All four divisional series are in the books in this baseball postseason. Of course, I predicted both American League divisional series outcomes incorrectly, but that won't stop me here, because I'm going to break this ALCS (American League Championship Series) down, and give you a definite winner. Teams will be awarded a minor advantage,(+1) a major advantage,(+2) or be marked even. White Sox will be listed first, then the Angels. Roll tape!
Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski vs. Bengie Molina
Let's ignore for a minute that Pierzynski had a phenomenal series against the Red Sox, he's still A.J. Pierzynski. I'm not sold that he's suddenly become a good hitter. Molina is a better fielding catcher, but he's playing hurt. Additionally, Pierzynski has previous playoff experience with the Giants. Edge: White Sox +1
First Base: Paul Konerko vs. Darin Erstad
This isn't even a contest. Konerko hit something like .260 this season, but he also put out 40+ homers. Erstad, except for the play that ended the Yankees hopes in game 5, was a waste of a lineup space, never coming through in key situations. However, he does have playoff experience, can swipe a base, and isn't afraid to level a catcher for his team. Still...Edge: White Sox +1
Second Base: Tadahito Iguchi vs. Adam Kennedy
Iguchi has turned into a clutch hitter, following the example of other Japanese major leaguers, but he's a relative rookie to the playoffs. Kennedy can't hit at all, but is fantastic on defense. Edge: Even
Shortstop: Juan Uribe vs. Orlando Cabrera
Juan Uribe is a servicable shortstop, but unless I'm missing something, that's all he'll ever be. Cabrera is not only one of the best fielders in the game, but has playoff experience, he was one of the Red Sox heros down the stretch last year. Edge: Angels +1
Third Base: Joe Crede vs. Chone Figgins
Classic match-up. Crede was at one time a potential rookie of the year who hasn't quite blossomed yet. He's also a solid fielder. Figgins is fast, he stole 50-60 bases this year. Additionally, Figgins can play three or four other positions if injuries dictate. Edge: Even
Left Field: Scott Posednik vs. Garret Anderson
Posednik's calling card is stealing bases, he had somewhere around 80 this year. That's pretty much what he does, his average (batting and on base) are abysmal for a leadoff hitter. Though injuries have slowed his career, Anderson is a smooth hitter, and solid in the field. Edge: Angels +1
Center Field: Aaron Rowand vs. Steve Finley
This is one of the match-ups to watch, Rowand is young and untested, Finley is older and has plenty of experience. Finley has also had somewhat of a career resurgance, he was god awful in Arizona. I'm not sure how happy I'd be having a 38 year old covering all that ground in center field, but for now...Edge: Angels +1
Right Field: Jermaine Dye vs. Vladimir Guerrero
Not even close. I'm convinced Dye will never be the player he was in Kansas City or Oakland. Meanwhile, Guerrero may be the most danngerous hitter in the entire sport, and he has an absolute cannon for an arm in right field. A huge weapon on both offense and defense. Major Edge: Angels +2
Designated Hitter: Carl Everett vs. Juan Rivera
If Everett can avoid having a blowup, he should be able to handle any head to head challenge Rivera will provide. He's a better hitter and runner, which is what you ask of the D.H. Edge: White Sox +1
Bench: Neither of these teams has anyone to speak of on the bench. The starters will play most every inning, if the managers have their way. If Frank Thomas wasn't injured, the Sox would have the advantage. The best the Angels can offer is a guy named Curtis Pride. Edge: Even
Rotation: Mark Buerhle/Freddy Garcia/Jose Contreras/Jon Garland vs. Bartolo Colon/Jarrod Washburn/John Lackey/Paul Byrd
This is where the series will be decided. The White Sox starters all are healthy, solid pitchers, and they aren't injured. For the Angels, Colon has hurt his back and may not pitch. Washburn (their only left-handed starter) is sick and may not be available. Suddenly, the rotation is headed by Paul Byrd, a gamer, but not a number one starter, and John Lackey. What are they going to do when rookie Ervin Santana or career underachiever Kelvim Escobar has to take the ball? Major Edge: White Sox +2
Relievers: Orlando Hernandez/Damaso Marte/Cliff Politte vs. Ervin Santana/Scot Shields/Kelvim Escobar/Brendan Donnelly etc...
The White Sox starters are healthy, and they have crafty Orlando Hernandez waiting in the bullpen, a former starter who can give them a ton of innings if necessary. He'll need to, because Marte, Politte and co. won't be able to match the solid pitching of Shields, Donnelly and two or three other relievers the Angels have, who are all solid. Due to the Angels rotation, breaking down as we speak, those relievers will be throwing way too much. Edge: Even
Closer: Dustin Hermansen/Bobby Jenks vs. Francisco Rodriguez
Who would you rather have? A failed starter (Hermansen) and a kid from backwater Idaho (Jenks) who lived without electricity or plumbing as a child, and has a fondness for alcohol and fighting? Or a man whose nickname is K-Rod, and has the nastiest curveball since Greg Olson in his prime? Yeah, I'll take K-Rod. I will say this, Hermansen and Jenks have been good, but there's too much unpredictability there. Edge: Angels +1
Manager: Ozzie Guillen vs. Mike Scioscia
Ozzie Guillen is a players manager, and is outspoken and extremely competitive. He's a true gamer, and can motivate his team. Scioscia however, has been to and won a World Series previously, and that gets the edge in my book. Edge: Angels +1
This totals up to the Angels having a +2 advantage. And that's why I'm picking the White Sox to take this series in 6 games. Why? Because I pigeonholed myself with the +1, +2 scoring system. No matter what anyone else says, good pitching will win you a championship. Look at the D-Backs, the Marlins, the Red Sox last year. It wasn't their hitters coming up big, it was the pitchers. Who was won the MVP of pretty much every World Series recently? Pitchers. If I had allowed the system to go this far, the White Sox would have had a +8 or something for the rotation.
The Angels are tired from the series with the Yankees, and with Colon (and possibly Washburn) out, every one of their starters is better than their Angels counterparts, and it will make the difference. White Sox in six games, count on it.
National League coming tomorrow.