The cool and efficient Oakland Athletics, a team on a mission. The can-do Los Angeles Dodgers, the scrappers who don't quit.
The Athletics are a baseball machine without a weakness, and are strong favorites in the World Series. The Dodgers are emotional favorites, not nearly as powerful - but they have Orel Hershiser.Oakland led the American League in pitching, was second in scoring and made only 105 errors. The four-game sweep against Boston in the playoffs was no big surprise.
The Dodgers' seven-game playoff victory over the Mets was a shock, although if forecasters had forseen Hershiser working four times, maybe it wouldn't have been. Los Angeles was second in pitching, in the middle offensively and made 142 errors.
The Athletics are rested and ready. They did not seem particulary excited about winning the AL West with 104 victories or taking the pennant. Since spring training, their only goal has been the World Series.
No one expected the Dodgers to do a lot this year, maybe not even themselves. The turnaround from a 73-89 mark to 94 victories and their first NL pennant since 1981 is one of the best ever.
Oakland is making its first World Series appearance since 1974, when it beat Los Angeles in five games for its third consecutive championship. This is the first time two West teams have met in the World Series since that year.
These current Athletics and Dodgers are well aware of each other. Bob Welch, Jay Howell, Dave Stewart, Tim Belcher, Rick Honeycutt and Alfredo Griffin each played for both organizations.
A position-by-position look at the teams:
Mark McGwire, Oakland
His 81 home runs are the most ever in the majors for the first two years. Hit 32 homers, just 12 in Oakland, this season. Homered
again in the AL playoffs and batted .333. Adequate fielder.
Mickey Hatcher or Franklin Stubbs, Los Angeles
Hatcher, a right-handed batter, is a contact hitter. Struck out only seven times in 191 at-bats and hit .293. Led team with 12 pinch hits. Stubbs, a left-hander, has power but is prone to strike out. Fans one-fourth of the time. Neither player is good with the glove.
Oakland has a big advantage.
Glenn Hubbard or Mike Gallego, Oakland
Hubbard will start if his hamstring, which kept him off the playoff roster, is healed. Solid fielder, especially good at turning double plays. Hit respectable .255. Gallego was 1-for-12 against Boston but made all the plays.
Steve Sax, Los Angeles
Leads off and is Dodgers' sparkplug. Tied playoff record with five stolen bases. Stole 42 during the year. Hit .277 in the season and .267 against the Mets. Remember how he used to known for his errors? Made only one miscue in final 38 games and none in playoffs.
Los Angeles gets the edge.
Walt Weiss, Oakland
Good rookie season and great playoffs. A switch-hitter, he batted .333 against Boston after .250 in regular season. Consistently got timely hits and made key plays in the playoffs.
Alfredo Griffin, Los Angeles
Excellent glove, weak bat. Solidified poor Dodger infield. Batted .199 and dipped to .160 in the playoffs. Committed 15 errors this year, the same as Weiss.
Oakland gets the edge because of Weiss' bat.
Carney Lansford, Oakland
Started season batting over .400 in June, finished at .279 and hit .294 in the playoffs. Led league in fielding for second successive year, making seven errors each season. Stole career-high 29 bases.
Jeff Hamilton, Los Angeles
Became starter in first full season, although nothing exceptional. Hit .236 and batted .217 in playoffs. Walked 10 times in 309 at-bats. Average fielder.
Oakland gets a solid edge.
Dave Parker or Luis Polonia or Stan Javier, Oakland
Parker batted .257 in first AL season after 14 years in the NL, six as an All-Star. Hit 12 homers with 55 RBI, but was not a factor in the playoffs. Batted .345 in only World Series with Pittsburgh in 1979. A defensive liability. Polonia and Javier are faster, lighter hitters with better defensive skills.
Kirk Gibson, Los Angeles
Which Captain Kirk will play? The hamstring-hurting version, who batted .154 in the playoffs, or the MVP of the 1984 World Series when he batted .333 and drove in seven runs for Detroit. Gibson is a big-game hunter and a big-game player, who usually excels if healthy and can carry a team.
Gibson will be rested, giving Los Angeles the edge.
Dave Henderson, Oakland
Best season of his 10-year career and more postseason heroics. Hit .304 with 24 home runs and 92 RBI, along with strong defense. Hit .375 in the playoffs against his former team. His home run in 1986 rescued Boston in the playoffs and he batted .400 in the World Series.
John Shelby, Los Angeles
The Athletics likely remember Shelby as a good-field, no-hit player for Baltimore. He's changed since moving to LA. His 24-game hitting streak was longest in the majors and he batted .263 with 10 homers and 64 RBI. Struck out 128 times. Covers a lot of ground, but sometimes does not make the play - as in Game 1 of the playoffs, for example.
Henderson is more volatile and likely to be more help. Edge to Oakland.
Jose Canseco, Oakland
First player to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in same season. Led majors with 42 homers and 124 RBI. Batted .304. Outstanding arm and had 11 assists. Hit three big homers in playoffs and batted .313.
Mike Marshall, Los Angeles
Overcame injuries and played career-high 144 games. Hit 20 home runs. Batted just .233 in playoffs but drove in five runs, one behind Gibson's team-leading total. Adequate fielder.
Oakland has The Force and a big edge.
Ron Hassey or Terry Steinbach, Oakland
Hassey, a left-handed batter, is a better hitter with more power. Steinbach, the All-Star Game MVP, is better defensively. Hassey went 4-for-8 with three RBI in the playoffs. He threw out 31 percent of opposing basestealers this season. Steinbach was 1-for-4 against Boston. He threw out 40 percent of runners.
Mike Scioscia, Los Angeles
Scioscia's ninth-inning home run off Dwight Gooden in Game 4 was the turning point of the playoffs; he'd hit only three homers in regular season. Led Los Angeles regulars with .364 average against the Mets. Contact hitter, struck out 12 times in 408 at-bats. Great at blocking plate. Threw out 34 percent of runners.
Scioscia is hot and better than either Oakland catcher.
(Will be used in games at Oakland)
Don Baylor, Oakland
Filled same role with Boston in 1986 World Series and Minnesota in last year's postseason. Is accustomed to routine of DH; NL players have had trouble adjusting. Hit seven homers with 34 RBI as free-agent acquistion. Was 0-for-6 in playoffs. Has .292 average in two World Series.
Danny Heep or Rick Dempsey, Dodgers
Heep, a left-handed hitter, was Mets' DH in 1986 World Series and went 1-for-11. Was Los Angeles most-used pinch hitter, but why? Went 4-for-44 as PH. Has not homered in majors since 1986. Dempsey, a right-handed catcher, hit .251 with seven homers. Had two doubles in five at-bats in playoffs.
Oakland has Baylor, and history shows Baylor is a winner.
Dave Stewart, Storm Davis, Bob Welch, Oakland
Stewart, a two-time 20-game winner, gave up two runs in 13 1-3 innings against Boston. Davis won career-high 16 games. Welch won career-high 17.
Orel Hershiser, Tim Belcher, John Tudor, Los Angeles
Hershiser closed season with record 59 scoreless innings and was iron man of the playoffs, pitching four times and winning MVP award. Belcher, a rookie, won twice against the Mets. Tudor, still not 100 percent, is left-hander with a different look.
Oakland rotation is set with rest. Hershiser pitched Game 7 Wednesday night and can't start opener. The Athletics get a slight edge.
Dennis Eckersley, Rick Honeycutt, Gene Nelson, Greg Cadaret, Curt Young, Oakland
Eckersley saved all four playoff victories with six shutout innings and was MVP. Led majors with 45 saves. Nelson won twice against Boston and Honeycutt won once, each with scoreless relief.
Jay Howell, Jesse Orosco, Brian Holton, Ricky Horton, Alejandro Pena, Los Angeles
Howell and Orosco, the closers, were ineffective in the playoffs - with or without pine tar. Pena did not fare much better, but Horton and Holton did well.
Both teams have good middle relief but Oakland gets the edge because Eckersley is in top form.
Polonia, Javier, Baylor, Gallego, Oakland
Balanced bench gives Oakland options. There's power, speed, defense and on-base potential, depending on which player is used.
Tracy Woodson, Jose Gonzalez, Mike Davis, Los Angeles
Gonzalez is fine defensive outfielder. Not much offense from either three.
Oakland gets the edge because of versatility
Tony La Russa, Oakland
Cool and confident. Expects a lot from himself and his players. Has plenty of talent to choose from, so making double-switches in games without DH should be no trouble. Seems to manage more with his mind than heart.
Tom Lasorda, Los Angeles
Many see his act as too Hollywood, but he motivates his players and they love him. Relies on gut instinct sometimes more than anything else.
Two different men with different approaches, both successful. Even.