2012 World Series Prediction: National League Is Going to Party Like It's 2006

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2012 World Series Prediction: National League Is Going to Party Like It's 2006
Al Bello/Getty Images
Is that a baseball or a hand grenade?

I'm going to warn you right now, Detroit Tigers fans.

It's deja vu all over again.

Justin Verlander and the Tigers held on to beat the Yankees 2-1 to take a commanding 3-0 series lead in the ALCS, and the Tigers look ready to appear on the World Series stage once again with last year's—and likely this year's—MVP in tow. The Tigers and their fans are looking pretty confident.

But then again, as Halloween approaches, there's something eerily familiar about this. Something reminiscent of the last time the Tigers played for the championship in 2006.

Six years ago, Detroit swept the upstart A's in four games, and would anyone bet against the Yankees succumbing in the same way this fall?

Over in the National League, it looks like another long series is brewing between the St. Louis Cardinals and another equally tough foe, the San Francisco Giants. The NLCS is tied 1-1 as the series moves to St. Louis for Game 3 this afternoon.

The Giants have some serious positive karma going with a flurry of infield choppers and broken-bat hits in the first two games, not to mention their middle infielder, Marco Scutaro, absorbing an open-field tackle from the Cardinals' Matt Holliday.

I believe Jeff Fisher called Holliday's agent after that game about some post-postseason work for the Rams defense.

The Cardinals and their high-octane offense have generally been favored in this series, but they won't be if the aforementioned Holliday, Allen Craig and Yadier Molina don't wake up at the plate. Carlos Beltran has continued his career postseason brilliance, and David Freese continues to be a postseason stud, but they can't do it alone.

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The Giants have found a winning formula against the heavy right-handed lineup, pounding them inside with fastballs and then getting them to fish for pitches off the outside edge of the plate.

Maybe Mark McGwire can remind them that this pitching approach has worked for only about 60 years or so.

Regardless of who emerges from this NL dogfight, the Tigers will be walking into a trap. Their foe will not be as old and helpless as the New York Yawnkees.

The Tigers will get to sit and relax for a week or more, waiting for the NLCS outcome, and when the 2012 World Series finally begins, they will be facing a grizzled, mangy, fresh-from-the-fight junkyard dog.

After sleepwalking through the ALCS, the Tigers will be in for a rude awakening. The Tigers look vulnerable on both sides of the diamond. They have scored three runs or fewer in five of eight postseason contests, and their bullpen looks shaky.

The next time Jose Valverde enters a game, the Tigers' equipment crew better give him a fire-suit to put on over his uniform, because he has been getting lit up with regularity.

Miguel Cabrera, the first Triple Crown winner in two generations, has never had great success against the remaining NL teams.

His career slash lines against the Giants (.276/.347/.504/.851) and Cardinals (.274/.333/.467/.800) are eerily similar—not to mention, not overly impressive.

And as for the Tigers' All-World ace Justin Verlander, this postseason has been the first where he's really looked the part of an ace. Prior to 2012, the big righty has been quite mortal with a 3.80 ERA in 11 postseason appearances.

Neither the Giants nor the Cardinals, the past two World Series champs, will be in awe of the big stage, and either squad will be expecting to make it three World Series titles in a row for the Senior Circuit.

As a fan's sign in St. Louis said during the 2006 Fall Classic, "Here, Kitty, Kitty."

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