October 16, 2009

ALCS Preview Part III: Hitting

The American League Championship Series features two of the most feared lineups in all of baseball. Both teams have a lot of depth, power and speed. Good pitching always beats good hitting, but it doesn’t always beat great hitting. We shall see as the series progresses.

Here’s the comparison of four offensive categories on the season and in the second half.

  Season       2nd Half  
Angels Category Yankees Angels Category Yankees
.792 OPS .839   .796 OPS .852
883 R 915   422 R 420
173 HR 244   87 HR 112
148 SB 111   59 SB 50

As I said before, there haven’t been too many offenses in history that are better than these two. Here are three players from each team to keep an eye on in the series.

1. Alex Rodriguez
Nobody was more clutch than A-Rod in the ALDS. He had two RBI singles in game 1, a game-tying homer in the ninth in game 2 and another game-tying homer in the seventh inning of game 3. I fully expect Mike Scioscia to be calling for the intentional pass a bit more than A-Rod saw in the ALDS.

2. Derek Jeter
He hit a two-run homer to break the ice in game 1, and has made his career in the postseason. He hit like crazy during the regular season, and even more so in the ALDS. I expect nothing less from the captain against the Angels.

3. Johnny Damon
Where, oh where has Damon’s bat gone? Damon had tied his career-high for homers in a season with 24 on Aug. 30. He hasn’t homered since. He still hit a little in September, but registered just one hit in 12 ALDS at bats. He hit second in the lineup all year long, and the Yankees will need him to step it up the rest of the way.

1. Kendry Morales
If you don’t know who he is yet, you need to start knowing him now. Take a look at his line in his first full season: .306/.355/.569, 34 HR, 108 RBI, 43 2B, and 86 R. Not too shabby, eh? And he’s only their fifth hitter. This guy has serious pop and can hit the crap out of the ball.

2. Torii Hunter
The No. 3 hitter has taken the leadership role on this team, and makes things happen on both offense and defense. He holds one of the best gloves of any center fielder and had a nice offensive year too (.299 BA, 22 HR, 90 RBI).

3. Chone Figgins
He reaches base nearly 40 percent of the time and is one of the fastest players in the league. That combination yields a very, very valuable player. He causes havoc on the base paths, has a solid glove and will find the gap with the bat. He has always killed the Yankees, I might add.

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