The Yankees and Red Sox are playing in the playoffs, and that’s a very good thing.
Obviously, that’s partly because of history: The two AL East squads have perhaps the fiercest rivalry in baseball. The teams dramatically split their last two playoff meetings, the 2003 and 2004 American League Championship Series. The first series featured Aaron Boone’s Game 7 walk-off home run; the second featured the Red Sox coming back from a 3-0 deficit to complete the most dramatic comeback in baseball history en route to a World Series win.
If you don’t feel like reminiscing about 15-year-old drama, well, there’s baseball. By record, these are two of the three best teams in the majors. This was the first time in history both teams won 100 games in the same season, and both teams won more games than any team in the National League: This might be better than the World Series.
But it seems like the 2018 Red Sox are better at baseball than the Yankees, and, for that matter, just about anybody. They won 108 games this year, the 12th most in MLB history. They have two legit MVP candidates in Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, and Chris Sale could win the Cy Young. Boston led the league in on-base percentage and slugging percentage, and therefore OPS, the commonly cited stat that is just on-base percentage plus slugging.
However, I feel 100 percent confident that the Yankees are going to win the ALDS, because without a doubt, the Yankees are bigger and stronger than the Red Sox. The Yankees are the biggest, strongest baseball team I’ve ever seen. Finesse and skill are important, but I think the most important baseball thing is whether a team has players who can instantly vaporize a ball upon contact, and apparently that’s the only thing the Yankees scout for. Every time I turn on a Yankees game, I half expect to see that their new shortstop will be 397-pound Icelandic strongman Hafþor Bjornsson.
And playing big guys has worked! The Yankees set the single-season record for home runs this year, with 267. The 11 hardest-hit baseballs this season were all hit by the Yankees (nine by Giancarlo Stanton, one apiece by Aaron Judge and Gary Sánchez).
As the old baseball adage goes: “In October, all that matters is how many guys on your team could bust through a wall like the Kool-Aid guy.” I think more than 80 percent of the Yankees roster could do that, while I’m not sure a single Boston player could. Let’s take a look at the two teams to see how they stack up:
Largest Hitter of Baseballs
Yankees: Aaron Judge, 6-foot-7, 282 pounds
Red Sox: J.D. Martinez, 6-foot-3, 220 pounds
Aaron Judge is the size of a rhinoceros and can probably bench refrigerators. He was less fearsome this year than he was during his rookie season, in which he led the AL in home runs, walks, and of course, strikeouts. But that doesn’t matter, because he is still the largest baseball man I’ve ever seen. In the Yankees’ 7-2 win over the A’s in the wild-card game on Wednesday night, he hit a ball 116 miles per hour. It traveled very far:
Sure, Martinez hit .330 with 43 homers, like some sort of season Ted Williams never got to play because he was flying planes in World War II, but … Judge is taller.
Second-Largest Hitter of Baseballs
Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton, 6-foot-6, 245 pounds
Red Sox: Mitch Moreland, 6-foot-2, 230 pounds
Giancarlo Stanton is the size of a water buffalo and can bench-press motorcycles. Smaller than Judge but still gigantic.
My favorite thing about the Yankees is that during Judge’s rookie year in 2017, I would say, “Hey, it’s pretty cool that the Yankees have the biggest, strongest baseball player.” Someone would inevitably respond: “Well, Giancarlo Stanton is roughly as big and strong as Judge, and he plays for the Marlins.”
And then lifelong Yankee Derek Jeter happily traded Stanton to the Yankees, and now New York has both of baseball’s biggest, strongest men. In Wednesday’s wild-card game, Stanton hit a baseball 443 feet over the left-field foul pole.
This Stanton shot, which was roughly one Alp high, would easily fly over Boston’s 40-foot-tall Green Monster. I seriously think it’s unsafe to let Stanton swing in range of the Mass Pike—this shot would’ve caused a traffic accident.
I don’t even have anything to say about Mitch Moreland, an insignificant speck whom fans will struggle to see without binoculars.
Yankees: Dellin Betances, 6-foot-8, 265 pounds
Red Sox: Chris Sale, 6-foot-6, 180 pounds
Sale is the tallest player on the Red Sox. He would also be the lightest player on the Yankees, whose lightest player is 185-pound utility man and pinch runner Tyler Wade. Sale might be a Cy Young candidate, but even if he gets the Yankees to swing and miss a lot, I’m worried the breeze might knock his string-bean body over.
Betances, on the other hand, is the size of a moose and can lift the Boston Duck Boats clean out of the water with his bare hands. (Name any Yankee, and I will tell you which large land mammal they are the size of, and what feats of strength they are capable of. For 6-foot-5, 280-pound starting pitcher Lance Lynn: okapi, and juggling bowling balls.)
Betances, of course, is a power pitcher, with an average fastball speed of 97.9 miles per hour. Here’s some more from the wild-card game, in which Betances struck out half of the batters he faced:
(The Red Sox have another 6-foot-6 pitcher, 240-pound Drew Pomeranz, but I decided to talk about Sale instead because I am biased and trying to make them look small and weak. It’s not that unfair, because Pomeranz is still smaller and weaker than Betances.)
Yankees: Andrew McCutchen, 5-foot-11, 195 pounds
Red Sox: Mookie Betts, 5-foot-9, 180 pounds
As impressive as the Yankees’ largest players is the team’s overall size. Only three players on New York’s postseason roster are under 6 feet tall (McCutchen, Brett Gardner, and David Robertson), and all three are 5-foot-11. Meanwhile, Boston’s typical starting lineup features four players under six feet (catcher Sandy León and all three outfielders, Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Andrew Benintendi). There is no break to the Yankees’ bulk.
Yankees: Luke Voit, 6-foot-3, 225 pounds
Red Sox: Joe Kelly, 6-foot-1, 190 pounds
Luke Voit is the size of a Clydesdale and likely curls filled kegs of beer. (He’s from Missouri and started his career with the Cardinals—he might actually be a Budweiser-lifting horse.) In July, the Yankees traded meh relievers Chasen Shreve and Giovanny Gallegos for Voit, who also seemed meh. He was a 27-year-old who had hit .240 with five homers in 70 games for the Cardinals and had spent most of the season with their Triple-A affiliate.
But since August, Voit has been the Yankees’ beefy spark plug, with 14 homers in 132 at-bats. I don’t know how smart he is—here he is in the wild-card game, celebrating a homer that definitely wasn’t a homer:
But he’s big and strong, which as previously mentioned, are the only two important baseball traits. Haven’t you read Moneyball? He also seems willing to throw down. The Red Sox are too, as evidenced by this clip from April of Kelly beaning a Yankee, shoving him to the ground, and then punching him in the back of the head:
(That Yankee, Tyler Austin, has since been traded, presumably for losing a fight.)
Obviously, I don’t want to see the Yankees and Red Sox get into a fight. Actually, screw it: Of course I want the Yankees and Red Sox to get into a fight. The Yankees have a shot at beating Boston in a baseball series, but they’ve got a better shot if the series is played by Royal Rumble rules and you have to toss every opponent over the Green Monster to win.