Remember: These were the 2001 Yankees, who had fought back the upstart A's, walked over the 116-win Mariners . . . and found themselves outmatched in every conceivable category of the game except closer, precisely up until the ninth inning of Game 7.
Nobody knows in a short series. Mauer may hit .600 and slug 1.200, and there's the ball game. Cuddyer could hit five home runs. Gomez would run crazy. Melky could lose the ball in that infernal roof with the bases loaded. Never know.
But, as we pass into the first day of the baseball playoffs, let us consider a few thoughts. From SDJ:
I think all the wags agree that those three free agents were the best 09 signings in all of baseball. Mark Teixeira may end up being the all time great Yankee first baseman. Of course he'd have to be considered better than the "Iron Man".
Tex reminds me a lot of Paul O'Neill. But a new and improved O'Neill, a bigger bat and flashier leather.
On a team with CC, Jeter and A-Rod, there is Tex. All season long, quietly, he has been the glue. A guy you never worry about, a guy I'm sure the young players listen to and watch with amazement. A third basemen's dream. Throw it in his area code and he'll dig it out.
I can't really think about 100 wins without this guy. And how long has it been, since we have had that power, and that defense at that spot?
Answer to the last question: Don Mattingly, at his peak, 1984-1987.
1984: Batting title.
1985: MVP (145 RBI)
1986: Triple-Crown threat, 35 homers, .352 BA, second in MVP to Roger Clemens
1987: Triple-Cown threat, lost in MVP shuffle as the Yanks tank in September
And: a Gold Glove at first base, every year.
In short, over a four-year span, the best player in baseball.