While Philadelphia is in the home of the American League-champion Yankees, Ben Francisco will grab his glove and head out to left field for the Phillies. That means that Raul Ibanez -- Philadelphia's left fielder -- will shift into the DH role for the reigning World Series champs.
But since the games Francisco will be starting will be the same ones that will be started by regular Yankees DH Hideki Matsui, that's the matchup here: Francisco vs. Matsui.
The Phillies acquired the 28-year-old Francisco from the Indians in July as part of the blockbuster trade that also landed ace pitcher Cliff Lee. The deal was made to bring Lee to Philadelphia, but the addition of Francisco added more depth behind a Phillies lineup that is jam-packed with All-Stars.
Between stints with Cleveland and Philadelphia this season, Francisco hit .257 with 15 home runs and 46 RBIs over 126 games. He appeared in 37 games for the Phillies, who used him to spell Ibanez, center fielder Shane Victorino and right fielder Jayson Werth on occasion. With Philadelphia, Francisco hit .278 with five homers and 13 RBIs.
Hideki Matsui, Yankees
.274 BA, 28 HR, 90 RBIs
Matsui probably did not imagine it would take him this long to reach the World Series again with the Yankees. In his first season in the Major Leagues in 2003, following a prolific career in Japan, the slugger known as "Godzilla" was a part of the New York team that lost to Florida in the Fall Classic.
Six years later, Matsui returns to the Series for what could be his final shot at a title while wearing pinstripes. In the last year of a four-year deal he signed with New York, the 35-year-old Matsui is an experienced DH and gives the Bronx Bombers another potent bat in their quest to unseat the Phillies as World Series champions.
Matsui enjoyed one of his best offensive seasons in years this season. Over 142 games -- his most in two years -- the left-handed hitter posted a .274 average with 28 home runs and 90 RBIs. Matsui's 28 homers and .522 slugging percentage represented his best marks since 2004.
After playing every game for the Yankees from 2003-05, Matsui has battled a variety of injuries over the past four years. Knee issues have dogged him in recent seasons and Matsui will often be replaced by a pinch-runner late in close games. During this year's playoffs, Matsui has hit .233 (7-for-30) with one home run and five RBIs.
As a designated hitter, Matsui has hit .284 with 49 home runs and 176 RBIs over 252 career games. When the Yankees head to Citizens Bank Park during this World Series -- eliminating the DH -- Matsui will give New York a veteran left-handed power bat off the bench.
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.
Final tally: Matsui 82.1, Francisco 72.4
World Series DH Matchup
|Panelist||Ben Francisco||Hideki Matsui||Expert analysis|
|68||73||Francisco is a merely defensive replacement, and the Yankees should look forward to facing his spot in the lineup. Matsui is a huge wild card. He has looked brutal when not drawing a walk, but he now has some time off, which has historically helped his bat. Unfortunately he'll be a pinch-hitter for games 3-5.|
|69||76||Matsui is a key part of the Yankees' offensive machine, with power and plate discipline. While Francisco lacks his offensive skills, he does add an element of speed on the bases and is a superior defensive player who will allow the Phillies to slide Ibanez into the DH spot.|
|75||85||Matsui is cleary a tougher out, but Francisco could be one of those guys who rises to the occasion under the spotlight.
|70||90||Yankees clearly have the advantage as Matsui is one of the key clutch hitters that the Yankees have, while Francisco has served primarily as a key bench player.
|78||89||The Phillies' lack of a righty thumper on the bench hurts them against the Yankees, who may start five lefties in seven games. Francisco is usually Ibanez' legs, and is a good fourth outfielder with a little pop. Matsui had his best season in years.|
|70||85||On paper, we have a mismatch. Matsui is a legitimate designated hitter with the slugging that goes with the job. Francisco is an extra outfielder.
|80||83||Matsui is the better player.
|69||76||Matsui is a clutch perfomer while Francisco has been used mostly as a defensive replacement for Ibanez in left field and a pinch-hitter.