The 2010 World Series is upon us and it is refreshing to see someone other than the Phillies or the Yankees battle it out for the championship. Traditional World Series matchups usually include teams from the East Coast and the Midwest that have huge payrolls. This years World Series features the Texas Rangers, who are making their first ever appearance at the World Series, and the San Francisco Giants, who have not been back to the fall classic since 2002. Both the Rangers and the Giants had to go through the established favorites to earn the pennant, as the Rangers defeated the defending champion, New York Yankees in the ALCS, and the Giants defeated the Philadelphia Phillies who were last years National League champions.
The 2010 Major League Baseball season has been characterized as the year of the pitcher and it is fitting that the opening game tonight features a legendary pitching matchup between Tim Lincecum of the Giants and Cliff Lee of the Rangers. Lincecum and Lee have been two of the best pitchers this post season. Lee has a perfect 3-0 record with a filthy ERA of 0.75, in this post season, while Lincecum has a 2-1 record and 1.93 ERA.
While game one looks to be a pitchers duel the series should not be short of offensive fireworks. The Rangers lead the league in team batting average, anchored by one of the hottest hitters in baseball right now, Josh Hamilton. Hamilton, who was named the MVP of the ALCS, lead the league in batting average and was tied for 10th place in the league in homeruns with 32. The rest of the Rangers lineup is a force to be reckoned with, made up of big hitters like Michael Young, Vladimir Guerrero, and Elvis Andrus. This lineup will be sure to give the Giants starting pitchers, such as Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez, as well as Lincecum, major problems.
On the other side of the diamond, the scrappy lineup of the Giants is on fire coming up with hits in the clutch throughout the playoffs. What makes the Giants such a tough team is their pitching. The Rangers may have a start-studded offense but the Giants pitching staff boasts the leagues’ best ERA, at 3.36, and they lead the league in strikeouts with 1331. What makes the Giants pitching staff so formidable is that they are solid from top to bottom. Using their spectacular pitching, the Giants lead the league in saves as well. They have received quality outings from Lincecum, Cain, and Sanchez and are anchored by one of the leagues’ best closers in Brian Wilson.
This World Series is a classic match up between great pitching and great hitting and should produce long and exciting battles between batter and pitcher. However, the Rangers have the edge and should be expected to win the series. The main reason for this is Cliff Lee. Lee blew by the New York Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays, two of the best offenses in the major leagues. While the Giants lineup is strong they are not the same caliber as the Yankees or Rays. Lee should be able to shut them down and at least take game one. Lee will likely resurface and pitch in game four and maybe even game seven if needed. Lee should be able to deliver two wins while the Rangers offense can take care of the Giants pitchers in games two and three. Lee has loads of postseason experience, which will make him more dependable and send a calm through the Rangers clubhouse. The Giants offense will lose their magic and revert to their average offensive output that placed them 15th in the league in batting average.
The Rangers offense will quickly break through the Giants pitching and score runs in bunches, much like they did to the Yankees in the ALCS. This will make the job for Lee, C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, and the rest of the Rangers pitching staff much easier as the Giants will press, trying to keep up with the high-powered Rangers offense.
The Rangers will take the series in six games with Cliff Lee being the MVP of the series. The Rangers are just too strong of a team for the Giants, as they have legitimately established themselves as a power in the American League.
by Matthew Freter