World Series Preview: Texas Rangers vs San Francisco Giants

While the favorites (Yankees, Phillies) are not participating in the 2010 MLB World Series, we do have quite a matchup to look forward to. As we sit here in the bullpen, let’s take a look at the teams and see who has the edge, if there is any.

Catcher

Texas has a pair of catchers that seem to rotate. Bengie Molina sees the majority of action but the Rangers will also use Matt Treanor. Neither player experienced much success this season but both have turned it around in the playoffs. Molina is batting .333 with two home runs and seven RBI’s this postseason while Treanor is 2-of-7 with a home run and two runs batted in. Base runners can steal off these guys. Combined, Molina and Treanor have given up 76 stolen bases while throwing out just 27.

San Francisco has NL Rookie of the Year candidate Buster Posey. Posey is an extremely talented player that hits clean up for the Giants. After hitting .305 with 18 home runs and 67 RBI’s in the regular season, Posey has come up with some key hits in the playoffs. Overall this postseason, Posey is batting .282 with three doubles and three runs batted in.

Edge:  Giants

1st Base

By default, Texas now relies mostly on Mitch Moreland at first base. While Moreland does have pop (nine regular season home runs), he is not a major threat. He has however picked up his game a bit in the playoffs. After hitting just .255 during 47 games in the regular season, Moreland is batting .303 in the playoffs.

Aubrey Huff led the Giants in home runs (26) and RBI’s (86) during the regular season. He has struggled in the playoffs so far, batting just .256 with no extra base hits. Huff will be an important piece to the Giants lineup.

Edge:  Giants

2nd Base

Ian Kinsler played in just 103 regular season games for Texas this year due to injury but remained a threat. Kinsler finished the regular season with a .286 average and nine home runs while driving in 45.  He has been one of Texas’ hottest hitters in the post season, batting .342 with a double, triple, and three home runs. He has also driven in nine runners. Kinsler is also a threat with his legs after stealing 15 bases this season.

The Giants start Freddy Sanchez at second base. Sanchez had a nice season, batting .292 with seven home runs and 47 RBI’s. In the postseason his average had dipped to .268 and he has just one RBI. Sanchez is not much of a threat to steal.

Edge:  Rangers

3rd Base

Michael Young has been the heart and soul of the Rangers for years now. While he is batting just .255 this postseason with one home run, Young had a very good year once again. Young hit .284 with 36 doubles and 21 home runs for Texas. He also stole 26 bases this season.

Due to the decline of Pablo Sandoval, Juan Uribe seems to have taken the starting third base role for the Giants. Uribe was a versatile player for San Francisco this year and while he batted just .248, the veteran belted 24 home runs and drove in 85.  Uribe has struggled this postseason, sporting a .143 average with one home run.

Edge:  Rangers

Shortstop

Young shortstop, Elvis Andrus has developed into a nice leadoff batter for the Rangers. Since batting .265 with 32 stolen bases in the regular season, Andrus has elevated his game in the playoffs. So far in the postseason, Andrus is batting .333 with three doubles and is 7-of-8 in stolen bases. Andrus is also a slick fielder.

With Uribe moving over to third base full time, Edgar Renteria no longer splits time and is the full time shortstop. Renteria batted .276 with three home runs and 22 RBI’s during this injury riddled season. The veteran has struggled this postseason, batting just .167 with no extra base hits.

Edge:  Rangers

Outfield

Josh Hamilton

With the National League having home field advantage, there will be no DH used in Games 1 and 2. Rangers manager Ron Washington announced Vladimir Guerrero will play right field in Game 1. Joining Guerrero in the Texas outfield are Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton.

Hamilton, the centerfielder, is a AL MVP candidate after batting .359 during the regular season with 40 doubles, 32 home runs and driving in 100. Hamilton’s regular season slugging percentage was a whopping .633.

Guerrero, while normally the DH, batted .300 with 29 home runs and 115 RBI’s (team high). In the postseason, Hamilton and Guerrero have been up and down. Guerrero is batting just .267 but does have three doubles and four RBI’s.  Hamilton is hitting .237 this postseason but does have four home runs and eight RBI’s.

Cruz had a big year, batting .318 with 31 doubles and 22 home runs. He drove in 78 runs this season. In the postseason, Cruz has continued his success, batting .375 with five doubles and five home runs, good for a .875 slugging percentage.

Jeff Francoeur and David Murphy will also see action in the Texas outfield.

The San Francisco Giants outfield is much less threatening. Pat Burrell, Cody Ross, and Andres Torres are the expected starters. Ross has been a pleasant surprise.

After batting just .269 with 14 home runs and 65 RBI’s in the regular season, Ross has been hot in the playoffs. This postseason, Ross is batting .324 with four doubles and four home runs. He has been the lift the Giants offense needed. Ross can run as well, stealing nine bases in eleven tries this season.

Torres is another talented guy you may not have heard of.  He batted .268 in the regular season with 43 doubles and 16 home runs. In the playoffs, he is hitting just .250 and is 1-of-4 in stolen base attempts. The Giants need Torres to find his groove.

The veteran Burrell can still provide some pop with the bat. He batted .266 in the regular season with 18 home runs. In the postseason, Burrell is batting just .207 but does have three doubles and a home run.

Nate Schierholtz and Aaron Rowand can come off the bench.

Edge:  Rangers

Starting Pitching

The Rangers starting pitchers are no strangers to throwing a lot of innings. Cliff Lee is the obvious ace and went 12-9 with a 3.19 ERA this season. He has thrown seven complete games this year. C.J. Wilson has thrown three while Colby Lewis and Tommy Hunter each have one.

We all know about Lee, but the other three had solid seasons as well. Wilson (15-8, 3.35), Lewis (12-13, 3.72), and Hunter (13-4, 3.73) are extremely tough when they throw strikes. Throwing strikes has been a problem at times though. Wilson walked 93 batters this season. In the playoffs, that trend has continued. Wilson has walked 11 batters in 18.2 innings while Lewis has walked eight in 18 innings.

In the postseason, Lee (3-0, 0.75), Wilson (2-0, 1.45), and Lewis (1-1, 3.93) have led this club. Tommy Hunter is the potential fourth starter if the Rangers don’t use Lee on short rest. After a successful regular season, the finesse pitcher has struggled in the playoffs.

The Giants have quite an ace as well. Tim Lincecum can be just as dominant as Lee. Lincecum twice out pitched Roy Halladay in the NLCS. After and up and down regular season in which Lincecum went 16-10 with a 3.43 ERA and striking out 231 batters in 212.1 innings, Lincecum has found a groove this postseason.

Tim Lincecum

The little fireballer has given up just 14 hits in 23.1 innings this postseason while striking out 30. He sports a 2-1 postseason record this year with an ERA of 1.93.

Following Lincecum will be Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, and Madison Bumgarner. Cain is a second ace for the Giants and actually may have had a better season than Lincecum. Cain went 13-11 this year with a 3.14 ERA and four complete games. In the playoffs, Cain has been virtually unhittable, giving up just nine hits in 13.2 innings. Cain has yet to give up a run in the playoffs.

Sanchez has nasty stuff and can control a game as well. In the regular season, he went 13-9 with a 3.07 ERA. Sanchez has had mixed results in the playoffs (0-1, 2.93). Overall this postseason he has given up ten hits in 15.1 innings and struck out 19. He did get roughed up in his second NLCS start against the Phillies.

Bumgarner is a rookie that went 7-6 this season with a 3.00 ERA. In the playoffs, the youngster started two games and is 1-0 with a 3.55 ERA.

Edge:  Giants

Bullpen

American League Rookie of the Year candidate Neftali Feliz is the Rangers closer. He was 4-3 with a 2.73 ERA this season while saving 40 games. He does not have a save this postseason but has appeared in five games, pitching to a 2.08 ERA. Darren Oliver and Darren O’Day will see a lot of action out of the bullpen. Both had ERA’s just over 2.00 in the regular season but have been up and down in the playoffs.

Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando, and Clay Rapada will also be ready.

The Rangers bullpen has the second highest postseason ERA this year.

For the Giants, the bullpen is a strength. Brian Wilson has become a dominant closer after going 3-3 this year with a minuscule 1.81 ERA. Wilson converted 48 saves in the regular season and struck out 93 batters in 74.2 innings. Wilson has not given up a run in nine innings this postseason.

Javier Lopez will play a big role for the Giants in this series. After being used to shut down Phillies lefties Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, expect to see Lopez late in games against Josh Hamilton. Lopez appeared in 77 games this season and had a 4-2 record to go with his 2.34 ERA. He has given up just one hit in five innings in the playoffs.

Jeremy Affeldt had a up and down season for San Francisco but seems to have found his game lately. In the playoffs, Affeldt has given up one run in 2.2 innings. If he can pitch well, the Giants bullpen could be very dangerous.

Sergio Romo, Santiago Casilla, and Ramon Ramirez will also see key situations out of the bullpen.

Edge:  Giants

Interesting Tidbits of the 2010 MLB World Series

  • Not many players have success against Cliff Lee. However, in 20 career at-bats, Juan Uribe is batting .350 with a home run and four RBI’s off Lee.
  • Regardless of the outcome, Bengie Molina is guaranteed a World Series Championship ring. Molina played in 61 games for the Giants this season before being traded to Texas. He becomes just the sixth player in history to play for both World Series teams in the same season.
  • Neither team has ever won the World Series.
  • Finally! Aubrey Huff is finally making an appearance in the World Series after 11 seasons and 1,479 games.
  • San Francisco is used to close games. Of their 10 postseason games this year, seven have been decided by one run.
  • Interesting matchup:  San Francisco had MLB’s best pitching staff this season, with a team ERA of 3.36.  Texas had the best hitting team, batting .276 this season. The Giants pitching going up against the big four of Texas (Young, Hamilton, Guerrero, and Cruz).

Question To Think About

Will Cliff Lee become the best postseason pitcher ever?  In eight career playoff appearances, Lee as a 7-0 record.

Prediction

Not so fast! I will save the predictions for you, the readers. So, let’s hear it…leave a comment with your predictions for this years World Series. Will it be Texas and it’s high powered offense, or the excellent pitching staff of San Francisco??