The Giants are lucky. They are getting all the breaks and the snake bitten Tigers can’t do anything right. That seems to be the overriding emotion of the World Series up the this point.

While no single baseball game or seven game series is without an enormous amount of variance and random chance, the Giants are often the authors of their own good fortune. Not to mention the helping hand the Tigers provide. The Giants are indeed lucky that Jim Leyland insists on hitting Quintin Berry second. The Giants are also lucky enough to get to face the Tigers beleaguered bullpen. Getting a great start from Barry Zito while Justin Verlander lays an egg (relatively) is pretty much as lucky as it gets but the Giants, like it or lump it, are good.

San Francisco is a good team getting good pitching and playing tremendous defense facing a team providing little in the way of resistance at the plate. All that good pitching and great defense and enough hitting to counteract the “none” offense of the Tigers gives the Giants a commanding 3-0 series lead after a second consecutive shutout, beating Detroit 2-0.

The defense and pitching go hand-in-hand and look like the biggest difference maker in the this series so far. In the World Series, the Giants are simply that much better at turning balls in play into outs – the Giants key to victory to this point.

The Giants defensive efficiency rating (rate at which balls in play are converted into outs) through the first two games was a lofty .786. The Tigers? .705. There is an element of luck and no small amount of statistical noise which makes these differences as numbers irrelevant. But the reality at the core of these numbers is unshakeable: the Tigers are a brutal defense club, one that freely gifted the Giants repeated chances to cash runners as well as failed to field balls the Giants airtight D hoovered up.

Not only the number of double plays and catches but the quality of such plays. Thinking back to the highlight reel catches Giants left fielder Gregor Blanco provides in addition to the picture perfect relay throw to nail Prince Fielder early in Game Two. Blanco added to his highlight pack in the ninth inning tonight, making a great running grab in foul territory.

The Giants defenders supported their pitchers are every turn in San Francisco. With the scene shifting to Detroit, very little changed. More brilliant double plays and a general sense of competency that seems to elude the Tigers in the field.

The Tigers offense is more than complicit in their total lack of offensive output. Good defense is nice but the Tigers often made things very, very easy for the Giants defense in the early going. Lazy popups and ground balls hit directly at capable fielders does not a rally make. Ryan Vogelsong only struck out three batters against four walks but he got a big K when he needed it most: striking out Quintin Barry with the bases loaded and only one out.

The disparity in the in-play average numbers and the “fluky” hits which stand out in the mind suggest the Giants are either a lucky team or the Tigers are an unlucky bunch of saps. No manner of hedging or scoffing changes the one, immutable fact of this World Series: the San Francisco Giants are just one win away from taking the title home.

Win Expectancy Chart of Density


Source: FanGraphs

Ryan Vogelsong Lives Without Fear

Tonight was not Ryan Vogelsong’s finest outing but he certainly danced between the raindrops with aplomb. When the Tigers finally did threaten, Vogelsong went straight after Quintin Berry and Miguel Cabrera, busting the Triple Crown winner inside twice in a row — with fastballs! — like he just don’t care.

A big ballpark backed by excellent defense? Sure, “pitch to contact” or whatever. Vogelsong scraped and battled and left the game with the lead. Against a reeling offense, that is a recipe for success indeed.

Anibal Sanchez’s total lack of command until he became awesome

The second inning was an especially unpleasant one for Anibal Sanchez. He seemed to loose all manner of control in one moment then got hit hard in the next. His defense cost him two bases (which turned into a run) and the bullpen stirred as the potential for a blow up outing loomed.

Sanchez rediscovered his release point and went on to dominate the Giants over the next five innings, finishing up with a strong line of 7 IP, 6 H, 8 K, 1 BB. He didn’t quite qualify for the Shamsky Award (that goes to Austin Jackson, who was great at the plate in addition to the field except for That One Play) but Sanchez certainly did his part. It just wasn’t enough.

That Lincecum Character Showed Up in Relief Again

If your soul is so hard and fandom so dogmatic that you, as a baseball fan, cannot enjoy the exploits of one Big Time Timmy Jim, I have legitamite pity for you and your lot in life. There are very few — if any — baseball players around whom the masses seem to rally. Everyone (within reason) loves Tim Lincecum. His change up is his gift to the world, our love is the least we can do to reciprocate.

MLB on Fox: Where Synergy Lives

Still: New Girl developed in a very solid little ensemble/hang out show. They humanized Zooey’s character beyond her grating quirks and gave Max Greenfield the screen time his breakout character “Schmidt” deserves. Eminently watchable. Or not, whatever.

Taco Commercials and Platform Leveraging Aside, Fox Does Some Cool Stuff

From Twitterer Sara (@gidget) comes this amazing super slomo gif of Buster Posey putting his next-level reflexes on display.

Tweets of the Night

Tweet of the year, it says here.

Random Observations

Man, the Tigers look awful right now. I, for one, look forward to a combative Detroit press corps singling out each and every underperforming star for character reasons. I’m sure I’m not alone in this.

Brandon Crawford can turn himself a double play, you know?

Brandon Belt can turn what looks like a high leverage at bat into a high leverage staring contest with the best of them.

There are many interpretations of Hunter Pence and his…unique looks. Via the ever-reliable @Mererog comes this mental image whenever Hunter Pence scuttles onto her screen:

There might only be one baseball game remaining this season. I hate you for laying down like this, Detroit.

Comments (14)

  1. Pagan looks like he has some serious vertical there.

    Also, you are killin’ it Drew. Keep up the good work.

  2. It makes me sick that the Giants are on the verge of their second title in 3 years. Granted they have excellent pitching, I can’t get out of my mind the fact that Cody Ross and Pat Burrell in 2010, and Marco Scutaro and Hunter Pence in 2012 have provided this team with its missing pieces. Teams spend countless hours trying to put together winning franchises and the fucking Giants just scoop bums off of the scrap heap and are rewarded with Championships. It’s fucking bullshit dog luck. Even their pitching, if you consider Ryan Vogelsong and Barry Zito, has had substantial contributions from players who were scrapped off the bottom of someone else’s shoes. And yes, I know Zito signed a huge contract and never lived up to it, but still…these fucking Giants couldn’t be luckier.

    • you dont know anything about baseball

    • Scutaro and Pence are far from bums.

      • Yes, I may have overstated my opinions of Scutaro and Pence. But the fact remains for me that I could stomach the Giants winning it all in 2010, or winning it all in 2012, but having them win both seasons is a little much for me to handle. Granted, I’m a Phillies fan and am certainly bitter of their success, and the fact that Pence did nothing for Philadelphia when they needed him to, it still remains that in both season the Giants have been extremely lucky in both their trade deadline acquisitions and bounces on the field. Never mind mentioning the fact that the Series started in S.F., one of the top 5 toughest places to play, because a P.E.D. riddled Giant pushed the N.L. over the A.L. in the All-Star Game. I mean seriously, the shit that has fallen the Giants way in these two seasons is beyond ridiculous.

        • I can see there is luck involved in some general ways with SF, but Pence OPSed .954 with Phillie in 2011 and .784 in 2012. He OPSed .671 with SF — and has OPSed under .600 in the playoffs. He isn’t really part of this story.

    • I’ve heard this a bunch of times…I don’t think it’s all luck (saying that discredits their talent, which they certainly have), but I do think they’ve gotten some ridiculously lucky breaks in the World Series.

      I think people are bummed that the Tigers have rolled over like this and haven’t given the Giants a challenge when the WS is supposed to be Best Team 1 vs Best Team 2 when it really looks like Best Team 1 vs. the Astros. The Tigers are a very good team, and it’s unfair that the Giants play them now when they’re slumping. It’s more of a criticism of the postseason in general, mainly that a team could suddenly slump during the worst time to do so…and every team slumps.

  3. 2006 St. Louis Cardinals – 13th best regular season record. World Series Champions,

    Just saying — it might sound funny, but this is not “what happens”. It is simply what is currently happening.

    • Both teams that won their divisions, not even wild cards cheaters

      • If the rules let you do it, and you’re still a “cheater”, then the rules should change. But it must be nice for Detroit and SL, because they get all this excitement from teams that would never be there in the first place without a non-competitive system to prop them up. There should at least be a draw to let other teams play in the B divisions from time to time.

  4. I, for one, am happy with my Giant overlords.
    (don’t gloat. don’t gloat. don’t gloat.)

  5. I remember listening to Up and In one time and professor parks and Goldstein were talking about the idea of a super reliever or a long reliever somebody that could go 3 innings or so every couple days. The guy that they used as an example of who could do it was Lincecum referring to him as the guy with the rubber arm.

    To me if he could be converted into 3 inning machine going multiple times a week he would be as valuable as he would be as a starter.

    If these small results could be translated to a full season on shit you better get used to the Giant overlords.

    • I was totally thinking about that episode last night, too. I would *love* it if they had the balls to try something like that in the long term.

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