Some sports analysts are saying that the Boston Red Sox are the new team to beat in Major League Baseball. With the additions of Carl Crawford (arguably one of the best and fastest outfielders in the league) and all-star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (who will ease Kevin Youkilis’ transition to third) their lineup is definitely a threat. With this in mind, I figured someone should compare them position-to-position against the previous team-to-beat, the New York Yankees, and see whether the analysts are right.
Adrian Gonzalez is one of two shiny new playthings for Red Sox fans this season. He’s an all-star and has a career batting average of .284. Mark Teixeira is one of the few Yankee acquisitions in recent years to actually live up to his hype. He is the best fielding first baseman in MLB with a career batting average of .286. Since they’re similar in hitting, the fielding makes this decision. Advantage: Yankees
Dustin Pedroia has been injury-prone lately and sat out over half of last season. But there’s no denying that he lights a fire under the Sox when he’s healthy and playing to his full potential. Robinson Cano has quickly become one of the Yankees most-reliable clutch hitters, along with having a lot of power. Pedroia is a slightly better fielder. But, the injury and missing most of last season makes this Cano’s spot to lose. Advantage: Yankees
Future Hall of Famer/one of the best players in history v. Marco Scutaro? Please. He may be getting older, but Derek Jeter is still one of the most valuable players that any team in the league could have. Advantage: Yankees
Thank god Alex Rodriguez is finally able to hit in clutch moments. And not just hit. Huge hits. Like walk-off home runs and go-ahead RBIs. Of course, Kevin Youkilis is one of Boston’s most reliable postseason guys as well. Purely on a “who’s been playing the position longer?” basis, A-Rod wins fielding. And A-Rod will be breaking Hank Aaron’s (oops, I mean “Barry Bonds”) all-time home run record before he retires. Oh yes. Advantage: Yankees
I have to admit that Nick Swisher is one of my favorite players. His enthusiasm and love-of-the-game is infectious. He is definitely a fan favorite, whereas fans are still warming up to J.D. Drew. After all, Swisher got American League fans to vote him into the 2010 All-Star Game. However, though Swisher has definitely come into his own as a Yankee (and is one of their best clutch hitters), Drew’s overall stats are better. Swisher’s a way better pitcher, though. Advantage: Red Sox
Jacoby Ellsbury is a better hitter, and will most likely be the Sox lead-off man. Then again, he was also out of commission all of last season, while Curtis Granderson came into his own as a Yankee. They’re about even when it comes to FPCT. But if Ellsbury can remain healthy this season, he’ll have a bigger impact for the Sox than Granderson will for the Yanks. Advantage: Red Sox
Am I the only one that wants Brett Gardner and Carl Crawford to have a foot race right now? Both left fields boast one of the speediest men in MLB. Gardner had one of the highest OBP in the league last year, but Crawford has more experience and a better career batting average. In a pinch, I’d want Crawford right now and Gardner in a year or two when he’s had even more time to grow. Advantage: Red Sox
I’ve got to give this one to the Sox, considering Francisco Cervelli is out of comission and Russell Martin and Jarrod Saltalamacchia are pretty evenly matched. A veteran leader like Jason Varitek is of more use than an injuried youth. Advantage: Red Sox
The biggest disadvantage for Jorge Posada in this match-up is that this is his first year as a DH and David Ortiz practically reinvented the position. Posada was one of the best-hitting catchers in the game for his career, but now that he’s gotten older he’s going to have to prove himself at the plate while not being behind it. For now, Advantage: Red Sox
This is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever said — this is totally A.J. Burnett’s year! Ever since I met the Yankee pitcher in Disney World, I’ve wanted him to prove himself, and this is his year. With a new pitching coach helping him hit his spots and repeat his motion, I think he’ll be one of the most dominant pitchers in the league. Factoring in C.C. Sabathia and Phil Hughes, I think the Yankees have Josh Beckett and Clay Buchholz beat. Both teams have iffy four and five spots, but the top three? Advantage: Yankees
The Yankees have Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlain, Damaso Marte, Rafael Soriano and David Robertson. The Red Sox bullpen is full of a bunch of guys that I’ve never heard of, except Jonathan Papelbon. Plus, did I mention the Yankees have Mariano Rivera? Advantage: Yankees
So, that’s six for the Yankees and five for the Red Sox. The Yanks are still better (was there ever any doubt?). But, this is just on paper. The real test will be when these teams face each other — rekindling one of the greatest sports rivalries of all time.
Caroline Russomanno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.