By RICKY LINDSAY, Staff Reporter
The 2012 World Series match up is official; the Detroit Tigers will be taking on the San Francisco Giants for the title. Both teams have undergone extreme changes since their last meeting in the 2011 regular season.
A postseason appearance looked bleak for the Giants early on in the season. The team was struggling, but managed to turn things around late in the season to pass the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West title.
The Giants were down 2-0 in the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds, but managed to claw back to win the series.
Then they were down 3-1 to the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS, but went on to win the next three games, completing the comeback to advance to the Fall Classic.
Here’s the break down of both teams, position by position, to decide who has the edge heading into Game 1 of the 2012 World Series:
The Tigers boast a starting rotation that has simply dominated opposing hitters in this year’s postseason. Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez, and Max Scherzer have a combined postseason record of 5-1 with a 1.02 ERA. In 62 innings pitched, Tigers’ starters have racked up 66 strikeouts.
The Giants starting rotation is surrounded by questions at the moment. Since the NLCS went the full seven games, the Giants won’t be able to use their ideal rotation right away.
The group consisting of ace Matt Cain, along with Ryan Vogelsong, Barry Zito, and Madison Bumgarner have struggled in the 2012 postseason, going 4-5 with a 4.25 ERA.
The Giants rotation leads postseason teams with 28 earned runs allowed, 21 more than their opponent, the Detroit Tigers.
The Tigers bullpen hasn’t been relied heavily upon this postseason with strong starting pitching. In 20.2 innings pitched, the Tigers bullpen has a 2-1 record with a 3.92 ERA. The Tigers also lead playoff teams with three postseason saves, with two of those belonging to Phil Coke.
On the other hand, the Giants bullpen has been heavily relied on this postseason. In 42.0 innings pitched, the Giants’ bullpen boasts a 2-0 record with a 2.57 ERA.
Tigers closer Jose Valverde has struggled for most of the postseason, allowing seven runs in two and a thirds innings pitched. Manager Jim Leyland has continued to stick by Valverde as the team’s closer, even while possessing a 27.00 ERA.
Sergio Romo has been lights out for the Giants this postseason, boasting a 1.17 ERA in seven and two-thirds innings pitched. Romo has also filled the void left in the closers’ role after Brian Wilson’s injury, both with pitching and facial hair.
Throughout the postseason, the Tigers have used the duo of Alex Avila and Gerald Laird at catcher. Avila has earned the majority of the playing time out of the duo. He’s hit .227 in 22 at bats, including a solo home run. Laird has struggled throughout four games played, hitting 0.77 in 13 at bats.
To help their struggles, the Tigers use Avila against right handed pitchers, and Laird against lefties. The Tigers are expected to use the same format in the World Series, as the Giants possess only one lefty in their rotation.
Giants catcher Buster Posey has become the leader of the Giants offense this season, leading the team to the playoffs while being considered the favorite for the NL MVP award. Posey has struggled in his second postseason, hitting .178 in 45 at bats. Although his average is low, Posey has, however, hit two home runs with 6 RBI’s.
Prince Fielder, the one player that no one expected the Tigers to sign, makes his first trip to the World Series after returning to Detroit, his childhood home. Fielder hasn’t produced the same numbers in the playoffs thus far, hitting .211 in 38 at bats. He’s also hit a home run and drove in three runs in nine games played.
Brandon Belt has stepped up to the role of the Giants everyday first baseman in his second season. In 11 postseason games, Belt has hit .222 with one home run to accompany two RBI’s. Inexperience and youth may harm the 24 year old in this year’s World Series.
Earlier this season, it would’ve been crazy to imagine that Omar Infante would be making a second World Series appearance in a Tigers uniform. Well, it’s late October, and Infante is about to do just that, thanks to a midseason trade with the Miami Marlins. Infante is hitting .286 with nine runs scored in nine postseason games.
The same can be considered with Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro. Scutaro, a midseason acquisition that invigorated the Giants’ offense. Scutaro was honored as the NLCS MVP after hitting .354 with five RBI’s and eight runs this postseason.
After having to move across the diamond, Miguel Cabrera put up one of the best seasons of his career, earning baseball’s first Triple Crown in over 45 years. Cabrera is hitting .278 with a home run and five RBI’s in this year’s postseason.
Pablo Sandoval opposed Cabrera in the 2012 All Star Game at third base, as he earned the start through the fan vote. Known as “Kung fu Panda,” Sandoval has been a huge part of the Giants offense this postseason, hitting .320 with three home runs and nine RBI’s.
Jhonny Peralta has been the Tigers hottest hitter throughout the postseason, hitting .343 with two homers and three RBI’s. Peralta will look to keep momentum on his side against Giants’ pitching.
Giants’ Brandon Crawford has found a home at shortstop in his first full season in the big leagues. Crawford is hitting .206 this postseason, but also has 6 RBI’s to his name, which ranks second among the team.
Delmon Young has made a tremendous turnaround, from being close to losing his job in April, to ALCS MVP last week. Young has torched postseason pitching with a .294 average, two home runs, and a team high eight RBI’s.
Gregor Blanco, a career minor leaguer with small stints in the Majors, isn’t well known outside the Bay Area. Blanco is hitting .222 with a home run to accompany four RBI’s.
After a breakout season, Austin Jackson looks to continue his success into the World Series. He’s hit .297 with one home run and four RBI’s this postseason. Jackson’s seven runs scored are second among Tigers’ hitters.
Known for his defense, Angel Pagan has made huge strides this postseason as a hitter. He’s hitting .208 with two home runs, six RBI’s, and seven runs so far in the playoffs.
The Tigers are expected to split time in right field between Andy Dirks and Avisail Garcia. Dirks will be the starter in the National League park, with Garcia in the American League park.
Dirks is hitting .257 with one RBI this postseason. Garcia has been playing much better, hitting .333 with four RBI’s thus far.
Hunter Pence, another key, mid-season acquisition by the Giants, is making his first appearance in the World Series. Pence has struggled in the postseason, hitting .188 with a home run and three RBI’s. Pence has shown recently that his slump may be close to ending, which would tremendously help the Giants’ offense.
Delmon Young is expected to be the Tigers designated hitter when playing in Detroit. Young has thrived in this role for most of the season, filling in for the injured Victor Martinez.
Former Tiger Aubrey Huff won a ring with the Giants in 2010 and will be looking to add to his collection this season. In nine games this postseason, Huff has hit .125 with one run scored.
After all the analysis, the Tigers lead the Giants 7-4-1 in the positional categories. The Giants come into the World Series hot, winning their past three games while being on the brink of elimination.
However, I think the Tigers have much more experience and star power than the Giants, definitely helping them in the long run.
It’s difficult to beat a team that boasts the 2011 MVP, Cy Young, and pitching Triple Crown winner, the 2012 hitting Triple Crown winner, and perhaps the 2012 MVP and Cy Young winners.
Prediction: Tigers in 5