Should I tell you about the Yankees and their $250 million payroll vs. the $69 million for the Cleveland Guardians?
How about all the labels that will be used for the Yankees and Guardians in the playoffs? David vs. Goliath?
Maybe SpongeBob SquarePants (Oscar Gonzalez) vs. Godzilla (Aaron Judge and his 62 home runs).
How about New York starter and strikeout out machine Gerrit Cole vs. Cal Quantrill, one of the least appreciated starting pitchers in baseball?
I like that matchup. It goes to the heart of the American League Division Series opening Tuesday night in the Bronx. Best-of-5, Guardians vs. the Yankees. Cole leading the MLB in strikeouts and his $36 million salary.
Quantrill? He’s a guy traded to Cleveland because the Padres didn’t believe he’d be a viable big league starter. He ranked 74th in strikeouts this season, about half as many (128 in 186 innings) as Cole (257 in 201 innings).
Compare radar gun readings and contracts? Forget about it.
HOW ABOUT A LITTLE RESPECT?
Can we dig a little deeper? Can we mention that Cole had a 13-8 record this season. Quantrill was 15-5. I know, records can be deceiving. Quantrill had some of the best run support in baseball.
But how about this: Quantrill had a lower ERA (3.38) than Cole (3.50). Of course Cole is the more talented pitcher. Nonetheless, Quantrill has a 23-8 record and 3.11 ERA since joining Cleveland in the middle of the 2000 season.
Analytics hates Quantrill. He doesn’t strike out enough guys. But analytics also hates the Guardians because they don’t hit for enough power.
Nonetheless, Quantrill doesn’t walk many hitters (2.5 per nine innings), and Guardians hitters struck out the fewest times of any team in the Majors this season.
Cleveland wins its own way.
Games are not always won by the teams or players who earn the most.
A HIDDEN FACT
Don’t think so? Quick question: When was the last time the Yankees were in the World Series?
It was 2009.
Take a moment to absorb that fact: The Yankees haven’t been to the World Series since 2009. Big-market teams like to dismiss the Central Division, but Cleveland (2016), Kansas City (2014, 2015) and Detroit (2012) have been there more often of late than the Yankees.
Just sayin’ …
In the last five years, the Yankees have made the playoffs with power-hitting Judge. They didn’t make the World Series. There is tremendous pressure on them to reach the World Series.
What can you say about the youngest team in the Majors going to New York for the playoffs? This is a team where 17 players made their big league debuts this season.
It’s a team where Judge (62) hit nearly half as many homers (127) as the entire Cleveland team.
It’s a team that has hit only half as many homers as New York (127 to 254).
It’s a team … I’ll just say it … I love how this Cleveland teams plays.
They hustle. They hit doubles – they have hit more doubles (273) than the Yankees (225). Cleveland also has a better bullpen.
I know, I’m searching for reasons Cleveland can win. The Yankees won 99 games this season. They led the American League in runs scored, homers and OPS.
The Yankees were 5-1 vs, the Guardians in the regular season. The one Cleveland victory was 2-0, thanks to seven scoreless, one-hit innings by Triston McKenzie. In the other five games, the Guardians were outscored 38-12.
Quantrill has been solid in his career vs. the Yankees, a 3.38 ERA in 10 2/3 innings. This seasoon, Cole is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA vs. Cleveland.
It is SpongeBob vs. Godzilla.
Can the Guardians win this series? Will the nation finally grow to appreciate Jose Ramirez, Cleveland’s Secret Superstar? Will there be some more SpongeBob late-inning heroics from Oscar Gonzalez?
The odds makers say – NO. But the odds makers have said NO to the Guardians all season, and they are still playing.