The Detroit Tigers may be the favorites to win the World Series over the San Francisco Giants, but both teams will need to get better performances out of key players in order to win a championship.
Whatever Justin Verlander and Marco Scutaro have done for their pregame rituals, their teammates should do the same.
Verlander ended each of his previous postseason runs with an ERA above five, but now has a mark of 0.74 in three starts. Scutaro—a largely unheralded second baseman—has turned into a hitting machine in October.
These two players have stepped up at the most important time, and here are three more who must follow their lead.
Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
The Giants star catcher has a strong case for the National League MVP award, but he is hitting just .178 in the postseason.
He has struck out 10 times while only recording eight hits. While Posey is also excellent defensively, his bat is vital to the Giants’ offensive production and he has not delivered in October.
San Francisco will need to score runs in order to compete with the Tigers’ imposing lineup, and it will not do so with Posey slumping.
Posey must get hot at the plate for the Giants to pull off an upset.
Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers
While Miguel Cabrera has continued to hit well, Delmon Young has contributed at a high level and Jhonny Peralta has been on fire, the Tigers are still waiting for Fielder to find success at the plate in the playoffs.
He is one of the most feared hitters in baseball, but he has not proved that in the postseason. The first baseman is batting .211 and has seven strikeouts compared to eight hits.
While there are several excellent offensive players hitting around him, the Tigers must get more production out of Fielder against the Giants’ excellent pitchers.
Fielder will be put in situations where he needs to come through with crucial hits, and Detroit will not be successful in the series if he does not deliver.
Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
Bumgarner had enough success in the regular season to establish himself as the No. 2 starter behind Matt Cain, but he has not performed well in the postseason.
In his first two starts, Bumgarner has given up 10 earned runs and has been the weak link in the team’s rotation.
The Giants starting pitching is the team’s biggest strength, and all will need to be successful to stay in the series. If Bumgarner continues his poor form, the Tigers’ lineup will run up the score on him.
San Francisco cannot afford to drop a game due to poor starting pitching, and Bumgarner must get out of the slump he has been in during the playoffs.