It is a tale of two cities. A Midwestern team with a payroll of $67 million, less than 24 hours removed from a 12 inning game that was the 163rd of their season, a game played in their old, drab, domed stadium that they share with an NFL team. An unsexy team of players largely unknown to the casual baseball fan and certainly to most of America. A team without a true ace pitcher or their MVP first baseman that has just traveled 1200 miles in the middle of the night to take on a well rested baseball goliath that is being touted as one of the best teams in a decade.
The team that these modest Midwesterners face consists of All Stars and future Hall of Famers, playing in a newly built billion dollar stadium in the biggest city in the nation and one of the largest media markets in the world. They’ve essentially had the division locked up for month, they boast the most storied history of any team in baseball, and they will send their free agent prize from last off season tonight to face Brian Duensing, a rookie with a $400,000 salary, 1/38th that of CC Sabathia's.
There is no reason to think that the Twins will win the ALDS against the Yankees. They have everything working against them. They are built on role players such as Denard Span and Jason Kubel and their best pitcher has a 4.03 ERA, not to mention that they weren’t even first in their division until last night. Most people say of the Twins, who are they and who cares, bring on the Red Sox for the ALCS.
But scratching the surface a little there is a glimmer of hope for the Twins. The Yankees ace, CC Sabathia, has not had much postseason success. He has an ERA of 8.80 and 12.27 in each of the past two postseasons. The Yankees do not have a reliable fourth starter, and when compared to the Twins, outside of Sabathia, the two team's pitching staff’s numbers are very similar, both among starters and relievers. The Twins relievers collectively have an ERA of 3.87, the Yankees have an ERA of 3.91. The starters numbers are listed below.
Offensively and defensively the Twins also match up very well with the Yankees. The Yankees have a team batting average of .283, second best in the AL; the Twins are right behind them with the third best team average of .274. Defensively the Twins have a fielding percentage of .987, the Yankees .985
Really the only noticeable difference between the two teams is the Yankees $208 million payroll and the Twins $67 million, 23rd in MLB. In fact, the Yankees three highest paid players make more than the Twins entire team, but as the Yankees have learned the past eight years money doesn’t buy you a World Series. It would be nice if some of the national media would remember that once in a while.