Giants vs. Rangers?
“My surprise wasn’t that we were better than people seemed to expect. The surprise was that we were able to overtake a team, who in my opinion, was the best team in baseball for 161 games in Texas. That was the surprise. They are a great team…Texas had a tough four or five games but I don’t subscribe to the theory that the bottom fell out and they became a bad team. They were the best team in the game for 161 games.”
Oakland general manager Billy Beane in an interview with Tyler Bleszinski of Athletics Nation.
“I can’t believe I’m losing to this guy!”
Jon Lovitz as Michael Dukakis about George Bush in a classic 1988 Saturday Night Live satire of the Presidential debate.
The San Francisco Giants are champions of the world. The Rangers were a disappointment in the end. The Giants out-played the rest of the field…
But after watching the Giants for the past three weeks…just exactly in how many positions are they better than the Rangers?
Catching? Definitely. Buster Posey is the best in baseball.
First base? Brandon Belt and Mitch Moreland both hit .275. Belt had a .360 on-base percentage and a .421 slugging percentage. Moreland had a .321 on-base and a .468 slugging, giving him an eight point edge in OPS.
Second base? Marco Scutaro had an incredible three-month run with the Giants. He has also had a couple of pretty good years over his career. He has never been considered Ian Kinsler’s equal.
Shortstop? Brandon Crawford over Elvis Andrus? No way
Third base? Pablo Sandoval has been magical lately. He has never been considered better than Adrian Beltre.
Left field? Melky Cabrera was the Giants left fielder for most of the season before getting busted with a 50-game suspension. In the playoffs it was Gregor Blanco. Certainly you take David Murphy over Blanco.
Center field? Josh Hamilton over Angel Pagan.
Right field? Hunter Pence is a better player than he showed for the Giants. Nelson Cruz did not have his best year for the Rangers. They are two different styles of players. Make your own call on this one.
Call it five wins for the Rangers, one for the Giants and two tossups. Maybe it’s because the Giants had Joaquin Arias as their utility guy as opposed to Michael Young.
Ah pitching…of course.
The Giants had the big three of Matt Cain, Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner. The Rangers had Yu Darvish, Matt Harrison and Derek Holland.
Let’s at least point this out. Here is the WAR (wins over replacement) for the Giants three starters: Cain (3.5), Vogelsong (1.7) and Bumgarner (1.8). The Rangers? Darvish (4.0), Harrison (6.2) and Holland (1.7). That’s from www.baseball-reference,com
But the Giants had Barry Zito, who was 15-8 with a 4.15 ERA. The Rangers had Colby Lewis and then Ryan Dempster. They combined to go 13-9 with a 4.09 ERA.
The Giants had Tim Lincecum, who was 10-15 with a 5.18 ERA and then was brilliant in the playoffs. Rangers fifth starters Neftali Feliz, Scott Feldman and Roy Oswalt combined to go 11-15 with a 5.17 ERA just as staters.
Look, if Lincecum is at his best, there’s no comparison to anybody. But if Feliz had stayed healthy or Oswalt had pitched like expected…
Bullpen? All across the board, the Rangers relievers had better collective numbers than the Giants during the regular season. Lower ERA, opponent’s batting average and baserunners per nine innings, higher save percentage and strikeouts per nine innings. Lincecum gave the Giants bullpen a huge boost during the playoffs.
The Giants certainly wouldn’t have minded putting up their bullpen up against anybody if Brian Wilson had stayed healthy all season.
So overall, are the Rangers the better team? Seems like it. Seemed like it two years ago too.
From a talent standpoint, the Giants don’t seem to overwhelm anybody. Maybe that’s why they were one game away from being eliminated over the first two rounds against the Reds and Cardinals.
But two years ago they completed out-played and out-pitched the Rangers. They did so against the Tigers as well. The sum of their parts seem much greater than each of them individually, kind of like the Orioles and the Athletics.
Or as somebody likes to say, “It’s not the best team that wins on a given day, it’s the team that plays the best.”
There be the rub.
The Giants do that better than anybody and now they can party like it’s 2010. The Rangers are still trying to figure out what happened.