By CHRIS ZADOROZNY, Sports Editor
It has finally been decided. The San Francisco Giants will play our own Detroit Tigers in the 2012 World Series.
The National League Championship Series went seven games strong, just like in 2006, the last time it happened. The Tigers have been waiting since Thursday to find out their opponent after sweeping the Yankees, just like in 2006, the last time that happened.
Eerie if you think about it right? A bit, but this year is going to be very different. I wrote a column that talked about the differences between the Tigers of 2006 and the Tigers of this year. It’s clear that this team is much more seasoned, powerful and dominant than their 2006 counterparts.
I can tell you right now that I’m very excited for the World Series to start. Not only because I’m a huge Tigers fan, or that I work for them as an usher, and I get to witness the World Series in person, but I’m excited because as a journalist, I get to cover these type of events.
The Giants are coming into the World Series dispatching the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games, after originally being down 3-1 in the series, before winning three straight against the defending 2011 World Series Champions.
The Detroit Tigers were majorly hyped coming into the 2012 season. Signing Prince Fielder to a $214 million contract, moving Miguel Cabrera to third base, having the reigning AL MVP and Cy Young award winner on the team in Justin Verlander, the Tigers were poised to destroy the competition.
That didn’t happen and the Tigers crept their way into the playoffs, winning the American League Central Division late in September. The Giants easily won the National League West Division by eight games over the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Both teams are riding hot streaks coming into the fall classic. The Tigers swept the New York Yankees, who for some reason, lost their hitting ability as soon as the playoffs started, and the Giants won three straight.
On Wednesday night at AT&T Park in San Francisco, we will see how the series starts. Verlander will start against Barry Zito, who performed at his best in Game 6 of the NLCS.
The Tigers expect to keep the same lineup as does the Giants from both championship series for the WS. What will the difference be though, who will break out, who will be the hero of the series, who will win the World Series?
Pitching: The Tigers have the best starting pitching staff in the postseason so far and a dominant force that shouldn’t be messed with. The Giants starters on the other hand, are having trouble, especially early in the NLCS.
Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez, Max Scherzer. That’s your starting rotation for the Tigers. Barry Zito, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Ryan Vogelsong will oppose, in no certain order, except for Zito opposing JV.
The bullpen for both teams have been spectacular, if you don’t count Jose Valverde. He may return to the closers role, which could prove to be costly, if he hasn’t regained his form.
The Giants are coming in with only one day’s rest, and could have both Cain and Vogelsong start on three days rest. With a strong bullpen, and the best starting pitching in the postseason, this easily favors the Tigers.
Offense: The Giants are surging, destroying the Cardinals in Game 7, 9-0. The Tigers weren’t stymied by the Yankees in the ALCS, not even close. The Giants know how to score runs, and they did, a lot, in the NLCS. That worries me because they know how to hit, but the Tigers know how to pitch, and pitch well.
The Tigers don’t score very many runs but they know when to score them in situations, certain situations. The Giants have an advantage here, but because of the pitching of the Tigers, the advantage goes back to the Tigers because of the pitching.
Defense: The Giants have a formidable defense behind their starting pitching. Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Belt, Marco Scutaro, Hunter Pence, Grego Blanco, Angel Pagan, Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey. The Tigers have Prince Fielder, Omar Infante, Jhonny Peralta, Miguel Cabrera, Delmon Young, Austin Jackson, Andy Dirks and Alex Avila.
Some of these names you may not recognize, some may change when they travel back to Detroit for American League home field advantage. Regardless, you have some names on there that are clear cut big names, and others that are nobodys. It doesn’t matter because any one player can show up on any given day and perform out of their mind.
The obvious defensive lineup is to go with the Tigers, but not so fast, the Giants are fast in the outfield, and the Tigers could be a little slower with Young in left. I’ll take the Giants defense in San Fran, but when they come back to Comerica for three games, the Tigers have the clear advantage.
Advantage: Tie (only because the series could end in Detroit)
Both teams have strong players, each in their own way. Players have been stepping up on all sides. Delmon Young, who is the Tigers all-time home run leader in the postseason was the ALCS MVP, while Marco Scutaro of the Giants was the NLCS MVP tearing it up against the Cardinals.
Who will be the hero in the World Series? Justin Verlander will certainly look spectacular, but what hitter will come up big. Miguel Cabrera. He didn’t hit that well against Yankee pitchers, but the Triple Crown winner is going to break out of his slump and take over this series.
Prediction: Tigers in 5