2012 World Series Preview and Predictions From WhatIfSports.com image

Giants capture second title in three years

Simulation engine predicts a San Francisco win in yet another series that goes the distance

By Joel Beall and Jake Westrich - WhatIfSports.com
October 23, 2012

PLEASE NOTE: The following is our original prediction prior to Bruce Bochy's announcement of a new Giants rotation featuring Barry Zito in Game 1, Madison Bumgarner in Game 2, Ryan Vogelsong in Game 3 and Matt Cain in Game 4. Our updated prediction is available here.

Using our MLB simulation engine we "played" the Detroit Tigers versus the San Francisco Giants in the 2012 best-of-seven World Series 1,001 times.

In the table below, you will find each team's chances of winning the World Series and how often they win in 4, 5, 6 or 7 games. The most likely scenario is the Giants beating the Tigers in seven games 18.1 percent of the time.

World Series - 1,001 Series Simulations

The playoffs, along with politics and pigskin, have ruled our television screens this fall, but another attraction has started to make its presence known on the airwaves: slasher films. With Halloween around the corner, zombies, vampires, serial slayers and other monsters have made their way back into our collective consciousness. And while the holiday and horror genre certainly have their detractors, it appears the Giants have embraced this spooky sentiment with open arms.

Channeling their inner Michael Myers and Jason Voorhees, San Francisco just won't go down, evidenced by rising from the dead in two consecutive playoff series. Instead of terrorizing Crystal Lake and Haddonfield, the scenes of the crime have been the Midwestern metropolises of Cincinnati and St. Louis, coming back from a 2-0 deficit versus the Reds in the opening round followed by fighting off elimination in three consecutive contests against the Cards in the National League Championship Series to take the Senior Circuit pennant.

World Series Top ERAs
Player ERA
Justin Verlander 3.76
Matt Cain 4.07
Ryan Vogelsong 4.35

The Giants' unearthly revival is not the only supernatural spirit they share with Halloween. Outfielder Hunter Pence's pregame speeches bear resemblance to a man possessed by a demon. The facial hair of relievers Sergio Romo and the injured-but-ever-present Brian Wilson remind one of werewolves. Marco Scutaro's triumphant NLCS performance (14 hits, four ribbies, six runs) is clearly the work of a Faustian deal. Even the team's black-and-orange uniforms evoke the colors of the October festivities. It's a narrative better suited for the "Paranormal Activity" franchise than America's pastime.

However, while slaying such a beast seems like a futile endeavor, the Tigers are armed for such a task. And we do mean "armed," as Detroit boasts baseball's version of cold-blooded villain-hunter Van Helsing in ace Justin Verlander, who is 3-0 with a 0.74 ERA and 0.62 WHIP in 24 1/3 innings this postseason. Verlander is not working alone, as contributions from Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez and Max Scherzer have correlated to a 1.02 ERA in 62 innings for Motown's starting staff this fall.

In addition to this mound magnificence, the Tigers flaunt a lineup that, much like Freddy Krueger, gives opposing hurlers nightmares. Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and All-Star Prince Fielder are the game's best one-two punch, with Austin Jackson (.300/.377/.479 line during the regular season), Delmon Young (.353 average, two home runs, six RBI and six runs in the American League Championship Series) and hard-hitting Jhonny Peralta helping out the cause. Moreover, the Tigers have already proven they are impervious to menacing environments, playing in the mausoleum known as new Yankee Stadium, as well as O.co Coliseum, whose patrons occasionally resemble those at a haunted house.

With Game 6 of the World Series falling on, you guessed it, Halloween night, which team emerges victorious in the latest edition of the Fall Classic? Thanks to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com simulation engine, we have the ability to break the series down game-by-game. Check below to see the results:

World Series Game 1
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Giants3120Simulate Game
WP: Justin Verlander LP: Barry Zito SV: Jose Valverde
Player of the Game: Justin Verlander - 6.0 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 8 Ks

Showing little rust from their five-day respite after defeating the Yankees last Thursday, the Detroit bats drew initial blood, with catcher Alex Avila smoking a two-run triple in the second inning to give Jim Leyland's squad the early advantage. The Tigers would add another in the top of the third thanks to an Omar Infante double, and with Verlander on the rubber, a 3-0 lead seemed to be all the support the reigning Cy Young winner would need.

Top BA - Giants
Player Batting Average
Marco Scutaro .361
Buster Posey .327
Angel Pagan .318

However, for the first time this fall, Verlander proved human, surrendering five hits and three runs, including a RBI line drive to pitcher Barry Zito, in the bottom of the fourth as the Giants tied the game. Though Verlander would escape without further damage, the All-Star arm would be out after the sixth inning, conceding 10 hits on the night, albeit with eight strikeouts.

Thanks to Gerald Laird, this would be enough to earn the W, as the catcher's solo shot in the seventh would prove to be the winning run, giving the Tigers Game 1 by a count of 4-3. Things got shaky in the ninth as Phil Coke allowed back-to-back hits, but previously banished closer Jose Valverde redeemed himself by coming in and closing the door.

World Series Game 2
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Giants081Simulate Game
WP: Doug Fister LP: Ryan Vogelsong
Player of the Game: Jhonny Peralta - 3-5, 3 RBI, HR

Have to admire the hubris of the Giants. They have discovered a winning formula in the postseason, and apparently are proceeding with the "If it's not broke, don't fix it" mentality. How else could you validate San Francisco's 7-0 beatdown at the hands of Detroit in Game 2, putting the Giants in a familiar hole?

The Tigers' Fister deserves his acclaim after shutting out the Giants offense in 7 2/3 innings of work, giving up just six hits while striking out eight. His counterpart, Ryan Vogelsong, did not share a similar fate, getting torched for five runs in five innings. Peralta paced the Motor City attack with three ribbies off three hits, while Cabrera and Fielder combined for four base knocks, four runs and three RBI.

World Series Game 3
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Tigers141Simulate Game
WP: Matt Cain LP: Anibal Sanchez SV: Sergio Romo
Player of the Game: Matt Cain - 8.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 7 Ks

San Francisco stud Matt Cain got his team back on track in Comerica Park, tossing eight innings of one-run ball to give the Giants their first victory of the series. Both teams scored a run in the second inning, with Angel Pagan delivering a RBI single for the Giants while Fielder posted his second homer in as many games. It was quiet until the sixth, when Pagan smacked another run-scoring drive off Detroit starter Sanchez, this time a double to center, giving San Fran a 2-1 advantage. NLCS hero Scutaro provided insurance in the eighth with a two-run double, more than enough support for Cain and the closer Romo.

While the Giants will take the win, they will need the heart of their lineup to start heating up, as Pablo Sandoval (.182) and MVP candidate Buster Posey (.154) have yet to produce.

World Series Game 4
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Tigers690Simulate Game
WP: George Kontos LP: Phil Coke SV: Santiago Casilla
Player of the Game: Angel Pagan - 3-5, 4 RBI, HR

Though a cold wind blew from the Lake Erie front, the bats of both clubs caught fire in Game 4, as the teams combined for 14 runs and 19 hits. The Tigers struck the scoreboard first with six runs, highlighted by two more RBI from Fielder, off San Francisco starter Tim Lincecum, who failed to make it out of the third inning. Yet the Giants answered, and answered with vigor. Entering the top of the seventh, the 28-year-old Scherzer had held his adversaries at bay, relinquishing just one run. Alas, this pitching dexterity would not last, as the Giants rocked Scherzer for five runs in the inning to knot the game at six apiece.

Until now, Detroit's Coke had been solid in replacement of the former All-Star Valverde, posting seven scoreless appearances before the World Series. Unfortunately, his performance in the Fall Classic has been on the other side of the pitching spectrum, as Coke surrendered a two-run double to Scutaro in his second inning of relief, giving the Giants the win and tying the series 2-2.

World Series Game 5
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Tigers2100Simulate Game
WP: Barry Zito LP: Justin Verlander SV: Sergio Romo
Player of the Game: Barry Zito - 6.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 4 Ks

So much for defending home turf.

Backed by a commendable effort from Zito (6 1/3 innings, seven hits, two runs) and the bats of Brandon Belt (two RBI) and Aubrey Huff (three hits, two runs), the Giants sit just a game away from clinching their second World Series crown in three years. San Francisco hammered Verlander who, in spite of throwing a complete game, gave up five runs off 11 hits and three walks.

Despite facing a 3-2 deficit, the Tigers' major offseason acquisition, Fielder, continues to shine, with two more hits giving the first baseman a .438 average in the Series. If Detroit hopes to make a comeback, the efforts of Jackson (.136) and Young (.143) will need to improve.

World Series Game 6
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Giants4121Simulate Game
WP: Jose Valverde LP: Jeremy Affeldt SV: Al Alburquerque
Player of the Game: Quintin Berry - 2-6, RBI, Drives in Game-Winning Run

Encountering the prospect of elimination, the Tigers came out of the gate swinging, scoring a run in the second and three more in the third to take a 4-0 lead off Vogelsong. Unfortunately, the lead did not last, as singles from Pence and Gregor Blanco spurred a three-run sixth for San Fran, followed by Coke and Valverde imploding again in the ninth to send the game into extras.

Despite momentum on their side, there would be no champagne for the Giants tonight, as Quintin Berry's triple in the 11th off reliever Jeremy Affeldt proved to be the difference maker, giving the Tigers a 5-4 win. More importantly, Detroit's revival gives us the two sweetest words in the sporting vernacular:

Game 7.

World Series Game 7
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Giants10141Simulate Game
WP: Matt Cain LP: Anibal Sanchez
Player of the Game: Buster Posey - 2-5, 3 RBI, HR
Top BA - Tigers
Player Batting Average
Miguel Cabrera .317
Andy Dirks .317
Prince Fielder .307

We would like to tell you the final meeting between the Tigers and Giants was an epic, back-and-forth battle that lasted long into the San Francisco night, with an ending that rivaled The Natural. Unfortunately, while sports serve as our culture's greatest theater, such a Hollywood finish was not in the script.

Heading into the eighth, the game was still very much in doubt, as the Giants were clinging to a 2-0 lead thanks to superb pitching by Cain and RBI hits from Brandon Crawford and Pagan in the fifth. Yet Tigers reliever Joaquin Benoit could not hold down the fort, pummeled by the Giants for six runs, three off the bat of Posey, leading to an eight-run affair in the inning and driving the stake in the heart of Detroit. Cain went eight scoreless innings, and former starter Madison Bumgarner put the nail in the coffin in the ninth as the Giants take home the title.

On offense, Pagan proved to be the Giants' catalyst, finishing with a .412 average and nine RBI, with Cain leading the charge on the mound with two wins and a 0.56 ERA. In the losing effort, Fielder finished with a .391 batting mark, but Cabrera, after excelling in the opening of the series, fell short of the Mendoza Line with a .192 average.

As alluded to above, the Giants have made a living coming back from the dead, not only in the playoffs, but as far back as the dog days of summer after the Los Angeles Dodgers overhauled their rosters with stars. Turns out they were trick-or-treating us all along.

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Joel Beall is the Assistant Content Manager for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at jbeall@whatifsports.com.

Jake Westrich is the Digital Content Coordinator for WhatIfSports.com. He can be reached at jwestrich@whatifsports.com.

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