Monday, October 03, 2005

Chicago White Sox v. Boston Red Sox

This is a fascinating series because the teams involved are as diametrically opposed as you can get. We're talking matter/anti-matter here. The White Sox were among the best at run prevention, and the Red Sox were among the worst. The Red Sox were the best offense in the majors, the White Sox were among the worst. Red Sox? Possibly the most popular team in the country. White Sox? Not even the most popular team in their city. Red Sox? Highly publicized championship drought. White Sox? Largely forgotten championship drought that has lasted even longer than the Hub's more famous curse. Ok, enough of that crap.

Lineup
I almost did a double take when looking these lineups up and down. Every single starter for the Red Sox has an EqA .285 or higher, the lone exception being Edgar Renteria. Even he checks in at a league average .261. David Ortiz rocks it at .335 with Man-Ram checking in at .324. Meanwhile, Chicago only only has one batter, Paul Konerko, who would crack the White Sox lineup (.299). Jermaine Dye (.275) is the only other above average hitter. Everyone else is within 5 points of .260, and Juan Uribe and A.J. Pierzynski are significantly worse. ADVANTAGE: RED SOX

Bench
The White Sox have one of the worst benches in the league. Their best hitter off the bench is Willie Harris, with an EqA of .239. The guys who get the most PT off the bench? Pablo Ozuna (.225) and Timo Perez (.188). Ouch. Boston, on the other hand, can deploy Kevin Youkilis (.286), John Olerud (.285) or Kevin Millar (.274), depending on the pitching matchup, and has a respectable backup catcher in Doug Mirabelli (.250), who will catch when Wakefield starts. ADVANTAGE: RED SOX

Starting Rotation
This is where Chicago can claim utter superiority. Tim Wakefield, you've got the best SNLVAR on Boston? 4.5? Sorry, not good enough for the White Sox rotation, who throw Jose Contreras (5.1), Mark Buehrle (5.7), Jon Garland (6.0) and Freddy Garcia (5.1). The big wild card for Boston is Curt Schilling, who had a SNLVAR of 7.7 last year, but has been ridiculously in effective this year, pitching at replacement level (0.0). No matter how you slice it though, Chicago has strong, deep rotation, and Boston...doesn't. Boston's only saving grace may be that the White Sox have struggled to hit right-handers this season. ADVANTAGE: WHITE SOX

Bullpen
Once again, the Red Sox find themselves at a major disadvantage here. Mike Timlin (2.245 WXRL) is the only guy who could sniff playing time in Chicago's pen, which goes five deep. Mike Myers (a respectable 1.148) is rendered essentially ineffective, because the White Sox only have 2 lefthanders in their starting lineup, and both of them suck anyway. Boston has to hope that Jon Papelbon doesn't wilt under the pressure. Of course, Chicago could say the same thing about rookie closer Bobby Jenks, but Jenks has almost been a full win better than Papelbon. Still, I don't fully endorse Jenks as top reliever. Even Mariano Rivera had to play deputy at one point. Ozzie had better hope Jenks doesn't blow it. ADVANTAGE: WHITE SOX

Defense
Using FRAA, Chicago only has one major hole, and that's Tadahito Iguchi (-14 FRAA at second base). Boston is very weak up the middle, with Reneteria at an anemic -21 FRAA, Graffanino at -3, and Johnny Damon at -5, which is probably entirely a result of his pop gun throwing arm. This all shows up in the defensive efficiency rankings. The White Sox were 2nd in the majors, and the Red Sox were 23rd. ADVANTAGE: WHITE SOX

Bottom Line
It's very, very tempting to pick the White Sox. They have the pitching, the defense, and the homefield advantage. But...their hitting is just so bad! It's bad enough that even the Red Sox medicore pitching will be able to shut it down. If the White Sox had one...just ONE big left-handed bat, I would pick them. But they don't have one. There isn't much between these two teams, but Boston's offense will come out tops, with MVPapi leading the way. RED SOX WIN 3-2.

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