First, I messed up last week when giving my game-by-game Rangers/Rays series predictions. I thought that Tommy Hunter would be named the game 3 starter but it’s going to by Colby Lewis, with Hunter starting game 4. I’m now predicting the Rangers to win in 4 games instead of 3.
This week I will give my position-by-position analysis for the Rangers and Rays starting line-ups, along with who I think has the edge, and I will also give my playoff predictions for this October.
C: John Jaso, TB (.263 AVG, 5 HR, 44 RBI) vs. Bengie Molina, TEX (.248 AVG, 5 HR, 35 RBI)
Advantage: Bengie Molina
Analysis: Jaso’s stats are better for the year, but in the last 30 days, Jaso is hitting just .206, and on top of that, Jaso is only a rookie. Meanwhile, Molina has hit .319 in the last 30 days, so, while I don’t think he’s all that good, I think that he is better, and he also has much more experience.
1B: Carlos Pena, TB (.196 AVG, 28 HR, 84 RBI) vs. Mitch Moreland, TEX (.255 AVG, 9 HR, 25 RBI)
Advantage: Mitch Moreland
Analysis: Pena has better power, and also has more experience, but I just cannot force myself to go with a guy batting under the Mendoza line, especially when that same guy is hitting .135 in the last 30 days, and, no, .135 is not a typo. It’s his recent batting average.
2B: Sean Rodriguez, TB (.251 AVG, 9 HR, 40 RBI) vs. Ian Kinsler, TEX (.286 AVG, 9 HR, 45 RBI)
Advantage: Ian Kinsler
Analysis: Ian has a better batting average, the same amount of home runs, more RBI’s, more experience, and most importantly, he isn’t hitting .159 in the last 30 days like Sean Rodriguez is.
3B: Evan Longoria, TB (.294 AVG, 22 HR, 104 RBI) vs. Michael Young, TEX (.285 AVG, 21 HR, 91 RBI)
Advantage: Evan Longoria
Analysis: This one is very close, as Michael is just barely behind him in all three major categories, but Longoria is the Rays’ best player and hitter, so I went with him. However, I have to wonder if Longoria will be healthy for the playoffs, as he is nicked up and hasn’t played in a few days.
SS: Jason Bartlett, TB (.254 AVG, 4 HR, 47 RBI) vs. Elvis Andrus, TEX (.265 AVG, 0 HR, 35 RBI)
Advantage: Elvis Andrus
Analysis: Bartlett is hitting only .254, and while Elvis’ average isn’t too much better, at .265, he has superior speed and hits .347 with a .440 OBP with runners in scoring position. That is clutch.
LF: Carl Crawford, TB (.307 AVG, 19 HR, 90 RBI) vs. David Murphy, TEX (.291 AVG, 12 HR, 65 RBI)
Advantage: Carl Crawford
Analysis: It’s impossible to go against Crawford here, with a .300-plus batting average, and solid power numbers and with Murphy a little banged up. Murphy has had a good season, but he doesn’t have the bat, speed, or glove of Crawford, so he is definitely the second best left fielder in this series.
CF: BJ Upton, TB (.237 AVG, 18 HR, 62 RBI) vs. Josh Hamilton, TEX (.359 AVG, 32 HR, 100 RBI)
Advantage: Josh Hamilton
Analysis: Come on, Josh is the most likely player to win the AL MVP, and has a batting average .122 points above BJ Upton’s batting average. Couldn’t be much easier to pick.
RF: Ben Zobrist, TB (.238 AVG, 10 HR, 75 RBI) vs. Nelson Cruz, TEX (.318 AVG, 22 HR, 78 RBI)
Advantage: Nelson Cruz
Analysis: This one is almost as easy as the center field position was to pick. Nellie has had a great season, and if he wasn’t injured for much of the season, he probably would have had video-game stats. On the Rays’ side, Ben Zobrist is hitting just .238 for the season, and is hitting .192 in his last 30 games.
DH: Willie Aybar, TB (.230 AVG, 6 HR, 43 RBI) vs. Vladimir Guerrero, TEX (.300 AVG, 29 HR, 115 RBI)
Advantage: Vladimir Guerrero
Analysis: Wow, this one is also a completely lopsided one. Vlad is an All-Star, with a .300 batting average, with 29 home runs and 115 RBIs, compared to Aybar who is hitting .230, with a .192 recent batting average.
Advantage Totals: Texas Rangers 7, Tampa Bay Rays 2
Texas Rangers 3, Tampa Bay Rays 1 – Rangers have a better offense, better starting pitching, and a better bullpen. What more can you ask for?
Minnesota Twins 3, New York Yankees 1 – The Yankees just don’t have a very good rotation besides CC Sabathia, and the Twins are just an all-around solid team.
Philadelphia Phillies 3, Cincinnati Reds 0 – Not the Phillies again. I’m tired of them doing well, but with three, yes three, aces on their team, I don’t see them losing any games that they pitch in.
San Francisco Giants 3, Atlanta Braves 1 – The Giants have a playoff rotation of Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathon Sanchez, and Madison Bumgarner. Try beating that.
Texas Rangers 4, Minnesota Twins 2 – Here’s the pitching match-ups, and who I think is the best in each of those games:
Game 1 – Cliff Lee over Francisco Liriano
Game 2 – Carl Pavano over CJ Wilson
Game 3 – Brian Duensing over Colby Lewis
Game 4 – Tommy Hunter over Scott Baker
Game 5 – Cliff Lee over Francisco Liriano
Game 6 – CJ Wilson over Carl Pavano
Philadelphia Phillies 4, San Francisco Giants 1 – Once again, I just think that the Phillies’ pitching is too much, even for the Giants’ pitching staff.
Philadelphia Phillies 4, Texas Rangers 2 – The Rangers might have the best pitching in the AL playoffs, but they’d only have the 3rd best in the NL playoffs, and the Phillies’ pitching is just too incredibly good, so I don’t see the Rangers winning this series.
Come back next week for more playoff coverage.