MLB Playoffs 2012: Top X-Factors for Each Team in World Series

Sophia Pompilus@soph_pompilusContributor IIIOctober 23, 2012

Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers
Justin Verlander of the Detroit TigersJonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Now that it's come down to the wire in October, every team is looking for their X-factor—the player who will elevate the team to bring them closer to winning the trophy. From the pitchers to the hitters, every member will affect how well their team performs.

For the Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants, it'll be a classic battle to the top. You should expect a pitching duel and lights-out hitting from both teams.

Who are the players who will push their teams forward?

Read ahead to view the top two x-factors for each team.


Justin Verlander

The Tigers will rely on their ace to set the tone early as he is set to pitch the first game of the World Series. 

Verlander's pitching has been impeccable this postseason. He's pitched over 24 innings, allowing only 10 hits, two runs, two earned runs and has an impressive 0.74 ERA.

Simply put, Verlander has dominated on the mound. Of all the pitchers in rotation for both the Tigers and the Giants, Verlander is undoubtedly the best of them all.

Two weeks ago, the Oakland A's rallied in the ninth inning to win game four of the ALDS. Verlander came back in Game 5 and delivered a thrilling shutout performance.

If the Tigers are going to win the World Series, they'll need Verlander to continue his nearly flawless pitching.

Miguel Cabrera

After winning MLB's prestigious Triple Crown award—the first in the league in 45 years—Miguel Cabrera solidified himself as an elite player.

As the best hitter in the game, he is undoubtedly a key piece for the Tigers.

Cabrera has fared pretty well against the tough Giants' starting pitching. In 64 at bats, he's gotten on base 31.1 percent of the time.  

In the month of October alone, he has a .600 batting average in addition to a 90 percent slugging average. With just one swing, he can totally shift the momentum of the game in favor of the Tigers. 

Yet Cabrera's bat has been quieter than expected in these playoffs. He has a .278 on base percentage, which is unusual considering his achievements. But with a week off, he may just be warming up.

Cabrera has already shown that he's a force to be reckoned with.

Even Vegas is betting on him.

Barry Zito

Who would've thought that Barry Zito would be considered an X-factor for the Giants?

The pitcher struggled early on in his career with San Francisco but finally turned things around this year. Zito had 15 wins and finished the season with a 4.15 ERA.

In his last five starts during the regular season, Zito had a 2.35 ERA. In his past 11 starts, Zito is undefeated, but most important was his performance in Game 5 of the NLCS.

Zito gave up six hits and zero runs to the Cardinals, stopping them from extending their lead and helping the Giants stave off elimination.

His ERA has dropped over two points to 1.74 and he has earned the right to pitch in the World Series.

After being left off the pitching roster in 2010 when the Giants were last competing for the championship, Zito has made a case for himself. He's picked the perfect time to come alive for the Giants.

Though he'll be facing a tough lineup of Detroit hitters, Zito has shown that he can pitch, and he can do it pretty well. 

Buster Posey

Buster Posey's only been in the big leagues for three years and yet the young catcher is already making his second trip to the World Series.

The NL batting champion finished the season hitting .336, with 24 homers and driving in 103 RBIs. He had an amazing season that also won him Sporting News' 2012 NL Comeback Player of the Year Award.

Yet opposing teams have found ways to stop him this postseason. Posey has a low batting average of .178 in the first two rounds.

But after his grand slam in Game 5 of the NLDS in which the Giants clinched the division, the team has no reason to worry.

Buster Posey is still an offensive threat for San Francisco. Look for him to rebound in the World Series.