After a 162-game regular season and five out of six playoff series that went to a deciding game, the 2012 World Series is set to get underway.
The Detroit Tigers will take on the San Francisco Giants in the Fall Classic, with the series beginning on Wednesday. The Giants will have home-field advantaging, after the National league won the All-Star Game.
The Giants were more successful in the regular season, winning 94 games, compared to the Tigers 88 victories. Detroit, however, has been more dominant in the playoffs. They swept the Yankees in the ALCS, while San Francisco needed all seven games to get by St. Louis.
Both teams are experienced, with numerous players that have recently made the trip to the World Series.
Here’s a look at each team’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as a prediction for the series:
Because of their week-long layoff between the ALCS and World Series, the Tigers will have the luxury of being able to set their rotation, exactly the way they want it. Justin Verlander is set to start Game One, and could potentially be used three times in a seven-game series.
The Giants are not as fortunate as the Tigers. Their ace, Matt Cain, won’t be able to match up with Verlander, after pitching in Game Seven on Monday night. He may only get a chance to pitch once in the Fall Classic, if the series does not go six or seven games.
San Francisco may have had the better rotation during the season, but the same can’t be said for the playoffs. Detroit’s starters have been dominant in nine postseason games, pitching to a 1.02 earned run average. The Giants pitchers haven’t been early as good, with a 3.56 ERA.
Madison Bumgarner was booted from San Francisco’s rotation in the NLCS, and Tim Lincecum did poorly as his replacement. Barry Zito has pitched to a 1.74 ERA in two playoff starts, but it’s hard to count on such an inconsistent pitcher.
Anibal Sanchez, Doug Fister and Max Scherzer have all only given up a combined five runs this postseason. If the ALDS and ALCS are any kind of indicator, they’ll do a good job of holding off the Giants.
Both teams finished the regular season with a very similar run total, though they ended up in that position in very different ways.
Detroit was 11th in the MLB, scoring 726 runs on 163 home runs. San Francisco came in 12th with 718 runs, but barely hit any home runs. The Giants ended the season with 103 homers, the fewest amount for any team.
In their last few playoff games, the Giants offense has certainly picked up. They averaged just fewer than seven runs per game in their last three contests, and have gotten hot at the right time. While one day in between series’ could hurt San Francisco’s pitching, it will likely help their hitting.
The Tigers haven’t taken the field since last Thursday, and might need a few games to get back on track. Even when they played consistently during the ALDS and ALCS, they had trouble scoring runs.
Miguel Cabrera is the best offensive player in the 2012 World Series. The Triple Crown winner gives the Tigers a weapon that the Giants don’t have, but the Yankees and Athletics found a way to pitch around him. The Giants could do the same.
Advantage: San Francisco
During the regular season, the Giants had the slight advantage in the bullpen. San Francisco had a 3.56 ERA with Detroit’s relievers pitching to a 3.79 ERA.
The gap in the postseason, however, has been much wider. The Giants 2.57 ERA has been one of the best in the playoffs. In their limited 2012 playoff innings, a few Giants relievers have been virtually unhittable. Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla have allowed just one run in 17 innings, striking out 18 batters.
The Tigers bullpen has been good in the playoffs, with the one exception of Jose Valverde. He’s allowed eight base-runners in 2.1 innings and blown multiple saves.
Sergio Romo has been much better closing out games for San Francisco. He has a 1.17 ERA in the postseason, and has been reliable in save situations.
Valverde has been so bad that Phil Coke closed out Game Three of the ALCS. It’s hard to give the edge to the Tigers when the gap between the two closers is so large.
Detroit Tigers: 5/8
San Francisco Giants: 7/5
San Francisco in six