Blog Entry

First take: World Series matchup

Posted on: October 23, 2010 11:43 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:21 am
 


Game 1: Wednesday at San Francisco, 7:57 p.m.
Game 2: Thursday at San Francisco, 7:57 p.m.
Game 3: Saturday at Texas, 6:57 p.m.
Game 4: Sunday at Texas, 8:20 p.m.
*Game 5: November 1 at Texas, 7:57 p.m.
*Game 6: November 3 at San Francisco, 7:57 p.m.
*Game 7: November 4 at San Francisco, 7:57 p.m.
All times Eastern      * if necessary




For just the second time in the past 20 years, the World Series will be played entirely west of the Mississippi River. Here’s a quick reaction to the matchup between the Rangers and Giants in the 2010 World Series.

Josh Hamilton OFFENSE

Rangers
For all the talk about how Texas has gotten here by abandoning its decades-old philosophy of bashing in favor of pitching and defense, this is still a very good offensive team. The Rangers led all of baseball in batting average (.276), were fifth in MLB in runs scored and finished in the Top 5 in the AL in OPS, home runs and stolen bases. The heart of the order has baseball’s batting (.359) and OPS (1.044) champion, Josh Hamilton, hitting third, followed by the rejuvenated Vladimir Guerrero (115 RBI) and Nelson Cruz, who might be in the conversation for MVP if he hadn’t battled injuries all season.

In the postseason, facing the best pitchers in the toughest situations, the Rangers have actually improved offensively, batting .281 with an OPS of .815. They outscored the Yankees in the ALCS by a 2-to-1 margin. Five of their regulars are batting over .300 in the playoffs.

Giants
Offense was San Francisco’s missing ingredient early in the year, but the Giants added enough along the way to get it done. Castoffs Pat Burrell and Cody Ross have been huge, coming through in the clutch repeatedly. Overall, the Giants ended up middle-of-the-pack offensively: Ninth in the NL in runs scored, eighth in OPS, seventh in batting average and sixth in home runs. First baseman Aubrey Huff led the Giants in every major offensive category, and Buster Posey’s arrival at catcher has boosted the heart of their lineup and made up somewhat for the collapse of Pablo Sandoval.

In the postseason, the Giants have gotten big hits when they needed them most, but they’ve batted just .231 overall and have six homers – one more than Nelson Cruz has by himself – and just two that didn’t come from Ross. San Francisco really needs Huff to step up.

EDGE: Rangers, by a significant margin. They’ve scored 5.36 runs per game in the postseason to San Francisco’s 3.00.

STARTING PITCHING

Rangers
You might have heard a bit about the Rangers’ No. 1 starter, but in case you didn’t notice, Cliff Lee only pitched once in the six-game ALCS. The rotation MVP in that series was No. 3 starter Colby Lewis, who was pitching in Japan last year. He beat the Yankees twice and has a 1.45 ERA in three postseason starts. No. 2 starter C.J. Wilson had a good start in the first round and mixed results in the second – he was the victim of the Game 1 bullpen meltdown and then had a nightmarish Game 5. Likely Game 4 starter Tommy Hunter is the Rangers’ weak link.

Tim Lincecum Having Lee on the mound twice (maybe even three times) is huge, but considering he’s going to be opposing another world-beater, you can’t exactly chalk up those wins.

Giants
The Giants entered Saturday’s game with the lowest starters ERA in the postseason, just 1.93. Tim Lincecum is perfectly capable of going toe-to-toe with Lee, showing the ability to dominate in big games. Matt Cain has been stellar in two postseason starts, and has yet to allow his first earned run.  Jonathan Sanchez will go second or third, depending on what Bruce Bochy wants to do, and he showed Saturday that he’s capable of putting up a stinker. The Giants have won both games Madison Bumgarner has started.

Pitching is what has gotten the Giants to the Series, and Lincecum has a chance to set the tone on Wednesday in Game 1.

EDGE: Giants. If you figure Lee and Lincecum cancel each other out, it’s going to come down to multiple starts by the No. 2 and 3 guys. To this point, the Giants look better at those spots – though after Sanchez’s outing, not by much.

RELIEF PITCHING

Rangers
Though it hasn’t put its best foot forward at times in the postseason, the Texas bullpen has been a strength this season, posting the second-lowest ERA in the AL. Neftali Feliz had 40 regular-season saves, Darren Oliver has been amazing at age 40, and Darren O’Day has been an effective workhorse.

Giants
The Giants came into Saturday with the second-highest bullpen ERA this postseason (4.22), which is surprising considering how rock solid the bullpen was during the regular season, when they had the second-lowest relief ERA in the majors (2.99). But their seven scoreless innings in Game 6 show that this still has to be considered a shut-down bullpen. Brian Wilson has picked up five saves and a win in seven appearances while not allowing a run. Ramon Ramirez and Jeremy Affeldt have both struggled badly in the postseason.

EDGE: Giants. Over time, that bullpen has shown it can get the job done.

DEFENSE

Rangers
An improved defense has been an important factor for the Rangers’ ascension. They were mediocre in fielding percentage during the regular season but fifth in the AL in UZR. Shortstop Elvis Andrus is a plus, and the outfielders don’t make a lot of mistakes. At first base, the Rangers sacrificed defense by leaving Chris Davis off the roster in favor of Mitch Moreland and Jorge Cantu.

Giants
The Giants are one of the better defensive teams in the game, committing just 73 regular-season errors and tying for the lead in fielding percentage. But fielding percentage isn’t everything (some will tell you it’s hardly anything), and the Giants aren’t great in the range department. Sandoval, Burrell and Huff don’t get to a lot of balls others might, though all three were better than expected with the glove this year. Presumably Burrell will be the DH in games in Arlington, which will improve the defense.

EDGE: Giants, though the difference is unlikely to be what decides the series.

Bruce Bochy MANAGER

Rangers
Ron Washington deserves a ton of credit for the Rangers being where they are. He is an infectious optimist and motivator who by all accounts did a lot to keep his crew loose during the ALCS. He badly mismanaged the bullpen during the Game 1 meltdown against the Yankees (maybe he just forgot Neftali Feliz was there?), but overall is a good in-game tactician. He’s let his team be extremely aggressive on the basepaths, which has led to some good things but also carries the potential to backfire at a critical time.

Giants
The unflappable Bochy has tinkered with his lineup a lot in the postseason, and sometimes the moves don’t seem to make a lot of sense, but they keep working. He’s always been a hunch guy who knows his ballclub. The big criticism of Bochy this season has been that he stuck with Sandoval and Aaron Rowand too long, but that’s pretty much irrelevant now.

EDGE: Giants, just because Bochy has four previous playoff runs under his belt, including a World Series, and this is Washington’s first rodeo.
 

Intangibles

* For the first time since Bud Selig uttered the words “this time it counts,” the National League will have home-field advantage in the World Series. But home field wasn’t a huge advantage for the Giants during the regular season, and five of the Rangers’ seven postseason wins have come on the road.

* The Giants have been living on the edge just about every night, while the Rangers have been involved in some blowouts. Does that mean the Giants are battle-tested, or just tired?

* Look for Texas catcher Bengie Molina to be a big storyline in the next few days -- the Giants traded him to the Rangers on July 1. Bizarre fact: He's going to get a World Series ring no matter what happens.

* The Rangers are making their first World Series appearance. Five other teams have done that in the past decade, and two have won.

Bottom line

The Giants look better on paper in most areas, but it already appears that the Rangers will be favored by the oddsmakers. The difference in the offense is huge -- if the Giants have to score five runs a game to win, it's going to be tough. But San Francisco's formidable pitching staff is capable of keeping the scoring low.

-- David Andriesen

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Comments

Since: Jul 2, 2008
Posted on: October 25, 2010 2:46 am
 

First take: World Series matchup

For all you Ranger fans who haven’t followed any west coast ball, meet the best pitching staff in baseball. The giants just shut down arguably the best lineup in baseball to win the NLCS ( others= Yankees, Rangers, Reds, Rockies, and Rays) I understand that the Rangers-players are best-o- friends, and they have antlers and spotlights, but the giants have 8 of the best 9 pitchers from either team in this world series, ON THEIR TEAM. Glad the Rangers and Giants are here in this 2010 fall classic, they are the two teams that deserve it the most. Its going to be a good series, but not a great one, Giants in 5.




Since: Dec 15, 2007
Posted on: October 25, 2010 2:08 am
 

First take: World Series matchup

Dude, are you serious? You want to talk about class, you should look in the mirror.  This probably shouldn't even warrant a response, but I can't believe you would come on a message board spewing crap about a serious problem that both these guys have overcome.  Shows how much you know about what these guys went through because yes, being an alcoholic that temptation is always there, moron.
BTW, the ginger ale shower that the TEAM does is not only for Hamilton, but for C.J. Wilson also.  C.J. doesn't drink and can't stand being around alcohol either

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 You are a clown kuhawk or whatever the hell your name is. This just means CJ needs to man up with Hamilton and stop being little pu$$ies. Oh no they might spill champagne on me. Morons like you annd Hamilton the Junkie or the druggy coach act like its a disease!! It's not a Fu*kin disease it is an addiction and a choice, cancer is a disease. MNM was right. They make a big deal about steroids in baseball but then celebrate a loser junky like Hamilton. Anyone who has a problem with this needs to have a drink themselves and stop being bit*hes!!!Go San Fran!!!! beat the druggies.



Since: Sep 21, 2006
Posted on: October 25, 2010 2:05 am
 

First take: World Series matchup

I'll take the Giants in what will probably be a great series.  The Rangers offense is much better, obviously, but in terms of run scoring it's fairly similar to Philadelphia's, and taking into account that the Rangers play with a DH, you might argue the Giants have already knocked off the best offense they will face in the postseason.  That said, the Giants have to continue to do what they've done so far: Pitch extremely well, play solid defensively, and get a little luck.  Even at that, Texas is perfectly capable of winning this series.

Also, as concerns the DH, advantage San Fran.  Texas will lose a bat on the road, and when the Giants are on the road, they'll be able to DH Burrell, keeping him in for full games. 




Since: Mar 8, 2008
Posted on: October 24, 2010 6:29 pm
 

First take: World Series matchup

Conventional Know-Nothings gave Fillies a big edge!<br />




Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: October 24, 2010 6:24 pm
 

First take: World Series matchup

As a fan who watches far more AL games than NL games on MLB.Com, I've only familiarized myself with the Giants recently. Of course, I know Lincecum, Cain, and Sanchez are first rate starters and I like how Burrell, Huff, Uribe, and Ross have come back to life. Posey is an excellent rookie and although Sandoval has disappointed, he remains a dangerous contact hitter. The Giants are not in the series by accident or because other teams they played "broke down." This is a legitimate World Series contender. But the Rangers are for real as well. I have followed them for the last 28 years, since moving to the DFW area and am happy to see that when the stadium fills up, as it has this past year, most of the fans actually root for the home team! There really is no better 1-6 lineup in baseball, and people forget that these first six batters are finally playing healthy--Kinsler missed the first month or so, Cruz was out a month and a half after that, and Hamilton did not play through most of September. After Lee, the Rangers starters are "iffy," but the success of Lewis and Wilson came through hard work and dedication. Each are vulnerable in the early innings, but can get into a groove and pitch as well as any ace when they have it going. While the Ranger bullpen suffered somewhat with Francisco's injury (he was a first rate set up man this season), O'Day has stepped up as have a few of the unknown kids--although Oliver still scares me. The Rangers remind me a little of the 2005 White Sox in that they play a lot of small ball and manufacture runs, but still bang the ball around the fences as well. It's impossible for me to predict a winner. This series will be very exciting to watch. Unfortunately, not that many will be watching, as neither team has a "nation" attached to it. 



Since: Jan 2, 2007
Posted on: October 24, 2010 5:24 pm
 

First take: World Series matchup

Evidently many poster here have no clue about the Rangers or the Giants and that includes the author of this article.  Rangers have huge edge in hitting and Giants have a big edge in pitching.  Giants strength is definitely its starting pitching.  They outperformed Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels three starters that are as good as you get..  But on the other hand the Rangers, less than spectacular starting pitching other than Lee, (gets lots of publicity because he beats the Yankees) shut down the 2 highest scoring offenses in baseball.  No one will ever mistake the Giants offense for the Yankee batting order or the Tampa offense.  The real reason the Rangers are in the WS is because of their pitching being better than the Yankees and Tampa's.

Two other areas that must be considered is defense.  Giants defense doesn't make errors but it doesn't reach a lot of balls either that the Ranger defense routinely catches, particularly up the middle.  The other huge advantage the Rangers have is on the bases.  The Rangers can manufacture runs with their legs like no other team in this years play-offs. 

I really laughed when someone was talking about undisciplined Ranger hitters, they must not have followed the Rangers this year.  2010 Rangers improved drastically in the plate discipline taking pitches, also in moving in moving runners over and not depending on the long ball.  On the other hand they can still hit the long ball with the best.

The Giants strength is its pitching and like they say; "good pitching always beats good hitting".  I hold to that saying myself.  But since these teams played in different leagues, what we don't know, are the Giants great pitchers because of their pitching or because the hitting in the NL overall is not up to the level of the AL.  NL had lower ERA and lower batting averages, they scored fewer runs.  Is that because the pitchers were that much better or because the hitters were not as good.  No one can really say. 

From watching the Giants in the play offs and a few times through out the season, they remind me a lot of the Oakland A's.  Giants team ERA is .2 or a run less and their team BA are essentially the same.  Texas had problems with the Oal=kland starters this year, but had success against the A's bullpen.  I see that happening against the Giants, as long as the Giants starters can get into the 7th 8th inning they will be really tough to be.



Since: Aug 7, 2008
Posted on: October 24, 2010 4:11 pm
 

First take: World Series matchup

And your trivia answers are relevant how? The simple fact is that if one looks hard enough we can find teams from many sports with the same name...and no, it's is not a nickname. The Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants are who they are so that's why they are called that. Now if you wanted to give them nicknames...how about "The Cardiac Kids (because the Giants never win with ease) and the Texas Bombers (because of the Rangers high powered offense).

I'm guessing that you are a NY fan since you referenced two subpar teams.




Since: Apr 22, 2007
Posted on: October 24, 2010 3:20 pm
 

First take: World Series matchup

smoking a litttle too much herb already. Welcome to San Francisco....

GIANTS IN 5. 



The San Francisco Giants




Since: Oct 9, 2006
Posted on: October 24, 2010 3:15 pm
 

First take: World Series matchup

Just like I told Phillies fans, hey Giants doubters...keep underestimating this team of nobodys.  It's worked so far.  Now, I'm really happy for the Rangers and happy to see this team in the WS because they're the best team in the AL.  Period.  With this said, any Texas fan who has REALLY watched the Giants during the playoffs should be very worried.  There is nothing to base this opinion on, because statistically the Giants should have no business being in the position they're in now, but the Giants will give the Texas Rangers a nice little taste of "Torture".  Giants in 7 heart-attack inducing, acid reflux crippling, "Torturous" games.



Since: Jun 21, 2009
Posted on: October 24, 2010 3:11 pm
 

First take: World Series matchup

With games in SF and Arlington, at least we won't have to watch the weather forecasts to see if there'll be a games played or not, and the players won't be wearing ear muffs and parkas. Fans in NY and Philly can console themselves with not having to drag themselves out to the ballpark where they would sit frozen for several hours every night for a week, but can instead enjoy October baseball as it was meant to be enjoyed- on TV, while sitting on a couch with a fridge full of reasonably priced food and drink.


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