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World Series Preview, Part 2: Offense

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In part 2 of the Sidepoints World Series preview, I will examine the offenses of both the Rangers and the Giants.

Texas Rangers Offense:

On the field, the Rangers have the best player on either team in Josh Hamilton.  The ALCS MVP has battled the demons of substance addiction in his life, and through his hard work, has been able to push them aside and ascend to his place as one of the game’s best players. Fortunately for the Rangers Hamilton isn’t alone as they also have the second best player in the series in Nelson Cruz. This might upset Giants fans that are correct in their perception of Buster Posey as a great player, but Nelson Cruz is a superstar just finally realizing some of his powers. He’s Pearl Jam’s Ten album; the perfect storm where talent doesn’t realize how brilliant it is, but the world does. Factor in Comeback Player of the Year Vladimir Guerrero and unheralded stars in Michael Young and Ian Kinsler, and the Rangers present a difficult challenge to the Giants pitching staff.  The Rangers regulars bring in a VORP (value over replacement player) of 250.5 even with the -3.8 from catcher Bengie Molina. Molina isn’t much to get excited about, but he is may be the most fortunate player on the field as he is guaranteed a World Series ring this season after being traded to the Rangers from the Giants midseason. To his credit, he has been defying logic this postseason and putting up a very good .922 OPS.  Filling out the lineup will be the slick-fielding, no-bat shortstop Elvis Andrus, who adds speed, but less power than a dead horse. He has the ability to be a catalyst if he gets on base, and isn’t afraid to take a walk if it’s there.  First Baseman Mitch Moreland has won the starting job from a disappointing Jorge Cantu. Moreland came to Texas as a throw-in in the Cliff Lee deal and has also been quite solid in the playoffs. The final outfield position will probably be manned by David Murphy who quietly had a pretty nice season with the Rangers and will not hurt the lineup by any means.  Much maligned Jeff Francouer brings his plus-plus arm and his ability to platoon against lefties.  Expecting much more than that is asking a little much, but Frenchy has the talent in him to be a solid player, just not the plate discipline to be much more than a 4th outfielder or platoon player.

Projected Lineup (with DH) AVG OPS VORP
SS Elvis Andrus .265 .643 8.0
3B Michael Young .284 .774 27.9
CF Josh Hamilton .359 1.044 80.5
RF-DH Vladimir Guerrero .300 .841 37.9
LF Nelson Cruz .318 .950 42.7
2B Ian Kinsler .286 .794 26.6
RF David Murphy .291 .807 22.9
C Bengie Molina .249 .623 -3.8
1B Mitch Moreland .255 .833 7.8

San Francisco Giants Offense:

The Giants lineup of veterans and reclamation projects certainly won’t scare anyone into submission. Aside from outstanding rookie catcher Buster Posey, the regulars are built up of other team’s throwaways. The average age of the projected lineup, not taking into account young, but disappointing Pablo Sandoval, is pushing 33. This lineup is not built for the long haul, but this year they don’t need to be.  Buster Posey is a revelation, and is in the conversation as the most talented rookie this season along with the Braves Jason Heyward and the Indians Carlos Santana. Posey, a midseason call-up, when Molina was shipped to Texas, brings leadership beyond his years and a great middle of the order bat that the Giants can build around. The Giants also got an excellent season out of Aubrey Huff who, because of Posey’s late call-up led the team in just about every offensive category. Key contributors Freddy Sanchez and Edgar Renteria brought their contact hitting style to the lineup, and had about as good of seasons as they are capable of at this stage in their careers. Andres Torres embodies the Giants lineup. He is a scrappy, solid regular, who won’t wow anyone, but he will do his job to the best that he can.  On the flipside is Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval coming off of an outstanding 2009, he has shown nothing in 2010 that would lead anyone to believe that he is a cornerstone of a team. His walk and strikeout rate has stayed about the same, but the rest of his numbers have gone down at incredible rates. His OPS (on base percentage + slugging percentage) was .943 last year; this year, it’s down over 200 points to an abysmal .732. Finishing are midseason pickups Cody Ross and Pat Burrell. Ross has been one of the stories of the playoffs to far. If the Rangers pitch him inside like the Phillies did, look out, he will have a big series.  Pat Burrell has found his youth in the Bay Area and is looking a lot like the Pat Burrell of old. He still won’t hit for average, but he gives the Giants some much needed pop in the lineup. Another guy with cheap power is Juan Uribe. He can’t be relied on to carry a team, but he is second on the team in home runs and will drive the ball on occasion. The Giants have no bench, which will hurt them when they have to play in the American League park. Their offense is obviously flawed, and won’t carry them to a title, but Giants fans are hoping that they can at least score a few runs a game and rely on their excellent starting pitching to win their first World Series.

Projected Lineup (with DH) AVG OPS VORP
CF Andres Torres .268 .822 32.7
2B Freddy Sanchez .292 .739 18.2
1B Aubrey Huff .290 .891 48.9
C Buster Posey .305 .862 32.5
LF Pat Burrell .252 .817 17.2
RF Cody Ross .269 .735 13.3
3B-DH Pablo Sandoval .268 .732 14.7
3B Juan Uribe .248 .750 20.2
SS Edgar Renteria .276 .706 9.8

Edge:

The clear edge in offense is with the Rangers, they are much deeper, and much more capable of scoring runs.  Even taking into account inflated numbers because of their ballpark, their lineup is just more devastating than the Giants.  The Rangers are scoring runs like machines during this run and have scored almost twice as many total runs as the Giants: 59-30. The Rangers have only been held under 4 runs 3 times in their 11 playoff games to this point.  Contrast that with the Giants who are averaging 3 runs a game and have only scored over 3 runs 3 times. San  Francisco had better hope that their bats wake up or this could be over in 5.

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