First off, congratulations to the San Francisco Giants on their 7th World Series Championship. A ten inning, 4-3 victory over the American League champion Detroit Tigers ended with triple crown and potential MVP Miguel Cabrera striking out against Giants closer Sergio Romo. The Giants completed a remarkable run, one in which they began the playoffs in fear of being swept by the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS. Not only they did comeback in that series, the Giants did it again by defeating the reigning champs, the St. Louis Cardinals, after trailing 3-1 in the series. A postseason that will be remembered for its remarkable comebacks (Ibanez heroics, Cards-Nats series) was epitomized by the Giants' run toward the title. The Giants were the first National League team to sweep the World Series after staving off at least three straight elimination games. Additionally, they were only the fourth National League team to win two World Series in a three year span joining the '75-'76 Reds, the '63-65 Dodgers and the '42-44 Cardinals. Looking back, the Giants were led by an unflappable pitching staff, a very solid lineup, and above average defense, the Giants seemed destined for October greatness. They even had the likely NL MVP in Buster Posey and a Cy Young candidate in Matt Cain. How was anybody but the Giants considered the favorites?
In my opinion, come October, every team will have its star players. However, what separates the good teams from the great ones is the production from "role players." What are role players? I just like to call role players the guys who do not make a ton of money and do not receive the same publicity as say an MVP candidate or triple crown winner. For the Giants, they simply had better role players than the Tigers. Marco Scutaro, the NLCS MVP, came up with key hits throughout the postseason and drove game winning run in Game 4. Gregor Blanco, someone who did not even play in 2011, came up with spectacular defense and produced a key RBI triple in Game 3. Even on an intangible basis, Hunter Pence's leadership
has been quoted frequently for uniting the Giants to play their best. Another key factor was the role of the San Francisco bullpen. Heading into the playoffs, I praised the Cincinnati Reds bullpen as the best in baseball, with talented arms such as Aroldis Chapman and Sean Marshall leading the charge. The Giants, no doubt, also had a very solid bullpen (4.01 R/G) but was far from being among the elite pens in Major League Baseball (9th). However, one aspect that was not accounted for was the development of Tim Lincecum as a relief ace. Lincecum, a two time Cy Young award winner, threw the third most innings this postseason for a Giants pitching and struck out 8 in 4 and 2/3 innings pitched in the World Series alone. Using Lincecum to pitch in high leverage situations greatly aided the Giants ability to get out of potential jams with little to no damage. The maximization of every piece on the Giants roster allowed them to roll over a team considered the favorites heading into the series. Depth and overall team production was simply better than a frontloaded Tigers team in terms of talent.
The Giants became just the second team ever to win six elimination games en route to a World Series Championship. A season that culminated in the greatest team honor was no doubt without adversity. Melky Cabrera, arguably the team's best hitter (.346 AVG, 158 OPS+), was suspended on August 15th for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. The Los Angeles Dodgers pulled off the blockbuster of the Century in the infamous Nick Punto Trade (that also happened to send former all-stars Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Adrian Gonzalez to Tinseltown). Fanatical and borderline insane closer Brian Wilson pitched in two games before being shut down for the season for Tommy John surgery. Nevertheless, players such as Sergio Romo and the aforementioned Blanco, Pence, and Scutaro all greatly contributed toward the Giants clinching their second World Series Title in the past three seasons. Is it too early to proclaim this Giants team as the next great baseball franchise. Probably, considering we were saying the same thing about the Red Sox a couple of years ago and look how that has turned out. But one thing is for sure, and that is the San Francisco Giants are the champions of baseball.
Congrats to the Giants and WS MVP Pablo Sandoval on their 7th World Championship
Game 1: Tigers 4 - Giants 2
Game 2: Tigers 3 - Giants 6
Game 3: Giants 4 - Tigers 5
Game 4: Giants 2- Tigers 1
Game 5: Giants 0 - Tigers 3
Game 6: Giants 3 - Tigers 4
2012 World Series Champion: Detroit Tigers
WS MVP: Justin Verlander
Notes: I predict a fairly low scoring series due to the strength of both pitching staffs. Also, the Tigers pitching staff was lights-out in the ALCS and I have Justin Verlander turning in two more masterpieces in games 1 and 5 on his way to MVP. Although the trio of Matt Cain, Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong had great outings in NLCS elimination games, I believe the tigers offense led by Austin Jackson, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder is enough to get by.
Game 1: Tigers 7 - Giants 0
Game 2: Tigers 2 - Giants 5
Game 3: Giants 1 - Tigers 3
Game 4: Giants 2 - Tigers 1
Game 5: Giants 0 - Tigers 6
Game 6: Tigers 2 - Giants 6
Game 7: Tigers 3 - Giants 5
2012 World Series Champion: San Francisco Giants
WS MVP: Angel Pagan
Notes: As shown above, I fully expect the Giants to win their 7th World Series championship and bring the title back to the city of San Francisco. I believe that the Giants offense is quite underrated (highest OPS+ in NL) due to the offensive suppression caused by AT&T Park. In my opinion, the Giants' lineup presents a more balanced attack compared to the top-heavy lineup of the Tigers. Additionally, I have more faith in the Giants pitching than that of the Tigers (except when countering Tigers' ace Justin Verlander, of course) due to their consistency of their bullpen. This will help they conserve victories in the close games where the Tigers' bullpen cannot. Either way, baseball is a sport where anything can happen, with this postseason being no exception. Boy, do I love baseball!
After experiencing one of the most gruesome collisions
at home plate in the history of the baseball, just staying healthy would have been considered an acceptable season for Buster Posey. However, not only has Posey stayed remarkably durable this year, but also he has produced like an MVP. A triple slash of .332/.405/.541 would be considered extremely productive for any player, but doing so as a catcher makes it all the more impressive. The daily wear and tear accumulation from catching makes it difficult to produce offensively in addition to handling the pitching staff and taking innumerable beatings from balls in the dirt and home plate collisions. For instance, the average major league catcher produces at an abysmal .249/.320/.400, a far cry from Posey's production this year.
Additionally, this is coming from a player who was drafted as a pitcher out of high school, became an All-American shortstop at Florida State, and someone who once played all nine positions in one game
. His near flawless transition to behind the plate is incredible, considering he only picked the position up in his sophomore year of college. A position that often takes years to learn and even longer to master, Posey was a finalist for the Johnny Bench Award (awarded to the best catcher in college baseball) after just one season playing the position. Lauded by scouts for his off-the-charts makeup and leadership ability, the San Francisco Giants had enough faith in him to be their future behind the plate. Then just two years after being drafted, Buster rewarded their faith by winning the 2010 National League Rookie of the Year and a World Series Championship.
Now, Posey stands above the rest as one of the best players in the game today. His 168 OPS+ is best in the Senior Circuit and also boasts a top ten WAR (6.4) and WPA (4.4). Also, as previously mentioned, Posey's health after a near-catastrophic injury has been impeccable while playing in 109 games as a catcher. This durability has allowed him to log a good number of games behind the plate in addition to saving his legs with the occasional start at first base. Of catchers with at least 800 innings caught (arbitrary number that denotes roughly 100 games caught), Posey ranks ninth highest in caught stealing percentage (30%) as well as having the sixth highest range factor among backstops. Also, Posey guides a staff that has the seventh lowest ERA in all of baseball and is frequently praised for his keen ability to call a game
Add in the fact that Posey has been the driving offensive force for a team that lost its leadoff hitter and sparkplug (Melky Cabrera) and lacked much firepower to begin with, Posey's numbers continue to impress. To further prove his worth, he has hit an incredible .383/.455/.639 in the second half, helping his team dust the "improved" Dodgers in a previously tight NL West divisional race. And just last week, the Giants clinched their first division title since Posey's last full season. Coincidence? I think not. Clearly, Posey is a extraordinary athlete who not only lived up to the hype but has exceeded it faster than anyone could have predicted with a shiny MVP award staring him right in the face in just his third season. Then again, why should we be surprised?