The Detroit Tigers will play the San Francisco Giants in the World Series, beginning Wednesday, October 24 at 8:07 PM, ET in San Francisco. Following is a look at the National league champions.
The Giants have the reputation of a team that relies on its’ pitching rotation. However, the Giants’ starters have struggled recently, posting only the seventh best ERA in the National league after the All Star break. The lineup has picked up the slack, leading the league in on base percentage and ranking third in runs scored in the second half.
One thing that stands out with this team is a distinct lack of power, with Posey being the only player to hit over 20 home runs, or even 65 RBI.
Following is a look at the regular players on the Giants’ playoff roster:
Angel Pagan, CF: The speedy center fielder is the catalyst that gets the Giants’ offense started. Pagan led the Giants with 29 steals, 174 hits, and 95 runs scored. Getting him on base is crucial to the team’s offense, and keeping him off the bases is critical for opponents.
Marco Scutaro, 2B: San Francisco acquired the versatile infielder from the Rockies in July, and he has been a spark plug to the Giants’ offense. Scutaro led the league with 100 hits after the break (one more than Posey) hitting .339 with an OBP of .369. What I just wrote about Pagan getting on base.... same goes for Scutaro.
Pablo Sandoval, 3B: "Kung Fu Panda" as he is affectionately known, had a disappointing season and has been criticized for his conditioning, or lack thereof, all season. He still managed to hit .283 with a dozen home runs, but he woke up just in time for the playoffs, leading the team in homers, RBI, and average. Whether he continues to hit will go a long way to determining whether the Giants score runs.
Buster Posey, C: The favorite to win the National league’s MVP, Posey was easily the Giants’ best offensive and defensive player this season. He led the major leagues with a .336 average and led the NL with an OBP of .406. He led the team in every major offensive category other than hits and steals, but has cooled off in the post season, hitting just .178 and an OPS of .600.
Hunter Pence, RF: The Giants acquired Pence in July, just as Melky Cabrera was suspended for the remainder of the season. Pence has been a disappointment at the plate, hitting just .219 for the Giants and just .188 with one homer in the post season, but he’s much better than those numbers would indicate.
Brandon Belt, 1B: The rookie first baseman has provided some much needed punch when manager Bruce Bochy finally came out of a coma and put Belt in the lineup on a daily basis. The question is what took him so long. Belt provides a nice combination of hitting for average with some pop and running ability, but he has simmered down with a .222 average in the post season.
Gregor Blanco, LF: Blanco may be best known for making a spectacular catch to save Matt Cain’s perfect game this season. Blanco is one of three natural center fielders in the Giants’ outfield, and is much better with the glove than he is with the bat, posting a plus 7 DRS and a plus 18.5 UZR/ 150 for the season.
Brandon Crawford, SS: A slick fielding, light hitting shortstop rounds out the Giants’ lineup. Crawford manages to get on base as much as Delmon Young but hitting just .248 this season, with little power.
Aubrey Huff, DH: Tiger fans will remember Huff as a bust after being acquired at the trade deadline in 2009, but Giants’ fans remember a hot hitting utility player in the 2010 World Series. This season, Huff has hit more like he did when he was with Detroit. Either Huff or Xavier Nady figures to fill in as the DH when the Series goes back to Detroit.
Xavier Nady, OF/ DH: The Giants picked up Nady while they were scrambling to find some offense in the outfield during the season. They didn’t find much here, as Nady hit just .240 with one homer for them. He could see time as DH, or he could be left off the roster.
Matt Cain, SP: Clearly the ACE of the Giants’ staff is Matt Cain. The starting pitcher and winning pitcher in the All Star game, and owner of a perfect game on June 13, Cain pitched a gem in game 7 of the NLCS, and won’t be available to start until at least game 3 of the World Series. Cain posted a 16- 5 record with a 2.79 ERA and 1.04 WHIP and will get some votes for the Cy Young award.
Ryan Vogelsong, SP: The other San Francisco pitcher that hasn’t struggled recently, Vogelsong has made three starts in the post season with an ERA of 1.42 and a WHIP of 0.89. His game six effort in the NLCS kept the Giants alive and paved the way for Cain to close out the series. Vogelsong was a steady pitcher all season with an ERA of 3.37 over 190 innings. He struggled in the second half of the season, with an ERA of 4.78.
Madison Bumgarner, SP: In the regular season, Bumgarner was the Giants’ no 2 starting pitcher, equaling Vogelsong’s 3.37 ERA. The lefty starter has struggled enough recently to be pulled from the rotation in favor of Tim Lincecum during the NLCS. At this time, it’s not known whether he will reclaim his spot in the rotation, or maybe start game two of the series.
Barry Zito, SP: After being left off the playoff roster in the team’s 2010 World Series run, Zito bounced back this season to claim a spot in the rotation over Lincecum, and he has pitched well in the post season, with a 1.74 ERA, allowing just two runs in ten innings. During the season, Zito posted an unspectacular 4.15 ERA and a negative WAR of -0.2. His strikeout rate is down and walks are up, but he’s pitched well recently. Zito is expected to start game one in the series.
Tim Lincecum, SP: The two time Cy Young winner known as "the freak" has had an awful season on the mound, going 10- 15 with a 5.17 ERA, being pulled from the rotation to start the playoffs. Lincecum has pitched out of the Giants’ bullpen, but was given one start against the Cardinals and did not do well, allowing four runs in 4.2 innings. The Giants have not said yet whether he will start game two, or be moved back to the bullpen.
Santiago Casilla, RP: When the Giants lost Brian Wilson for the season, Casilla was given the majority of save opportunities, and led the team with 25 saves. In 73 appearances, Casilla posted an ERA of 2.84 and a WHIP of 1.22 while striking out 7,8 batters per nine innings.
Sergio Romo, RP: Romo led the Giants with 23 holds and also notched 14 saves before Bruce Bochy settled on Casilla as the closer. He also had a K/9 ratio of 10.25, and walked ten batters in 55 innings.
Jeremy Affeldt, RP: The primary left hander out of the Giants’ bullpen actually pitches equally well against right handers and is more than just a LOOGY, posting an ERA of 2.70 and allowing opponents a .241 batting average and just one home run in 63 innings during the season.