POSITION-BY-POSITION MATCHUPS WORLD SERIES

THE BALTIMORE SUN

FIRST BASE

Blue Jays: If we do this on appearance, John Olerud wins hands down. He looks good in a uniform, hasn't been caught expectorating in public and has a classic hitting style. Not so efficient on defense, but when you lead the league in hitting, that can be overlooked.

Phillies: Ten years from now, John Kruk will be wowing 'em in a beer league somewhere. For the present, he terrorizes pitchers with his look and his bat. A solid line-drive, in-your-face kind of hitter who looks as if he can wreak havoc -- and does with his bat.

Edge: A slight one to the Blue Jays, maybe just on style points.

SECOND BASE

Blue Jays: How many different ways can you say Roberto Alomar is the best at his position in the game? He might even be baseball's best all-around player. His only weakness is saying what he thinks, which sometimes tweaks the opposition.

Phillies: Mariano Duncan will start Game 1, but Mickey Morandini is expected to play some during the Series, too. Neither will overwhelm you, offensively or defensively, but they get the job done.

Edge: The Blue Jays in a mismatch.

THIRD BASE

Blue Jays: Ed Sprague is probably the best eighth-place hitter in the game. He has some power, and even though he strikes out frequently, he also puts the ball in play to the opposite field. Vastly improved defensively, he's a budding star.

Phillies: Dave Hollins is one of those guys who grows on you. He's a switch-hitter (better from the right side) with pop and a good run producer. Evidently, he's only fair defensively, because Kim Batiste keeps showing up in time for late-inning adventures.

Edge: A small one for the Phillies.

SHORTSTOP

Blue Jays: Tony Fernandez may be better the second time around, but he still can be erratic. A switch-hitter who can be troublesome, he nevertheless can be pitched to, and opposing pitchers will work around the middle of the lineup to get to him.

Phillies: You have to remember that Juan Bell played here Opening Day, so you can't say this is a Phillies strength. However, Kevin Stocker came out of the minor leagues with a good glove and no bat and helped with both.

Edge: Blue Jays, only because of experience.

LEFT FIELD

Blue Jays: Rickey Henderson's wake-up call should arrive any day now. His free-agent price has devalued faster than the Canadian dollar since his late-season arrival from Oakland. But he's still potentially the game's most destructive leadoff hitter.

Phillies: Here we have a platoon situation, but the Blue Jays don't have any left-handed starters. Left-handed-hitting Milt Thompson provides speed and defense. Pete Incaviglia has the power and could be the designated hitter in the games in Toronto.

Edge: The Blue Jays, still expecting a return on their investment.

CENTER FIELD

Blue Jays: Devon White is the premier defensive outfielder in the American League and a vastly underrated hitter. Almost without notice, he had 12 hits to establish (along with Chicago's Tim Raines) an ALCS record.

Phillies: Lenny Dykstra is the heart and soul of "Our Gang" in Philly. The demise of the Mets began when they traded this guy. He does a little bit of everything and is a big-play, big-game player of the first order.

Edge: Can't take this one away from the Phillies.

RIGHT FIELD

Blue Jays: Joe Carter didn't have a big ALCS, but he's a proven commodity. A very dangerous hitter and run producer, he's also an excellent defensive player and the team's acknowledged leader.

Phillies: Another platoon position, with Jim Eisenreich expected to get the bulk of the playing time. He's a good left-handed hitter with minimal power. Right-handed-hitting Wes Chamberlain is more of a homer threat but not as good for average.

Edge: Clearly to the Blue Jays.

CATCHING

Blue Jays: Pat Borders is one of those guys nobody notices until October, so he's gotten a lot of attention lately at this time of the year. Last year's MVP, he's basically a modest line-drive hitter with only occasional power. Very much underrated defensively.

Phillies: Darren Daulton is one of the originals. It took him awhile to get established, but he's made up for it. An excellent all-around player with good power, he's an integral part of the Phillies' lineup.

Edge: To the Phillies.

DESIGNATED HITTERS

Blue Jays: Paul Molitor is the best in the game, which makes this a very short discussion.

Phillies: They said yesterday that they are going to use Ricky Jordan in Game 1; Chamberlain and Incaviglia might play there in other games. The best news for Philadelphia is that the DH will be used only in Toronto, forcing the Blue Jays to make a decision on Molitor for games 3, 4 and 5.

Edge: Uncontested for the Blue Jays.

STARTING PITCHING

Blue Jays: Juan Guzman, Dave Stewart and let's do it again. Rookie Pat Hentgen was a 19-game winner but shows evidence of a tired arm. Todd Stottlemyre doesn't have a middle ground -- he's either very good or ineffective. The AL champs are hurt by the lack of a left-handed starter, so Al Leiter could become an important part of the mix. Guzman is the best, with Stewart the designated inspirer.

Phillies: Ex-Orioles right-hander Curt Schilling emerged as the staff ace late in the season. Tommy Greene is virtually unbeatable at home, and the rotation works nicely for him to make his only start in Game 4 at Veterans Stadium. Left-handers Terry Mulholland and Danny Jackson, the starters in games 2 and 3, are the key to whatever chance the Phillies have. The Blue Jays have had trouble with left-handers all year, but they're going to have to beat either Mulholland or Jackson.

Edge: Too close to call. Guzman is the best of the lot and Stewart the most successful in postseason. But depth and the left-handers could negate that advantage.

LONG RELIEF

Blue Jays: When they struggled, this was a weak point, but when they got their act together, the long relievers were significant contributors. Danny Cox, Mike Timlin and Mark Eichhorn are the right-handers, Tony Castillo and Leiter, unless he gets a start, the left-handers who could be vital against the Phillies' predominantly left-handed lineup.

Phillies: Larry Andersen, a generally stable veteran, and Ben Rivera, a starter most of the year, are the primary right-handers. David West is the principal left-hander. Nothing spectacular.

Edge: To the Blue Jays.

CLOSERS

Blue Jays: Duane Ward stepped up to fill the vacancy created when Tom Henke departed via free agency. He was one of the best in the league but has a tendency to be wild and occasionally give up the long ball.

Phillies: His arms and legs going in different directions can be a distraction when Mitch Williams unleashes his 95-mph fastball. The excitement doesn't start until "The Wild Thing" shows up. What you see is what you get, but you never know what you're going to see.

Edge: Blue Jays have a little less excitement.

BENCH

Blue Jays: Not starting on this team is like being the Maytag repair man. No changes were made during the ALCS, and none is expected now, unless Molitor moves into the lineup for the middle games and gives way to a defensive replacement.

Phillies: Kim Batiste was the shortstop starter before Stocker arrived and provided some late-inning thrills as Hollins' replacement in the NLCS. Jordan, Incaviglia and Chamberlain figure mainly as DH or pinch-hitting possibilities.

Edge: Has to go to the Phillies.

MANAGERS

Blue Jays: Cito Gaston's laid-back style fits his team, and he has four division titles in five years and two straight pennants to prove it.

Phillies: Jim Fregosi has done a marvelous job of molding himself to fit his team, not as tough a task as it might seem. This is a perfect union.

Edge: None, even though Gaston has been here before.

PICK

On paper, this looks like a no-brainer and may prove to be just that. But there are some intriguing aspects. The Phillies will send eight left-handed hitters against the Blue Jays' right-handed rotation, and they have a couple of left-handed pitchers who could be the key to the Series. In addition, the NL champs are on a roll as underdogs and come in as the colorful, sentimental favorites who can't be dismissed lightly.

The Braves would've been favorites, but they aren't here. There is a temptation to pick against the odds, but the suspicion is that the National League is riding a downer and the Phillies' joy ride won't reach its final destination.

+ The Blue Jays in six games.

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