After comparing the hitters from our last two World Series teams position by position, it only makes sense to examine the pitchers as well. Personally, I was a bit surprised at the depth of the 2006 lineup as compared to 2012, but it's easy to take the top-heavy 2012 lineup instead. Will we find anything surprising comparing the pitchers? Let's find out...
2006 - Jeremy Bonderman (3.53 xFIP, 1.30 WHIP, 3.16 K/BB)
2012 - Justin Verlander (3.31 xFIP, 1.06 WHIP, 3.98 K/BB)
You may be surprised not to see JV listed as the ace for 2006, but Bonderman was actually the better pitcher that year. He threw over 200 innings, had over 200 strikeouts, and across-the-board had better numbers than JV, and his 6.1 WAR was the best on the staff by far. By 2012, however Verlander has become a true ace, a horse that racked up 238 innings and 239 strikeouts this year and consistently gives him team a chance to win every time out. Any franchise in the league would take him first if they were starting from scratch.
EDGE: The "Cys" have it
Rest of the Rotation
The 2006 rotation was solid, but man, look at what the 2012 group did. Their combined xFIP was as good as Bonderman's in 2006, and the WHIP without the heavy weight of Porcello's 1.53 was 1.24. The combined K/BB figure would rank as the 28th best in all of baseball among starting pitchers (between Hiroki Kuroda and Ian Kennedy to give you an idea). The 2012 group is better and deeper at every spot in the rotation, and JV is possibly the only player from 2006 who cracks the 2012 top 4 (wouldn't it be nice to run him out there 3-4 times in a 7-game series?).
EDGE: 2012 and it's not even close
One could argue with including AlAl in there since he wasn't available until September and only threw 13 innings, but it doesn't really matter because while middle relief was the soft underbelly of both teams (as it is for most teams), it was close to a dumpster fire for the 2006 group. I think it's reasonable to argue that not one of the guys from 2006 would make the 2012 bullpen (which is saying something given our struggles this year). In the aggregate, the 2012 guys actually weren't all that bad, but they certainly had some meltdowns along the way.
EDGE: 2012 and it's even less close than the rotation
The Back End
Here things start to look a bit more interesting. The 2006 group was very good, although they had some bouts with wildness from time to time. You can see this in the lower K/BB ratios for Zumaya and Rodney, as they had very comparable K/9 rates to the 2012 guys (JZ and Rodney got 10.5 and 8.2 K/9 respectively, while Dotel and Benoit were at 10.6 and 9.6). Meanwhile the 2012 guys walked just 5-7% of the hitters they faced, but Benoit in particluar gave up an unusual amount of home runs (18.1% HR/FB ratio). Arguments can be made either way but the last thing you want is for your relievers to come in and start walking guys - make 'em hit it.
EDGE: 2012, but it's very close
2006 - Todd Jones (4.36 xFIP, 1.27 WHIP, 2.55 K/BB)
2012 - Jose Valverde (5.01 xFIP, 1.25 WHIP, 1.78 K/BB)
Wow. Color me surprised that the Big Potato couldn't match the output of Todd Jones. The human rollercoaster Jones was a steady presence in the 9th inning, and while he let a few get away (and made many more very interesting) he generally got the job done. Valverde may have pitched himself out of a big contract with his playoff performances thus far, but he's been pretty mediocre all season (also, water is wet). More walks, more hits, fewer strikeouts(his K/9 dropped from 8.59 in 2011 to 6.26 in 2012), and fewer ground balls than prior years (fortunately he had a ridiculously low HR/FB ratio or we could have seen even more blown saves).
2006 - 1 win
2012 - 3 wins
As good as the 2006 pitching staff was, it pales in comparison to what the 2012 group has put together, particularly the starters. 2012 has more depth with better pitchers in the rotation, more effective middle relievers, and a good enough back end to at least battle the 2006 guys to a draw. Only at closer can the 2006 make a definitive stand.