Angels-Yankees matchup: Outfield

Angels-Yankees matchup: Outfield

Heading into the American League Championship Series between the Yankees and Angels, beginning Friday at 7:57 p.m. ET on FOX, MLB.com looks at the position-by-position matchups and dissects which team has the advantage.

Angels

LF Juan Rivera
.287, 25 HR, 88 RBIs

CF Torii Hunter
.299, 22 HR, 90 RBIs

RF Bobby Abreu
.293, 15 HR, 103 RBIs

The outfield of Rivera, Hunter and Abreu has been a real strength for the Halos this year.

Rivera possesses a strong arm in left and tied for fourth in the AL with 11 outfield assists, but the 31-year-old did more damage with his bat. Rivera reached career highs in homers (25), RBIs (88), games (138), hits (152) and runs scored (72).

Hunter has a reputation as being one of the game's best defensive center fielders, and he also had a productive year at the plate, hitting a career-best .299 and being selected for his third All-Star Game. Hunter likely would have reached career highs in homers and RBIs, but a strained right groin kept him out for 32 games and he wound up with 22 homers and 90 RBIs in 119 games.

While not on the same level defensively with his fellow outfielders, Abreu is an average right fielder, who makes his money at the plate.

A slow free-agent market allowed the Angels to nab Abreu for just $5 million, and he has proved to be worth every penny. A patient hitter at the plate, Abreu is credited with helping the Angels improve their on-base skills this year, particularly those of Hunter and Chone Figgins. Abreu took 68 percent of the pitches he saw in 2009, second most in the Major Leagues.

When he did swing, Abreu hit .293 with 15 homers and 103 RBIs.

You can't sleep on Abreu on the bases, either, as he stole 30 bases in 38 attempts last year to join Honus Wagner, Hugh Duffy, Ty Cobb and Barry Bonds as the only players in history to have five different seasons with 100-plus RBIs and at least 30 stolen bases.

Yankees

LF Johnny Damon
.282, 24 HR, 82 RBIs

CF Melky Cabrera
.274, 13 HR, 68 RBIs

RF Nick Swisher
.249, 29 HR, 82 RBIs

The Bombers' outfielders underperformed in the ALDS, and they will need better production from Damon, Cabrera and Swisher in order to beat the Angels.

The outfield trio was 4-for-36 during that series with one extra-base hit -- a double by Swisher -- and did not drive in any of the 15 runs the Yankees scored.

There is reason to believe they will hit better in the ALCS.

Swisher had an overlooked season. Despite hitting .249, he had 35 doubles, 29 homers and 97 RBIs to go with an excellent OPS (on-base plus slugging) of .869. Swisher makes a pitcher work. He saw the second-most pitches per plate appearance (4.26) of any hitter in the AL.

Damon is getting up there in years and is relegated to left field, but he too was productive with an .854 OPS to go along with 36 doubles and 24 home runs. A proud warrior, it's telling that Damon was the lone starter to hit on the field during Tuesday's optional batting practice session at Yankee Stadium.

Cabrera, meanwhile, covers a lot of ground in center, and came up big in the clutch for New York during the regular season with three walk-off RBIs, the most by a Yankee in a single season since 1988.

Defensively, Damon is a shell of his former self when he used to roam in center, so late in games, look for the Yankees to move Cabrera to left and put Brett Gardner in center for defensive purposes.

Edge: Angels

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.