Bloomberg Sports Anchors Rob Shaw and Julie Alexandria preview this year’s edition of the Fall Classic between the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants.
TOP OFFENSIVE PLAYERS
Buster Posey, C, Giants
The clear frontrunner for the NL MVP this season has gotten off to a slow start in the playoffs hitting only .178 so far in 12 games. That being said, Posey did have perhaps the biggest hit of the year for the Giants when he took Mat Latos deep for a Grand Slam in the winner-take-all Game 5 in Cincinnati. San Francisco will be looking for more of that clutch hitting against Detroit in this series.
Miguel Cabrera, 3B, Tigers
For Miguel Cabrera, earning the first Triple Crown since 1967, and most likely an AL MVP award, was just not enough. He has now led his team to the Fall Classic as well. After hitting 44 home runs in the regular season, he has only hit one in nine games so far in the postseason, but that could change rather quickly given his prodigious power. Cabrera is back in the World Series for the first time since his rookie season in 2003 with the Marlins, and he is trying to add to his tremendous individual year with the highest team honor, a World Series ring.
Marco Scutaro, 2B, Giants
Scutaro has to be at the top of the list of best midseason acquisitions this year when he came from Colorado to San Francisco in late July. He was hitting .272 while he was with the Rockies, but he started out hot with the Giants and never cooled down, hitting .362 over the final 61 games of the season. It seems he is even hotter now heading into the World Series after a NLCS that saw him hit .500 (14 for 28) over the seven-game series against St. Louis, earning him MVP honors.
Delmon Young, DH, Tigers
It sure seems like Delmon Young enjoys playing in October. In the last two postseasons for Detroit, a total of 18 games, Young has seven home runs, which is a franchise record. Coming up as a prospect in the Tampa Bay system, Young was considered a five-tool player, but that notion is long gone since he has been the Tigers DH all season. However, it does appear that Young will need to channel his minor league days when he plays left field for the Tigers when they are in an NL ballpark in at least Games 1 and 2.
By only allowing two runs in their four starts, the only adjective that you could use to describe the starting pitchers for the Tigers against the Yankees in the ALCS was dominant. It will obviously be tough to keep that up against a hot hitting team in the Giants, but you would not put it past the rotation of Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer, who all had great numbers all season. The Giants will most likely try to get to the Tigers bullpen where they have struggled, most notably their closer Jose Valverde, who was replaced by Phil Coke after a blown save in Game 1 of the ALCS.
The starting pitching for the Giants was supposed to be their strength heading into the postseason, but it has been the offense and bullpen that has carried them through to this point. Madison Bumgarner, a 16-game winner this year, really struggled in his two postseason starts and has since been sent to the bullpen. On the other side of the coin, Barry Zito, has been a pleasant surprise for the Giants, last seen pitching 7 2/3 shutout innings with Giants facing elimination in Game 5 of the NLCS against the Cardinals. That being said, the goal for the Giants is clear. They want to get the game to their dominant bullpen for a chance to lock down four more wins.
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By Jonah Keri //
Biggest Surprise: Joel Zumaya
The injury-prone, fireballing right-hander was a wreck in 2009,
walking more than six batters per nine innings and posting an ERA near
5.00. Further removed from his latest breakdown, Zumaya rebounded
impressively this season, slashing his walk rate to 2.58/9 IP and
posting a strikeout-to-walk rate of better than 3:1. His 2.58 ERA was a
boon for fantasy players who wield relief pitchers to help with ratios.
Zumaya suffered a fractured elbow in late June though, costing him the
rest of the season and leaving his owners with only 38.1 innings of
fantasy goodness. Applaud the great comeback, but steer clear of Zumaya
at the draft table next season.
Biggest Bust: Rick Porcello
A 10-12 record and a 4.92 ERA for one of the most highly-touted young
pitchers in the game qualifies as a huge bust. But really, everyone
should have seen it coming. Porcello’s 14-9 record and 3.96 ERA came
despite an abysmal K rate of just 4.69/9 IP. It’s nearly impossible to
see sustained success when you strike out so few batters. Indeed,
Porcello’s 2010 K rate is virtually identical to his 2009 mark. It’s
just that he ran out of luck, his left on base rate plunging and his
batting average on balls in play climbing 30 points. Porcello’s not yet
22, and he actually sliced his walk rate all the way down to 2.1/9 IP
this season. He’s still got upside, just keep your expectations in check
until he starts missing more bats.
2011 Keeper Alert: Max Scherzer
After eight starts this season, Scherzer’s record stood at 1-4 with a
7.29 ERA, making the multi-team trade the Tigers pulled off last
off-season look like a potential bust. Though he’d been unlucky on balls
in play, Scherzer’s strikeout rate was also down sharply from his
stellar 2009 levels, raising concerns of an injury, or at least wonky
mechanics. Sent to Triple-A for two weeks, he straightened himself out,
then proceeded to destroy the American League. His 12-11 record and 3.50
ERA helped plenty of fantasy teams this season. But Scherzer’s
strikeout-inducting stuff (8.46 K/9 IP) could portend much bigger things
down the road, even Cy Young contention.
2011 Regression Alert: Armando Galarraga
People will remember Galarraga’s 2010 Perfect Game That Wasn’t for a
long time. Just don’t let it sway you into speculating on him in
fantasy. Galarraga’s K rate was even worse than Porcello’s this season,
and his walk rate is more than one per nine innings higher than
Porcello’s. The 4.62 ERA looks respectable and the near-perfecto might
tempt you to take a flyer next year. Don’t. His true talent points to a
pitcher whose true ability level suggests ERAs well over 5 in his
For more on Max Scherzer and the Detroit Tigers pitching staff, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Kits.