CHARLOTTE, October 23, 2012 — As the World Series prepares for the first pitch, the Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants are both dealing with intangible factors that might or might not determine the champion.
Intangibles later. First let’s analyze the line-ups by going around the horn.
CATCHER: With a league leading .336 batting average, Giants’ backstop, Buster Posey, is a strong candidate for MVP. The Tigers have two catchers. Alex Avila will likely to do most of the work. Gerald Laird will be platooned against lefties. Edge to the Giants.
FIRST BASE: The addition of Prince Fielder to the Tigers line-up was probably the reason Miguel Cabrera won the first Triple Crown in 45-years. Fielder hit a career high .313 with 30 homers and 108 RBI during the regular season. He is also solid on defense. San Francisco’s Brandon Belt is strong defensively too, and he hit .304 in the NLCS. Tigers in this category.
SECOND BASE: Marco Scutaro went to San Francisco at midseason driving in 44 runs with a .361 average in 61 games. He stayed hot in the postseason with a .500 average in 28 plate appearances en route to the MVP in the NLCS. Omar Infante was also a midseason pickup for the Tigers adding considerable depth to the roster. It’s not enough, the Giants get the nod.
THIRD BASE: When you have a Triple Crown winner in Miguel Cabrera, there’s no hope for the Giants Pablo Sandoval despite a .283 average, 12 homers and great defense during the regular season. Compared to Cabrera’s .330 average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI the Tigers are the choice at third.
SHORTSTOP: The man with the odd first name, Jhonny Peralta, has been the most consistent all-round Tiger this year. In the postseason Peralta hit .389 in the ALCS. Meanwhile, Brandon Crawford of the Giants was superb defensively in the last half of the season. Crawford won’t raise any eyebrows at the plate, but he’s a good situational hitter. Tigers are stronger at short.
LEFT FIELD: Left field is one of the intangibles. Delmon Young, who was the MVP in the ALCS, will patrol left in National League parks while Andy Dirks or Quintin Berry will share the position in Detroit. Though the Tigers will use a combination of three players in left field, and they are weaker defensively when Young is playing, Blanco’s poor hitting makes the Tigers better.
CENTER FIELD: Austin Jackson had a breakout season in 2012 leading the AL in triples for the second straight year and playing great defense at home. Counterpart, Angel Pagan, led the National League in triples with 15 though his hitting leaves something to be desired. Even so, Jackson makes the Tigers the choice
RIGHT FIELD: The Giants have momentum going into the Series and Hunter Pence has been a great teammate in the clubhouse. Pence’s hitting has been lacking, but considering the Tigers will platoon in right, the advantage goes to the Giants.
STARTING PITCHING: Postseason baseball is all about pitching, pitching, pitching. In nine playoff games this postseason, the Tigers have a whopping 1.09 ERA. Justin Verlander will probably pitch twice which means Detroit will only need two more wins from either Doug Fister, Anibel Sanchez and Max Scherzer. Bruce Bochy also has strong arms in ace Matt Cain and surprising Ryan Vogelsong. The Giants can then choose between Barry Zito, Madison Bumgarner and Tim Lincecum to round out the staff. The Tigers have had a long rest to set their rotation while the Giants must adjust with only one day off after winning the league championship. It should be a low scoring Series with the Tigers starting pitchers being slightly stronger.
RELIEVERS: The Tigers never know who will show up when Jose Valverde takes the mound late in the game. Phil Coke did plenty of cleaning up to do against the Yankees and the combination of Octavio Dotel, Drew Smyly and Al Alburquerque have not allowed a run in the postseason. The Giants have been more consistent however, and in close games it should be no contest. Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla have been outstanding. The Giants relievers will be their biggest asset.
MANAGERS: Bruce Bochy has been around a long time, spending most of his managerial career with the San Diego Padres. He won the World Series in 2010 with San Francisco giving the Giants their first championship since 1954. Meanwhile, Jim Leyland has been with the Tigers since 2006, one year longer than Bochy has been at the helm of the Giants. In May of 2012, Leyland passed Tommy Lasorda on the all-time wins list as a major league manager with his 1,600th victory. He, too, has a championship ring with the Florida Marlins in 1997. This one is close, but the nod goes to the Tigers.
INTANGIBLES: Detroit wrapped up the American League crown nearly a week ago so they’ve had plenty of rest. But they could be rusty from the lack of competition. On the other hand, the Giants came from a 3-1 deficit to take three in a row from the Cardinals for the NL title. Detroit will attempt to slow the momentum by starting Justin Verlander, who can be dominating, in Game 1.
Both teams have strong pitching which means hitting becomes a bigger factor than usual. Detroit has the edge at the plate but the Giants could surprise.
Home field advantage isn’t that important during the regular season, but in the World Series the Giants get an extra game if the Series goes seven. That forces Detroit pitchers to hit in four games and the strategy is considerably different in a National League park. Watering down the powerful Detroit line-up helps the Giants.
It should be a compelling Series, but look for the Tigers to win in six.
Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in Charlotte, NC. Taylor played professional baseball for four years including two seasons under Hall of Fame manager, Sparky Anderson. He played all 29-innings of the longest continuous professional baseball game in history. He was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte. As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 70 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries.
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