SS | Elvis Andrus

Andrus was virtually non-existent offensively in the second half

of the season, but he hit .333 in the division series and had as

many extra-base hits as he did from Sept. 1 until the end of the

season. His single, stolen base and mad dash from second in the

first inning of Game 5 set the tone for the offense. That’s what a

leadoff hitter must do.

CF | Josh Hamilton

It’s still hard to believe the

Rangers won a playoff series in

which Hamilton had only one RBI – and that when Elvis Andrus took

two bases on a groundout to first base – but they did. The chances

of them winning another with no contribution from the AL’s top

hitter and likely MVP: Slim and none. Hamilton, however, said he

saw the ball much better in the final two games of the ALDS.

OF | Nelson Cruz

Cruz led all hitters in the division series with a .950 slugging

percentage. The chances of him duplicating that in the ALCS are

highly unlikely based on the pitching matchups. Against CC

Sabathia, Phil Hughes and Andy Pettite, who figure to start six

games in a seven-game series, Cruz is 2-for-22 (.091) in his


LHP | C.J. Wilson

This is Wilson’s time to shine. A win can immediately put the

Yankees on the defensive in Game 2. The last thing the Yankees want

is to face the prospective of being down 2-0 and having to go home

to face Cliff Lee. Wilson has the sophisticated arsenal to beat the

Yankees, but he must throw more strikes against them than he did in

the regular season. A lefty should have the slightest of edges

against the Yankees lineup.

RHP | Neftali Feliz

Feliz appeared nervous in his AL Division Series appearances,

walking the first batter on both occasions. He walked the first

batter he faced only three times during the regular season. One of

those occasions was against New York in August, and it led to a

ninth-inning meltdown. The

Rangers bullpen is thinner without

Frankie Francisco available. The last line of defense must be



DH-OF | Marcus Thames

With the

Rangers likely to start lefties four

times in a seven-game series, Thames will probably get the bulk of

the playing time. He hit .300 against lefties and .435 in 23

at-bats against the

Rangers this season. He’s easy to

overlook in the Yankees lineup. Doing so could be catastrophic.

OF | Curtis Granderson

A left-handed hitter who struggled against lefties (.234, .292

OBP), Granderson started all three games of the division series and

responded with a .455 average in 11 at-bats. He is 0-for-6 in his

career against C.J. Wilson.

3B | Alex Rodriguez

He will always be a lightning rod for criticism in Arlington,

but the

Rangers can’t let him be the

turbocharger in the Yankees’ offense. He hit .360 against the

Rangers this year and drove in eight

runs in seven games. In last year’s postseason run, Rodriguez hit

.365 with six homers and 18 RBIs. He can take over a series if the

Rangers are not careful.

RHP | Philip Hughes

The Yankees moved Hughes into the No. 2 spot ahead of all-time

postseason wins leader Andy Pettitte largely because of Hughes’

success in Arlington. In his first start in

Rangers Ballpark, he took a perfect

game to the seventh. In three appearances at the park, he’s allowed

three hits and no runs in 15 1/3 innings. If he can similarly

smother the

Rangers this time, it might put

Texas in a 2-0 hole going to New York.

RHP | Kerry Wood

The Yankees had issues getting to Mariano Rivera early in the

year, but since Sept. 1, Wood has been a lock-’em-down setup man.

He had an 0.68 ERA and a .119 opponent’s batting average after

Sept. 1. He did, however, allow three hits in one-third of an

inning in Game 3 against the Twins. Wood does not want to face

left-handed hitters and will issue walks. He has given up 11 to the

last 31 left-handers he’s faced, but he has not allowed a walk to a

right-hander in that time.