Although the New York Yankees made it into the American League Division Series via a Wild Card berth, it must be noted that they are the third-winngest team in baseball and finished only one game behind the Tamp Bay Rays. That second-place finish positioned them in a playoff battle with the Central Division winners, the Minnesota Twins, who lost just one more game than the Yankees. So does one team have an edge over the other?
The New York Yankees lost their last two games of the regular season going into the playoffs (Minnesota also lost their last game). But head-to-head, the Yankees defeated the Twins 4 out of 6 games.
In the hitting department, according to CBS Sports, the Yankees have the #5 (Robinson Cano, .319) and #17 (Nick Swisher, .288) hitters, while the Twins counter with #3 (Joe Mauer, .327) and #13 (Delmon Young, .298) hitters. New York scored the most runs off of the 8th best team Batting Average in the Majors, partially due to a #3 ranking in the Slugging Percentage category (four of the Top 11, five of the Top 20 home run hitters are New York Yankees). Minnesota has the 3rd best team Batting Average in the Majors and the 7th best Slugging Percentage (and this with only one home run hitter in the Top 20 — Jim Thome, with 25). The Yankees can also bring in the runs when they’re on base as well, placing three hitters in the Top 10 and a fourth in the Top 20 in the RBI category. Minnesota places two in the Top 20 in RBIs.
In pitching, the Yankees have a 21-game winner in C. C. Sabathia (#1 in the A.L. and tied with Roy Halladay of the Phillies for most wins in the Majors in 2010) and a 18-game winner in Phil Hughes (#5 in the A.L.). But one has to go to the 36th ranked pitcher to find Andy Pettitte with 11 wins. New York’s team ERA is 15th at 4.06, with Sabathia being the only New York pitcher with 10 or more wins pitching below the team ERA.
Minnesota, however, ranks 11th in team ERA (3.95) and places six pitchers in the Top 40 pitchers in the American League — all with 10 wins or more. Still, of those pitchers only two have ERAs lower than the team average.
The Yankees leading Saves pitcher is Mariano Rivera, with 33. Minnesota’s Matt Capps has 30 on the year.
According to ESPN’s power rankings list, the Yankees and the Twins are basically in the same position as their final season ranking with regard to the American — they’re third and fourth, respectively.
But which team has the edge? Minnesota might have a slight advantage on average than the Yankees, both in batting and in pitching, despite the power rankings. However, the New York Yankees come out of the East Division with four of the heaviest hitting squads in the Majors, which makes their Strength of Schedule (SOS) something to consider — and just might give the Yankees the edge they need to get to the Championship Series one more time and springboard them toward a 28th World Series win.
ALDS Playoffs Schedule: Minnesota Twins vs. New York Yankees
Game 1 — New York Yankees @ Minnesota Twins — Wed., Oct. 6, 8:30 p.m.
Game 2 — New York Yankees @ Minnesota Twins — Thur., Oct. 7, 6:00 p.m.
Game 3 — Minnesota Twins @ New York Yankees — Sat., Oct. 9, 8:30 p.m.
Game 4* — Minnesota Twins @ New York Yankees — Sun., Oct. 10, 8:00 p.m.
Game 5* — New York Yankees @ Minnesota Twins — Tue., Oct. 12, 8:30 p.m.
All games to be broadcast on TBS. All game times Eastern Standard Time.
(*) Denotes games to be played if necessary.
ALDS Playoff Schedule and Preview of Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays