Well, it all comes down to this. 30 teams entered spring training with their hopes set on World Series dreams (except for the Houston Astros and Pittsburgh Pirates, of course), and now, only two remain, as the Detroit Tigers and San Francisco Giants will be facing off in the Fall Classic.
Their paths to the World Series have been wildly divergent, starting with the division series. The Tigers had to stave off a rally from the Oakland Athletics, while the Giants – who fell down in a 0-2 hole to the Cincinnati Reds – had to win three straight if they wanted to advance.
And while the Tigers made mince meat out of the Yankees in the ALCS en route to a series sweep, the Giants once again battled back to keep their season alive, this time winning their final three games of the NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, who had a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Roster-wise, the Tigers have the advantage. They can hit better (tip of the hat to AL Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera) and they can pitch better – courtesy of All World Justin Verlander, who continued to dominate well into the postseason (0.74 ERA in three starts).
The Giants aren't slouches, but MVP candidate Buster Posey isn't exactly setting the world on fire with his bat in the playoffs (.600 OPS). And when it comes to pitching, they'll have their work cut out for them, especially with Barry Zito – who had an ERA north of 4.00 during the regular season – slated to start the opener on Wednesday night. Sure, Matt Cain and Ryan Vogelsong are very good, but the Giants find themselves at a significant disadvantage, as they won't have the chance to match Ace-for-Ace with the Tigers.
If I had to pick, I'd give the distinct advantage to the Tigers. They outlasted the A's, they steamrolled the Yankees, and they have two of the best players in the game on their roster. They can hit, pitch, and do all the things that you need to do to win a baseball game in October.
But, it is October, after all, and the playoffs are nothing if not random. The best team doesn't always win (as proven by almost every World Series winner, ever), and the most unlikely of players can step up on the big stage and carry a team.
Will that happen this year? Who knows. Justin Verlander might dominate like he always does, or he might fall flat on his face. Similarly, Hunter Pence might just turn into Babe Ruth and pepper the Tigers with three-hit-singles en route to a sweep. But that's the beauty of it. Anything can happen.
As far as this blogger goes, I'm sticking with the Detroit Tigers to bring home the Commissioner's Trophy in five games.