Point/Counterpoint: Who will win the AL East?
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 01:09
Joe: The Yankees are the more experienced team in September from hitting, pitching to even backup position players. The pitching staff, led by C.C. Sabathia, who has only given up 30 runs in September since 2009, have largely pitched well this season. Kuroda has been a work horse, pitching in seven innings or more in 17 starts. Kuroda also posted 13 wins thus far, including many against the AL East. Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia have both been here before. As for the O’s, their top starters have struggled mightily as of late and all year against the Yankees. They’re in trouble.
Nick: While the Yankees have more postseason experience than the Orioles, it won’t be a factor in AL East title race. The Orioles have proven they are capable of winning under pressure with their 25-7 record in one-run games. The team hasn’t tasted the postseason since ‘97, but I think the chance to make it this year will give them a psychological boost. The Yankees will feel more pressure as failing to win the division would be a failure. The O’s are just happy to be there and if they do not make it, people will just say they had a great run. That lack of expectations will allow them to play loose and well.
Joe: Although the Orioles are vying to be the franchise’s first playoff team since 1997, they shouldn’t be as respected as the rest of the field fighting in the playoff push. The Orioles have been outscored by 57 runs this season, which is the worst in the AL East. You could say, ‘so what’ to the run differential, but when a team knows how to score runs like the Yankees do, second in the MLB with 682 this season, it doesn’t matter how they fare in one run games. Out of a 162-game season, only about 19 percent of the games the Orioles have played have been one run games. That’s about one game in a four game series; and if they are being outscored by runs the rest of the games, they will lose three out of four times at best. So in their last 21 games, if they don’t even get close to the other team, they don’t stand a chance, especially with their team batting average being towards the bottom at .242, 21st in the MLB. The Yankees have a batting average of no. 11 in the league at .262. With the likes of Derek Jeter, A-Rod, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixiera (who will be back) and Robinson Cano, compared the Orioles with Mark Reynolds, Nick Markakis and Adam Jones, there is no comparison.
Nick: Whether you beat a team by one-run or 10, it still counts as a win. While the Yankees roster has many big names, baseball often comes down to who’s playing the best at the end of the season, instead of who has more talent. Right now, the Orioles are the team that is playing better. The Yankees had the best record in baseball at the All-Star break but are just 22-28 in their last 50 games. The Orioles on the other hand are 32-18 in their last 50 games. The Yankees may have more household names, but the Orioles are the ones who have been producing. The O’s have hit 21 home runs in 10 games this month, tied for best in the AL with the Texas Rangers. The Yankees have hit only 10 home runs this month. The Orioles have all the momentum and will look to keep it going and make the playoffs for the first time since Bill Clinton’s presidency.