Head to head to head, it’s easy to figure a close race

by Gary Shelton on July 18, 2017 · 1 comment

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

Now that they are in a dogfight, how are you supposed to judge the bite of  the dog?

The Red Sox. The Yankees. The Rays.

Who's better?

So far, it's Boston, by a whole two games. The Yankees and Rays are both in the wild-card hunt. If the season ended today, all three teams would make the post-season.

How do you judge? Do you take the most dynamic everyday player (the Yankees'

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Aaron Judge)? Do you take the best pitcher (Boston's Chris Sale)? Do you take the biggest bargains (the Rays, who lead the majors in wins-per-nickel)? Do you consider power? Defense? Baserunning? Depth? Intangibles?

Or do you consider a little bit of all of it.

So far, the position rankings of the top three teams in the AL East:

First base

1, Logan Morrison, Tampa Bay; 2. Mitch Moreland, Boston; 3. Chris Carter, Yankees.

– Morrison wins in every comparable. His 26 home runs are the most. His .571 slugging percentage is the highest. His 61 RBI are the most. And his .258 average is the most. Also, he has the highest fielding percentage of the bunch, sixth in the major leagues.

Second base

1. Dustin Pedroia, Boston; 2. Starling Castro, Yankees; 3. Brad Miller, Rays.

– The rating wouldn't change if you subbed Tim Beckham for Miller, but it would be closer. Pedroia is that pesky player that other teams hate to play against. He's also the best fielding second baseman in the bigs.

Third baseman

3. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay; 2. Chase Headley, New York; 3. Deven Merrero, Boston.

– At 31, Longoria is still vital to his team. He leads the three third basemen in average, homers and RBI, and he's ninth in the league in defense.


1. Didi Gregorius, Yankees, 2. Xavier Boegarts, Boston; 3. Adeiny Hechavarria, Tampa Bay.

– Shortstop is much of the reason these three teams excel. Gregorius has been the best defender of the bunch, leading the majors in fielding percentage. Boegarts has a slightly better average (.299-.288), but it's a defensive position.

Left field

1. Andrew Benintendi, Boston; 2. Brett Gardner, New York; 3. Shane Peterson, Tampa Bay.

– Corey Dickerson, according the Baseball Reference, is listed as a designated hitter, his all-star position. Benintendi looks a star with a .275 average and 52 RBI. Gardner leads left-fielders in fielding.

Center field

1. Jackie Bradley, Boston; 2. Jacoby Ellsbury, New York; 3. Mallex Smith, Tampa Bay.

Bradley has the best power numbers with 12 homers and 38 RBI. Smith, promoted late in the season, has the best average at .311. Even in an off-year, Kevin Kiermaier would change the standings if he hadn't missed so much time.

Right field

1. Aaron Judge, New York; 2. Steven Souza Jr., Tampa Bay; 3. Mookie Betts, New York.

Judge is an early candidate for MVP with his 30 home runs and 66 RBI. Souza and Betts have similar numbers, but Souza gets the call with his dramatic home runs.

Designated hitter

1. Corey Dickerson, Tampa Bay; 2. Hanley Ramirez, Boston; 3. Matt Holliday, New York.

– Dickerson's .311 average dwarfs his competition. His 17 home runs also lead the group (barely).


1. Gary Sanchez, New York; Wilson Ramos, Tampa Bay; 3. Sandy Leon, Boston.

– Sanchez' 14 home runs lead the group, as does his .276 average. Ramos is just getting started on his season.

Pitcher No. 1

1. Chris Sale, Boston; 2. Chris Archer, Tampa Bay; 3. Luis Severino.

– The designation of which pitcher goes where in the rotation is decided by Baseball Reference, which goes by innings pitched. Sale is 11-4 with a 2.59 ERA and 191 strikeouts. He has a 0.887 Whip.

Pitcher No. 2

1. Alex Cobb, Tampa Bay; Rick Porcello, Boston; 3. Masahiro Tanaka, New York.

– It's hard not to accept that Cobb has been the ace of his staff lately. His 3.59 ERA leads this trio.

Pitcher 3

1. Drew Pomeranz, Boston; 2. Michel Pineda, New York; Jake Odorizzi, Tampa Bay.

Pomeranz has a 3.75 ERA. Odorizzi has had trouble keeping the ball on the right side of the fence, but Monday night's start hints at a return.

Pitcher 4

1. Eduardo Rodriguez, Boston; 2. Jordan Montgomery, New York; 3. Blake Snell, Tampa Bay.

– Rodriguez, the youngest starter for the Sox at 24, has a 3.54 ERA. Snell is 0-5, and would be designated fifth among the Rays if not for his innings pitched.

Pitcher 5

1. Jacob Faria, Tampa Bay; 2. David Price, Boston; 3. C.C. Sabathia, New York.

Faria hasn't yet had the track record that either of his competitors have had, but his 2.00 ERA can't be ignored. Sabathia leads with eight wins and 66 strikeouts.


1. Craig Kimbrell, Boston; 2. Alex Colome,Tampa Bay; 3. Ardolis Chapman, New York.

Kimberly has been lights out with a 1.35 ERA and 73 strikeouts. Colome has struggled lately, but nothing like Chapman, who has only nine saves.

The results? Given a 3-2-1 scoring system, Boston comes out slightly ahead (32 points). The Yankees and Rays are tied at 26.

In other words, it's kind of like the standings.

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