The Yankees wrapped up the World Series last night in 6 games. Why did the Yankees win? The simple answer is that they were the better team. They had a better regular season, leading the majors in wins, and this translated into a superior postseason. Let’s break that down a little bit. In particular, I would like to return to the positional breakdown from my World Series preview in order to see how well the Series reflected pre-series expectations, as derived from the second part of my World Series preview.
1B – Pre-Series: Advantage – Yankees. Series: Yankees. This one is close, though for different reasons than pre-series. Both Teixeira and Howard were awful, but at least Teixeira did not set the record for strikeouts in a World Series.
2B – Pre-Series: Phillies. Series: Phillies. This matchup was even more of a blowout than expected, as Utley was the Phillies best player during the Series.
SS – Pre-Series: Yankees. Series: Yankees. Jeter had a very good series, hitting .407, while Rollins hit .217.
3B – Pre-Series: Yankees. Series: Yankees. A-Rod was not as good as he had been during the earlier rounds of the postseason, but he still managed a .973 OPS, good for second on the team and higher than his regular season numbers. As predicted before every round, Pedro Feliz can’t hit. That remains true.
RF – Pre-Series: Phillies. Series: Phillies. Werth had a very good Series, with an OBP of .417 and SLG of .579, both better than his regular season marks. Swisher, in contrast, went 2 for 15 with 4 walks.
CF – Pre-Series: Even. Series: Phillies. This comparison is thrown off by Cabrera’s injury. Gardner went hitless for the Series, while Cabrera was 2 for 13 before hurting his leg. Victorino, at 4 for 22, was only marginally better than a player hurt so severely as to be dropped from the roster.
LF – Pre-Series: Yankees. Series: Yankees. This comparison is between Damon and Francisco. Damon hit .364, while Francisco went hitless.
C – Pre-Series: Yankees. Series: Phillies. Posada was decent, but he only had a single extra base hit. Ruiz, in contrast, had a .722 slugging percentage, hitting 2 doubles, 1 triple, and 1 home run.
DH – Pre-Series: Even. Series: Yankees. This compares Matsui and Ibanez. Ibanez had a better series than he did a regular season, sticking up a .942 OPS. Matsui, though, was spectacular. The World Series MVP had an OPS above 2.000, a number truly absurd.
Only three hitter advantages switch, as the two even positions broke one for the Phillies and one for the Yankees. Only catcher switched from Yankee advantage to the Phillies. Once again, regular season performance is the best predictor of postseason performance.
Sabathia vs. Lee – Pre-Series: Phillies. Series: Phillies. Sabathia went winless, while Lee grabbed the Phillies only two wins. Lee was dominant in Game One and okay in 5, while Sabathia was merely okay in both Games 1 and 4.
Burnett vs. Martinez – Pre-Series: Yankees. Series: Yankees. Both had one good game and one bad game. Burnett’s good game was slightly better and his bad game slightly worse. I give him the slight advantage because of the timing of his loss: Burnett’s bad game forced a Game 6, Martinez’s ended the Series.
Pettitte vs. Hamels – Pre-Series: Phillies. Series: Yankees. Andy Pettitte looked like the Pettitte of old, while Hamels looks like he has forgotten how to pitch. Hamels picked a very bad time to have a slump.
Rivera vs. Lidge. – Pre-Series: Yankees. Series: Yankees. Rivera was once again dominant, pitching 5.1 scoreless innings and closing out all 4 Yankee wins. Lidge gave away Game 4, pushing the Phillies to the brink of elimination. His ERA for the Series: 27.00
Pettitte was the great surprise. He had a very good Series, picking up two wins. Hamels was the great flop, as he started Game 3 well, but then collapsed and could not get through 5 innings. The Yankees three-man rotation worked pretty well, as Sabathia and Pettitte both did well on short rest. The Phillies four-man rotation was not the problem for them, though, because Blanton pitched well in Game 4. For them, Martinez remained old, and Hamels pitched poorly. They could not recover from either problem.
The flukes of short series essentially evened out, with the Phillies doing better than expectations at two spots and the Yankees at two. The Yankees, however, had more advantages going in, and because of that they won the Series in 6 games, as predicted.