Time to size up the Yanks

Categories: Twins
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Baseball Prospectus's Post-Season Odds Report--a computer program that daily chews up all the data from 2006 and runs one million simulations of the remainder of the season--gives the Twins a measly 20 percent shot at winning the division. If that seems smaller than the Twins' one-game deficit would suggest, that's because they've actually got to finish this week one game ahead of the Tigers, since the tie-breaking head-to-head record falls in Detroit's favor. If the Twins do manage to make up that ground, they'll face the A's with homefield advantage in the first round. If they don't, it's the big bad Yankees, with three games out of a possible five played in the Bronx. While that doesn't mean it's time to stop rooting against the Tigers just yet, it does mean that a good hard look at a ferocious Yankees lineup is in order.


Here's the batting order that the Yanks used last night to crush the Orioles:

1. Johnny Damon
2. Derek Jeter
3. Bobby Abreu
4. Alex Rodriguez
5. Jason Giambi
6. Gary Sheffield
7. Hideki Matsui
8. Jorge Posada
9. Robinson Cano

As Aaron Gleeman pointed out this morning, that's "two former MVPs, perhaps the leading candidate to win the award this year, another guy who's finished among the top three vote-getters in three different seasons...eight multi-time All-Stars, and a 23-year-old chasing Joe Mauer for the AL batting title." In other words, a bunch of big-ass bats who could rain homers all over the Twins' little post-season parade.

Luckily for Minnesota, there's an old adage--"pitching and defense win in the post-season"--that turns out to be true, at least statistically. Back to BP.com:

"There are three particular characteristics of teams that win more than their share of post-season games. These characteristics are as follows:

* A power pitching staff, as measured by normalized strikeout rate.
* A good closer, as measured by WXRL.
* A good defense, as measured by FRAA.

Of the dozens of team characteristics that we tested for statistical significance, in terms of their relationship with winning post-season games and series, these were the only three that mattered. Ending the year hot doesn’t make a whit of difference, for example, nor does having a veteran club, or a smallball offense."

That's sabremetrician Nate Silver explaining how he came upon a new stat equation, dubbed "Secret Sauce," that magically quantifies a team's playoff juju.

The good news for Minnesota fans is that Silver pegs the Twins' Secret Sauce score well above the Yankees. In fact, according to this wonderful new math, the Twins' pitchers, closer, and defense are good enough to carry the team past that indomitable Yankees lineup (in four games) and win the World Series.

Of course, that was before Silva's meltdown last night all but booted him from the post-season rotation. And no equation, no matter how advanced, can solve the big question mark inside Radke's shoulder. Which makes Radke's return tonight all that much more important. So watch carefully--you know the Yankees are.



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