Curtis Granderson currently serves as the poster boy for why match-up numbers mean little during individual at-bats. Everything about his sixth-inning at-bat last night against Francisco Liriano screamed failure. He was just 4-for-25 lifetime against Liriano heading into the game, and a ground out and a strikeout made that 4-for-27. He also hits lefties poorly. Yet he found a pitch to hit and drove in the go-ahead run. It goes against all the numbers put forth in the ALDS Game 1 preview.
For today’s preview let’s look at different numbers. Rather than look at each lineup’s overall performance against pitchers of the same handedness as they will face, let’s look at similar pitchers based on batted-ball profiles. This season Andy Pettitte allowed 18.4 percent line drives, 43.9 percent ground balls, and 37.6 percent fly balls. Based on that, here are a few comparables:
There were a couple of others that were close, but we’ll go with these three since they’re all lefties who don’t throw particularly hard. Here is how the current Twins lineup fares against these guys.
It would appear, then, that Minnesota does have a decided advantage when facing left-handed pitchers similar in batted-ball profile to Pettitte. It isn’t the biggest sample, but it’s a bit more comprehensive than just going with their results against Pettitte.
This lineup would appear to hurt the Twins. Gardenhire wants to break up the lefties as to avoid a late-inning Boone Logan encounter, but his best hitters are broken up by ones who fare poorly against hitters like Pettitte. I wonder if he’d consider moving up Michael Cuddyer, considering his excellent numbers against lefties, and softer-tossing lefties in particular.
Carl Pavano has turned into a groundball machine this year, keeping 50 percent of balls in play out of the air. Sticking with right-handed pitchers with a similar batted-ball profile (17.8% LD, 51.2% GB, 30.9% FB), here are his best comparables:
And here is how the Yankees lineup fared against them:
We have a much smaller sample on the Yankees, but it’s clear that they don’t hit as well against hitters of Pavano’s ilk. Maybe that’s because they don’t see them often — Pavano, Floyd, and Porcello are in the AL Central, Porcello and Buchholz haven’t been around for long, and Pavano was on the team’s roster for four years and pitched in the NL before that. Mark Teixeira looks like he can do some damage, but the only other hitter with a SLG above .400 is Lance Berkman, who did it in a mere 15 PA.
Last night the match-up numbers seemed to favor the Twins. They had plenty of hitters in the lineup who fared well against lefties and at home, while the Yankees seemed to perform a bit worse against lefties and on the road. This time around, though, we’re using different numbers, the Twins have a decided advantage. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll hit Pettitte, but it certainly bodes well. That’s about the best we can do with pre-game analysis.
Joe also writes about the Yankees at River Ave. Blues.