ALCS scouting report

October 17, 2001|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff

Seattle players listed first

1B

John Olerud vs. Tino Martinez: Last year at this time, there were whispers that Martinez was on his way out of New York. He was washed up. His bat speed was down. He would be traded to make way for a younger player. This year, he's coming off an outstanding season (34 HRs, 113 RBIs) and could be a popular free agent in November. Steady Olerud had another solid season (.302, 95 RBIs) and hits for a better average. Both are good defensive players. Neither had a huge impact in the divisional round of the playoffs. Too close to call.

EDGE: EVEN

2B

Bret Boone vs. Alfonso Soriano: Boone is coming off the season of his life. He led the American League with 141 RBIs and has an excellent chance to be voted the league's Most Valuable Player, but had an absolutely discouraging Division Series. He managed just two singles in 21 at-bats and came up short in several key situations. Soriano turned in a solid first full season in the majors and drove in two big runs in the deciding game of the Division Series against the Oakland Athletics. He could be a wild card here, but Boone still is the big dog.

EDGE: SEATTLE

SS

Mark McLemore / Carlos Guillen vs. Derek Jeter: There is nothing more to say about Jeter. He can do it all, and proved it by doing a couple of things in the Division Series that even he had not done before. He made an acrobatic relay to save Game 3 and did a full flip into the stands to make a big play in Game 5. If the Yankees win, chances are Jeter will be the MVP. The Mariners had to scramble after regular shortstop Guillen came down with tuberculosis, but McLemore did an excellent job at shortstop during the Division Series and delivered the key hit in Game 5. Guillen will be back on the active roster for the AL Championship Series, but both figure to start there during the series. But neither is in the same class as Derek Jeter. End of conversation.

EDGE: NEW YORK

3B

David Bell vs. Scott Brosius: Brosius had a terrible Division Series. He had just one hit in 17 at-bats. He didn't have a particularly great regular season either (.280, 13 HRs, 49 RBIs), but he has proven to be a clutch postseason player in the past. Bell had a solid first playoff round (.313, two RBIs) and a decent regular season (15 HRs, 64 RBIs), but it's hard to rate him higher than a guy who has won a World Series MVP award. We'll cop out and call it a draw.

EDGE: EVEN

C

Dan Wilson vs. Jorge Posada: Posada is coming off an outstanding offensive season for a catcher (22 HRs, 95 RBIs) and batted .444 in the Division Series to emerge as one of his club's steadiest hitters during the dramatic comeback against the A's. He's also a strong defensive catcher who works well with the team's big-name pitching staff. Wilson also is a good backstop, but he's a soft hitter who isn't the guy you want up in a big situation.

EDGE: NEW YORK

LF

Stan Javier / Jay Buhner vs. Chuck Knoblauch: The Mariners do not really have an everyday player for this position. Veteran Javier has settled there and likely will get the most playing time in the ALCS, though manager Lou Piniella will likely give slugger Buhner a chance to re-establish himself as an offensive force. Knoblauch is a converted second baseman who has proven to be an adequate defensive outfielder. He's not the leadoff hitter he once was, but he's still an important part of the Yankees' equation.

EDGE: NEW YORK

CF

Mike Cameron vs. Bernie Williams: Williams may never win a league MVP award. He doesn't put up the flashiest numbers, and he isn't much of a self-promoter. What he is, however, is one of the best clutch players of his time, and has proved it with one big postseason performance after another. His five RBIs in Game 4 of the Division Series turned the tide against the A's. He'll come up big in the ALCS, too. Just watch. Cameron established himself as a big-time player this year with 25 home runs and 110 RBIs in the regular season. He also had a big home run in Game 2 of the Division Series. He has come into his own, but this is Williams' stage.

EDGE: NEW YORK

RF

Ichiro Suzuki vs. Paul O'Neill / David Justice: Ichiro has become a household name in Seattle, just as it was in Japan before the speedy outfielder decided to try and make it big in America. Suzuki has conquered the major leagues, winning the AL batting title and setting a rookie record with 242 hits. He batted .600 with 12 hits in the Division Series to write his name in the postseason record book. He is virtually unstoppable, because he always makes contact and he can beat out a routine ground ball. The Yankees will use either Justice or O'Neill in right field. Both have struggled during the postseason. Shane Spencer also is an option. No contest.

EDGE: SEATTLE

DH

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.