A Rivalry Renewed: Red Sox vs. Yankees

There reportedly was a fight between two women, one in Red Sox gear and the other sporting Yankees threads, in the parking lot of George M. Steinbrenner Stadium in Tampa, Florida yesterday ahead of the Sox’ Spring Training clash with the Yankees. That’s the most indicative anecdote of any to show how fierce the rivalry between Boston and New York is. That rivalry, as fierce as it is, has been a little lackluster the last 10 years or so, though, with neither team really competing for a title at the same given time (for the most part). Well, that’s about to change, folks, because both of these teams are stacked once again, fresh off of a dramatic back-and-forth offseason, and ready to make pennant runs. So, without any further ado, let’s get down to the matchups!

Note: Lineups, rotations, and bench are based on each team’s websites’ respective depth charts. The disabled list was not factored into either team’s roster for this article, so some players listed here will not be available on Opening Day.

Starting Rotation:

1-Chris Sale vs. Luis Severino

2-David Price vs. Masahiro Tanaka

3-Rick Porcello vs. Sonny Gray

4-Drew Pomeranz vs. C.C. Sabathia

5-Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Jordan Montgomery

This is a close one to lead it off. Sale is one of the 3 best pitchers in the AL, in my opinion, and clearly has the advantage over the young and promising Severino. When he’s firing on all cylinders, David Price is a Cy Young candidate, and while Tanaka is certainly talented, he doesn’t measure up to Price. Rick Porcello’s Cy Young winning 2016 was an anomaly, and we can’t forget how good Sonny Gray was in Oakland to start his career (3.45 ERA). Gray takes this matchup. I’m a big Pomeranz guy. I think he’s underrated and overlooked as one of the better mid-rotation guys out there. Sabathia had his dominant glory days, but those times are long gone, and Pomeranz is better than him right now. Rodriguez is talented but injury prone and coming off of knee surgery, and Montgomery had a very successful rookie year in 2017, so he takes that one.

Advantage: Red Sox

Bullpen:

The Sox have arguably the best closer in the game in Craig Kimbrel, two talented but undecided set-up men in Carson Smith and Tyler Thornburg, and a bunch of serviceable arms like Joe Kelly (who had a surprisingly phenomenal 2017), Brandon Workman, Matt Barnes, Robby Scott, and Heath Hembree. The Yankees also have arguably the best closer in the game in Aroldis Chapman, three very good potential setup men in David Robertson, Chad Green, and Tommy Kahnle, and then a bunch of serviceable guys like Dellin Betances, Adam Warren, and Ben Heller. Notice any similarities there? To be honest, any team would be lucky to have a bullpen like these. It’s a toss up here, so based on everything I’ve read about the two, I’m giving it to New York.

Advantage: Yankees

Catcher: Christian Vazquez vs. Gary Sanchez

Christian Vazquez is very talented. He hit .290 and looked very comfortable in his first full big league season. I’ve made the case for him to improve on his successful 2017 this season, and he’s a stud defensive catcher, something that Sanchez can’t say. What Sanchez can boast, however, is hitting .283 last year and blasting 53 homers in the last 2 (including 33 in 2017). Offense beats defense in this case.

Advantage: Yankees

First Base:Hanley Ramirez vs. Greg Bird

Even though Ramirez has been up-and-down since arriving in Boston, he’s a career .291 hitter who definitely has the ability to play at an All-Star caliber if he can just put all of his tools together and stay out of the drama with the Boston media. He also  surprised a lot of people with his defensive ability in his first year at 1st base last season. Bird is a career .227 hitter with only 304 at-bats in his 2 years at the top level. This one is Hanley’s by a landslide.

Advantage: Red Sox

Second Base:Dustin Pedroia vs. Ronald Torreyes

Pedroia is a 4-time Gold Glover, a Silver Slugger, and an MVP. Although the injury bug hasn’t been kind to him of late, he still hit plus .290 in each of the last 3 years. He remains one of the better AL 2nd baseman when healthy until proven otherwise. Torreyes put in a promising performance last year batting .292, but until he can repeat that over a few seasons Dustin has the edge.

Advantage: Red Sox

Third Base:Rafael Devers vs. Brandon Drury

Devers is one of the brightest young stars in the MLB. Many people, myself included, expect him to improve on his very good rookie year in which he hit .284 with 10 HR and 30 RBI in just 58 games. Drury is a serviceable hitter (.271 career BA), and he did score a respectable 1.6 WAR in 2017, but he doesn’t hold up in this matchup.

Advantage: Red Sox

Shortstop:Xander Bogaerts vs. Didi Gregorius

This one is a little closer than it might seem at first look. Gregorius has been a welcome surprise for the Yankees. He’s improved his BA and home runs each of the last 3 seasons, hitting .287 with 25 HR last year. Bogaerts had a down year in 2017, but hit .320 with 81 RBI in 2015 and .294 with 89 RBI in 2016, respectively, and took home the Silver Slugger Award in both years. It’s expected that he’ll bounce back to that sort of form this year, so I give Bogey the edge.

Advantage: Red Sox

Left Field:Andrew Benintendi vs. Aaron Hicks

Easy call on this one. Hicks has enjoyed some success in his 5 years in the MLB (only 458 games played, though) and is a very good defensive outfielder with a career fielding % of .994, but his average bat (.266 BA, 15 HR, 52 RBI in 2017) are a little bit of a liability. Benintendi, on the other hand, exploded onto the scene last year after a successful debut in 2016, smashing 20 home runs for 90 RBI. Add to that the fact that he’s been on fire this Spring, and it looks like he’s primed to put up monster numbers this year.

Advantage: Red Sox

Center Field:Jackie Bradley Jr. vs. Brett Gardner

Gardner hit .264 last year with 21 HR, and JBJ .245 BA with 17 HR. Gardner has superior numbers but, to speak frankly, neither of these guys is a very good hitter. So, what it comes down to in this matchup is defense, and Bradley blows Gardner out of the water in that respect. He’s largely considered a top-5 defensive outfielder, and that’s what gives him the win here.

Advantage: Red Sox

Right Field:Mookie Betts vs. Aaron Judge

These last two is where it really starts to get interesting. Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year title and finished 2nd in AL MVP voting last year, crushing 52 home runs and 114 RBI. Mookie has finished top-6 in MVP voting each of the last 2 years (including 2nd in 2016) and also has 2 Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger to his name in just 3-and-a-half years. Betts had a bit of a down year in 2017, hitting only .264, but he did manage 24 HR, 104 RBI, and 26 steals. What it really comes down to is this: if you believe in the “sophomore slump,” then Betts takes this. If you don’t, the it’s Judge’s. I’m part of the latter; I think that if you can hit then you can hit, so it’s Judge’s by a nose.

Advantage: Yankees

Designated Hitter: J.D. Martinez vs. Giancarlo Stanton

Pop quiz! Who has the highest slugging percentage over the last 4 years? Answer: Mike Trout. But the real question when it comes to this article is who has the 2nd highest? Answer: J.D. Martinez. Every bone in my body is telling me to pick against Stanton in this one (he doesn’t hit for average very well, he’s never played in a big market, he’s injury prone, etc.), but the fact is, until you’re not the reigning MVP, you trump everyone else, so unfortunately I have to give this one to Stanton.

Advantage: Yankees

Bench: 

The Sox are loaded with talent this year, so much so that recent reports have Dave Dombroski shopping Brock Holt and Deven Marrero in order to break up the logjam in the infield for Alex Cora. Blake Swihart looks to be a super-utility guy, Mitch Moreland is a proven power bat, Eduardo Nunez had perhaps the best year of his career last year, and Sandy Leon was one half of the duo that finished 2nd for the AL Cy Young. Yeah, they’re good. The Yankees have guys like Jacoby Ellsbury, Tyler Wade, Austin Romine, and Neil Walker. While none of them is a bad player, they’re all either past their prime (Ellsbury), young and raw (Wade), or perennial role players (Romine). Sox take this one with ease.

Advantage: Red Sox

Final Score: Red Sox-8 vs. Yankees-4

So there it is. The Red Sox will obviously go on to win the AL East and probably the World Series, all because I said so here. I’m kidding, obviously. The truth is, this is going to be one hell of a race between these two teams. For whatever this rivalry lacked the last decade or so, you better believe that it’s going to come roaring back this year, and it will most definitely be fun to watch.

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