The postseason began with several teams that relied heavily on the long ball. It will end with a World Series matchup of teams that don't. The Tigers, despite their quarter-ton middle of the order, ranked 22nd in the majors in runs produced by homers this season. The Giants were dead last. Detroit scores a bit over a third of its runs on long balls; San Francisco, less than a quarter.
This is an article from the Oct. 29, 2012 issue
The difference between the Giants and the teams the Tigers beat to get to the Series, the Yankees and the A's, is significant. Oakland and New York were easy prey for the Detroit pitching staff, which broke the old AL record this year with 1,318 strikeouts. San Francisco, however, takes a different approach at the plate. The Giants had the second-fewest strikeouts in the NL and the third-best batting average. They're not hackers, either; they were seventh in the league in walks and fourth in OBP. That's how you beat the Tigers—by putting the ball in play and exploiting their lack of defensive range, especially in the infield—and the Giants are well-equipped to do it. Succeeding against the Tigers' starters would open the door to the very shaky Detroit bullpen.
The Tigers won't be helpless if they have to win high-scoring games. In Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder they have a 3--4 combination that provides average, OBP and power. Despite winning the Triple Crown, Cabrera was intentionally walked just 17 times this year. That's what having a great lefthanded hitter behind you will do. The Tigers' offense largely comes down to those two players driving in leadoff man Austin Jackson (.300/.377/.479) because—despite Delmon Young's MVP performance in the ALCS—they generally get little production out of the other six lineup spots. The Tigers can't win the World Series unless Jackson, Cabrera and Fielder hit.
Detroit has MVP candidates in Justin Verlander and Cabrera and supporting stars in Max Scherzer and Jackson. But the Giants have NL MVP-favorite Buster Posey, a deeper lineup and a far superior bullpen. The key to the World Series is in the matchup: The Giants' offense will make the Tigers' defense and bullpen work hard, and in doing so, score a lot of runs. Verlander will win a game, and the Tigers will pick off another. But in the end we'll be back where we were two years ago. Giants in six.