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World Series 2001
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10/26/2001 09:36 PM ET
Position-by-position analysis
By Ian Browne and Ken Gurnick
MLB.com
Catcher
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Jorge Posada, 5 years, .277, 22 HRs, 95 RBIs. The switch-hitting Posada is arguably the most underrated hitter on the Yankees. So it is somehow fitting that he hit the Yankees' biggest home run of the season to date -- a solo shot in a 1-0 victory against Oakland in Game 3 of the Division Series -- and it was overshadowed by the pitching of Mike Mussina and a miraculous defensive play by Derek Jeter. But that's fine with Posada, who doesn't like to be the center of attention. His arm and glove can be erratic, but the Yankee pitchers like working with him. Damian Miller, 5 years, .271, 13 HRs, 47 RBIs. He didn't hit much in the NLCS, but the way he handles the staff is why he's the choice of a former catcher, manager Bob Brenly. He is probably as good as any catcher in the game blocking balls in the dirt, and he gets plenty of practice with Randy Johnson's 89-mph slider and Curt Schilling's splitter. His shoulder is damaged, but he throws runners out anyway. His backup is Rod Barajas, and if we see a lot of him, something bad happened to Miller.
Edge: New York
First Base
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Tino Martinez, 11 years, .280, 34 HRs, 113 RBIs. With free agency looming, this could be the end of Tino Martinez's run as a Yankee. If so, it is one Yankee fans will remember. The Yankees' string of four championships in the last five years began in Martinez's first year in the Bronx. He has been a cornerstone of their success, and he's driven up his price on the open market with a big season. Though Martinez is always thought of as a run producer, he is an excellent defensive first baseman, always there to bail out an infielder with a nifty scoop or a pitcher with a diving stop down the line. Mark Grace, 14 years, .298, 15 HRs, 78 RBIs. Grace left Game 5 of the NLCS with a hamstring, but after waiting this long to make the big dance, he'll be there. He got a hit in all five games against the Braves. Brenly likes to use Greg Colbrunn against some lefties. Even when he isn't hitting, Grace brings a slick-fielding glove and is a key part of the best defense in the National League. He's a contact hitter with occasional power, but he's been through the wars and is typical of Arizona's collection of veterans with postseason experience.
Edge: New York
Second Base
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Alfonso Soriano, 1 year, .268, 18 HRs, 73 RBIs. Only a rookie, Soriano already etched a spot in Yankees' postseason lore with a dramatic walkoff homer against the Mariners in Game 4 of the ALCS. Though this was his introduction to much of the national audience, Yankee fans have become accustomed to his heroics. A shortstop by trade, Soriano is still learning second base, but he has made big strides as the season has progressed. Nobody questions his talent, though he is still prone to mental mistakes on both sides of the ball. Craig Counsell, 6 years, .275, 4 HRs, 38 RBIs. He scored the winning run for the Marlins in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series. And in this postseason, he won a Division Series game with a home run and was the MVP in the NLCS to get the Diamondbacks into this World Series. In other words, he can't really sneak up on anybody. The baseball world learned that Counsell is a gamer who exemplifies his team's ability to somehow find a way to win. He's a lefty who hits lefties, and a fundamentally sound defender who took the job from Jay Bell. He is cool under pressure, and there will be plenty of that.
Edge: Arizona
Shortstop
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Derek Jeter, 6 years, .311, 21 HRs, 74 RBIs. If and when the Yankees miss the playoffs, the man wouldn't know what to with himself in October. Jeter -- one of the great clutch players in the game -- has won four world titles in his first five full seasons. However, the Yankees will probably need more from his bat in the World Series than he provided in the ALCS, when he went 2-for-17. Jeter contributes in every facet of the game, and is the Yankees' unofficial captain. People are still buzzing about his defensive wizardry in the Division Series against the A's, which sparked the Yankees all the way back from a 2-0 series deficit. Tony Womack, 8 years, .266, 3 HRs, 30 RBIs, 28 SB. Womack followed his Division Series clinching hit with an even series against the Braves. As a leadoff man, his speed is tempered by a low on-base percentage, but when he does reach base the offense improves dramatically. Defensively, he is very athletic, but not exactly smooth with the glove or arm. Brenly sat him in one of the Tom Glavine starts, starting Jay Bell at second and moving Counsell to shortstop.
Edge: New York
Third Base
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Scott Brosius, 10 years, .287, 13 HRs, 49 RBIs. Anyone seen Brosius' bat? It has been missing in action in these playoffs. The MVP of the 1998 World Series was an aggregate 4-for-33 in the first two rounds against Oakland and Seattle. But even when he doesn't hit, Brosius makes up for it on defense. Though he is sometimes prone to muffing the routine play, Brosius is one of the best third basemen in the American League. Matt Williams, 15 years, .275, 16 HRs, 65 RBIs. After a terrible Division series that ended with a clutch hit, some of Williams' balls started to fall for hits in the NLCS. When the Diamondbacks have a big inning, he's usually in the middle of it. Defensively, he's been looking like the former Gold Glover he is. The bat, however, has lost much of its power.
Edge: Arizona
Left Field
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Chuck Knoblauch, 11 years, .250, 9 HRs, 44 RBIs, 38 SB. He isn't the player he once was, nobody disputes that. Yet Knoblauch has a way of making things happen in October. He was a catalyst against the Mariners in the ALCS. Without the DH, Manager Joe Torre might be tempted to sit Knoblauch so he can get both Paul O'Neill and David Justice in the lineup. But it is a temptation Torre is likely to resist. He always likes his lineup best with Knoblauch leading off. For a first-year outfielder, Knoblauch holds his own. Luis Gonzalez, 12 years, .325, 57 HRs, 142 RBIs. He pretty much carried the offense all year, but not in the postseason, and Arizona won anyway. His Game 4 home run in the NLCS blew it open, but the Diamondbacks already had an 8-4 lead. He is the one bat in the lineup opponents fear, remarkable considering the team really has no clean-up hitter to protect him. He has no problems against left-handed pitching. He plays a decent left field and is a smart base runner. You wouldn't mind having a dozen of him.
Edge: Arizona
Center Field
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Bernie Williams, 11 years, .307, 26 HRs, 94 RBIs. The senior member of these Yankees, Williams isn't quite Joe DiMaggio or Mickey Mantle. But he is the superstar center fielder of this Yankees dynasty. With a powerful switch hitting bat and slick glove, Williams always finds a way to help the Yankees win. For whatever reason, Williams has struggled offensively in his four previous World Series, hitting .141 in 71 at bats. Steve Finley, 13 years, .275, 14 HRs, 73 RBIs. Finley gets the start against most right-handers, while Danny Bautista often faces lefties. Finley had a big Division Series, continuing his late-season surge. Bautista delivered a clutch single in the NLCS clincher. Defensively, Finley is far superior, willing to sacrifice his body and more instinctive getting jumps on balls off the bat. Even at age 36 Finley can still steal a base.
Edge: New York
Right Field
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Paul O'Neill, 15 years, .267, 21 HRs, 70 RBIs. Though he won't yet acknowledge it publicly, it is all but certain O'Neill will retire at the end of this season. However, Joe Torre has already proven in these playoffs that he won't let sentimentality get in the way of his thinking. In other words, O'Neill is doubtful to play in games started by Randy Johnson. And with no DH in Arizona, he might even be replaced by David Justice in Game 1 against Schilling. That said, O'Neill proved in the ALCS (.417, 2 HRs) that there is still plenty of life left in his bat. Reggie Sanders, 11 years, .263, 33 HRs, 90 RBIs. Sanders got two hits in Game 1 of the NLCS, then went 0-for-14 the rest of the way. He has lost some of his natural skills, but has compensated by playing smarter. He has emerged as a clutch slugger who provided Arizona with substantial production lower in the lineup, although in the playoffs he has batted cleanup six times. While he occasionally yields to Bautista, when Sanders is hitting the Diamondbacks score runs.
Edge: Even
Bench
David Justice, 12 years, .241, 18 HRs, 51 RBIs. His postseason history is well chronicled. Justice will be a key option for the Yankees, whether it is starting or off the bench.

Randy Velarde, 14 years, .278, 9 HRs, 32 RBIs. Velarde has given Randy Johnson fits over the years, which makes it a near certainty Torre will find a spot for him somewhere - anywhere - in the Game 2 starting lineup. Velarde is a useful and scrappy player who won't be intimidated by the World Series.

Shane Spencer, 4 years, .258, 10 HRs, 46 RBIs. Like Velarde, there's more than a fair shot Spencer will start Game 2. Torre likes the righty-lefty matchups, and in Spencer, he has a player with power and a good glove.

Luis Sojo, 12 years, .165, 0 HRs, 9 RBIs. It's been disappointing season for the colorful veteran utilityman. Yet it wouldn't be shocking to see Sojo get a key hit at some point. The Mets will attest to that. Sojo delivered the game-winning hit of last year's World Series.

Nick Johnson, 1 year, .194, 2 HRs, 8 RBIs. Looked at as a key cog in the Yankees' future, the powerful Johnson was left off the roster in the first two rounds. But with no DH in Arizona, and a need for pinch hitters, there's been some thought that Torre will activate him for the World Series.

Todd Greene, 6 years, .208, 1 HR, 11 RBIs. If backup catcher Greene finds his way behind the plate in this series, it will be a bad sign for the Yankees. Posada - barring an injury - should catch every inning. But Torre might find a pinch hitting appearance or two for the right-handed swinging Greene.

Greg Colbrunn, 12 years, .289, 4 HRs, 18 RBIs. Came back quickly from mid-season knee surgery, but the bad wheel limits him to pinch-hitting.

David Dellucci, 4 years, .276, 10 HRs, 40 RBIs. Pretty productive to drive in 40 runs with 10 homers in only 217 at-bats. He'll get to face Mariano Rivera, and he should really be looking forward to that.

Erubiel Durazo, 3 years, .269, 12 HRs, 38 RBIs. No trade deadline deal was rumored without his name coming up. A left-handed power hitter who doesn't get cheated when he swings.

Jay Bell, 16 years, .248, 13 HRs, 46 RBIs. It's been a tough season for a classy veteran. He lost his second-base job to some guy named Counsell and pretty much disappeared as the games grew in importance.

Midre Cummings, 9 years, .300, 0 HR, 1 RBI. Played only 20 big-league games during the season but made the postseason roster because of a versatile left-handed bat and healthy legs.

Rod Barajas, 2 years, .160, 3 HRs, 9 RBIs. He hit .160 during his rookie season. He was allowed to catch one inning of the Division Series, which was one inning more than he caught in the NLCS. His main job is warming up pitchers between innings.

Danny Bautista, 9 years, .302, 5 HRs, 26 RBIs. Came up big in surprising Game 5 start against Tom Glavine in NLCS with RBI single. Could see playing time against Andy Pettitte.

Edge: Arizona
Starting Pitchers
Game 1
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Mike Mussina, 11 years, 17-11, 3.15, 214 Ks. He has quite simply been the Yankees' best pitcher the last two months. In fact, ask almost anyone in the Yankees clubhouse and they'll tell you that Mussina's gem against the A's in Game 3 is the biggest reason the Yankees are still playing. He'll have to stay in top form to match Schilling. Curt Schilling, 14 years, 22-6, 2.98, 293 Ks. Not since Orel Hershiser ran the table in 1988 has a pitcher dominated the post-season as Schilling has. He wants the ball and knows what to do with it. If the Diamondbacks have any chance, he must continue his roll.
Edge: Arizona

Game 2
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Andy Pettitte, 7 years, 15-10, 3.99, 164 Ks. He is the Mr. October as far as pitchers are concerned. Big postseason victories have been a constant from Pettitte since 1996. The Yankees never feel better about their chances in a playoff or World Series game as they do when Pettitte - the MVP of the ALCS -- is on the mound. But he'll have his hands full in Game 2. Not only does he have to beat Randy Johnson. He has to hit against him. Randy Johnson, 14 years, 21-6, 2.49 ERA, 372 Ks. Finally snapped the postseason losing streak, and now he has a postseason winning streak, including the Game 5 NLCS clincher. His slider has been the out pitch in the postseason. His teams don't score for him in these big games.
Edge: Arizona

Game 3
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Roger Clemens, 18 years, 20-3, 3.51 ERA, 213 strikeouts. The ageless future Hall of Famer is the favorite to win an unprecedented sixth AL Cy Young award. But he's still looking for his first victory of these playoffs. The Rocket Man had his hamstring flare up on him in Game 1 against Oakland, and hasn't been himself since. However, considering he will be matched up with Brian Anderson, this game would seem to be a layup for the Yankees. Brian Anderson, 8 years, 4-9, 5.20 ERA. You'd rather see Albie Lopez? Anderson is a soft-tossing lefty who relies on control and does not have much margin for error. He lost his starting job during the season, was banished to the outer reaches of the bullpen, but winds up starting Game 3 of the World Series in Yankee Stadium. What a country.
Edge: New York

Game 4
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Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, 4 years, 4-7, 4.85 ERA. Sort of like Counsell with the Diamondbacks, you can pretty much throw out regular season numbers when it comes to El Duque and October. Though he hasn't been healthy all year, he managed to deliver the Yankees a must victory in Game 4 of the Division Series. In postseason, Hernandez is 9-2 with a 2.56 ERA. Miguel Batista, 7 years, 11-8, 3.36 ERA. He has made two postseason starts and kept his team in the game both times, and you can't ask more of a fourth starter. He is cool under pressure with a live arm, but he serves up the occasional homer.
Edge: New York
Closers
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Mariano Rivera, 7 years, 4-6, 2.34 ERA, converted 50-of-57 save opportunities. The best postseason closer of this era, and one of the best of all-time. Rivera simply doesn't fail in the playoffs. At least not since Game 4 of the 1997 Division Series, when he coughed up a game-winning homer to Sandy Alomar. Rivera is 5-0 with an 0.74 ERA and 23 saves in postseason. Byung-Hyun Kim, 3 years, 5-6, 2.94, converted 19-of-23 save opportunities. He's a thrill a minute, but give him some credit. In Games 4 and 5, he delivered back-to-back two-inning saves. He can be unhittable or uncatchable.
Edge: New York
Middle Relief Pitchers
Mike Stanton, 14 years, 9-4, 2.58 ERA. One of the most underrated members of the Yankees' threepeat, Stanton is a dependable playoff performer. This is why it was so odd to see him melt down against the Mariners in Game 3 of the ALCS. Torre never hesitates to get Stanton the ball in a key situation.

Ramiro Mendoza, 6 years, 8-4, 3.75 ERA. The sinkerballer can be counted on as a long man or middle man. He's proved through the years that pressure doesn't bother him. In fact, it often brings out the best in him.

Sterling Hitchcock, 10 years, 6-5, 5.63 ERA. Hitchcock's return to the Yankees hasn't worked out as he or the team had hoped. But Hitchock proved in 1998 with the Padres that he can come through in October.

Jay Witasick, 6 years, 8-2, 3.30 ERA. Witasick has been called on twice by Torre in the playoffs. He didn't fare well either time. It's doubtful he will be asked to get any important outs in this series.

Randy Choate, 2 years, 3-1, 3.35 ERA. You can never have enough lefties in the bullpen. Choate did a service for the Yankees, especially in the second half.

Mark Wohlers, 11 years, 4-1, 4.26 ERA. The only way you'll see Wohlers is if the Yankees are way behind or way ahead. The once-dominant closer for the Braves is nothing more than a mop-up pitcher these days.

Greg Swindell, 16 years, 2-6, 4.53 ERA, 2 saves. Wily situational left-hander who is equally tough against hitters on both sides of the plate, but he gives up a lot of home runs.

Mike Morgan, 21 years, 1-0, 4.26 ERA. Still chucking in his fourth decade, and he's finally reached the World Series. He has a rubber arm and sometimes a foul mouth, which got him into trouble with Jim Rome.

Bobby Witt, 16 years, 4-1, 4.78 ERA. Hasn't done anything right since September. Was hurt during the Division Series and pitched like it in the NLCS.

Albie Lopez, 9 years, 9-19, 4.81 ERA. The opposite of salary drive. An upcoming free agent, he lost 19 games during the regular season and pitched himself out of the postseason rotation with a pair of brief starts.

Troy Brohawn, rookie, 2-3, 4.93 ERA in 59 games. A second left-hander gives Brenly the flexibility he had in the late innings during the season. This guy was a workhorse.
Edge: New York
Manager
Joe Torre, sixth year, 95-65. His calm leadership in virtually every situation has been no small ingredient in the Yankees' recent success. Torre likes using matchups, but he's never afraid to go with his gut either. Since joining the Yankees in 1996, he's rarely ever made a decision that didn't work out this time of year. Bob Brenly, first year. 92-70. You make your luck. Brenly is a riverboat gambler, who doesn't play by the book and often catches the opposition off-guard with his unconventional strategy. Of course, he sometimes catches his own players by surprise, too. Still, he has treated his players like adults and has been rewarded with a professional performance. And with all due respect, the guy seems to manage with a horseshoe in his pocket and really has the hot hand now.
Edge: New York
Intangibles
The way the Yankees win is right out of a baseball textbook. They pitch effectively, they hit in the clutch, they make things happen on the bases and they don't beat themselves. No wonder why they are such a tough October out. It doesn't always make sense, but the Diamondbacks find a way to win. Plenty of veterans with the urgency of knowing they either win this year or the team could get torn apart. An active bench that is sharp from getting plenty of action during the season. Most of all, they have two starting pitchers who can completely dominate a game.
Edge: New York