Monday, October 25, 2010

2010 World Series Preview: Giants vs. Rangers

This will be a basic preview, evaluating both teams offensively and defensively and how they match up. Today we learned that Tim Lincecum will pitch in Game 1, Cain in Game 2, and Sanchez and Bumgarner will pitch in Texas for games 3 and 4, respectively. Okay, let's begin with the pitching.


The headlines will all be about Lincecum vs. Lee in Game 1, but both teams have other quality starters. The Rangers' CJ Wilson will face Cain, Colby Lewis will face Sanchez, and Bumgarner will go against Tommy Hunter.

For Game 1, you probably have to give a slight edge to Lee, but both pitchers are so good, it really doesn't matter. In 3 starts so far this postseason, Lee has gone 24 innings, struck out 34 batters, and walked just 1. That's the thing about Lee: his command and location are impeccable and he almost never walks guys (his 1.003 WHIP, 10.28 K/BB and 0.8 BB/9 led the AL this year). It's hard to find any way to beat Cliff Lee, but the Giants will probably have to take a similar approach to what they did vs Roy Halladay. Since Lee will be in the strike zone, they need to be aggressive. Easier said than done of course, but patience will not work. Tim Lincecum is obviously a much different pitcher, as he'll count on the Texas hitters swinging at his nasty changeup to get strikeouts. This is going to be another great postseason pitching matchup.

After Game 1, it becomes pretty clear that while Texas has good starting pitching, it doesn't compare to the Giants staff. In Game 2, you have to like Matt Cain the edge over C.J. Wilson. When the playoffs started and Cain started to get a little more exposure, a bunch of "Matt Cain is actually lucky and pretty average" started popping up. It may be easy for national writers writers for other teams to make that observation because his FIP and xFIP* aren't too impressive (career 3.84 & 4.43), but it's simply not true. Cain does depend on his defense - he's a flyball pitcher who doesn't get a ton of strikeouts - but that doesn't have to mean he's an average pitcher, it just means he's a pitcher who relies on his defense. Consider that since 2007, Cain's highest ERA has been 3.76. That's 4 seasons of an ERA at or below 3.76. And his ERA+* in that same period has never dipped below 123. An ERA+ of 100 is average. That can't just be 4 years of coincidence. Matt Cain is a very good pitcher who relies on his defense and he's at his best when he locates that fastball. That is all. Glad I got that out of the way. His counterpart in this game, C.J. Wilson, seems to be the Rangers version of Jonathan Sanchez. Wilson led the AL in walks during the season, just like Sanchez, but he's able to get out of it because he strikes out a fair amount of guys and batters hit only .217 against him. Sounds a lot like Sanchez, huh? Because of all those walks, the Giants will need to be patient. Wilson is a very good pitcher who will be hard to hit.

So, C.J. Wilson = Jonathan Sanchez. And C.J. Wilson > Colby Lewis. I'm no good at math, but I think through the transitive property or something, that proves that Sanchez > Lewis. Sanchez can be inconsistent, yes. And I'm sure many have soured on him after that not-so-good outing in Game 6. But when he's on, like he has been for the better part of the last 2 months, he is GOOD. His strikeout rate this year, 9.5 K/9, was very good and he held batters to just a .204 average, best in the NL. Colby Lewis ain't no slouch, though. Lewis, as you may know, had a terrible major league career, went to Japan for a couple of years, then came back and had a great year for the Rangers. I can't pretend like I've seen a ton of Lewis, but his K/9 of 8.8 and 1.189 WHIP are quite good. This matchup is actually pretty good, and it will all depend on which Sanchez we see.

In Game 4, a big edge has to go to Bumgarner over Tommy Hunter. Hunter had a good year for the Rangers: 3.73 ERA, 1.242 WHIP, but his year was just a little better than average. His stuff isn't great (just 4.8 K/9), so he doesn't have the natural ability to overpower hitters. In 2 starts so far in this postseason, he's pitched 7.1 innings and has a 6.14 ERA. Bumgarner is more of a flyball pitcher who also relies on location but can get a strikeout when he needs to (7 K/9). So far, Bumgarner has shown great poise and ability to get out of stressful situations for a guy who's only 21 years old. He's gone 12.2 innings with 12 strikeouts and a 3.55 ERA in 2 starts and a relief appearance during this postseason.

One more note: The Giants probably have an edge in the bullpen too. Brian Wilson is the best closer in the league, and the Giants have several other guys like Sergio Romo, Ramon Ramirez, and Santiago Casilla, who, even though they haven't performed well so far in the postseason, had very, very good years. And I assume Javier Lopez's assignment for this series will be to come in and shutdown Josh Hamilton. The Rangers also have a very good closer, Neftali Feliz, and a few good arms in Darren O'Day, Darren Oliver, and Derek Holland, but the edge has to go the Giants.


The Rangers offense is their strength and it's very good. In the AL, they ranked 5th in runs scored, 6th in team slugging, 5th in HRs, and 5th in team OPS. Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Nelson Cruz, Josh Hamilton, Vladimir Guerrero, and David Murphy are all good hitters. Hamilton, the probable AL MVP, and Cruz are particularly scary. Guerrero can also be very dangerous.

We all know about the Giants offense: not very good, but definitely able to put enough runs to win games. Andres Torres and Freddy Sanchez started to get hot towards the end of the NLCS and Buster Posey had a pretty good series. Cody Ross was a god, but we'll have to see if he can keep that up. It'd be nice if the power guys, Huff and Burrell, got going because with them working, the Giants offense isn't so bad.

It's clear that the Rangers have a huge advantage here.

The DH

There's been quite a bit of debate over who should be the DH for the Giants when they play in Texas. Some like the idea of having Burrell do it so a better defensive outfielder can play. Some don't want to do that, because Burrell doesn't like to DH and says it affects his hitting. I don't buy into that way of thinking. Others want Sandoval as the DH because he seemed to be hitting well in his limited at-bats during the NLCS, but his defense kept him out of the lineup. I don't really know what I would do. In terms of having the best hitters in the lineup, having Sandoval DH and Burrell stay in LF is probably the best option. On the other hand, Burrell always gets taken out early for defense anyway, so if he is the designated hitter, that doesn't have to happen anymore. The other thing that comes into play is that I think Pablo Sandoval hasn't necessarily played his last game at 3B. His defense has been bad, but there aren't many great options over there, as Renteria is certainly not perfect and probably shouldn't be starting every game. In all likelihood, the DH duties will probably be split between Sandoval and Burrell.


I feel obligated to say something about the defense. The Giants don't make many errors, but they aren't a good defense. Really, Torres and Sanchez are probably the only above average defenders. Maybe Cody Ross, too. Buster Posey is solid of course. But the Rangers have a better defense. Elvis Andrus is great defensively and the entire infield defense isn't bad at all. However, for at least one of the games in SF, Vladimir Guerrero will be playing the outfield. That's gonna be interesting and if I were the Giants I'd hit it as much as I could to him. He doesn't move too well anymore.


On paper, the Rangers are the favorites. The Giants have better pitching, but it's not like the Rangers have a terrible staff. And the Rangers have a huge advantage on offense. So, it's a lot like the series against the Phillies. But as Giants fans, we know this team well and we know that the Giants can beat anyone. Their pitching is so good, that they can shut down the best offenses. And while the Giants' offense is usually pretty mediocre, they don't need to score a lot and they aren't incapable of scoring. The Phillies also had a good offense and a much better pitching staff than the Rangers, but the Giants outplayed them. This is going to be a very good series. Don't count on it going any less than 6 games.

*If you are unfamiliar with FIP, xFIP, or ERA+, you can click on those links for explanations.


  1. Nice post but what about the speed-advantage for the Rangers? They scare me to death ...


  2. Yeah, the Rangers do have some speed. We'll just have to keep them off the bases!

  3. This is it! The Texas Rangers finally got their ticket to the World Series 2010! and fans start also to get their Texas Rangers Tickets It was no walk in the park.