The Red Sox will match up against the Angels again this year, a matchup the Sox have dominated in recent years. How will things play out in 2008? The best way to determine that is by comparing each position, and I'll use a very simple statistic of OPS+ to compare offenses, which works since we're comparing same positions. I'll use ERA+ and WHIP to compare starting pitchers. None of these is perfect, but they're effective.
Boston's Jason Varitek's OPS+ is a lowly 74, but his numbers did improve some (albeit not much) in the second half. In half a season, the Angels' Mike Napoli has a 140 OPS+ and has been on an absolute tear lately.
Big advantage: Angels
Boston's Kevin Youkilis had an MVP-type season, finally getting the Bad Second Half Player monkey off his back and finishing with an OPS+ of 146.
Mark Teixiera is the bigger name, the guy half of Boston wanted to trade for at the trading deadline in anticipation of Youk's second-half swoon. In 52 meaningless games for the Angels Tex had an OPS+ of 184, but is closer to a 140-150 OPS+ guy and has never played in the postseason.
Boston's Dustin Pedroia is another viable MVP candidate after winning the Rookie of the Year last year. His OPS+ is 123, but 147 in the second half. He's a monster at second base.
Howie Kendrick of the Angels, however, was injured a lot in 2008 and finished as exactly an average player, at a 100 OPS+. His second half OPS+ was an anemic 82.
Big edge: Red Sox
With Julio Lugo and his 79 OPS+ out for the year, rookie Jed Lowrie stepped in with a respectable 92 OPS+, topping Erick Aybar's 83 OPS+ for the Angels.
Slight Edge: Red Sox
The third base situation is a little dicey for the Sox, with Mike Lowell reinjuring himself in Friday night's loss to the Yankees. You might see Lowrie shift to 3B and Alex Cora play SS for the playoffs. Let's assume that Lowell plays, though. In limited time this year, his OPS+ was 105. All of his numbers were just a tick lower than his career numbers, so that makes sense based on his age.
Chone Figgins killed the Angels at third base this year, with an 83 OPS+. But he provides speed and gets on base at a decent clip.
David Ortiz and his career 1.005 playoff OPS dominate this category against pretty much any team. His OPS+ of 125 this year was his lowest during his Red Sox tenure, but was 140 during the second half.
The Angels, meanwhile, split time at DH between Juan Rivera (85 OPS+) and Kendry Morales (75 OPS+).
Huge Edge: Red Sox
Boston's Jason Bay had a 132 OPS+ for Boston, right in line with his 134 for Pittsburgh and his 130 career average.
Garrett Anderson, though, finished with a 99 OPS+.
Edge: Red Sox
Right field is another sticky situation for the Sox: JD Drew went to the hospital yesterday for his back, putting his availability in doubt for the ALDS. If he were to play, his OPS+ is 139. If not, the Sox would likely shift Jacoby Ellsbury and his 89 OPS+ over to RF.
The Angels, meanwhile, throw future Hall-of-Famer Vlad Guerrero and his 132 OPS+ out at LF. Ellsbury's speed and defense help, but can't outweigh Vlad's offensive contributions.
Big Edge: Angels
Sticking with the assumption that JD Drew is injured, the Sox will play Coco Crisp in center. His OPS+ is the best of his Boston tenure, but sadly still only 94.
Torii Hunter brings a 113 OPS+ to the Angels.
Josh Beckett: 114 ERA+, 1.19 WHIP. And a 6-0 postseason record with a 1.73 ERA. Better K/9.
John Lackey: 116 ERA+, WHIP of 1.23.
Slight Edge: Red Sox
Jon Lester: 143 ERA+, 1.27 WHIP.
Ervin Santana: 134 OPS+, 1.10 WHIP. Better K/9.
Daisuke Matsuzaka: 163 ERA+, 1.32 WHIP.
Joe Saunders?: 124 ERA+, 1.24 WHIP.
(or) Jared Weaver: 101 ERA+, 1.29 WHIP.
Edge: Red Sox
Red Sox: 469.2 IP, 3.97 ERA, 1.34 WHIP.
Angels: 433 IP, 3.74 ERA, 1.35 WHIP.
Overall: Slight Edge to Angels
Hideki Okajima: 172 ERA+, 1.18 WHIP.
Jose Arredondo: 264 ERA+, 1.05 WHIP, new to this role, rookie.
Jonathan Papelbon: 232 ERA+, 0.89 WHIP.
Francisco Rodriguez: 192 ERA+, 1.31 WHIP.
This is sure to be the most controversial one, because I'm giving a Big Edge: Red Sox, but it's hard to dispute Pap's dominance. Sure, K-Rod has 62 saves, but Papelbon's peripheral numbers are far superior, making him the better pitcher. The Angels just had so many save chances this year because they scored 85 fewer runners than the Sox, meaning fewer blowouts and more save chances. And the Sox use Papelbon more judiciously so he's fresh for the playoffs. In 14.2 playoff IP, Papelbon has not given up a run and has a 0.75 WHIP.
Disagree? Post your opinions in the comments.