2012 World Series Preview

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Spoiler Alert - I'm picking Detroit

Detroit 87 Pythag Wins
1. Austin Jackson, CF OPS+ 130, WAR (Davenport and B-Ref) 5.5 (Det has edge in CF)
2. Andy Dirks, RF OPS+130, WAR 1.7(Det has edge in RF)
3. Miguel Cabrera, 3B OPS+165, WAR 6.7 (Det has substantial edge at 3B)
4. Prince Fielder, 1B OPS+152, WAR4.7 (Det has substantial edge at 1B)
5. Delmon Young, LF OPS+89, WAR-.9
6. Alex Avila, C OPS+100, WAR2.5
7. Jhonny Peralta, SS OPS+85, WAR.4
8. Omar Infante, 2B OPS+79, WAR.2.9
9. Starting Pitcher
-The Tigers can/will hurt you through the first four but not much after that - of course Young (who is a real lineup hole) hit the ball in the ALCS because it's a short series and that's how it goes, but if predicting, you look for players to be who they are.  Fear 1-4 but no one after that and not 2 if/when they sit Dirks
-In Detroit, Young moves to DH and Berry/Garcia join the OF in a timeshare with Dirks.  Berry's OPS+ is 86, Garcia's is 91.  Laird (OPS+93)may also get in games against Zito/Bumgarner, our lefties have a platoon benefit against the Tigers whose power is minimized against southpaws.  
-Santiago (OPS+52) Worth (62) Kelly (44) is rest of the bench.   
San Francisco 88 pythag wins.  This is the 18th best SFG team ever.  This is only the third WS ever to match two sub 90 pythagorean teams; whichever team that wins will be approximately the 100th best WS winner ever.  
1. Angel Pagan, CF OPS+ 121 WAR (Davenport and B-Ref) 4.5 
2. Marco Scutaro, 2B OPS+ 145 WAR 4.3 (SFG substantial edge at 2B)
3. Pablo Sandoval, 3B OPS+124 WAR 3.4
4. Buster Posey, C OPS+172, WAR8 (Best position player in Series, SFG substantial edge at C)
5. Hunter Pence, RF OPS+91, WAR.6 
6. Brandon Belt, 1B OPS+124 WAR 2.6
7. Gregor Blanco, LF OPS+95 WAR 1.2 (SFG has slight edge in LF)
8. Brandon Crawford, SS OPS+87 WAR 3.1 (SFG has substantial defensive advantage at SS)
9. Starting Pitcher
You'll know more about the DH plan when the roster is announced, if SFG keeps Whiteside (OPS+ 16, not a typo) over Huff (77) the plan is Sanchez (95); otherwise Arias (97) is best bet.  The rest of the bench - Theriot (84) Nady (110).
It should not go without mention (although it almost entirely has throughout the playoffs by mainstream media; McCarver said the Giants decision to leave him off the roster made it a "non-story", another story to tell would be "Giants intentionally leave second best hitter off the roster without a baseball reason for doing so" which sounds like a pretty goddamn important story) that while the Giants choose between Huff and Whiteside for who won't contribute off the bench, Melky Cabrera (OPS+ 158, WAR 5) sits at home.  I don't even care if he doesn't start in San Francisco, he can sit in the clubhouse shunned by the entire organization, but who is more likely to get a hit at the end of a game (or as a DH in Detroit) - Aubrey Huff or Melky Cabrera?  Who is the Giant who will be so bothered by Cabrera's presence that he will perform less well for those of you obsessed by magiks?  Will Zito's curveball miraculously not break?  Will Pence start dropping fly balls?  Will Crawford run screaming from the field "get that steroid monster off my team!!".
It's dumb.  This is a 51/49 series and we're keeping our second best player away from the field.  It's dumb.

Here's baseball smart guy Rany Jazayerli agreeing with me on Melky:

Maybe there's some hidden wisdom in welcoming back a repeat offender who's a crappy middle reliever, while shunning the guy who was your best hitter before he got popped for the first time. But the Giants' double standard means that their starting left fielder will be Gregor Blanco, who hit .244/.333/.344 this season. And without Cabrera, the Giants don't have a single competent hitter on their bench, which will leave them exposed when the series moves to Comerica Park and they need a DH. Their most likely candidate is Aubrey Huff, who batted 95 times all season and hit .192 with one homer.
Whatever point the Giants are trying to make by holding Cabrera out, the Tigers are happy they're trying to make it.
Game 1: Justin Verlander ERA+ 160, WAR 7.6 (Best pitcher in baseball, an enormous advantage for Detroit) 
Game 2: Doug Fister ERA+122, WAR 3.3 (edge to Detroit)
Game 3: Anibal Sanchez ERA+ 113, WAR 2.6 (slight edge to Detroit)
Game 4: Max Scherzer ERA+ 113, WAR 4.1
In the pen, Valverde (ERA+112) blew up in the playoffs and has lost Leyland's confidence; it's unclear how long is his WS leash, behind him is Coke (106), Dotel (119) Smyly (106) and Alburquerque (only pitched 13 innings this season).  Benoit (15) and Porcello (92) round out the staff - Detroit's only got 2 lefties on the staff, Coke/Smyly.  
 San Francisco
Game 1: Barry Zito ERA+84 WAR .2
Game 2: Madison Bumgarner ERA+ 103, WAR  2.8
Game 3: Ryan Vogelsong ERA+ 103, WAR 2.4
Game 4: Matt Cain ERA+125, WAR 5 (edge to SFG)
In the pen the Giants get back a portion of what they give up in the rotation, Romo (ERA+196 closes), supported by Casilla (123) Affeldt (130) and Lopez (141).  Kontos (142) Mijares (140) are middle guys, Mota (68) shouldn't be on the roster and you won't see him pitch a meaningful inning in the WS. While Lincecum (67) was awful this year as a starter, he's been lights out in the pen this postseason.  In the way the Tigers lack of positional depth beyond their top couple/three stars isn't as big a deal in the postseason, the Giants' rotation issues aren't as important in the playoffs given the ability to go early and often to the pen.  
SFG runs the bases better, SFG fields better.  If you wanted to take SFG+155 to win the thing, I wouldn't try to talk you out of it; it's not chemistry that gives me some level of confidence in this WS, it's that Detroit isn't much better than we are.
But they are a little better - you just can't predict Zito to beat Verlander either time (it's just one game, Verlander might get lit up like he did at the ASG, but you don't bet that way) given the enormous disparity between them.  That means we have to win 4 out of the 5 possible non Verlander games - games where we only have the starting pitching advantage one time.  It's not a broad disparity - Detroit can struggle against lefties, we're going to start 2 and have 3 in the pen - Lincecum was one of baseball's best pitchers prior to this season's collapse, a collapse that has appeared, in the small sample of the postseason, to be nearly totally reversed when he's in the pen, and when you add him to what is already our solid relief advantage, the gap between the clubs shrinks quickly.
But it's still there - Detroit's got the best pitcher and middle of the order thump. SFG has home field advantage (although likely to lose it after tonight) and clearly won't feel any additional pressure having already killed 6 elimination games.  If the Tigers were to win in as few as 5 games, that wouldn't shock me - if the Giants were to come back home down 3 games to 2 and pull out another comeback to win the Series, that wouldn't shock me.  
But by a small margin the Tigers are better, so I'll pick them to win by a small margin - it's Detroit crushing my soul by beating my Giants in 7 games.  

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