San Francisco Giants: 2012 World Series Champs?
San Francisco looked to be all but eliminated from the NLCS. Odds makers around the world were already preparing numbers, statistics and spreads for a “Detroit vs. St. Louis” match-up; and with the lead the Cardinals had over the Giants, they were right to do so.
However, when all was said and done, the Giants would fight back and claim NLCS championship for their own. Going into game 3 of the World Series at Comcerica Park tonight, the San Francisco Gaints finds themselves with a 2-0 lead, and many are already calling the Giants to beat the heavily favoured Detroit Tigers. Are we being persumptuous making this call so early? The Giants have gotten off to a good start, but can they really be expected to hold onto it?
Let’s look at the regular season first. The Tigers were in the top ten across most key batting statistics for regualr season play, in terms of batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage and overall runs. While Giants sported some the NL’s highest team batting averages (.269) and one of the highest on base percentages (.327), they definitely didn’t have the same caliber of heavy hitters on their team as the Tigers. This said, the Giants did have one of the lowest team ERAs in the league (3.68) and lowest BAA (.248). While Detroit has a strong pitching contingent with an overall team ERA of (3.75) for the regular season, they have not neccessarily been able to limit their opponents ability to make contact with the ball with the same effciency as the San Francisco rotation, with a BAA (.256) and a WHIP of (1.29). San Francisco also had the better regular season record at 94-68 versus the Tigers 88-74.
One thing I have learned in professional sports, however, is that the regular season statistics mean absolutely nothing once the post-season starts – any team can come to life at any time.
The pitching of the Tigers has really been one of the keys to their success thus far int he post-season. All regular season numbers aside, the Tigers have been amazing to watch this post-season, relying heaving on the brilliance of their pitching – which boast 1.02 ERA (versus that of a 3.28 for the Giants), and 9.4 strike-outs per nine innings. In fact, the Tigers starting rotation has average only 4.4 pitches per batter this post-season! This said, knowing the potent Tigers regular season offense coupled with their re-vitalized starting pitching how could you not pick the Tigers to win? The Giants will surely fall apart, no?
The answer is in fact: No.
This is where we see advantage Giants come into play. Very rarely do you see a defined gameplan come out so evidently in the game of baseball as you have with the Giants in this World Series match-up. San Francisco has been doing one thing no other team has against Detroit – they’ve been working the starting rotation. San Francisco has been working to get more pitches and wear down the starting pitchers of Detroit (Verlander, Sanchez) to move into the Detroit bullpen – which has been far less impressive than the starting rotation. So, far it has worked. Verlander only managed four innings in Game 1.
The Giants have also had some success from its hitting rotation that has also played well into the mix. I can’t write this with out mentioning Pablo Sandoval’s three-home run game 1 (only Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson and Albert Pujols have managed the same feat in the World Series). Hunter Pence was a star in game 2 scoring the winning run, and locking down the victory with a sac fly.
The last factor to take into account is the home field advantage factor. The Giants have had the advantage of playing at home at AT&T Park – and it seems like the baseball gods have been favouring them at home, as they have had a number of lucky “bounces” that have played in their favour. Moving back to Detroit for tonight’s game there is a possibility that we could see a re-energized Detroit Tigers squad, but they will have a lot to overcome.
My prediction? The Giants are going to bring home the championship. As long as San Francisco sticks to the gameplan they have to-date, they won’t be easily beaten. It’s much easier for a hitter to work down a pitcher than the opposite. A pitcher only has so much realestate with which he can throw the ball, a hitter just needs to make contact and keep hitting the ball back. If the Giants can keep working down the Tigers starting rotation, and the Tigers offense continues to be dormant, than I think we will see sixth World Series in San Francisco. Any team coming back from a 2-0 deficit is a challenge, and Detroit will really need to get their act together if they want to get past this.
Then again, if we see guys like Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera come alive for Detroit… watch-out!