Thursday, January 15, 2009

Who's got the better line up--Yankees, Sox or Rays?

Yesterday both Pete Abraham and River Ave Blues did a great job comparing the Yankees-Red Sox and Yankees-Red Sox-Rays rotations if the season was to start today.

So today, I thought I'd do a little line up comparison.

To note: the line ups are based on current rosters; I have no idea if this is where these players would hit, nor am I advocating it...Also, here I am comparing offenses, not defenses.

Anyway, to start with, you have the New York Yankees:

1) Johnny Damon
2) Derek Jeter
3) Mark Teixiera
4) Alex Rodriguez
5) Xavier Nady
6) Hideki Matsui
7) Jorge Posada
8) Robinson Canò
9) Brett Gardner

Any time you've got a line up where Robinson Canò hits eighth, you've got a really potent line up out there. That said, everyone listed here except for Teixiera and Nady underachieved last year, and Nady wasn't on the team for half the year--and Teixiera at all!

That said, I think there's an argument to be made for hitting Teixiera fifth--to me, at least, he'd offer better protection for A-Rod than Nady. However, Nady's not really a three hitter and until Canò gets his act together, he's also a risky proposition for that spot.

Here I like Gardner over Melky-he might not have Melky's power, but you're not looking for power in a nine spot, and Gardner offers a better eye and better speed on the bases. If he can find just a little bit of power, having him and Damon as nine/one would mean a circular line up with no real landing spot for the other pitcher.

Next, let's look at the Boston Red Sox:

1) Jacoby Ellsbury
2) Dustin Pedroia
3) David Ortiz
4) Kevin Youkilis
5) Jason Bay
6) JD Drew
7) Jed Lowrie
8) Mark Kotsay
9) Josh Bard

Now, if we ignore the fact that I haven't the slightest idea in hell if this is how the Red Sox would really structure their line up, Boston's got a couple guys in Ortiz Bay, and in a good year, JD Drew that can mash, but their better strength is the speedy guys at the top of the line up that wreak havoc when they get on base, and the fact that Ortiz, Youkilis and Bay all have a very good eye.

The Sox have a weaker bottom of the line up, in part because they've had no real solution to the departure of Jason Varitek, and even if Varitek returns, he's not really a much better hitter than Josh Bard-last season, Varitek was even more of an automatic out than Melky Cabrera, and that's saying something.

Last, we have the Tampa Rays:

1) Akinori Iwamura
2) Carl Crawford
3) BJ Upton
4) Evan Longoria
5) Pat Burrell
6) Carlos Peña
7) Dionerr Navarro
8) Matt Joyce
9) Jason Bartlett

The Rays, like the Red Sox, make good use of speed at the top of their line up, and the addition of the power of Pat Burrell is an excellent offseason move, as it means other teams will now have to navigate through Longoria-Burrell-Peña in some order. Given that Upton and Longoria are still incredibly young, it's a line up that will likely only get more powerful as the season progresses.

If we are to compare all three line ups, my results look something like this:

Jacoby Ellsbury > Johnny Damon > Akinori Iwamura
Derek Jeter > Dustin Pedroia > Carl Crawford
Mark Teixiera > BJ Upton > David Ortiz with a bum wrist
Alex Rodriguez > Evan Longoria > Kevin Youkilis
Pat Burrell > Jason Bay > Xavier Nady
Carlos Peña > JD Drew > Hideki Matsui
Jorge Posada > Jed Lowrie > Dionerr Navarro
Robinson Canò > Mark Kotsay > Matt Joyce
Jason Bartlett > Brett Gardner > Josh Bard.

If we are to assign a point scale, with three for first place, two for second and one for third, we get:

Yankees: 21
Rays: 17
Red Sox: 15

Of course, the above doesn't take into account Posada's bad shoulder, Matsui's bad knees or anyone underachieving, like Canò, Drew and others have all done. Nor do we know if these are what the opening day line ups will look like.

That said, if the Yankees are healthy and not underachieving, they clearly have the most potent offense in the AL East. As to who is second, the Rays or the Red Sox, it's a closer call. Right now I would have to say that the addition of Burrell for the Rays coupled with Ortiz's less-than-Ortiz-like numbers last year would make the Rays a favorite over the Red Sox.

Feel free, of course, to disagree. Having a potent line up does not automatically make the Yankees a favorite to win the AL East-all three teams have excellent pitching, and both the Red Sox and the Rays are better defensively. However, the Yankees are known as the Bronx Bombers for a reason...


  1. I don't think you could say Ellsbury and his 87 OPS+ in his first full season is currently better than Damon.

  2. How about Mike Lowell. This is what I think

    1. Ellsbury CF
    2. Pedroia 2B
    3. Ortiz DH
    4. Youkilis 1B
    5. Drew RF
    6. Bay LF
    7. Lowell 3B
    8. Lowrie SS
    9. Bard C

    I don't know that Derek Jeter is better than the reigning MVP and a 27 Year old Carl Crawford. If anything, he might be the worst of the 3 when it comes to offensive contribution.

    Also, I think Tex and Ortiz are a wash. Health is a big concern, but Ortiz should be healthy this season, and he is one SCARY batter. Let's just say that in a tie game, 9th inning, i'd rather have Tex up there than Ortiz. Upton has a lot of potential, but hasn't really been able to prove it.

    Jason Bay had a huge season last year behind the plate. He's a better hitter overall than the high strikeout, low average prone Pat Burrell.

    With Mike Lowell in the 7 slot, I think he has the slight edge over Jorge. He's younger

    Jed Lowrie is another young player in the Boston Lineup that has huge upside. With that said, him and Robby in my opinion are also a wash.

    Jacoby Ellsbury > Johnny Damon > Akinori Iwamura
    Dustin Pedroia > Carl Crawford > Derek Jeter
    Mark Teixiera = David Ortiz > BJ Upton
    Alex Rodriguez > Evan Longoria = Kevin Youkilis
    Jason Bay > Pat Burrell > Xavier Nady
    Carlos Peña > JD Drew > Hideki Matsui
    Mike Lowell > Jorge Posada > Dionerr Navarro
    Robinson Canò = Jed Lowrie > Matt Joyce
    Jason Bartlett > Brett Gardner > Josh Bard.

    Overall, I think the Red Sox have the superior Lineup, with the Yankees next and the Rays last.

  3. geim: Lowell is, IMO, a product of Fenway--have you looked at his home/road stats?

    I think you give Ortiz too much credit and Longoria not enough, but that's just my opinion =)

  4. I may be crazy. But ortiz has scarred me growing up, and so has manny. I respect them as baseball players, but i cannot wait when they're no longer around.

    and with lowell...except his 2007 stats at home, his other years at home in boston have not been THAT compelling...

    when are you going to compare the pitching rotation and bullpens?

    quite frankly, i'm a little concerned about the yankees not adding more depth into their bullpen. referring back to the nostalgia i previously mentioned, i've truly been spoiled by the long relief of ramiro mendoza, and the jab-jab-knockout combo of nelson-stanton-mariano.

    it hasn't been the same since. the sox just signed one of the best relievers on the market in takashi saito for a measly $1.5 mil. who the yanks really have to lock up the 7th inning, and possibly the 6th.

  5. Well, given that others have done an excellent job comparing rotations, I'll let that sit.

    I was going to do the bullpen eventually--but I'm not that concerned about it. If there's one thing Girardi did well last year, it was managing a bullpen.

  6. In what world is Ellsbury better than Damon. Also, right now there is no way you can say Jeter is better than Pedroia. And Matsui will hit 5th, not Nady.