Position by position breakdown of the Yankees vs. Astros ALCS

The Yankees are set to face a solid Houston Astros team in the ALCS. One of these teams will advance to the World Series, while the other will go home empty handed. While the Astros are extremely talented, the once again underdog Yankees hold their own in this position by position breakdown of the two teams. Slash lines are as follows: AVG/OBP/SLG, WAR. Here is the breakdown:
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Catcher
Brian McCann (.241/.323/.750, 1.2 WAR) and Evan Gattis (.263/.311/.457, 1.2 WAR)
Gary Sanchez (.278/.345/.531, 4.1 WAR)

Yankees fans are very familiar with Brian McCann as he was traded over the offseason in favor of their current starting catcher, Gary Sanchez. McCann is always a threat with his left-handed power in Yankee Stadium, but the Yankees should have a good idea on how to position against him on the field. Evan Gattis is a poorer defensive catcher than McCann, but has offered slightly more pop from the right-handed side.

El Kraken has had a much better offensive season than both of the Astros’ catching candidates, and his defense in the playoffs has looked much improved. His raw power and cannon of an arm give the heir to McCann the upper-hand.
Photo Credit: AP
Advantage: Yankees

First base
Yuli Gurriel (.299/.332/.486, 2.6 WAR)
Greg Bird (.190/.288/.422, 0.0 WAR)

The 33-year old Cuban first baseman enjoyed a breakout year in 2017 with a .299 average and 62 extra-base-hits. While his raw power is not as threatening as Bird’s, he is still a strong hitter and should not be thought of as an afterthought in the lineup.

Greg Bird has continued to make his regular season stat line look silly, as he has moved up to the fifth spot in the batting order and hit one of the biggest home runs in recent Yankee memory in game three of the ALDS. Bird is showing no signs of slowing down.

Slight Advantage: Yankees

Second base
Jose Altuve (.346/.410/.547, 8.3 WAR)
Starlin Castro (.300/.338/.454, 2.0 WAR)

Jose Altuve is no question about it the better second baseman between these two teams. The perennial MVP candidate has been lethal in the playoffs and is one of the many stars in this Astros lineup. Along with his bat, he is a base stealing threat.
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Castro has had a couple of key hits and defensive plays so far in the playoffs, but his swing has looked less explosive in October, and his chase rate is up. Nevertheless, he is not Jose Altuve.

Advantage: Astros

Third base
Alex Bregman (.284/.352/.475, 4.1 WAR)
Todd Frazier (.213/.344/.423, 3.4 WAR)

The 23-year-old third baseman enjoyed a solid first full season in the big leagues, and has not stopped hitting in the playoffs as he hit two home runs in the ALDS. Bregman still has a long way to go in becoming the player he has been hyped up to be, but he is one of the many dangerous young studs on this team.

On the other side, the veteran Todd Frazier has proved that he is a valuable leader on this young Yankees team, and has displayed Brett Gardner-like grit. His stats may be worse overall than Bregman’s, but his experience and role in the clubhouse make him evenly matched with the rising Houston star.

Advantage: Tie

Shortstop
Carlos Correa (.315/.391/.550, 6.3 WAR)
Didi Gregorius (.287/.318/.478, 3.7 WAR)

Other than Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa may be the only better overall short stop in the American League other than Didi Gregorius. Correa suffered a broken thumb after, the All-Star break, but still managed to produce incredible numbers in only 109 games.

Didi had a phenomenal season in his only right even after he missed a month of the season, but Carlos Correa is a super star that reminds many of Alex Rodriguez when he came up through the Mariner’s system. While Didi, has had huge hits in the playoffs, the edge still goes to Correa based on his pure ability.

Advantage: Astros

Left Field
Marwin Gonzalez (.303/.377/.530, 4.3 WAR)
Brett Gardner (.264/.350/.428, 4.9 WAR)

Marwin Gonzalez enjoyed a breakout season as the super utility-man of the Astros, but he projects to mainly play left field in this series. He is very dangerous with the bat and his versatility is super valuable.

However, the longest tenured Yankee, Brett Gardner has to have the advantage for this position. Gardner had the best at-bat of the ALDS, which resulted in a two-run single in the ninth to seal the deal for the Yankees in game five. He is the soul of this team and has had a knack for coming through when it matters.

Advantage: Yankees

Center Field
George Springer (.283/.367/.522, 5.0 WAR)
Aaron Hicks (.266/.372/.475, 3.9 WAR)

George Springer continues to impress with his skills as a leadoff hitter and recent career power surge as he set a career high in long balls in 2017. An All-Star for the first time this season, Springer is a dynamic player that will have a strong impact in this series.
Photo Credit: AP
Joe Girardi has made it clear that Aaron Hicks is his guy in center, and he has awarded Joe with solid postseason numbers and defense. Hicks is a player to watch in this series, but he does not have the pedigree of Springer.

Advantage: Astros

Right Field
Josh Reddick (.314/.363/.484, 4.4 WAR)
Aaron Judge (.284/.422/.627, 8.1 WAR)

Josh Reddick was a solid offseason addition for the Astros as he drove in 82 runs, only struck out 72 times, and played solid defense in right field. He hit a huge two-run single in game four versus his former team in the ALDS.

Everyone is more than aware of Judge’s accomplishments, but his postseason has been abysmal. He had a home run in the Wild Card game, game saving catch in game three of the ALDS, and a big double in the game four, but this is Aaron Judge. He set the record for the most striekouts in a postseason series that was only five games as opposed to seven. He is the best hitter on this team and needs to play like it in order for the Yankees to win.

Advantage: Yankees

Designated Hitter
Matt Holliday (.231/.316/.432, 0.0 WAR), Jacoby Ellsbury (.264/.348/.402, 1.7 WAR), and Chase Headley (.273/.352/.406, 1.8 WAR)
Carlos Beltran (.231/.283/.383, -0.6 WAR)

The designated hitter spot in this series is a toss-up. Both teams feature struggling veterans who have seen better days at the plate. Matt Holliday has yet to receive any at-bats in the postseason and could be the sparkplug the Yankees need at the position as the highlight of it has been Ellsbury’s catcher’s interference in game five of the ALDS.

Beltran is another former Yankee in this series, and probably wishes he could have last season back. He was a negative WAR player in 2017 and has seen his at-bats go to the like of Evan Gattis as a result. However, Beltran is a veteran guy with solid postseason moments and could very well have something left in the tank.

Advantage: Tie

Rotation
The Astros rotation consists of Dallas Keuchel, Justin Verlander, Charlie Morton, and Brad Peacock. Keuchel and Verlander are both aces and will be tough oppositions for the Yankees. Keuchel has struggled since returning from the DL in late-July, but Yankee fans know how he can stifle a lineup from the 2015 AL Wild Card game. Verlander has yet to record a loss since joining the Astros just moments before the waiver-deadline, but did not display total dominance in the Boston series. Charlie Morton enjoyed his best season in 2017 and Brad Peacock was a nice surprise filling in for injured pitchers in the rotation, but neither pitcher is very intimidating.

Here is what I wrote about the Yankees rotation prior to the ALDS:

The Yankees rotation features Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka, and CC Sabathia. Severino had a CY Young-like year in 2017, but was the victim of an atrocious Wild Card game start where he only recorded one out. However, his 2.98 ERA and 230 strikeouts illustrate how solid his season was and how capable he is of shutting down a lineup. Like Carrasco, Gray is a dynamic number two pitcher to have in any rotation. His 3.72 ERA since joining the Yankees does not accurately reflect him as a pitcher, but his tendency to nibble around the strike zone and run up high pitch counts has got him into trouble in the Bronx. Tanaka almost lost his rotation spot in the beginning of the season as his ERA was hovering between 5.00 and 6.00 for a long period of time. However, his 3.77 ERA and .230 BAA in the second half saved his season and has put him in position to pitch game three in the ALDS. CC Sabathia is currently projected to pitch game two of the division series and has earned that right. His 3.69 ERA is his lowest since 2012, and his ability to pitch phenomenally after a Yankee loss is very ace-like.

Outside of Sonny Gray, the Yankees rotation was excellent in the ALDS against a very formidable lineuo. Severino and Tanaka were dominant and CC Sabthia held his own. Gray struggled, but he is not projected to go until game four. The Astros may have more upside on the front-end in Keuchel and Verlander, but the Yankees back-end tandem of Sabathia and Gray make this an even position.

Advantage: Tie

Bullpen
The Yankees bullpen was dynamic in the ALDS and proved to be one of the many reasons they made the improbable 2-0 comeback. Aroldis Chapman is back and better than ever, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle have been magnificent, and the Yankees still have Chad Green and Adam Warren who have barely pitched in the postseason. Dellin Betances is still a huge question mark after his atrocious performance in game four, but if he is your team’s worst reliever you’re in good shape.
 
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The Astros bullpen is above average, but nowhere near as impactful as the Yankees is. Ken Giles and Chris Devenski are solid, but the rest of the bullpen is very manageable to face. It is rounded out by Francisco Liriano, Joe Musgrove, Will Harris, Tony Sipp, and Luke Gregerson.

Advantage: Yankees


Article by: Ryan Thoms

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