World Series 2012: Breaking Down Tigers vs. Giants Fall Classic Matchup
The Detroit Tigers sat patiently, waiting for the San Francisco Giants to be crowned National League champions. So now all that there is left to do this baseball season is play one more series to determine the World Series champions.
With the series set to start on Wednesday, there is no time for the Giants to enjoy their victory over St. Louis.
The Tigers have been waiting for what seems like a month to get back on the field after disposing of the New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series.
So which of these perennial powers holds the advantage as the 2012 World Series gets ready to start?
The Giants are a team that scores runs with doubles and aggressive baserunning. They only hit 103 home runs this season, 24 of them coming from Buster Posey.
Part of their power outage can be attributed to the fact that they play in one of the biggest ballparks in baseball, but going over their lineup, they just don't have a lot of hitters who can drive the ball.
Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence are the only players who you would pencil in for 20 homers in the regular season, and Pence has looked lost for most of this postseason.
The Tigers have the two big bats in the middle of the lineup—Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder—but not a lot of power from top to bottom. No one else in the starting nine had more than 18 home runs.
In a series like this, power is going to play a key role. However, just going one through nine, the Tigers are a little deeper than the Giants.
Which Roster Is Better, Top To Bottom?
The Giants' rallying cry has always been pitching and defense, or run prevention of any kind. They are not an elite defensive club, though they do have players who rate as average or better at shortstop (Brandon Crawford), catcher (Posey), first base (Belt), second base (Marco Scutaro) and center field (Angel Pagan).
When you have that kind of defensive stability up the middle, you are going to turn a lot of batted balls into outs.
The Tigers basically told the world that they don't care about defense when they signed Prince Fielder to play first base and moved Miguel Cabrera to third. It didn't work well in the regular season, but in a short postseason series, it might not matter that much.
Jhonny Peralta had good defensive metrics this season at shortstop, but you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who watches Tigers games regularly who would call him a good defensive player.
Austin Jackson is the Tigers' best defender in center, and he has to cover a lot more ground since Quintin Berry and Andy Dirks are below-average in the corner spots.
If there is a big defensive play to be made, odds are overwhelmingly in the Giants' favor.
Even if all things were equal, the Tigers would have the advantage in starting pitching. But because the Giants had use Ryan Vogelsong in Game 6 and Matt Cain in Game 7 of the NLCS, Bruce Bochy's rotation is all out of whack.
Barry Zito will go up against Justin Verlander in Game 1. Despite Zito's heroics in Game 5 of the NLCS, I am going out on a limb and giving Verlander the edge.
After that, the Tigers will go with the usual suspects of Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer in Games 2-4.
The Giants? Well, they could use Vogelsong on three days' rest in Game 2 or go with Madison Bumgarner, who has given up 10 runs in eight innings this postseason after having an ERA over 5.00 in the final month of the season and looks exhausted right now.
Cain will likely pitch in Game 3, but the Giants will have to hope for a lot of things to go right in Game 1 just so that they don't wear out their bullpen the rest of the series.
Speaking of bullpens, the Giants do get the edge in that department. Despite the heroics of Phil Coke in the ALCS, you have to wonder if that 1.050 OPS against righties in the regular season will catch up to him.
Jim Leyland would be foolish to go anywhere near Jose Valverde in a high-leverage situation right now.
Giants relievers have been outstanding this postseason with a 2.57 ERA in 42 innings. Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez, Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla have allowed two earned runs in 24.2 innings.
Plus, they have the added bonus of using Tim Lincecum, who has looked good in two relief outings this postseason, out of the bullpen if one of their starters has to be taken out early.
As much as I like the Giants' bullpen, starting pitching is key to success in October.
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