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MLB: Position-by-Position Breakdown for the 2012 Fall Classic

Austin FoxCorrespondent IIOctober 23, 2012

MLB: Position-by-Position Breakdown for the 2012 Fall Classic

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    Now that the Tigers finally know who their World Series opponent is, we can start taking a look at certain individual matchups.

    Here's a comparison of how the two teams stack up against each other position-by-position, and who has the advantage at each.

    The teams' rotations and bullpens will also be compared.

Catcher: Alex Avila vs. Buster Posey

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    Honestly, this one is a complete no-brainer. After a career year last season in which Avila hit .295 with 19 homers, he saw his production drop dramatically this season.

    He only hit .243 with nine home runs, and only batted in 48. Posey, on the other hand, is one of the two or three best catchers in the game.

    After an ugly injury derailed him last season, Posey bounced back in a big way here in 2012.He hit .336 with 24 home runs and 103 RBI, and led the NL with a .408 OBP.We just might hear Posey's name announced for NL MVP in a few weeks.

    Buster Posey is by far the Giants' biggest offensive threat, and a player that opponents must have a game-plan for.

    Ironically, both Avila and Posey are only 25 years old.

    Edge: Giants

First Base: Prince Fielder vs. Brandon Belt

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    This one is a no-brainer as well. Prince Fielder is one of the best first basemen in the game.  While Brandon Belt may be a future star, he certainly isn't there yet.

    Fielder showed more maturity at the plate this season, as he hit a career best .313 and posted a career low in strikeouts.

    He also took his walks, posting a .412 OBP, which was second best in the majors.

    Belt, on the other hand, is only 24 years old and didn't play every day for most of the season. He did end up hitting .275, but his average was much lower than that for the majority of the season.

    There is no question who has the edge in this one.

    Edge: Tigers

Second Base: Omar Infante vs. Marco Scutaro

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    Neither of these second basemen were with their respective teams the first half of the season. Infante played with the Marlins until the Tigers acquired him in a trade, while Scutaro was with the Rockies before the Giants picked him up.

    Both acquisitions have been huge. The Giants needed another offensive threat in their lineup and Scutaro provided just that. At 36 years old, he also brought a veteran presence and leadership to the team.

    Infante also provided a boost for the Tigers. He didn't hit for much power, but his .274 average for the season is very respectable.

    Scutaro has been on a tear lately, finishing the season with a .306 average and actually winning NLCS MVP. He is a guy the Tigers will have to game-plan for as well.

    Edge: Giants

Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta vs. Brandon Crawford

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    Shortstop is not a position of strength for either of these teams. Like Avila, Peralta had a career year last season but has seen his numbers plummet this year. He has come up with a number of big hits in the playoffs, though, so maybe that's a sign of things to come.

    Brandon Crawford is only 25 years old, but doesn't bring a whole lot to the table offensively. Defensively, he committed 18 errors, which was tied for fifth most in the NL by any player, regardless of position.

    Why the Giants continue to stick with him is beyond me. I obviously don't see what Bruce Bochy does, but the Giants have guys like Ryan Theriot and Joaquin Arias sitting on the bench every day.

    Theriot is a proven veteran that continues to sit, while Arias would be a much better option as well. Apparently, they're sticking with Crawford no matter what.

    Edge: Tigers

Third Base: Miguel Cabrera vs. Pablo Sandoval

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    Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter in the game, but don't overlook Pablo Sandoval in this matchup. Before somewhat of a down year, fans looked at Sandoval as one of the best third basemen around.

    Injuries derailed much of this season for Sandoval, as he only played in 108 games, but he did still manage to hit .283 and knock in 63 runs. That's a far cry from last year's .315 average, though.

    Everybody knows about the amazing feats Cabrera accomplished this season with the bat, but what some people may not realize is how good his defense was. He finished third in the AL in fielding percentage among qualifying third basemen.

    Behind Buster Posey, Sandoval is probably the Giants' next biggest offensive threat. Opposing fans know what kind of threat Cabrera poses.

    Edge: Tigers

Right Field: Andy Dirks vs. Hunter Pence

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    When it became clear at midseason that the Phillies were shopping Hunter Pence, we knew that whoever landed him was going to be one lucky team. Well, that team ended up being the Giants.

    Although Pence finished with a disappointing .253 average, his 24 home runs and 104 RBI sure were impressive. Pence is tied with Buster Posey for the team lead in home runs with 24, and the next closest player only has 12. With that being said, imagine the lack of power if Pence wasn't batting in the heart of that order.

    With Delmon Young primarily playing left field, I have Andy Dirks as the projected starter in right. He quietly put up extremely impressive numbers, as he hit .322 and had a .370 OBP.

    There is no question that Dirks is a very important piece of the Tiger order. However, what Pence means to the Giants is far more important.

    Edge: Giants

Center Field: Austin Jackson vs. Angel Pagan

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    At 25 years old, Austin Jackson is a star in the making. He has always hit for average, but this year he finally showed a power stroke as well, hitting 16 home runs and batting in 66 runs from the leadoff spot.

    Jackson is a great defender and can also steal bases. If he can consistently hit for power, he will soon be the definition of a five tool player.

    However, the Giants have a good one in center field as well. Angel Pagan is a very underrated player, as he continually hits for average and steals bases every year.

    In his first year with the Giants, Pagan hit .288 and stole 29 bases. San Francisco fans probably weren't sad to see Andres Torres go this past offseason when the Giants and Mets basically swapped center fielders in a trade.

    Honestly, this matchup here is probably the toughest one to judge.

    Edge: Tigers

Left Field: Delmon Young vs. Gregor Blanco

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    Imagine what the Giants would look like if Melky Cabrera was still playing left field. It's actually somewhat amazing that they still made the World Series after his departure.

    Gregor Blanco has filled in adequately enough. He's not much of a hitter, only hitting .244 with five homers, but he can certainly steal a few bases if he gets on.

    In fact, Blanco stole 26 bases though not starting for most of the year.

    With no DH, we will likely see Delmon Young in left field when the Tigers play in San Francisco. He had a mediocre year at the plate, hitting .267 with 18 homers. However, he did win ALCS MVP and has come up with big hits time and time again in the playoffs.

    Edge: Tigers

Starting Rotation

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    For the last number of years, the Giants have had one of the best rotations in the majors.

    A big reason for that is because of the consistency: Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum have all been in San Francisco since at least 2007, Madison Bumgarner since 2009, and Ryan Vogelsong is in his second year.

    Matt Cain had his typical year, posting a 2.79 ERA and both Bumgarner and Vogelsong were once again magnificent for the Giants.

    The main change this season was the downfall of Tim Lincecum.

    He had been dominant the last few years, but was absolutely terrible this season. His rotation status is still up in the air.

    Meanwhile, the Tigers' starting pitching saw some of the most dominating performances in postseason history. It wasn't just one or two guys either, but every single starter.

    Verlander, Fister, Sanchez and Scherzer literally could not have pitched much better, holding the opposition to one or no runs every single start.

    They made the Yankees look absolutely helpless, and also shut down a power hitting Oakland offense. At this point, you just can't go against the Tiger starters.

    Edge: Tigers

Bullpen

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    The Giants seemingly have had one of the best bullpens over the last few years as well. That is the case once again this season.

    Sergio Romo has taken over the closer role and has simply been lights out. Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt and George Kontos have all been very good in relief roles.

    Acquiring Jose Mijares from the Royals a few months ago was another great addition that has paid dividends. Guillermo Mota is the only pitcher in the bullpen with bad numbers, but he has barely pitched this season.

    Meanwhile, the back end of the Tiger bullpen is somewhat of a mess. Jose Valverde's status as closer is unknown, as he can't be relied upon, and even Joaquin Benoit in the eighth inning role is a liability.

    Octavio Dotel has been solid all year and even Drew Smyly has filled in nicely in the playoffs. Al Alburquerque can be lights out and Rick Porcello is also available if he is needed for a long appearance.

    The real hero so far, though, has been Phil Coke. He faltered down the stretch in the regular season, but has come back with a vengeance in the playoffs.

    With the questions the Tigers have at the back end of their 'pen, this is actually a pretty easy call.

    Edge: Giants

Prediction

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    The Tigers received the "egde" in more areas than the Giants, but as we all know that doesn't really mean a whole lot.

    The most intriguing storyline just might be if the Tiger starters can continue pitching lights out against this average Giant offense.

    The Tiger hitters haven't exactly been killing the ball either lately, so how will they do going up against a very good rotation?

    Game 1 certainly favors the Tigers, as Verlander will go up against Barry Zito. Doug Fister will start Game 2, so you have to like the Tigers chances to at least take one of the first two in San Francisco.

    If the Giant offense does struggle in this series, the absence of Melky Cabrera talk will become louder than ever.

    For the Tigers, have they learned from their 2006 World Series mistakes? The Giants, on the other hand, just won it all in 2010, so they know what it's like to be here.

    So who claims the 2012 Fall Classic?

    Prediction: Tigers in Six Games

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