2012 World Series: 4 Reasons San Francisco Giants Will Be World Champions
Bold statement? Yes. But there are a few things in particular that make me confident to say such a thing.
But first, I will touch on the one player that scares me more than anyone on the Tigers' roster: Anibal Sanchez. Few pitchers have tormented Giants hitters as much as Sanchez has in recent memory.
Sanchez is 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA in five starts against the Giants in his career with a 31-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. If I were the Tigers, I would make sure Sanchez is starting Game 2 and Game 5 (if necessary) in this series.
But back to the Giants.
Here are four reasons why they will emerge victorious and be crowned World Series champions in 2012.
4. Giants Rotation Is Starting to Come Around
When you thought of the San Francisco Giants' team as a whole heading into this postseason, it came off as a team that had a decent offense led by Buster Posey and a starting rotation that could carry it through the playoffs.
That couldn't have been further from the truth through the first six starts of the playoffs. The offense was off and on, but the Giants didn't get a quality start from one of their starters during the first six postseason games.
Matt Cain had pitched 10.2 innings and surrendered six earned runs; Madison Bumgarner threw eight innings and gave up 10 earned runs; Ryan Vogelsong pitched five innings and let in one run in his only start; and Barry Zito lasted only 2.2 innings and allowed two earned runs.
After that, it was a completely different story. Vogelsong has turned in a couple of excellent starts; Zito pitched the game of his life in Game 5 of the NLCS; and Cain has continued to do what he's done all season long, and that's pitch like a Cy Young candidate.
It was only a matter of time, but it looks like the Giants' rotation has finally started to hit its stride. And if the Giants have found a way to win playoff games despite the lack of strong outings by the starting rotation, who knows how good this team can be if it's firing on all cylinders?
3. Top of Lineup Is Starting to Hit
It all starts with the top of the lineup for the San Francisco Giants, which isn't exactly an earth-shattering statement when talking about any team in baseball.
The Giants, however, have the potential to morph into an offensive juggernaut if they get the top of the order rolling, as evident from Tuesday night when they scored nine runs in Game 7 of the NLCS.
Marco Scutaro is the man getting all the attention right now—and rightly so since his 14 hits this series broke the record for most knocks in the NLCS—but one name to keep an eye on is Pablo Sandoval.
Sandoval has the potential to carry an offense when he's hot, and he's squaring everything up at the moment. Even his outs were hit hard on Monday night.
He is 9-of-26 (a .346 average) in his last six games, and he's starting to catch up on fastballs in the zone, which is something that he struggled with this year.
Plus, you can never forget about the probable MVP in the NL this year in Buster Posey. He's far too good of a hitter to remain silent for this long.
2. Barry Zito Will Likely Make Multiple Starts
If I were to tell you that Barry Zito would be one of the reasons why the San Francisco Giants would beat the Detroit Tigers in the World Series at the beginning of the season, you'd probably think I was some delusional sports writer and move on to the next article.
Oh how things have changed.
Zito was inconsistent in his first start of the postseason against Cincinnati, but he got the quick hook and wasn't given the opportunity to work out of the jam.
His second start, however, something clicked for Zito. In fact, he made arguably the best start of his career as a Giant.
And with his new-found confidence—it's probably the first time Zito has had this much confidence with the Giants because some have already claimed that he has "rewrote his legacy with the Giants"—he'll be ready to take on the Detroit Tigers in Game 1 against Justin Verlander.
Verlander vs. Zito in a World Series matchup sure seems like a mismatch, but not so fast.
In his career, Zito has a record of 8-6 against the Tigers with an ERA of 2.91. Moreover, he has good career numbers against some of the Tigers' big sluggers.
Prince Fielder: 3-of-18 with five strikeouts.
Omar Infante: 3-of-20 with four strikeouts.
Jhonny Peralta: 3-of-14 with three strikeouts.
And don't forget the Giants have won every single one of Zito's last 13 starts. That has to count for something.
1. Layoff Will Alter Any Momentum the Tigers Had
You can't measure it. You can't prove it. But momentum is an intangible that dictates who wins in all sporting events, and it won't be any different when the San Francisco Giants roll into the World Series having the mindset that they have at the moment.
Both the Giants and Detroit Tigers have some sort of momentum heading into this series, but the Giants have done something that hasn't been done before.
After being down 2-0 in the NLDS, the Giants traveled to Cincinnati and beat the Reds three times in a row to move on. Next, the Giants found themselves down 3-1 to the St. Louis Cardinals, then reeled off three straight victories to win the pennant.
That's six wins when facing elimination.
If you look up the word "resilience" in the dictionary right now, you might just find a picture the 2012 San Francisco Giants next to it.
And one may argue that the Tigers have some momentum since they just swept the New York Yankees, the kings of the postseason, in the ALCS.
However, the Tigers haven't played since October 18. That's a four-day layover. And when a team is coming off an emotional high like the Tigers are, it will be hard to regain that same focus and tenacity that they undoubtedly had when playing the Yankees.
I like that Jim Leyland had his team play an intrasquad scrimmage to keep the team focused, but nothing can replicate the energy, excitement and emotion of playing in a NLCS game.
It will be interesting to see if the Tigers come out flat to start the series. However, having Justin Verlander, the pitcher with the best stuff in the world, on the mound in Game 1 of a World Series game should be a shot in the arm if the Tigers end up needing one.
But the Giants are hot right now. In fact, they are sizzling like a platter of fajitas at Chili's restaurant. They will be ready to pick up where they left off, and that's defeating the Cardinals 9-0 to win the pennant.