Inside MLB | Five reasons the Giants will win the World Series
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 08:10
The San Francisco Giants come into the World Series with all the momentum. After facing elimination in three straight games against the St. Louis Cardinals, the team from the Bay came back from 3-1 down to win the NLCS and advance to meet the Detroit Tigers. With it all on the line in baseball’s culminating event, here are the top five reasons why the Giants will be successful in the their 19th World Series appearance.
1. Playoff success
The San Francisco Giants have history on their side — in short, they’ve tasted success and they’ve tasted it very recently. In 2010, the Giants beat the offensively superior Texas Rangers in five games in the World Series. And their opposition this year, the Tigers, is again offensively superior in every conceivable way. However, throughout their history, the Tigers have been known to succumb to the pressure of the moment. The Wikipedia article on the team even has a section “Falling Short (2007-2010),” to prove the point.
The Giants hold the edge in knowing how to win in the clutch simply because they’ve been there before. They’ve faced adversity and possible elimination in the form of going down 3-1 to the Cardinals in the NLCS and coming all the way back to win the series. It will not be uncharted territory if they find themselves down. The Giants will be more prepared when they hit the unavoidable rough patches and will recover more quickly than the Tigers, who dealt with little adversity in sweeping the Yankees.
2. Bruce Bochy and the National League style
The Tigers’ Jim Leyland is a great manager and he certainly played a role when the Florida Marlins won it all in 1997, but Bruce Bochy’s got the upper hand in this year’s coaching matchup.
The NL style of baseball fosters and requires better coaching. There is no Designated Hitter (DH) in the NL and, therefore, NL coaches have to be exponentially more active in defensive substitutions, pinch-hitting, and lineup manipulation. “Small ball,” a term referring to manufacturing runs with little measurable offense, has been used to describe teams like the Giants. Yes, attributing this label means a team does not often score runs, but this type of style is invaluable during postseason play. Ten-run slugfests are hard to come by in the postseason and even more infrequent in the World Series.
Bochy’s Giants are notorious around the league for scratching out close games by whatever means necessary. Baseball is a chess game and Bruce Bochy is Bobby Fischer. You think taking his queen was an impressive move, but now you’re in checkmate.
3. Home field advantage
With the NL victory in the All-Star Game this year, the Giants will have home field advantage in the World Series (four games will be played in San Francisco; three will be played in Detroit). For two main reasons, this gives the Giants a significant advantage.
First, and probably most obvious, is the fact that playing in front of the home crowd usually gives a team distinct advantages. Rowdy fans jeering, the ignorance of certain nuances of the field and a slight inclination for umpires to sway their calls all tilt the contest toward the home team. Statistically, the home team always gets a slight bump in winning probability. In Vegas and living rooms alike, the null hypothesis, with all other variables constant, is that the home team will likely have the advantage.
Second, in the World Series, both teams abide by the league rules of the home team. Since the NL does not allow a DH, the Tigers’ pitchers, who have a grand total of 13 at-bats between them this year, will have to step up to the plate and do their best Henry Rowengartner impression. Pitchers from both teams are not going to make a huge impact at the plate, but situational awareness, plate discipline, and having a clue are all small factors that decide the outcome of a game. A team that is used to manufacturing runs (the Giants) benefits from the lack of a DH, while a team that plays for big innings (the Tigers) benefits from the addition. Luckily for the Giants, home field advantage means their beneficial situation will happen more often than not.
4. Pitching and defense
If it came down to a one game showdown for all the marbles—despite Matt Cain’s perfect game this year—I think you’d be crazy not to give Justin Verlander the ball. Saying that, as a staff, the Giants are better on the bump.
The difference is consistency. The Tigers’ pitchers have what is normally referred to as “good stuff,” yet they lack the ability to perform reliably. Max Scherzer and Jose Valverde are great examples. Both have All-Star-caliber stuff, but neither was able to make it to the squad this year because of numerous meltdowns on the mound. In a series where every game counts and in a game where pitching undeniably sets the tone, a bad day for a pitcher usually means a loss for his team.