So how do I put this in the most mature way possible? October baseball makes me smile in my downstairs area. Seriously, there's something about seeing 25 guys in the same playoff hoodie cheering at the top step of the dugout. There's something about an intense stare from a player as his visible breath clouds his face. And there's something about making the California/Hollywood/Los Angeles/2Pacalypse Angels of San Mateo County/Anehiem/City of Compton your bitch. I'm getting used to it.
Victor Martinez vs. Mike Napoli
Anyone else excited to not have one of the worst hitters in the game starting anymore? Seriously, I don't want Tek to get a single at-bat in this series if at all possible, because it's only going to be taking ABs away from Martinez or Lowell or Youk. And nobody wants that. Instead, we got V-Mart, who is all kinds of awesome. Besides having a sick year overall, Victor really turned it on since coming to the Sox, posting a .912 OPS in the home-town uniform. Slam dunk advantage Sox, right? Well, not so fast - Mike Napoli can hold his own here, posting a nice season himself - 22 doubles and 20 homers is good for a .492 slugging and a 116 OPS+. He also holds an edge on V-Mart on defense, nailing 22% of would-be base stealers; twice as effective as Victor. But I'm sorry, Martinez's bat is just too big to ignore. .336/.405/.507 since coming to the Sox? Me likey. Me likey a lot.
Edge: RED SOX
Kevin Youkilis vs. Kendry Morales
Another match-up that seems like a slam dunk in the Sox' favor, but again, if you look at it more closely, it's much tighter than you might think. (That's what she said.) So we all know what Youkilis can do; I questioned in the pre-season if he would be able to duplicate the season he had last year, and he shut me right up. Almost identical. The power numbers were down a tad, but the OBP was up and the OPS was practically the same. Another solid, MVP-Top-5-(hopefully)-type year for the All-Star. Now onto the unknown - 26-year-old Kendry Morales. I mean, he was at least unknown until this year, logging only 377 AB over 127 games from 2006-2008. This year? Regular playing time: 152 games, 566 AB, and some damn good numbers. How about 34 homers and 43 doubles? Dude has come alive, and his .924 OPS is for real. If he could only draw a few more walks, this would be a push. But getting on base is important! Just ask the Greek God of Walks.
Edge: RED SOX
Dustin Pedroia vs. Howie Kendrick
Whew, OK, time to be rational. Pedroia has had another excellent season, but has slipped a touch from his MVP campaign from last year. Hits, doubles, and homers were all down, which means the slugging dropped almost 50 points. However, Pedroia did up the walks considerably, and still pushed his average close to .300. Howie Kendrick was pretty much the league definition of "average" this year, with above average hitting but weaker power numbers. And god, does this team have ANY patience at the plate? 20 BB in 400 PA!! That can't be good.
Edge: RED SOX
Mike Lowell vs. Chone Figgins
As I started to look at this, I couldn't believe the similarity of Mike Lowell's numbers from last year to this year. I mean, seriously, look at them. Homers, doubles, RBI, OBP, OPS+... it's crazy! It's... dare I say it... consistent. Meanwhile, Figgins posted another solid season, increased his walks like CRAZY, which is great news for a speedy dude like him. It's also worth mentioning that Mike Lowell runs like an 89-year-old man. Seriously, it's pathetic to watch. And even though Figgins was caught stealing SEVENTEEN times this year, he's still the better player.
Alex Gonzalez vs. Erick Aybar
So Alex Gonzalez is pretty freakin' tremendous defensively, no? Range, throwing arm, amazing instincts... he's a huge asset in the field, especially in the post-season. And anecdotally, he's a pretty good hitter too. I mean, it seems like he always gets the big hit when the Sox need it, and he does OK in general, right? Wrong. I was surprised to find out he was this bad, but... he's this bad. I mean, I knew he was a free-swinger who doesn't like to walk (thanks, Dusty Baker), but a 63 OPS+ on the year? Barf. And I know it's been 93 since he's been on the Sox, but still. 5 walks in 159 PAs just doesn't cut it. Meanwhile, Erick
Jason Bay vs. Juan Rivera
Jason Bay is all kinds of awesome. 29 doubles, 36 bombs, and 94 walks? That's a lot of not-making-outs. And a .921 OPS = lots of yard work. BUT OMG HE IZ ONLY HITTIGN TEH .267!!! Please please please if you hear someone saying this, please punch them. Tell them it was from Smarty Barrett. They no longer have the right to talk about baseball ever. Bay is one of the best, if not THE best OF in the AL. The numbers speak for themselves. Meanwhile, Juan Rivera had a really nice bounce-back year from last year, raising his average 41 points and his OPS 90 points. He also more than doubled his HR total from last year, albeit in 300 more ABs. Can't really knock him, but it's gotta be Bay here. Pasty pasty whiteness wins again.
Edge: RED SOX
Jacoby Ellsbury vs. Torii Hunter
Ellsbury is having an Angels-esque season. Decent average, tons of speed and tons of SBs, and generally weak peripherals. His offense shows that he's below average, and that's even before you build in his totally horrific defense. He's a flashy player who can run and hit a little bit, but that's about it. He could also use a throwing arm. Like big time. Meanwhile, Torii Hunter is better defensively, offensively, and can hit for way more power. He also wins in the "whiter teeth" department. So there's that.
J.D. Drew vs. Bobby Abreu
So the J.D. Drew bashing is never going to stop is it? Like no matter how good a season he has? You know Boston Dirt Dogs won't stop, but then again, they're an absolute disgrace, so I guess they don't count. A .914 OPS (that's good for a 131 OPS+), 24 HR, stellar defense, and an all-around nasty year. BUT HIS AHH BEE IYZ IZ LOW!!! Here, read this. Couldn't have said it better myself. J.D. Drew is really really good at baseball. Meanwhile, Bobby Abreu is having a solid season as well. Of course he's getting on base at a high rate, per usual, but once again his power numbers are down. Remember when he went ape-shit in the HR derby? Yeah, not so much anymore, eh? Gotta go with Drew on this one. (BUT AHHBREYEWW HAZ LIKE FAWTY MAWUH AHH BEE IYZ!!!)
Edge: RED SOX
David Ortiz vs. Vladmir Guerrero
The battle of the semi-washed up Dominicans! Actually, both of these guys have made quite a run towards the end of the season to become relevant again - both finishing with identical .794 OPS's. Ortiz somehow cranked 28 homers, which is a freaking miracle considering where he started. And Vlad has really started to hit the ball well since coming back from his injury. These guys are looking pretty identical to me.