Can you say talent? The Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Yankees will square off in one of the most anticipated World Series this decade.
The series will feature three Cy Young Award winners—C.C Sabathia, Pedro Martinez, and Cliff Lee—three World Series MVPs—Mariana Rivera, Derek Jeter, and Cole Hamels—and three regular-season MVPs: Alex Rodriguez, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard.
The Phillies’ quest to defend their title has had no serious obstacle thus far. Philadelphia easily dispatched the Cinderella Colorado Rockies and dismantled the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games, despite LA having home field advantage and some of the best pitching in the league (not to mention Mannywood).The Phillies have an impressive swagger and attempt to batter their opponents into submission with their raw power. Philadelphia belted 224 homers and slugged .447 during the regular season—both tops in the National League.
The keys for the Phillies will be to put runs on the board early, be aggressive on the base paths, and continue to get production from sluggers Howard, Raul Ibanez, and Chase Utley. On the mound, the team will need to keep getting dominant performances from Lee, who has the lowest postseason ERA of any pitcher with at least three starts in history, and hope that shaky closer Brad Lidge avoids a meltdown.
The Yankees make their first World Series appearance since 2003, but this year’s success has hardly been surprising considering their off-season free agent pickups.
The acquisitions of 19-game winner Sabathia and top-tier slugger Mark Teixeira have jolted the Bronx Bombers into the World Series in the first year of their new $1.3 billion stadium. The team is also filled with household names and postseason veterans such as Jeter, Rivera, Andy Pettite, and Jorge Posada.
All eyes, however, will be on Rodriguez, who has broken his much-discussed playoff slump. This postseason he has connected for five home runs, three of which have tied the game or given the Yankees the lead. He is batting an unheard-of .438, and has a slugging percentage of .969 and 12 RBI’s in nine games. Whether A-Rod can continue his dominance at the plate in his first World Series will play a huge role in who wins this series.
The series will also feature numerous other storylines. Martinez will square off against the Yanks in the postseason yet again, this time in a Phillies uniform. Lee and Sabathia will go face-to-face after winning Cy Young awards in consecutive years for the Cleveland Indians.
Despite the talented pitching staff, don’t expect a low-scoring series. With two home run-friendly ballparks and the top two home run hitting teams during the regular season, expect some fireworks.
For my fearless prediction? Although the Phillies are the defending champions and have rolled through the postseason thus far, the Yankees are strong in every facet of the game. In the end it will probably boil down to this question: with the World Series on the line, would you rather put the ball in the hands of old, reliable Rivera or in the hands of Lidge’s 7.21 ERA? Yankees in six.