It’s World Series Time!

After the Giant’s 3-2 series-clinching win Saturday night over the Phillies, the World Series was set. The series begins Wednesday in San Fran where they’ll play two, then three games in Texas, and back to SF for the last two (if the series goes that far).

This postseason has shown us what a healthy Texas team can do. The Rangers scored 38 runs against New York and 21 against the Rays, for an average of 5.36 runs per game. Oh, and they have some guy named Cliff Lee.

The Giants weren’t picked by many people, including myself, to make the World Series, but here they are. The Giants sported an anemic offense early this season, and even the additions of Buster Posey (.862 OPS) in late May, Pat Burrell (.872 OPS) in early June, and Cody Ross (.819 OPS) in mid August didn’t make a difference in the run-scoring column. Pitching and defense is where it’s at with this group, and having home field advantage may be the deciding factor. To the stats!

In my first postseason write-up, I measured run-scoring potential based on runs scored during the season. But this is the World Series, so I have to get fancy now. I am going to use Fangraph’s wOBA for each team’s projected lineup, weighted slightly more heavily for guys at the top of the order. After adjusting for ballparks, I project the Rangers to have a 13-point wOBA advantage.

Translation: Rangers +0.41 runs. Not as many as I originally thought.

Pitching is tricky to gauge, in part because these two ballparks play very differently. AT&T suppresses homeruns to lefties (triples alley factor) by 18%, while the Ballpark at Arlington increases homeruns to lefties by that same 18%. This means right-handed pitchers have an advantage in San Francisco that they wouldn’t enjoy in Texas. Matt Cain is right-handed, and he should start games 2 and 6 at AT&T, the ballpark that has enabled him to post ERAs much lower than predictions would indicate. Timmy will start game 1 in SF, and then likely pitch game 5 in Texas. Fortunately for the Giants, he’s a groundball pitcher and won’t be hurt as much by the effects of the Ranger’s ballpark. Here are the pitching matchups one-by-one, using my own ERA predictor, xERA.

Park SF Starter xERA TEX Starter xERA
AT&T Timmy 3.25 Lee 3.28
AT&T Cain 3.85 Wilson 4.45
Arlington Sanchez 4.4 Lewis 4.13
Arlington Bumgarner 4.25 Hunter 4.91
Arlington Timmy 3.57 Lee 3.36
AT&T Cain 3.85 Wilson 4.45
AT&T Sanchez 3.95 Lewis 3.67
Weighted Average 3.87 4.04

Advantage: Giants +0.13 (since starters don’t go the whole game, it’s not 0.17).

As for the pens, xFIP tells us the giants were better by about 0.3 runs, but the playoffs bring out each team’s best relievers. (We might even see Timmy out there again in relief!) So I’m just going to take the xFIPs of the top 4 relievers on each team.

SF Reliever xFIP TEX Rel. xFIP
Javier Lopez 2.36 Darren Oliver 2.86
Brian Wilson 2.99 Frank Francisco 3.31
Sergio Romo 3.45 Neftali Feliz 3.68
Santiago Casilla 3.64 Darren O’Day 4.06
Average 3.11 3.48

 

Advantage: Giants +0.11

In terms of defense, the Giants make a lot of plays, specifically in the outfield where Andres Torres has been a UZR beast. Though his career sample is not large, it does suggest he can truly play the outfield this well. The Giants UZR ranked second among all major league teams, though a regression from Pat Burrell will suck my prediction down a bit. The Rangers were no slouches in the field themselves, and games missed from Hamilton, Kinsler and Cruz didn’t help much. When Francoeur plays the third outfield position, they have three above-average guys out there.

Advantage: Giants +0.18

 

In the end, it’s the Giants by 0.01 runs, which might as well be 0. The Giant’s advantages are all pitching and defensive, whereas the Rangers make up ground on the offensive side. While it looks almost dead even, I don’t want to copout of making a prediction. I think home field advantage wins it for the Giants. GM, Brian Sabean, built these guys to win in this Park.

First game tomorrow: 4:57 PT

 

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