The World Series will finally get underway this Wednesday, and since my original prediction is no longer possible (Phillies in six), it’s time to reevaluate. Since all the major sports outlets were hoping for a big market, Philadelphia-New York World Series, there hasn’t been too much conjecture on the possibility of a San Francisco-Texas Fall Classic, and now that possibility has become the reality.
MLB and Fox (who will host the Series) expect a smaller audience for this matchup than they’ve had the past few years, but there’s a few good reasons to tune in even if your team isn’t involved. The Giants have not won a World Series since they departed from New York after the 1957 season. They have, however, won four Pennants in San Francisco (1962, 1989, 2002, 2010), but have yet to seal the deal with a Championship. The Texas Rangers, on the other hand, had never won an AL title until they defeated the Yankees last Friday, and prior to 2010, had won exactly one postseason game in their history. The Rangers are attempting to win their first World Series for new team owner Nolan Ryan (yes, the Nolan Ryan).
On the field the teams are pretty evenly matched. Both the Rangers and the Giants are anchored by a fantastic pitching staff: strong starters, quality bullpens, and dynamic closers. The Giants boast a 3.36 ERA, while the Rangers did about half a run worse at 3.93. This disparity could be almost completely stripped away when you consider that the Giants had the luxury of pitching to pitchers in the nine spot all season while the Rangers had to deal with designated hitters. Star power abounds in both rotations, with names like Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum, and Matt Cain, while closers Neftali Feliz and Brian Wilson have developed cult followings in Texas and San Francisco, respectively.
On the offensive side, the Rangers had the best team batting average in the majors, batting .276 for the season, while the Giants hit .257. Rangers team OPS was a robust .757, while the came in just behind at .729. Each team has their fair share of big name sluggers, though Texas has the edge in star power with names like Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, and Vladimir Guerrero. The Giants, for their part, have Aubrey Huff, Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval, and ROY candidate Buster Posey.
Game One looks to be an exciting one, as Lee will face Lincecum in a Battle of the Aces. It should be a close one, but I’m taking Lee as the winner, mostly because he will be better rested after Lincecum had to pitch in relief in NLCS Game 6. Lee is 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA this postseason (and 2-0, 0.90 this season with 6+ days of rest), while Lincecum is 2-1, 1.93.
I'll do more head-to-head analysis as the Series gets going, but I’m going to go on record right now and pick the Rangers in six games, home field advantage or none.
[This post also appeared in the Trinity Tripod]