I am still kicking myself for not picking the Giants to win the NLCS. I was very tempted but I chickened out. The underdogs won the ALCS and NLCS so the San Francisco Giants will play the Texas Rangers in the Fall Classic. Neither city has won a World Series before (further evidence that baseball has a good amount of competitive balance these days despite not having a salary cap). Neither city will be blisteringly cold during the series. Neither team is widely hated (unless people are still mad at the Giants for employing Barry Bonds years ago. Or maybe people are angry that the Rangers filed for bankruptcy and then added a large amount of payroll at the trade deadline, including Cliff Lee). Neither team has egotistical players that you love to hate. This is a World Series where it may be hard to decide who to pull for if you don’t have any connection to either city. It’s a refreshing series.
Vladimir Guerrero has always been one of my favorites. Russian first name and hispanic last name
There are some serious first names here too: Cliff, Elvis, Neftali, Colby, Vladimir (because he’s latino),Bengie, Madison, Buster, and Aubrey. Luckily they have last names so you forget/glance over their first names. Anyway, you have to be happy for whoever wins. Now for the unofficial preview…
Lineups: As has been well documented by most, the Giants aren’t known for their offense. They have a difficulty scoring more than 3 runs. They won’t be able to steal many bases either, something that is crucial for eeking out needed runs. However, the Giants have decent power up and down their lineup. They are full of guys who can potentially get blazingly hot for a five game stretch. These guys won’t carry a team for a whole season, but any one of them has the power to carry one for a series.
Can Cody Ross continue to carry the Giants?
Exhibit A: Cody Ross. He batted .269 with 14 homeruns and 65 RBIs during the regular season. Those are very mediocre numbers. But he may have the best stats of anyone this postseason. He is batting .324 with 4 HRs (the rest of his teammates only have 1) and 8 RBIs (in only 10 games). The Giants have a number of guys who can do that for a ten game stretch, but no one has the consistency to do it on a regular basis. So the Giants offense is often weak, but I think it has potential to break out if some guys go all “Cody Ross” for a series. Also, the Giants are pretty deep, so they won’t have any problem finding an adequate DH (probably Pablo Sandoval) when they play in Arlington.
The Rangers offense has been much more successful. The Giants scored more than 4 runs once during the NLCS. The Rangers scored fewer than 5 runs once during the ALCS. The Rangers offense has been clicking. Elvis Andrus is getting on base and Ian Kinsler is seeing the ball well. If those two play well, the Rangers offense will be very hard to stop. Josh Hamilton has a very good ALCS and is easily the most dangerous hitter for either team. In fact, one could argue that the Rangers have the 5 best hitters (Hamilton, Kinsler, Nelson Cruz, Michael Young, and Vladimir Guerrero) in this series. Most American League teams take a big hit in their offense when they play in the city of the National League team because they lose the DH. That isn’t a big problem for the Rangers because their full time DH (Guerrero) is a decent right fielder (one of their weakest positions in the lineup). The Rangers lineup is clicking on all cylinders right now.
Pitching: After writing the previous paragraph…if anyone can stop the Rangers lineup, it’s the Giants. Their pitching has been dominant and I have been very impressed with their bullpen. They have a significant advantage in the pen. Johnathan Sanchez’s last start concerns me though. He can be one of the best when he hits his spots, but when he doesn’t he can be disastrous. He wasn’t hitting his spots in the last game he pitched. He last two innings. I think the Giants are making a mistake with their pitching matchups too. I would throw Sanchez in Game 1, Lincecum in Game 2, and Cain in Game 3. That would give you a sizeable advantage in Games 2 and 3, and Sanchez can sometimes be dominant. He has as good a chance as anyone to go toe to toe with Cliff Lee. But by throwing Lincecum in Game 1 and Cain in Game 2, you know longer have then advantage in either game. Sanchez could then have a disastrous Game 3 and the series would be over. I don’t think Lincecum will beat Lee. Why not save him for a different game. The Rangers run very well and Lincecum doesn’t hold runners well at all. Even if he’s dominant, I think the Rangers will be able to score a few runs. I will never understand the logic of matching your best pitcher with the other team’s better pitcher.
Lincecum can completely change the complexion of this series by winning Game 1
Most “experts” are picking the Rangers to win solely because they have Cliff Lee. I haven’t heard anything about pitching Lee on three days rest (so he could start three games) but I don’t know why it isn’t the obvious plan right now. He will probably change teams after this year so use him up! If the Rays and Yankees could touch Lee, the Giants probably won’t. And C.J Wilson is every bit as good as the Giants non-Lincecum starters. The Rangers bullpen is their only weakness. If the Giants can somehow chase the starters early, they have a chance.
Prediction: I think the Rangers will win in 6. The home field advantage won’t help the Giants too much in this series. The Rangers are just too deep on offense and have solid pitching. As a fan, I’m just glad the Yankees can’t win this one.