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

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Comments

Since: Jun 16, 2008
Posted on: October 24, 2010 2:30 pm
 

First take: World Series matchup

It all comes down to how the hitters adjust to pitchers they have not seen much of.  AL hurlers like to nibble, NL pitchers throw 1st pitch strikes and pound the zone.  I feel Lee is better than Lincecum, but I remember when he first went to the Phillies the Reds gave him fits, and it took him time to adjust.  All my predictions are out the window, which makes it all the more fun to watch.  Kinda like seeing a really great movie without ever having seen the preview.



Since: Oct 19, 2007
Posted on: October 24, 2010 2:06 pm
 

First take: World Series matchup

Rangers in a sweep!



Since: May 23, 2010
Posted on: October 24, 2010 1:32 pm
 

First take: World Series matchup

I think the Rangers get the slight edge because while Lincecum and Cliff Lee are comparable in quality, the rest of the Giant's staff is not strong enough to make up for the the huge edge Texas has with the bats.

But either way, a team that wins will have athe same nickname as a team in another professional spots.  The Rangers have the same name as New York's NHL entry, and the Giants are matched with the NFL New York Giants.



Since: Aug 20, 2008
Posted on: October 24, 2010 11:42 am
 

First take: World Series matchup

About to find out how good the Giants pitching is.  Atlanta's lineup was horrible, and the Phillies not much better.  Yeah, I know the Phillies have all the names, but really, Ibanez stinks and is essentially a singles hitter, Rollins had a dreadful year, Utley was dealing with injuries, lost a lot of his power and if not is in serious decline from his peak in 07, Howard is essentially a mistake hitter...and not many mistakes in the playoffs, Victorino plays like he would rather be smoking dope in Hawaii, and Werth hit about .160 with risp this year...hardly the offensive team most people associate with this group of players.  Even next year Phillies willl have to do it with pitching.  No, this willl be the first true test for SFs pitching, and I think Texas handles SF's lineup.  Rangers in 5.  Not saying SF wont be the team to beat in the NL for the next 5-6 years, because I think they will, but they will need to find a reliable hitter or two to be able to win it all.



Since: Dec 13, 2008
Posted on: October 24, 2010 11:38 am
 

First take: World Series matchup

Im wondering why having burrel DH is gonna be better for the offense

It will improve the DEFENSE because Burrell is not known for his defensive prowess in Left. I agree with the analysis...Burrell should DH in the AL park.



Since: Feb 25, 2008
Posted on: October 24, 2010 11:20 am
 

First take: World Series matchup

Rangers hitters have no fear but they also have no disipline, they are free swingers which is good and bad, giants get ahead in the count wont be good for the rangers considering the giants have a great staff  and love to use that breaking ball in the dirt to get that third strike...lee is beatable just like lincecum and halladay were beating in the nlcs....gonna be great baseball with great stories from hamiliton, washington, bochey, the giants young arms dominating in there 1st postseason ever, being lead by possible rookie of the year, alittle story of molina coming back to play the team that traded him to bring up posey..lee perfect postseason yr after yr.. gonna be a damn great series.



Since: Sep 16, 2008
Posted on: October 24, 2010 11:16 am
 

First take: World Series matchup

So when you talk about most of us I am assuming you are talking about Giants fans. Molina has been a great addition to OUR club. He brings stability to OUR pitching staff. And he is proving his worth as a clutch hitter. Glad YOU got rid of him. Now as to home field advantage...WE went into Tampa's house and took three from them. They had the best record in baseball. WE took two of three from the Yankees in New York. So as you can see home field hasn't seemed to affect the Rangers. You are really underselling the Rangers staff. Lewis has admitted that he has finally learned how to pitch. Not surprising since most young pitchers go through that transition from throwing to pitching. You are also forgetting about CJ Wilson, OUR former closer so has the ability to pitch tough. Perhaps in the coming days you will hear of them. All the talking heads picked the Rays and then the Yankees and the Rangers are still standing so the underdog role seems to suit us well. This TEAM is on a roll but it will come down to pitching and who makes the most mistakes. I don't have a prediction but obviously hope MY Rangers win. I've waited too long to see what I saw on Friday and only hope the magical ride continues with a series win. Who knows this might be the year the Rangers win it all!



Since: Feb 25, 2008
Posted on: October 24, 2010 11:12 am
 

First take: World Series matchup

Im wondering why having burrel DH is gonna be better for the offense, I would think having him play the outfield and using Sandoval play DH is a huge upgrade on offense then having nate-rowand play the outfield....the real issue is gonna be what do the rangers do when tey play on the road? Do they start vlad at of?  our outfield is huge and giants are singles and doubles kinda team....yeah rangers have that great offense but so did philly, so im gonna predict giants in 7 ....but hoping for giants in 4...




Since: Jan 23, 2008
Posted on: October 24, 2010 10:50 am
 

First take: World Series matchup

Looking  forward to the series. A match up that is full of young and some old unknown faces. I think this is going to come down to the team that executes better in the clutch just like the Giants did against the Phillies all series long. The pitching is quite in favor of the Giants and the bullpen has won them games all year long. If the Giants figure out a way to beat Lee in the first game they have a great chance to win it in five games. Texas' offense will be quite a challenge to the Giants pitching, the Ranger hitters seem to have no fear. Hope this series is one that we remember for a long time, there will be some unexpected heroes and players that will choke.




Since: Sep 24, 2008
Posted on: October 24, 2010 9:31 am
 

First take: World Series matchup

Awesome post!  Sometimes we have to invent people like you to cheer against. But you are a real live, in-the-flesh bigot!  Keep up the good work.  Way to leave baseball out of your rant, too. No reason to muddy the water when you're tearing someone down.  And it's good to focus only on the Ranger people, and leave Lincecum out of your 'druggies" comment.  You're a master!  If we could bottle whatever is pissing you off so badly, no one would need your "healthy" steriods.  Their rage would carry them to great heights.  Please continue posting.  I amuses me.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com