As the start of the postseason approaches, Big League Stew's Alex Remington will take a look at the statistics that might make a difference in each series. Bringing up the rear is Twins-Yankees, which is about to start in two shakes of a lamb's tail.
The Yankees' major-league leading run total, 32 runs higher than the second-place Angels. Want to know what $208 million buys you? It buys you the major league lead in homers, runs, RBI, walks, OBP, SLG, OPS, plate appearances, and total bases. So, yeah, they can swing the stick a little bit and there's a reason the Yanks were the only 100-win team in baseball this year.
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Career batting average of Twins catcher Joe Mauer(notes),
second only to Ichiro Suzuki(notes)
among active AL players. He just won his third batting title and has arguably replaced Ichiro as the best hitter in the American League. The Twins have relied on him more than ever since losing Justin Morneau(notes).
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The number of innings C.C. Sabathia(notes)
has thrown in the last three years, the most in baseball. (He's pitched 13 2/3 more than Roy Halladay(notes),
and 56 more than third-place Dan Haren(notes).)
In related news, he's faltered in the playoffs in the last two years, with a 9.47 ERA in 19 playoff innings in 2007 and 2008. The Yankees will have to hope their horse isn't completely gassed.
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The combined OPS of the Twins' 6-7-8-9 hitters, LF Delmon Young(notes),
3B Matt Tolbert(notes),
the DH platoon of Brendan Harris(notes)
and Jose Morales(notes),
and 2B Nick Punto(notes).
The Twins have a solid middle of the order with Joe Mauer, Jason Kubel(notes),
and Michael Cuddyer(notes)
and Denard Span(notes)
is one of the better leadoff men in baseball, but their lineup is a disaster after that.
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The career postseason batting average of the man with the "C" on his jersey, Derek Jeter(notes),
the all-time leader in postseason-game AB, PA, runs, hits, and total bases. He's been here before, in case you wondered. Last year was the first time that Mr. November missed the playoffs since 1995 — when his midsummer cup of coffee didn't convince Buck Showalter to put him on the playoff roster. (The Yankees starting shortstop in the LDS against the Mariners was Tony Fernandez.) Coming off his fourth career season with an average above .330, Derek's glad to be back in the autumn spotlight.
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The number of Yankees' world championships? Yes, but also the number of starts Carl Pavano(notes)
made while earning $39.95 million from 2005-2008 for the Yankees. In a delicious bit of irony, perhaps the most hated Yankee of the Joe Torre era will probably start Game 3 against one of the most beloved Yankees, Andy Pettitte(notes).
The Twins acquired Pavano for a PTBNL after he played his way out of Cleveland, but two of his most effective starts of the year came early on against the Yankees. He allowed four earned in 13 1/3 innings, with eight strikeouts against just one walk, good for a 2.70 ERA. Of course, that was in April and May, back before the Bombers found their mojo and Pavano was with Cleveland. But Pavano is, by far, the one guy on the Twins roster who has caused Yankee fans the greatest amount of grief over the years. They do not want to see a rejuvenated Pavano in the Twin Cities.
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The Yankees' winning percentage against the Twins this year, after a 7-0 season series sweep. Also, in their last two postseason meetings, in the 2003 and 2004 ALDS, the Yankees went 6-2, batting .359 as a team and outscoring the Twinkies 37-23.
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The Twins' team ERA during their remarkable 17-4 stretch run, during which they toppled the Tigers and clawed their way into the unlikeliest playoff berth of the year. After putting up a .761 OPS and 4.63 ERA during the first 142 games of the season, the Twins had an .858 OPS and 3.60 ERA during the last 21, capped by an incredible 12-inning victory over the Tigers on Tuesday night. They ain't got time to bleed, but they have never played better.
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The combined ERA of the Yankees' second, third, and fourth starters — A.J. Burnett(notes), Andy Pettitte
, and Joba Chamberlain(notes).
Chamberlain was so inconsistent this year, finishing up with a 4.75 ERA, that the Yankees have kicked him back to the bullpen
for the Division Series. This marks the second straight year that the Yankees have moved Chamberlain to the bullpen in the season's final month after using him as a starter for much of the year. The only pitcher in the LDS rotation who's ever done anything in the playoffs is the last guy they're trotting out because while No. 2 starter A.J. Burnett has never appeared in the postseason, No. 3 starter Andy Pettitte is battling John Smoltz(notes)
for the all-time record for postseason wins. (Smoltz is 15-4, Pettitte is 14-9.)
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The career save rate of Joe Nathan(notes),
who has saved 247 games and blown just 24 in his six-year career as a closer. (Brad Lidge(notes)
blew 11 games this year alone.) Mariano Rivera(notes)
has the "best closer alive" reputation locked up, but Joe Nathan should be acknowledged as next best. If the Twins can hand the ball over to him with the lead, the Yankees are in trouble.