Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Are The Red Sox Really Better Than The Yankees?

I've been listening to a lot of sports talk on XM's MLB channel. Over the past few weeks, there has been a lot of mention that the Yankees are old compared to the Red Sox? This is coming from many of the show's hosts as well, and it's an argument people are making for why the Sox are better than the Yankees. It always struck me as being incorrect. Buck Martinez brought it up again today, and that prompted me to pull up the 40-man rosters and take a look at all of their birthdays. I did it all at a quick glance, so I could have made a math error, though I don't think I did. When I broke it down, the teams have the pretty much the same average age. If a guy's birthday was in the next week or so, like Josh Beckett whose b'day is 5/15, I rounded up. Follow me if you will:

Staring lineup:

  • C: Posada and Varitek are both 37, Posada is about 8 months older
  • 1B: Teixeira = 29, Youkilis = 30
  • 2B: Cano = 26, Pedroia = 25
  • SS: Jeter = 34, Lowrie = 25
  • 3B: A-Rod = 33, Lowell = 35
  • RF: Swisher = 28, Drew = 33
  • CF: Cabrera = 24, Ellsbury = 25
  • LF: Damon = 35, Bay = 30
  • DH: Matsui = 34, Ortiz = 33

Yankees lineup = 280/9= 31.1, Sox lineup = 273/9= 30.3. The difference between Bay/Damon and Swisher/Drew basically negate each other. The only real major age difference is between the SS. Now you could substitute Julio Lugo (33) or Nick Green (30) for Jed Lowrie and that would make it about even. But for my money, Lowrie is the guy so the other 2 will be dropped down to the bench.


  1. Joba = 23, Lester = 25
  2. Hughes = 22, Masterson = 24
  3. CC = 28, Dice-K = 28
  4. Wang = 29, Beckett = 29
  5. Burnett = 32, Penny = 31
  6. Pettitte = 36, Wakefield = 42

Yankees rotation = 170/6=28.3. Sox rotation = 179/6= 29.8. So as a whole, the Yankees rotation is on average a full year younger.

Bullpen/other pitchers:

  • Yankees = Rivera (39), Coke (26), Albaladejo (26), Bruney (27), Marte (34), Melancon (24), Ramirez (28), Robertson (24), Veras (28)
  • Red Sox = Papelbon (28), Delcarmen (27), Jones (25), Lopez (31), Okajima (33), Ramirez (27), Saito (39), Bowden (22)

Yankees = 256/9= 28.4. Sox = 232/8 = 29. The Yanks have the Sox by about a 1/2 a year. Granted, there is a large age difference between the closers, Papelbon and Rivera, but can anyone really say that it matters? It's Mariano Rivera for crying out loud.


  • Yankees = Molina (33), Berroa (31), Pena (23), Ransom (33), Gardner (26), Nady (30)
  • Red Sox = Kottaras (26), Green (30), Lugo (33), Bailey (30), Van Every (29), Baldelli (27)

Yankees bench = 176/6= 29.3. Sox bench = 175/6= 29.2. for all intents and purposes, a wash.

Now, you can flip guys around if you wanted to and probably change the argument. But if you look at the collective age of the 30 Yankees, 882/30= 29.4, and the 29 Red Sox, 859/29=29.6, you'll see that the Sox are actually a little older, albeit by a very small margin. Using age as an argument when comparing the 2 teams has no merit. The only argument you can probably make when it comes to the age difference is if you look at the ages of the 2 guys who put these teams together. Brian Cashman is going on 42. Theo Epstein is going on 36.

For my money, the Sox aren't that much better of a team than the Yankees. Offensively, the 2 teams are on par with each other. Both are hitting .276. Both are averaging 5.7 runs per game. The Sox have a slightly better OPS, .828 to .822. But I'd argue that the Yankees offense is better because A-Rod hasn't played yet. He's a HUGE upgrade over Ransom, Pena, and Berroa. Rumor has it A-Rod will be back Friday.

This may come as a shock to a lot of you, I know it did to me, but the ERA of the Yankees rotation (5.58) is actually lower than that of the Red Sox (5.61). Opposing teams are hitting .282 off Sox starters and .284 off Yankee starters. I'm kind of surprised by this. The teams are basically even when it comes to the rotation, which is surprising considering the outings of one Chien-Ming Wang. Yanks rotation better? Arguably. For my money, yes.

The biggest difference between the 2 teams is in the bullpen. God, the Yankees bullpen blows. The Sox pen is pitching to an ERA of 2.86, which is 2nd best in the AL and 2nd best in all of MLB. The Yankees clock in with a bullpen ERA of 6.35, which is 3rd from the bottom in the AL, and 3rd from the bottom in all of MLB. The Yankee bullpen is atrocious and Cashman needs to get on top of it right now. What's going on is unacceptable.

The Sox may be 3.5 games up on the Yankees, but I don't think they're much better of a ball club. They may have taken the first 5 games of the season between the two, but that doesn't mean much to me. There's a lot of baseball left to be played and it's going to be easier for the Yankees to get better than it will be for the Sox. Dice-K may be coming back. But so is Chien-Ming Wang. You can't say the Sox rotation will improve and the Yankees won't. That would be a subjective argument based on no facts whatsoever. The Yankees offense is taking a hit with the loss of Posada, but A-Rod is coming soon and Jorge will be back. The Sox are missing only Jed Lowrie. Can the Sox bullpen get better? If so, only by a small amount. The Yankees have lots of room to improve there. So get it on Cash while there's still time.

When the smoke clears and all is said and done, both teams will probably be in the playoffs. All things considered, I think the Yankees are in a very good position. Cash just needs to fix the pen.

Peace, love and Pinstripes,