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Yankees-Rangers position-by-position

Yankees-Rangers position-by-position

On their quest to consecutive World Series titles, the Yankees won't have to go through Tampa Bay, as the plucky Rays squad fell to Texas in Tuesday's winner-take-all American League Division Series finale. At first glance, the matchup between the Rangers and Yankees -- with a season series record of 4-4 -- is just that: even.

Add in a well-rested New York lineup and the fact that ace Cliff Lee won't be available for the Rangers until Game 3 of the AL Championship Series, and the slight edge goes to the potent, veteran-laden Yankees. Although New York cruised to a three-game sweep of Minnesota, this Rangers squad doesn't figure to go down as quietly.

Texas led the Majors in productive outs, and won't hesitate to lay down a bunt or punch a ball to the opposite side of the field. The Rangers can run, too, and the big bats of Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero, Michael Young, Nelson Cruz and Ian Kinsler provide some pop. Still, Hamilton -- coming off a rib injury -- struggled mightily against the Rays, and must get back on track if Texas is going to upend the defending champs.

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What follows is an in-depth look at the ALCS through the eyes of a panel of MLB.com reporters. We want to hear from you, too. Tell us where we got it right and where we're way off base. Sound off below; we look forward to hearing from you.

CATCHER

Yankees

Jorge Posada: .248, 18 HR, 57 RBI

Francisco Cervelli: .271, 0 HR, 38 RBI

Rangers

Bengie Molina: .249, 5 HR, 36 RBI

Matt Treanor: .211, 5 HR, 27 RBI

The bat vs. the glove. While Posada is still one of the best offensive catchers around, Molina brings two Gold Gloves and a wealth of postseason experience to a Rangers squad full of October firsts. While Posada has begun to show his age behind the plate, his power threat can't be ignored in this comparison.

EDGE: Yankees

FIRST BASE

Yankees

Mark Teixeira: .256, 33 HR, 108 RBI

Rangers

Jorge Cantu: .256, 11 HR, 56 RBI

Mitch Moreland: .255, 9 HR, 25 RBI

Teixeira, one of the premier switch-hitters in the game, answered the bell in the first round, going 4-for-13 with three RBIs against the Twins. He also brings a smooth defense to a position which the Yankees have historically been at their weakest.

First base has been a hole for the Rangers all season, as the acquisition of Jorge Cantu has done little to provide some punch. The left-handed-hitting Moreland will see action as well, but it doesn't add up to Tex.

EDGE: Yankees

SECOND BASE

Yankees

Robinson Cano: .319, 29 HR, 109 RBI

Rangers

Ian Kinsler: .286, 9 HR, 45 RBI, 15 SB

Andres Blanco: .277, 0 HR, 13 RBI

Oh, Cano. An MVP candidate, the Yankees infielder hit .333 in the Division Series and has improved his defense enough to be considered a premier all-around player. Kinsler missed the entire month of August with a groin strain, but has stepped up in October, clubbing three homers in his first five postseason games. If he stays hot, he can make it a race, but right now the edge goes to a fully healthy Cano.

EDGE: Yankees

SHORTSTOP

Yankees

Derek Jeter: .270, 10 HR, 67 RBI

Ramiro Pena: .227, 0 HR, 18 RBI

Rangers

Elvis Andrus: .265, 0 HR, 35 RBI, 32 SB

Andres Blanco: .277, 0 HR, 13 RBI

Jeter still boasts a formidable playoff resume and the uncanny ability to come through in the clutch. Andrus struggled in the second half of the season, but regained his stroke in the Division Series and helped set the table for the Rangers' big guns. The young Venezuelan also has blazing speed and is one of the best fielders at his position. The Rangers didn't move Michael Young for nothing.

EDGE: Even

THIRD BASE

Yankees

Alex Rodriguez: .270, 30 HR, 125 RBI

Rangers

Michael Young: .284, 21 HR, 91 RBI

It's almost unfair to pit A-Rod, a potential future Hall of Famer and one of the best right-handed hitters in the history of the game, against Young, who moved over to make room for Andrus. But here we are, and despite Young being the leader of this Texas team, no one instills fear like Rodriguez at the plate.

EDGE: Yankees

OUTFIELD

Yankees

Brett Gardner: .277, 5 HR, 47 RBI, 47 SB

Curtis Granderson: .247, 24 HR, 67 RBI

Nick Swisher: .288, 29 HR, 89 RBI

Austin Kearns: .263, 10 HR, 49 RBI

Rangers

Josh Hamilton: .359, 32 HR, 100 RBI, 1.044 OPS

Julio Borbon: .276, 3 HR, 42 RBI, 15 SB

Nelson Cruz: .318, 22 HR, 78 RBI, 17 SB

David Murphy: .291, 12 HR, 65 RBI, 14 SB

Jeff Francoeur: .249, 13 HR, 65 RBI

Both teams boast formidable outfields, but the Rangers' power numbers are scary good with Hamilton in the mix. With that being said, New York's outfielders reach base at an otherworldly clip, and Gardner's breakout season, coupled with Swisher's run production, keep the Yankees' lineup the most well-balanced in baseball.

This is a close one, but if Hamilton can regain his power stroke, it could make or break the series.

EDGE: Rangers

DESIGNATED HITTER

Yankees

Lance Berkman: .248, 14 HR, 58 RBI

Marcus Thames: .288, 12 HR, 33 RBI

Rangers

Vladimir Guerrero: .300, 29 HR, 115 RBI

The Yankees boast a legitimate power threat from both sides of the plate, with Thames coming off a solid Division Series. But Guerrero's presence in the middle of the order can't be ignored. The slugger will finish his 15th season with his highest RBI total since 2007 and his most home runs since '06. Those long arms and ability to turn on pitches that aren't even in the strike zone are still an opposing pitcher's nightmare.

EDGE: Rangers

STARTERS

Yankees

CC Sabathia: 21-7, 3.18 ERA

Andy Pettitte: 11-3, 3.28 ERA

Phil Hughes: 18-8, 4.19 ERA

A.J. Burnett : 10-15, 5.26 ERA

Rangers

Cliff Lee: 12-9, 3.18 ERA

C.J. Wilson: 15-8, 3.35 ERA

Colby Lewis: 12-13, 3.72 ERA

Tommy Hunter: 13-4, 3.73 ERA

Derek Holland: 3-4, 4.08 ERA

Each team has a premier left-handed ace, but varying depth behind him.

Beyond Sabathia, Hughes has shown he can handle the pressure of big situations and Pettitte has been, well typical Andy in October. Still, Hughes is already above his career high in innings pitched and Pettitte's health is always a concern. Wilson and Lewis have had solid seasons and if it comes down to Hunter or Burnett -- who is on the docket to possibly start a game -- it would tip the scales in the Rangers' favor.

EDGE: Rangers

MIDDLE RELIEVERS

Yankees

Kerry Wood: 47 G, 3.13 ERA

Dave Robertson: 64 G, 3.82 ERA

Joba Chamberlain: 73 G, 4.40 ERA

Boone Logan: 51 G, 2.93 ERA

Dustin Moseley : 16 G, 4.96 ERA

Ivan Nova: 10 G, 4.50 ERA

Rangers

Matt Harrison: 37 G (6 GS), 4.71 ERA

Dustin Nippert: 38 G (2 GS), 4.29 ERA

Darren O'Day: 72 G, 2.03 ERA

Alexi Ogando: 44 G, 1.30 ERA

Darren Oliver: 64 G, 2.48 ERA

The Rangers finished the regular season with the top relief corps ERA in the American League and posted a 71-12 record when leading after six innings. The Yankees' 3.42 mark isn't shabby either and their 'pen is coming off a nice run in the Division Series, while the Rangers' relievers weren't as stingy. Still, much of this matchup will depend on the makeup of each team's postseason roster.

EDGE: Even

CLOSERS

Yankees

Mariano Rivera: 61 G, 1.80 ERA, 33 SV

Rangers

Neftali Feliz: 2.73 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 40 SV

Yes, Rivera had a shaky September by his own standards. But he is still the game's premier closer, and the best by far in postseason history. No offense to Feliz, who struggled in Game 3 against the Rays, but this isn't close.

EDGE: Yankees

BENCH

Yankees

Ramiro Pena: .227, 0 HR, 18 RBI

Marcus Thames: .288, 12 HR, 33 RBI

Austin Kearns: .263, 10 HR, 49 RBI

Eduardo Nunez: .280, 1 HR, 7 RBI

Francisco Cervelli: .271, 0 HR, 38 RBI

Rangers

Matt Treanor: .211, 5 HR, 27 RBI

Jorge Cantu: .256, 11 HR, 56 RBI

Andres Blanco: .277, 0 HR, 13 RBI

David Murphy: .291, 12 HR, 65 RBI, 14 SB

Jeff Francoeur: .249, 13 HR, 65 RBI

Thames has proven he can do his job -- mashing left-handed pitching -- quite well and is a game-changer off the bench. But there's drop-off after that. The Rangers added bench depth midseason with guys like Cantu, Francoeur and Cristian Guzman. You could say there's strength in numbers, but none of the aforementioned trio does their job quite as well as Thames.

EDGE: Yankees

COACHES

Yankees

Manager: Joe Girardi

Bench coach: Tony Pena

Hitting coach: Kevin Long

Pitching coach: Dave Eiland

Third-base coach : Rob Thomson

First-base coach: Mick Kelleher

Rangers

Manager: Ron Washington

Bench coach: Jackie Moore

Hitting coach: Clint Hurdle

Pitching coach: Mike Maddux

Third-base coach: Dave Anderson

First-base coach: Gary Pettis

Girardi has been here before, and has proven he can win while Washington is a first-timer to the Championship Series. Washington is a leading candidate for AL Manager of the Year. Girardi's name isn't often mentioned in the conversation, but there's no denying the stellar job he has done.

EDGE: Yankees

FANS

Yankees: Bleacher Creatures, celebrity fans, history and mystique.

Rangers: Texas heat, hitter-friendly dimensions, the "Claw" and "Antlers."

The Rangers' fan base is energized -- with more than 30,000 packing the stands on an average evening in Arlington - but there is no matching a sold-out crowd in New York. More than 52,000 people will be on hand at the new Yankee Stadium, and their focus is on World Series No. 28. The Claw and Antlers, can't compare with a star-studded crowd and bleachers packed with the city's loudest fans.

EDGE: Yankees

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