The San Francisco Giants came back from two straight postseason deficits. The Detroit Tigers have Justin Verlander, who has been transcendent in the playoffs thus far. Who will win the World Series? Our panel of authors and contributors take a stab at picking the winner.
I need to go ahead and admit something: I'm pulling for the Giants. I know I'm not supposed to admit this, because I cover all the teams so I'm supposed to remain objective. But most years, I'm pulling for one team or another in the World Series, for one reason or another. And this year it's the Giants, for a lot of reasons. I love their ballpark and their uniforms, and I know a lot of Giants fans. Also, I suppose I still hold a grudge against the Tigers because they beat the Royals in the playoffs 28 years ago. Hey, what can I say: I was an impressionable young fellow.
Alas, I'm pretty sure the Tigers are going to drub the Giants in the coming days. I just don't see how the Giants, with their two good starting pitchers and Three Big Question Marks, are supposed to keep up with the Tigers and their Four Aces. Of course it's baseball and anything can happen ... even Justin Verlander pitching a bad game or two. But I'm guessing the Tigers win in five games, or maybe six if the Giants manage to torch Detroit's bullpen in Game 4.
Amy K. Nelson
As much has been made about the Tigers' layoff, and as much as there isn't a great (albeit small) track record of teams winning the series after sweeping the LCS and its opponent going the full seven games (0-3 since best-of-seven format began in 1985), I still am picking this team to win it all. And it comes down to pitching. And it isn't just about Verlander. It's about the starters, the ones who have posted a 1.02 ERA this postseason, the ones who, I think, will be able to hold the Giants' offense in check. And I'm not sold on this bullpen. Yes, aside from Valverde, it has pitched scoreless ball.
But, the relievers have only logged six total innings, so I don't think it truly has been tested. That's why I think it comes down to the Tigers' starters. If they can be as dominant -- and if the Tigers' hitters can stay in against lefties Zito and Bumgarner (the Tigers hit 20 points lower against lefties this season)-- then I think Detroit will take this series fairly easily. But really, above all, I never bet against any team with Octavio Dotel on it. Tigers in 5.
On the one hand, Mitt Romney is a very tall man. On the other hand, President Obama is a very famous man. I guess put me down as undecided.
Wait, the World Series of baseball? The key question in this or any World Series is, "Who's got the momentum?" In this case, the Giants have the momentum, so they're going to win. But Justin Verlander could easily change that momentum with a good start in Game One. Momentum is a fickle mistress, you see, and can be transferred from one team to the other quickly and without warning. Still, he who knows the heart of Momentum controls the universe, so sayeth the baseball gods.*
I guess I'm going with the Tigers. I think you have to favor the team that starts Verlander and Scherzer twice each. I give them a 50.37 percent chance of winning. TIGERS IN SIX. OR SEVEN.
Back on April 4, I picked the Tigers to win the World Series. Over the Giants.
19 days ago, I picked the Tigers to win the World Series. Over the Giants.
So, if for no other reason than to be internally consistent, I'm picking the Tigers to win the World Series over the Giants.
Seriously, there are good, solid baseball reasons to pick the Tigers. Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer have combined to throw 62 innings this postseason and allow seven earned runs -- that's an ERA of 1.02. They've given up three home runs, 19 walks and struck out 68. That's not just good, it's otherworldly. Their offense hasn't been great, but it hasn't had to be with that kind of pitching, and Jim Leyland appears to have sorted out his bullpen.
The Giants, meanwhile, have won two series with good pitching as well -- from unexpected sources like Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong. Their bats came alive in their three-game comeback over the Cardinals, when they outscored St. Louis 20-1.
But mostly, they seemed to make those comebacks with pixie fairy dust. While there's certainly a place for pixie fairy dust in baseball, I think Detroit's pitching is just too good. Tigers in six.
Yes, I predict a Tigers loss. One loss. Tigers in 5.
We are of course, assuming the Cardinals won't rise from the grave and win the series in classic zombie fashion. This is a dangerous assumption, but we must move forward.
The Tigers have been a fluctuating prism all season, so they won't continue as a team with flawless starting pitching, Delmon Young as run producer and Phil Coke closing games. If you started watching baseball two weeks ago you may believe this. No, there will be some bad starts peppered in there and Cabrera/Fielder will carry the team in some games. Also, the entire bullpen will save their tail, Valverde included. I'll even peg Rick Porcello for a key long relief outing. Essentially, we need a new narrative.
Beyond a huge series from Pablo Sandoval and better-than-advertised starting pitching, the lineup will be mostly quiet, save for the serene hum of Hunter Pence rubbing his legs together.
Even with Barry Zito in tow, this is going to be a series about pitching. (And hey, he could throw another gem.) The Giants have a loaded rotation, as do the Tigers, and both teams made it this far based on that strength. Detroit has the weaker bullpen, but stronger lineup, and might not need relievers (plural), during Justin Verlander starts, anyway.
Granted, the Detroit attack is based almost entirely on Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and when he shows up, the blossoming Austin Jackson, but the Giants offense is comprised of, well, Giants hitters. (Sorry, Buster Posey. But you know it's true when you aren't at the plate.) It was good enough to get here, but if Detroit's foursome of Verlander, Max Scherzer, Anibal Sanchez, and Doug Fister do what brought them to the World Series, the Giants will have a tough time mustering offense. Ask the Yankees about that one.
I'll go with the Tigers in six games, even though what we should want is for the Giants to win. That would force Tigers' ownership to up the off-season ante and spend $400 million over 15 years to ink free agent Josh Hamilton, making the bleak future of Fielder's deal look like a bargain in comparison.
This World Series match-up is fascinating in that it offers us a chance to rethink some of our preconceived notions regarding the two teams. With Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder, the Tigers might seem like the offensive powerhouse in this series, but at least insofar as the regular season goes, the rest of the lineup wasn’t all that special. Conversely, with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and so on, it’s easy to think of the Giants as a strong pitching team, but outside of Matt Cain, this really wasn’t an impressive year for their starting rotation. One of the true oddities of this team is that they have two former Cy Young Award-winning pitchers who all things being equal, they would prefer not to use -- and I don’t care what Barry Zito did against the Cardinals, we know (a) he’s not consistent that level, and (b) as the Giants’ sole pitch-to-contact starter, he’s a bad matchup for a postseason offense, even one as imperfect as the Tigers’.
Add in that Detroit had the time to set up their rotation so as to set up a Game 1 mismatch (actual current Cy Young guy/God against aforementioned fallen Cy guy) and balance off Matt Cain with Max Scherzer, and you have a pretty good rationale for saying that of these two highly imperfect teams, the Tigers have the better chance to win. Tigers in six.
Y'ALL A BUNCH OF HATERS. BUT I AIN'T LETTING YOU FILL MY GOBLET WITH HATERADE. THE GIANTS HAVE HAD THEIR BACKS AGAINST THE WALL IN TWO DIFFERENT SERIES. THEY'RE IN THE WORLD SERIES BECAUSE OF HISTORIC COMEBACKS IN THE LAST TWO ROUNDS. THEY'RE DEFTLY MANAGED BY POSTSEASON WIZARD BRUCE BOCHY, AND THEY HAVE THE EXPERIENCE. THE TIGERS HAD AN EXTENDED LAYOFF, WHICH PROBABLY MEANS THEY SAT AROUND AND ATE HAMBURGERS AND DRANK A LOT SO THEY'RE PROBABLY TIRED AND LAZY.
SERIOUSLY, DON'T COME CRYING TO ME WHEN YOUR PREDICTIONS ARE SHOT TO HELL BECAUSE MARCO SCUTARO HITS .600 AND BARRY ZITO SPINS 18 INNINGS OF SHUTOUT BALL, POSSIBLY IN GAME 1 ALONE.
I'VE GOT THE GIANTS IN FOUR GAMES, WITH JUSTIN VERLANDER GETTING KNOCKED OUT IN THE THIRD INNING OF GAME 1.