Tigers at Giants: World Series Game 1 preview
It’s fitting that Giants catcher Buster Posey won the NL Comeback Player of the Year award on Tuesday. His team has been the epitome of the comeback kids, digging themselves out of one gargantuan hole after another in the NLDS and LCS.
Just the same, I’m sure Giants skipper Bruce Bochy would prefer his squad just go ahead and win Game One of the 2012 World Series, which begins Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. PT at AT&T Park and can be seen on the FOX network. Tickets can be found here.
Aside from the two home runs (one of them a grand slam) he jacked against Cincy in the Division series, Posey has been mostly quiet as of late. The 25-year old backstop batted just .154 in the LCS against St. Louis. Many have attributed Posey’s slump to the sensational Cardinals’ pitching staff.
I just think Buster’s tired.
Against a team like the Detroit Tigers (88-74), the Giants (94-68) will certainly need Posey’s bat to reappear. But it won’t be easy. At least on Wednesday.
The Tigers boast arguably the best starting pitcher in baseball in ace Justin Verlander (17-8, 2.64, 1.057). The 29-year old right-hander threw a league-high 238.1 innings in 2012, striking out an AL-best 239 of the 956 batters he faced. To say he’s a workhorse is like saying Gilroy’s Garlic Fries taste garlicky. Understatement!
In his eight-year career, Verlander has been to five All-Star games, has won a Cy Young award, an MVP award, and was the 2006 AL Rookie of the Year.
The Giants will counter with LCS hero Barry Zito (15-8, 4.15, 1.389), whose unlikely and well-timed beauty against the Cardinals (who had a 3-1 series lead) on Friday shifted the momentum back to the Giants.
Zito seems to have found his inner peace.
Perhaps he’s no longer worried about living up to the $126 million dollar contract he was given when he came across the bay in 2007. It seems like the 34-year old lefty is finally OK with not having to be the savior for a Giants team that, at the time, was busy making plans to forsake another savior with the same first name.
The big question, though: Can Zeets match his intensity from Game 5 of the NLCS? No pressure, Barry. Really, no pressure.
While Verlander is certainly a force to be reckoned with, the rest of the Tigers staff is pretty average.
Detroit had the fourth-worst team ERA in the American League.
Sure, Max Scherzer won 16 games and finished second in the AL behind Verlander with 231 strikeouts, but most of that came before he began battling shoulder fatigue in mid-September.
Doug Fister didn’t win a game until June 16, and finished with a 10-10 record.
Anibal Sanchez can be downright nasty one night and downright uncontrollable the next.
San Francisco has set its rotation with Madison Bumgarner — not new bullpen king Tim Lincecum — going in Game 2. Ryan Vogelsong will start Game 3 and Matt Cain (2-0 lifetime in elimination games) gets Game 4. Interestingly, if the World Series goes seven games, Vogey will be the man on the mound for the Giants. What a story that would make!
Where Detroit is most dangerous, of course, is at the plate. The Tigers had the third-highest batting average in the league (.268) and have not one, but two premier sluggers in Miguel Cabrera (.330/.393/.606, 44 HR, 139 RBI) and Prince Fielder (.313/.412/.528, 30 HR, 108 RBI).
However, they’re not a threat on the base paths, finishing with just 59 stolen bases in 2012, one more than Baltimore, which finished with a league-worst 58 steals.
Detroit is a team that relies on getting men on base and using the long ball to get ‘em home.
The Giants, by comparison, also finished third in their league with a .269 batting average (and that’s without the DH). Unlike the Tigers, however, the Giants rely more on their speed, as evidenced by their 118 stolen bases (fourth highest in the NL) and league-best 57 triples. San Francisco was last in the NL with 103 home runs. Small ball at its best.
By now, you’ve probably heard the national pundits. They’re all predicting a Tigers championship.
Seriously? What are they smoking? And more importantly, can they give some of that to Timmy? (Sorry, I digress.)
This series won’t be won on the backs of the starters anyway.
Mark my words. The 2012 World Series will come down to this: managing.
Now, Boch faces some real competition.
Jim Leyland, like Bochy, a catcher by trade, is about as smart as they come. He’s won three Manager of the Year awards (1990, ’92, 2006) and has finished second in voting three other times. He has five division titles under his belt and 1,676 career wins (21 seasons).
Leyland’s Tigers also won the AL pennant in 2006, but ended up losing to the Cardinals in five games.
Like Leyland, Bochy also has one World Series title (2010) and three pennants (1998, 2010, ’12).
Bochy owns six division titles and was named Manager of the Year in 1996 (San Diego Padres). He has 1,454 career wins in 18 seasons.
I already think Bochy is the best manager in San Francisco Giants history. Another World Series win make him a lock for the Hall of Fame.
On that happy note, I’ll take Bochy and the Giants in seven.
My Game 1 prediction: Tigers 4, Giants 0
Tale of the tape (2012 regular season stats):
Batting average — Giants .269, Tigers .268
Runs — Tigers 726, Giants 718
Hits — Giants 1,495, Tigers 1,467
Doubles – Giants 287, Tigers 279
Triples — Giants 57, Tigers 39
Home runs — Tigers 163, Giants 103
LOB — Tigers 1,121, Giants 1,171
On-base percentage — Tigers .335, Giants .327
Slugging percentage — Tigers .422, Giants .397
OPS — Tigers .757, Giants .724
Stolen bases — Giants 118, Tigers 59
Bases on balls — Tigers 511, Giants 483
Strikeouts — Giants 1,097, Tigers 1,103
GIDP — Giants 114, Tigers 156
ERA — Giants 3.68, Tigers 3.75
Wins — Giants 94, Tigers 88
Saves — Giants 53, Tigers 40
Complete games — Tigers 9, Giants 5
Shutouts — Giants 14, Tigers 8
Quality starts — Giants 93, Tigers 90
Bases on balls — Tigers 438, Giants 489
Strikeouts — Tigers 1,318, Giants 1,237
WHIP — Giants 1.27, Tigers 1.29
Home runs allowed — Giants 142, Tigers 151
Hit batsmen — Tigers 42, Giants 51
Balks — Giants 4, Tigers 6
Wild pitches — Tigers 46, Giants 54
Opponents OBP — Giants .313, Tigers .314
Men on base per 9 — Giants 11.8, Tigers 11.9
Errors — Tigers 99, Giants 115
Fielding percentage — Tigers .983, Giants .981
Double plays — Giants 134, Tigers 127
Pickoffs — Giants 14, Tigers 14
Assists — Giants 1,639, Tigers 1,481
2012 World Series schedule:
Game 1, Wed., Oct. 24: DET (Verlander, 17-8, 2.64) at SF (Zito, 15-8, 4.15), 5:07 p.m.
Game 2, Thu., Oct. 25: DET(Fister, 10-10, 3.45) at SF (Bumgarner, 16-11, 3.37), 5:07 p.m.
Game 3, Sat., Oct. 27: SF (Vogelsong, 14-9, 3.37) at DET (Sanchez, 4-6, 3.74), 5:07 p.m.
Game 4, Sun., Oct. 28: SF (Cain, 16-5, 2.79) at DET (Scherzer, 16-7, 3.74), 5:07 p.m.
*Game 5, Mon., Oct. 29: SF (Zito, 15-8, 4.15) at DET (Verlander, 17-8, 2.64), 5:07 p.m.
*Game 6, Wed., Oct. 31: DET (Fister, 10-10, 3.45) at SF (Bumgarner, 16-11, 3.37), 5:07 p.m.
*Game 7, Thu., Nov. 1: DET (Sanchez, 4-6, 3.74) at SF (Vogelsong, 14-9, 3.37), 5:07 p.m.
* If necessary