World Series Preview, Breakdown, and Prediction
The World Series will feature two teams who have differing styles of play, but are almost identical statistically. The power Detroit Tigers, led by their Big 3, face off against the San Francisco Giants who feature one of the best catchers in baseball, Buster Posey.
World Series keys to victory and what to watch for: Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers fans have patiently been waiting for their World Series opponent since sweeping the Yankees in the ALCS. Although my high school team could have beat the Yankees in that series, the Tigers are nonetheless impressive. The Ninja has already raved about the big 3 of Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, and Prince Fielder, and let me reiterate, these three are postseason legend waiting to happen. Although Fielder hasn’t exactly shown up yet (.289 slg%), he is well-rested and could get hot at any time.
Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander, or JV, as most sports fans have figured out by now, is 3-0 this postseason. There are not many athletes who can demoralize their opponent before they even compete, but once Verlander is unleashing his 100mph fastball in the 8th or 9th inning, one can almost see defeat in the batter’s eyes. This Justin Verlander is different than the pitcher we saw in 2006 or 2011. Notice him establish his feel pitches early in the game, mixing in a lot of change ups and curves. A mature and calmer JV could appear three times in this series if it goes the distance. Scouts are saying this is the best they have ever seen Verlander pitch, and in game 5 of the ALDS he joined Sandy Koufax as the only pitchers to throw a shut out with at least 10 strikeouts in a winner take all game. To go along with JV, the other three starters for the Tigers have been riding his coattails. Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez, and Max Scherzer combined with Verlander to allow only 2 earned runs in 27 1/3 ALCS innings.
The Tigers offense has finally formed into what it looked like for the first month of the season. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder are easily the best 3-4 combo in the game. The pieces around them such as Johnny Peralta and Austin Jackson have been quietly putting together good postseasons, and they have to continue to help out their deadly 3-4 combo in order to win this series.
The huge question facing the Tigers in this series is the back end of their bullpen. I have love for Phil Coke, but only to an extent. He has recorded key saves, but his numbers suggest that he is more of specialist. Jose Valverde has been throwing beach balls lately, and Joaquin Benoit possesses only a plus change-up that currently isn’t at its best. Manager Jim Leyland also must decide what to do with Delmon Young. He is hitting very well this postseason but his defense is atrocious. He will definitely play against lefty Barry Zito in game 1, but it could be a smart move to sit him against righties as he hits 61 points lower against them.
World Series Numbers Breakdown
World Series keys to victory and what to watch for: San Francisco Giants
How do you start with this San Francisco Giants squad? Bend don’t break, backs against the wall, comeback kids, etc, etc. Six times the Giants faced elimination this postseason, and six times they won. This team is electrifying and fun to watch. As a baseball purist, I appreciate this teams’ old school approach; utilizing player development, pitching, and speed. With player nicknames like ‘The Freak’ (Lincecum), ‘Blockbuster’ (Scutaro), and ‘Kung Fu Panda’ (Sandoval), this team is taking Hollywood away from their rival Dodgers.
Even though the Tigers and Giants are close in team fielding percentage, San Fran has a much better defense. The Tigers defense is near the bottom of the league from a sabermetrical lens, and a big key for the speedy Giants (118 SB) will be taking advantage of defensive lapses by the Tigers. Expect manager Bruce Bochey to let the dogs loose to move runners against their lead-footed opponents.
Contact hitters like Marco Scutaro (.354 postseason avg) mix great with masher Pablo Sandoval. More production offensively from Buster Posey would be nice. If he gets hot, this series is over. Hunter Pence played well in game 7 of the NLCS, but has had a shaky postseason so far.The 4 righty starters for Detroit could present some match up problems for him. If big lefty prospect Brandon Belt can pick up the slack for an overmatched Pence, the Giants offense will be in business.
The Giants have all of the momentum going into the World Series, but Justin Verlander is amongst the best stoppers in baseball. Ryan Vogelsong has been successful challenging hitters inside this postseason, and with the way Posey has been calling his games, look for him to stay hot.