AL Playoffs: Yankees – Tigers

In the vein of the last article let’s break this down by pitching, hitting and defense. Since pitching seems to shape short series, I’ll devote much time to that category again.

Both these teams have been planning on the playoffs, and their rotations are set. Here are the matchups:

Yankees

Cool Stat*

Tigers

Cool Stat*

Sabathia (x2)

3.21

Verlander (x2)

3.05

 

Nova

4.04

Fister

3.65

 

Garcia

4.31

Scherzer

3.86

 

Burnett

4.73

Porcello

4.38

 

Total

3.90

Total

3.60

 

 

This supposedly cool stat* is simply a two-year average of ERA, FIP and xFIP for each player. The idea is to hone in on their true abilities. All three measurements have different strengths to predicting future outcomes, so why not average them? I’m having fun here. We see a substantial advantage to Detroit for starters, so let’s go to each team’s top 4 relievers by usage this season:

Yankees

Cool Stat*

Tigers

Cool Stat*

Rivera (CL)

2.25

Valverde (CL)

3.27

 

Robertson

1.79

Benoit

2.24

 

Neosi

3.93

Albuquerque

2.24

 

Ayala

3.48

Coke

3.43

 

Total

2.86

Total

2.80

 

 

This assumes the relievers used most during the season will be used most during the playoffs. However, New York has Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano and Corey Wade, as well, so in terms of relief pitching, this is basically a tie. You might like Rivera’s experience and consistency, but he won’t pitch more than 3 or 4 innings in the entire series. On average, I think the bullpens are pretty much even.

The overall pitching advantage goes to Detroit.

As for hitting, New York ties Texas for the best wRC+ among playoffs teams. This is a stat that adjusts for ballpark, making teams more comparable. The final wRC+ tally is Yankees 113, Detroit 109. Not nearly the 113, 103 split we saw between Texas and Tampa Bay, but still, advantage Yankees.

Finally we have the fielding/managing/miscellaneous category. Defensively New York saved itself 23 runs on defense, while Detroit cost itself 7 runs. Whittled down to a one game average, this works out to be about a 0.2 runs-per-game difference, almost making up for the 0.3 run disparity in pitching.

Girardi and Leyland have both exhibited old school decision-making in the past, and I have no doubt they’ll be equally conventional in this series. What’s more important is the fact that New York won 97 games playing in a division with three other .500+ teams, and that Detroit won 95 games playing in a division where the next-best team had a losing record. I award the Yankees some not-to-be-underestimated tough schedule points. With nothing else for the good of the cause, New York’s offense is just too good in this series. Advantage New York with 54.13 to 45.83 odds…give or take one Joba gnat deviation.

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