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Phillies-Yankees matchup: Outfielders

Phillies-Yankees matchup: Outfielders

Heading into the World Series between the Yankees and Phillies, beginning Wednesday on FOX, MLB.com looks at the position-by-position matchups and dissects which team has the advantage.

Phillies
LF/DH Raul Ibanez
.272 BA, 34 HR, 93 RBIs
CF Shane Victorino
.292 BA, 10 HR, 62 RBIs
RF Jayson Werth
.268 BA, 36 HR, 99 RBIs

Werth spent some well-deserved time in the national spotlight with his two-homer performance in the Phillies' National League Championship Series clincher over the Dodgers, but the truth is that he was key to the team's success all season, even if he didn't play with the speedy flash of Victorino or the steady veteran savvy of Ibanez.

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Werth jumped from 24 homers in 2008 to 36 in 2009 and continued to drive the ball in the postseason. He homered three times in the four-game NL Division Series, and his 1.207 playoff OPS leads the Phillies -- just ahead of slugger Ryan Howard's 1.203 and Victorino's 1.161 -- and ranks in the top five of all players from the eight playoff participants. Werth enters the World Series with seven career postseason home runs for the Phillies, a franchise record.

Werth is part of a well-rounded group. Victorino is a sparkplug in the No. 2 hole, a pesky hitter who capably bridges the gap between leadoff man Jimmy Rollins and the heart of the order and led the Phillies with seven hits in the NLDS, four of them for extra bases. He's stolen two bases so far in the playoffs after swiping 25 during the regular season, and is also a plus in center field. Victorino's 10.910 zone rating ranked second-best in the league.

Ibanez has not hit for power or average in the playoffs -- continuing a trend that began at about the 50-game mark in the regular season -- but he does have nine postseason RBIs, more than any other non-Phillie other than the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez. Ibanez will DH at Yankee Stadium, with Ben Francisco manning left in those games.

Yankees
LF Johnny Damon
.282 BA, 24 HR, 82 RBIs
CF Melky Cabrera
.274 BA, 13 HR, 68 RBIs
RF Nick Swisher
.249 BA, 29 HR, 82 RBIs

After combining to go 4-for-36 during in the Yankees' American League Division Series against the Twins with no RBIs and only one extra-base hit -- a double by Swisher -- at least two-thirds of New York's outfield trio came alive against the Angels in the League Championship Series.

Damon was 9-for-30 with two home runs and five RBIs in the ALCS and Cabrera was 9-for-23 with four RBIs, all of them in Game 4. Both players appear to be getting hot at the right time; Damon had not homered in 120 at-bats since Aug. 30 before he cleared the fence in Game 3 of the ALCS, and Cabrera was 5-for-25 in the playoffs before his 3-for-4 performance in Game 4.

Watch out for Cabrera late in games. He came up big in the clutch for New York during the regular season with three walk-off RBIs, the most by a Yankee in a single season since 1988.

Swisher, though, has been quiet in the playoffs following a productive regular season in which he batted just .249 but contributed 35 doubles, 29 home runs and 82 RBIs. True to his Oakland roots, he saw the second-most pitches per plate appearance (4.26) of any hitter in the AL.

Defensively, the Yankees' outfield makes it interesting. Damon is so far below average in center field that the Yankees have moved him to left, and Cabrera rates below average in center as well. The Yankees could use Brett Gardner at that position late in games. Statistically, Swisher is above average in his career in right field.


Experts' picks


Note: Hitter evaluations based on a 100-point scale, factoring in power, contact hitting, speed, fielding, experience, recent performances and moxie. Click on each expert to see all of their selections for the 2009 World Series.

World Series Left Field Matchup
PanelistRaul IbanezJohnny DamonExpert analysis
Mike Siano
MLB.com
8282Ibanez has a better chance to do damage in the power department, but Damon can run. Both have become liabilites in the outfield, and Ibanez will DH due to injury, so add it all up and it's two talented players who even each other out.
Cory Schwartz
MLB.com
8083Although their styles may differ, Ibanez and Damon are very similar in terms of value: Ibanez features more power and a stronger outfield arm, while Damon boasts superior on-base skills and speed, although the Phillies are sure to test his outfield arm, which is among the weakest in the game.
Lyle Spencer
MLB.com
9085Ibanez has always been clutch, and now he has the stage to show it. You can run on both guys.
Jim Duquette
MLB.com
9080Damon's clutch hit in Game 6 helped give the Yankees breathing room vs the Angels. Ibanez is still an RBI machine that will play a major role for the Phillies' World Series hopes as the Yankees pitch carefully to Howard and Werth.
Ken Gurnick
MLB.com
9085Ibanez gives the Phillies the depth of an AL lineup and he's not afraid to hit left-handed pitchers. Damon still has a flair for the dramatic.
Mitch Williams
MLB Network
8580Similar defensive players but Ibanez has the edge offensively.
Joe Sheehan
Baseball Prospectus
8684The weakest defensive matchup of the Series features two veteran hitters who haven't declined much in their late 30s. Ibanez ended up with his usual numbers after a hot start, while Damon used New Yankees Stadium to have a big power year.
Hal Bodley
MLB.com
8585Ibanez carried the Phillies during the early weeks of the season and proved his defense is better than advertised. Ibanez has more power than Damon, but the latter has more experience on the big stage.

Final tally: Ibanez 86, Damon 83


World Series Center Field Matchup
PanelistShane VictorinoMelky CabreraExpert analysis
Mike Siano
MLB.com
8375I think Victorino will continue to have a great postseason. He sets the tone for this team attitude-wise and is the general of the outfield, a great asset to Charlie Manuel. Cabrera is prone to both disappearing and having big games but he doesn't scare you at all. He needs to play solid defense and take advantage of the chances he gets to make a difference (see ALCS Game 4).
Cory Schwartz
MLB.com
8474Victorino is a solid all-around player who's enjoying a strong postseason, with a combined 1.161 OPS through the first two rounds. Cabrera is a similar offensive player, and enjoyed a strong series against the Angels, but falls short of Victorino's on-base skills and power. Both are strong defensively.
Lyle Spencer
MLB.com
8582Victorino's versatility and confidence give him a slight edge overall. Both have surprising pop.
Jim Duquette
MLB.com
9080Melky has been one of the Yankees' hottest hitters in the past three games and has played the little man's game well. Victorino is the "other" sparkplug at the top of the lineup and has been solid in center.
Ken Gurnick
MLB.com
8585Victorino is the Phillie who plays with an edge, and that attitude rubs off on the rest of the team. Cabrera is more the defensive force than an offensive factor.
Mitch Williams
MLB Network
9080Cabrera has more range and a better arm, but Victorino is the better offensive player.
Joe Sheehan
Baseball Prospectus
9182The Phillies' biggest edge is here, where Victorino is better in every phase of the game except throwing. Cabrera plays for his glove, which is strong, and even the worst Yankee hitter is about league-average.
Hal Bodley
MLB.com
9180Victorino is the best defensive outfielder in the Series and has come up big offensively all season. At the top of the lineup behind Rollins, Victorino makes things happen. Cabrera was hot at the plate in the last three ALCS games.

Final tally: Victorino 87.4, Cabrera 79.8


World Series Right Field Matchup
PanelistJayson WerthNick SwisherExpert analysis
Mike Siano
MLB.com
8478Werth has become a home run monster, while Swisher has been a nightmare offensively but has made some big plays in the outfield. As a power righty, Werth really helps the Phils in this series and will be on Girardi's mind throughout.
Cory Schwartz
MLB.com
8572Werth and Swisher offer plenty of power and on-base skills, and both are sound defensively. The similarities end there, as Werth is a capable base-stealer with a plus arm, and he's on a roll offensively. Swisher, on the other hand, may lose at-bats if his postseason struggles persist.
Lyle Spencer
MLB.com
9075Werth's confidence level keeps rising, and Swisher is coming off a bad series, looking a little clueless at the plate.
Jim Duquette
MLB.com
9070Swisher's offensive struggles are well documented, but he's provided several key defensive plays to keep him in the lineup. Werth has had a career year and will get plenty of opportunities as the Yankees pitch around Howard. Expect him to step up like he did at the end of the LCS.
Ken Gurnick
MLB.com
9075Werth has emerged as a true star and big-time clutch slugger. And teams run on him at their own risk. Swisher is coming off a shaky ALCS.
Mitch Williams
MLB Network
9080Same reasoning as Cabrera/Victorino; Werth's bat prevails.
Joe Sheehan
Baseball Prospectus
9080Swisher isn't the out machine he's looked like this month, and is in fact a similar player to Werth, working counts, hitting for power, not making a lot of contact. Werth runs and plays defense a bit better.
Hal Bodley
MLB.com
9070Werth is having a career year, both offensively and defensively. He follows Howard in the lineup and usually gets good pitches to hit. Swisher has been struggling at the plate.

Final tally: Werth 88.6, Swisher 75

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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