Matchups

October 17, 1998|By Peter Schmuck

First base

Padres: Wally Joyner has never appeared in the World Series, but has proved to be a steady -- if unspectacular -- performer in postseason play. He is a good defensive first baseman who has a reputation for hitting in the clutch. His .412 average with runners in scoring position was the second-highest of any major-league player during the regular season. Batted .313 in the NLCS with two RBIs.

Yankees: Eventually, Tino Martinez is going to figure out this postseason thing and then there's going to be the devil to pay. Martinez has been one of the top run-producers in the American League the past four seasons -- and he had some success in the 1995 and '97 Division Series -- but he has just one RBI in 74 career at-bats in the league championship series and World Series.

Advantage: Yankees.

Padres: Quilvio Veras is a speedy leadoff man who can work the count and get on base, but he is batting just .205 in the postseason and scored just two of the Padres' 24 runs in the NLCS. He'll have to be more of a spark plug if the Padres are going to score enough runs to be competitive.

Yankees: Chuck Knoblauch has not played up to his career numbers this year, but he's still one of the best on-base guys in the game. Made a critical blunder during the ALCS, but did not fold under the criticism from the media and abuse from the stands. This is his chance for redemption.

Advantage: Yankees.

Padres: Chris Gomez isn't going to light up the highlight reels. He isn't going to carry the offense. And he probably won't foul things up either. He's one of those woodwork guys who turn into World Series heroes, but he'll have to bounce back from a .150 performance in the NLCS to make an impact on this one.

Yankees: MVP candidate Derek Jeter led the league in runs scored this year and is one of the best all-around players in the game. He hasn't made his mark on this postseason yet -- batting only .176 so far -- but he has a way of coming up big when it really counts. He's the guy who could unravel Kevin Brown.

Advantage: Yankees

Padres: Former National League MVP Ken Caminiti is a high-intensity player who can carry the offense when he gets up a head of steam. He hit two home runs against the Braves in the NLCS and reached base 11 times in 27 plate appearances. Sprawling defense also is a forte, but sometimes can lead to throwing errors.

Yankees: Scott Brosius was the most productive No. 9 hitter in baseball during the regular season and has been the biggest offensive contributor of the postseason for the Yankees, with nine RBIs. He also can make the exciting play at third base and is one of those "foxhole guys" who have a stabilizing influence on the rest of the team.

Advantage: Padres.

Padres: Former Dodgers backup Carlos Hernandez finally got a chance to play every day in San Diego this year and has been a big contributor in the postseason, batting .367 in the first two playoff rounds. He's also a decent defensive guy who threw out 25 percent of opposing base runners this year.

Yankees: Promising Jorge Posada assumed a greater share of the catching duties this season and confirmed his status as the club's catcher of the future. He hit 17 homers and drove in 63 runs playing just over half the time and threw out 38 percent of opposing runners during the regular season. Veteran Joe Girardi is no slouch either -- a steady all-around catcher who can come up with a big hit at a critical time.

Advantage: Yankees.

Padres: Greg Vaughn is coming off a terrific offensive performance in the regular season, but has been dogged by a quadriceps strain that kept him out of much of the NLCS. Might have been in the Yankees lineup if club had not pulled out of a 1997 deal with Padres. Hit 50 home runs in 1998 to set team record. His availability will be a key factor for San Diego.

Yankees: The Yankees lost Darryl Strawberry (colon cancer) for the postseason and still had four viable left fielders in the organization, but Shane Spencer, Tim Raines (pictured), Chad Curtis and Ricky Ledee combined for just two hits in 29 at-bats in the ALCS. Manager Joe Torre probably will use Raines the most.

Advantage: Padres.

Padres: Former Oriole Steve Finley came back from a so-so regular season to bat .333 and lead the Padres with seven hits in the NLCS. He's a strong defensive outfielder with good speed who hit his only AL grand slam at Yankee Stadium during the O's "Why Not?" season of 1989.

Yankees: Bernie Williams edged out Mo Vaughn for the American League batting title (.339) after missing 31 games with a knee injury midway through the season. He struggled in the Division Series (0-for-11), but led the Yankees with eight hits and a .381 average in the ALCS. Great defensive player who will be very popular in the free-agent market during the off-season.

Advantage: Yankees.

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