Right Field: Nick Swisher versus Paul O’Neill
So 1998 has the lead here as well, leading by a chunk in wOBA, largely on due to 98’s advantage in batting average (though Paul holds slight advantages in OBP and SLG as well). Defensively, they’re both adventures in right field–but Swisher is probably slightly better (this year’s results in three games notwithstanding). Overall, Paulie wins.
And to the final spot:
Designated Hitter: Nick Johnson versus Daryl Strawberry
This one seems like it’s going to be a bit of a rout….until you actually look at the numbers.
The wOBA likes Strawberry by a bit due to his prodigious power. I’ll go so far as to suggest that the Yankees have plenty of power, and that Johnson’s slugging is likely to rise a bit due to his new home park. The on base percentage is what makes Nick such a weapon, as he was third in the majors leagues in the category last season. The two guys ahead of him both took home MVPs (Pujols, Mauer). Strawberry wins this–but not by much.
So I’m left openly admitting that 1998’s outfield and designated hitter combination are better than 2010’s. But not by as much as you think. Bernie Williams’ defense was terrible, and while we the numbers to describe it aren’t nearly so intuitive as batting average, they are nonetheless just as important.
At the end of the day, this differential does make up some of the ground lost in the infield, as discussed here. But in the task of trying to overcome the infield disadvantage, this is like shooting a tank with a pistol. You just need more firepower.
Check back soon for our discussion of the two teams’ pitching.