The 2012 World Series begins Wednesday night as the San Francisco Giants host the Detroit Tigers at AT&T Park for Game One.
Detroit will have Justin Verlander on the mound, while San Francisco will start veteran left-hander Barry Zito.
Which team has the edge to take the title? Experts offered their opinions and predictions.
Of the 27 experts on ESPN, only five -- Jim Bowden, Jim Caple, Eric Karabell, Molly Knight and David Kull -- are picking the Giants, and none of them has San Francisco winning in anything less than six games.
Of the 22 ESPN experts who picked Detroit, none have the series ending in a sweep, but eight picked the Tigers to win in five.
An ESPN.com poll of nearly 230,000 voters had 48 percent of voters going with Detroit in six or seven games, and 68 percent going with the Tigers, overall.
Keith Law of ESPN has the Tigers winning in five games, and wrote: “The Tigers' starting pitching advantage trumps [Bruce] Bochy's bottomless bullpen.”
(International Business Times sports reporter Anthony Riccobono predicts the Giants win in six games.)
It is understandable for experts to go with Detroit. The Tigers eliminated the New York Yankees in four games, while the Giants needed seven games to come from behind and beat the St. Louis Cardinals.
The extra rest allowed for Verlander to start the series, and the 6’5 right-hander will likely start Game Four and perhaps Game Seven, if the series goes that far.
Verlander has a 2.64 earned-run average in the regular season, and a 0.74 ERA in the postseason. Verlander leads a staff that leads all postseason teams in team ERA (1.74).
The Tigers also have a pair of prominent sluggers. Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder might be the best No. 3 and No. 4 combination in baseball.
Las Vegas oddsmakers favor the Tigers in Game One by 1.5 runs, and have the Tigers as 5/9 favorites to win the series.
San Francisco may enter the series with more momentum, though. The Giants have won three straight games and did so in convincing fashion. The bats exceeded expectations this season, and players like Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval have proven to be valuable hitters in the postseason.
While the Tigers have a true superstar in Verlander, the Giants seem to have more pitching depth. San Francisco finished the regular season with the seventh-best team ERA in baseball, and boasts a dominating bullpen.
Jeremy Affeldt, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo have surrendered just one earned run in 19 postseason innings, and all three finished the regular season with an ERA well under three runs.
Meanwhile, starters Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain have proven they can pitch deep into games. All three have plenty of experience, and are coming off solid regular seasons.
The Giants also have home-field advantage.