Minnesota Twins survived the 2010 MLB regular season with what at times amounted to a ragtag group of castoffs. Their best starters were Carl Pavano, who finished with his best full-season ERA since 2004, and Francisco Liriano, who lowered his ERA by over two full points after sporting a 5.80 ERA in 2009 after recovering from arm surgery. Their leader in home runs was Jim Thome, whose career looked like it was winding down after last year’s stint as a pinch hitter for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Former #1 overall draft pick (for the Tampa Bay Rays) Delmon Young led the Twins in RBIs. They also played the entire season without closer Joe Nathan and have not had former MVP Justin Morneau since he suffered a concussion in July. It’s scary to think of how good this team could have been if everyone had stayed healthy.
Yankees vs. Twins Conclusion
The Yankees have a strong offense, but their pitching behind C.C. Sabathia might not be able to hold up. New York ended up with the AL Wild Card (and thus will have not have home field advantage) after going 9-17 over their final 26 games. The Yankees seemed to give up once their place in the playoffs was assured, and although they have a lot more playoff experience on their roster than the Minnesota Twins, it’s tough to see New York flipping a switch and suddenly becoming a top-tier team again after their disastrous September.
2010 MLB NLDS Playoffs Prediction: Minnesota Twins defeat New York Yankees, 3-2
All statistics retrieved from ESPN.com