But I wouldn't have been too excited about LA this year. One big difference between this year's Angels team and those of years past? The bullpen. In 2002, their bullpen ERA was 2.98. In '05, it was 3.52. This year? 4.07, 19th in baseball. Cleveland's pen? 3.76.
In terms of pitching, the Indians have the best 1-2 punch in the AL, in Sabathia and Carmona. After that, it's shaky. Do you trust Paul Byrd in a big game? Carmona is similar to Wang, a sinkerball pitcher who's successful inducing grounders. But Carmona is better (for starters: .248 BAA vs. Wang's .265). The Yanks, after Wang, have very questionable starting pitching. Pettitte has had mixed results in the postseason. Clemens has been hurt, and you don't know what you'll get from him. Mussina's had a good September, but can he bring it against a good offense in October? The rookies? Unclear.
The guy who worries me most on the Indians is Joe Borowski. No question. Yanks have a huge edge in the closer department.
But their middle relief is much better, in Betancourt and Rafael Perez. I think those are two guys that can match up very well against Joba.
Overall, good pitching beats good hitting. And the Indians had the second-best ERA in the second half this year, at 3.58. Toronto beat them with a 3.55 mark (and if McGowan and Marcum can continue to progress, Halladay bounces back, and Burnett stays healthy, the Jays might have the best pitching in the East and possibly the entire AL come 2008).
As for the hitting: Pronk had an off year this year, but a .970 OPS in September is encouraging. They've got a balanced lineup, and guys like Garko, Blake, and Asdurbal Cabrera make it hard to find an easy out in the lineup.
Clearly, the Yanks have the better lineup, but the Indians can hold their own. And I think Sabathia and Carmona have a better chance at quieting the Yankee bats than Wang and Pettitte quieting Cleveland's.
Prediction: Indians in 5.