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Playoff Preview: Yankees and Angels

We'll start this with a caveat: I have no idea what wins in the playoffs, so I think I'll break down my "analysis" into simply comparing each team's ability to score runs and prevent them. For this series, that's fairly easy.

For the duration of the playoffs, I'll be the site's resident Yankee guy (not fan), based on my Met fan experience.

Whether we like it or not, we know more about the teams we watch on a daily basis than we do about the teams that we just see through a statsheet. I know the Yankees better than I know the Royals because I get the YES Network at home and I don't get whatever channel the Royals are on.

Plus, the Yankees play 100 games every season on ESPN with the Red Sox. Or so it seems.

So, let's take these guys unit by unit.

Run Scoring

There is little argument that the Yankees are a better team offensively than the Angels are, but, for the sake of the argument, I'll present numbers.

        NYY     LAA

Runs    886     761
BsR     878     723
oVORP   392.1   212.0
EqA     .276    .255
BsR is the Base Runs of both teams, and, for some reason, the Angels have scored significantly more runs than their BaseRuns total would project them to. Some may attribute that to smallball, others to their healthy .296.360/.435 line with RISP (put me in this camp, but I don't know for sure).

There's no argument to be made that the Angels can outhit the Yankees. None at all.

But, because we can, let's dig a bit deeper.

A-Rod           16.62%
Jeter           12.61%
Sheffield       12.50%
Matsui          12.04%
Giambi          11.46%
Posada          8.14%
Cano            7.68%
Williams        6.18%
Martinez        4.85%
Womack          2.90%
This is a simple look at the source of offensive production for the Yanks. There's a pretty strong balance among their top 5 hitters in terms of "where the runs comes from," at least according to the Base Runs formula.

What about the Angels?

Guerrero        14.2%
Figgins         13.1%
Erstad          9.9%
Anderson        9.6%
Cabrera         8.4%
B. Molina       7.7%
Kennedy         7.6%
Rivera          6.1%
Finley          5.7%
I was relatively surprised by these results, showing more balance than anticipated. Then again, considering that Guerrero missed 20 games to injury, it's not quite as unbelievable.

So, in actuality, it appears that the Angels have somewhat more balanced production, but there are some caveats to making that generalization: 5% of 700 is lower than 5% of 880, so Finley's production for the Angels is a higher percentage of offense than it would be in NY.

Either way, those are just for reference... in reality, the Yankee offense is significantly better than the one in Hollywood, Guerrero seemingly needs to come up big for the Angels to score runs, and A-Rod and Jeter are big for the Yankees.

So why do we need stats for these things, anyway? Anybody could have told you that...

Edge: New York

Run Prevention

As big an edge as the Yanks had on the offensive side, the Angels appear to be similar on the other side...

                NYY     LAA

RA              789     643
BsR             755     677
pVORP           134.6   302.4
Def_Eff         .689    .702
In pretty much all metrics, the Yanks trail the Angels, in this category... if you break it down in starters and bullpen, you get the same story.

We know that Colon and Mussina will be doing battle for Game 1, but how can the other ones shake out?

My guesses:

  1. Mussina v. Colon
  2. Wang v. Lackey
  3. Johnson v. Washburn
  4. Chacon v. Byrd
The Yankee rotation is a bit more questionable than that of Los Angeles, and if anyone has any more updated information than my speculation, please, comment with a link and I'll edit this accordingly.

Postseason rotations, are, of course, subject to change, but I think that among these four, the Angels have the edge. Those four have given the Angels an ERA of 3.47 (over 813.3 IP), and the Top 4 from the Yanks have given the Yankees an ERA of 3.90 (over 600.7 IP).

It's funny... while the Yankees and Red Sox are built to mash and are questionable with the arms, the Angels and White Sox have the better arms, by far, but just don't score runs all that often.

WXRL has the Angels' bullpen as having added around 13.57 wins to the Angels' cause this year, and the Yankees rest at 6.87. Neither team has a crippling weakness in their 'pen, but for the Yanks, outside of Rivera and Gordon, it's a crapshoot, seriously, unless Aaron Small can come up with some high-quality innings out of the pen, in the vein of a Dan Wheeler or whatever other unlikely postseason success story you can think of.

Edge: Los Angeles

Wrapping it Up and the Disclaimer

I hate those "Keys to the Game" features that precede many games on national TV, because a lot of the keys tend to boil down to "score more runs than the other team." While I have a few "keys" that I'll be watching for, to avoid hypocrisy, I won't post them.

Statistical analysis has its limits in baseball, much like knowing the odds has its limits in poker. Seriously, at this point, knowing the stats might give you a leg up on the people you're watching the game with (who might ask, "Hey, what happpened to Edgar Renteria?"), but, as in poker, you have to play around 10,000 hands for the odds to really make a difference in situations with such variability. The A's should have beaten the Yanks one of those years, but somehow, Derek Jeter made the play of the year when it seemed to matter most. You can't predict that. You can just enjoy it (unless you don't like Derek Jeter).

No matter what happens in the next 3-5 games between these two teams, I can guarantee you that the Angels have better pitching and the Yankees have better hitting. That said, so what?

I'm not throwing a prediction out there; it would have no basis. Enjoy the games.

Alright, fine. Angels in 5, but I don't think that LA set up its rotation ideally. Lackey's the ace of this staff, right now.