World Series Preview, Part 1

The Series is finally set: Yankees vs. Phillies. Throughout the regular season, the Yankees were the best team in baseball, by far. The Yankees only rival, in the regular season, was the Angels, whom they have now dispatched. On top of that, the American League has been the stronger league, as measured by interleague play and the All Star game, for the last six seasons, dating back to 2004. Given these basic points, I think we can safely declare the Yankees world champions and start the victory parade tomorrow. Except that nothing I have just written predicts who will really win the World Series.

The American League has been dominant for the previous five seasons, yet they only lead in the World Series, 3-2. In the end, one team plays another team to determine the World Series, not one league against another. In that respect, the Phillies suddenly look like a much better bet. Though they were only the 2 seed in the weaker league, that is no bar to victory. Since the institution of the Wild Card in 1995, the number 1 overall seed (team with the most wins in the major leagues) has won 2 pennants (1998 Yankees and 1999 Braves) and one World Series (1998 Yankees.) This year’s Yankees make it 3 pennants.

The Phillies are the first team to make consecutive World Series since the 1998-2001 Yankees, the first National League team since the 1995-96 Braves. As should be noted with both predecessors, the 1996 Braves and 2001 Yankees lost the Series. Experience, it seems, is overrated when determining postseason winners.

This is enough to clear the ground before predictions. Tomorrow I will do position-by-position breakdowns of each team and pick my winner. A little over a week later, my prediction will be proved wrong by actual events. What thoughts do you have on our upcoming World Series? What angles need to be covered before the Series starts?

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3 Comments on “World Series Preview, Part 1”

  1. verdun Says:

    This is a series with a lot of unknowns. Will the Phillies bullpen hold up or will it collapse as it has done periodically through the season? Can the Yankees go with a 3 man rotation? Don;t know.
    I do know that if you look at the batting order 1-5 (Jeter, Damon, Texeira, Rodriguez, Posada/Rollins, Victorino, Utley, Howard, Werth) it’s pretty much a wash. Below that I think the Yanks do better (Cano, Swisher, Cabrera vs Ibanez, Feliz, Ruiz). I put Matsui on the bench as no DH will be used in the Philly games, so NY probably has the better bench. If Lidge has his act together (?) he’s as good as Rivera at this point (but obviously not for a career) but neither bullpen is overly great beyond the closer and I’m unimpressed with any of the starters beyond Lee and Sabathia. I think the Yankees 2-3 pitchers are probably better, but only marginally, and anybody can pitch one good game (see Don Larsen). Hopefully it will be a well played close series.

  2. Jared Says:

    Huge Yankees fan here, but I hate when people (not you) use the league argument. The American League is better on average and has more top tier teams hence the All-Star game streak and interleague play records. But the argument cannot be used to determine the World Series. The record argument does nothing to illustrate how good specific teams are (although the Phils 6-12 record and the Yanks 10-8 record with a +27 run differential sure do – but Phil beat Yanks 2-1 in their heads up series…I’m digressing and disproving myself), instead illustrating how good the bigger entities (the 2 leagues) are. Also, on a team level, interleague play screams the small sample problem. The only point one can make is that the Yankees played, on average, better competition throughout the year, but you can’t fault the Phillies for playing who their schedule tells them to play. I think this is the first time in years the best two teams in baseball are in the World Series and I look forward to watching it.

  3. sportsphd Says:

    I agree with you that it is a great matchup. The best recent comparison, I think, is to the 1999 Series, when the defending champ Yankees faced off against the 103-win Braves. Admittedly, that series did not live up to the hype, but I hope for better this time around.

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