World Series 2012: Staff Picks and Predictions
(EDITOR’S NOTE: All of these predictions were submitted before the first pitch of Wednesday night’s Game 1. Our apologies if either team has already made us look stupid, which I assume has happened.)
Kurt Rohrbeck, Senior Sports Editor: Tigers in 6
Watching Barry Zito utterly silence the Cardinals in game five of the National League Championship Series was a shock, and if nothing else, probably made you happy for the much-maligned pitcher (unless you’re a Cardinals fan). That said, right now he’s slated to go up against all-world pitcher Justin Verlander twice in the series, and that seems like a risky proposition for Bruce Bochy. I’d go as far as to say the Tigers have a starting pitching edge in every game Matt Cain isn’t starting (which right now is only game four), and that’s a huge obstacle for the Giants to overcome unless guys like Buster Posey and Hunter Pence are able to improve substantially on their playoff performances so far. Which they might. But the Tigers seem like the safer bet regardless.
Zach Kram, Sports Reporter: Giants in 7
These teams rely on nigh-identical formulas: strong starting pitching, timely hitting by a daunting middle of the order and a rotund third baseman in the three-hole. There are some differences though. The Giants have been like the Hydra—impossible to kill—in going 6-0 in elimination games; the Tigers have Justin Verlander. The Giants’ lineup is filled with lesser names (Angel Pagán, Marco Scutaro, Gregor Blanco) that have exceeded expectations; the Tigers pitch Justin Verlander. But San Francisco’s rotation can hold its own against its formidable Tigers’ counterpart, which must now pitch against real major league hitters—no more of those Yankee hacks. Expect the Tigers’ shaky bullpen to blow a game or two and be its downfall in a competitive series.
Sahil Patel, Managing Editor: Tigers in 7
This series is so even it pains me to pick a team: strong starting pitching; weak bullpens; power-hitting, overweight corner infielders, etc. I think the Tigers bring more to the table down the middle of the field (shortstop, second baseman, center fielder), giving them the slight edge. Even though Giants’ second baseman Marco Scutaro is going ballistic right now, Brandon Crawford, Angel Pagán and he are simply a step behind Jhonny Peralta, Austin Jackson and Omar Infante as a unit. My Houston Astros have made it a priority to build a team through the middle of the field, and I agree that it is critical to the success of a team. Couple that with the playoff struggles of Buster Posey and Hunter Pence, along with Justin Verlander pitching three times (read: three wins for Detroit), and you’ve got a World Series title in Motown.
Alex Leichenger, News Editor: Tigers in 6
Despite losing .346-hitting outfielder Melky Cabrera to a steroid suspension and closer Brian Wilson to injury (Cabrera may be hiding in Wilson’s beard), the Giants have taken the Cardiac Cardinals’ mantle of come-from-behind darlings. But as a lifelong Dodger’s fan and proud bandwagon Cards supporter, Kung-Fu Panda and friends are no darlings for me. I have to pick Detroit for that reason alone, not to mention the three men named Miguel Cabrera (first Triple Crown winner since 1967, leading the league in home runs, RBIs, and batting average), Prince Fielder (six straight 30-homer seasons) and Justin Verlander (best pitcher in baseball, rumored to be dating Kate Upton). The Tigers also have depth in the rotation thanks to the underrated Doug Fister and a late-season resurgence by Max Scherzer. I can only hope that struggling closer José Valverde is banished to Wilson’s beard alongside Melky Cabrera.
Derek Shyr, Sports Editor: Tigers in 6
Although I would have loved to see my two favorite teams, the Yankees and Cardinals, face off in the World Series, the Giants and Tigers have truly played phenomenally this postseason. Whether it’s their daunting lineups or their solid starting rotation, these two teams are evenly matched; in the end, however, the advantages go to the Tigers. While Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval have been extremely impressive for the Giants, Austin Jackson, Delmon Young and Jhonny Peralta have played just as well for Detroit. Add Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera to that trio, and you’ve got one heck of a lineup. Although Barry Zito had an amazing performance against a tough Cardinals lineup, Justin Verlander is hands-down the best pitcher in the league. With Verlander outdueling Zito in both games one and five, the series will come down to Doug Fister in game six, where, with run support, he will help Motown reach its fifth title.
Danny Schwartz, Sports Reporter: Tigers in 7
The Tigers and the Giants are perfect examples of everything going right and peaking in the playoffs—solid starting pitching, timely hitting from both superstars and no-names and getting healthy at the right time. Ousting my beloved Yankees in what seemed to be an easy four games was personally heartbreaking, but it also demonstrated how ready the Tigers are for a shot at the title. A double dose of the virtuous Justin Verlander (I personally would like to trade lives with him, but I’m not yet sure how—possibly by peeing into a magical fountain?) against overpaid-and-underperforming punching bag Barry Zito is more than a little one-sided. Offensively, Detroit is pretty stacked, led by the much-hyped power duo of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder and with a significant (and surprising) contribution at the plate from outfielder Delmon Young. San Francisco has its fair share of pop from baby-faced catcher Buster Posey and the pudgy Pablo Sandoval, but the Giants’ real offense comes from clutch rallies led by Angel Pagán and Marco Scutaro. San Francisco might have enough magic and mojo to come from behind at the end of a couple of games against Detroit’s inconsistent bullpen, but in the end, it won’t be enough to contend with Detroit, who will be 2012’s World Series champs.
Daniel Kurzner, Sports Reporter: Giants in 7
Justin Verlander has been a machine in the postseason, posting a 0.74 ERA so far with all three starts lasting for at least seven innings. However, even if the Tigers win Verlander’s starts in games one and five and take an early lead in the series, the Giants are 6-0 this postseason in elimination games. The Tigers’ bullpen is a huge liability, and I’m sure I don’t need to remind anyone that Phil Coke is now closing games for them. Both lineups have enjoyed solid run production, so relief pitching is going to play a huge role. The Giants may go down, but clutch hitting will pull them out when their backs are against the wall.