With the San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds set to open their Divisional Series round in just over twenty-four hours, we here at Around The Foghorn put our heads together to talk postseason baseball.
June 30, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants infielder Pablo Sandoval (48) prepares to make a throw to first base to record an out against the Cincinnati Reds in the fifth inning at AT&T Park – ©Cary Edmondson-US PRESSWIRE
While some of the staff was unavailable to participate, Stuart and I looked into our crystal balls (or maybe it was a Magic 8ball in my case – don’t you just hate when they get stuck!?) to forecast what we anticipate taking part in the upcoming series.
- Biggest Giants advantage for the series:
Stuart – Buster Posey — The MVP-candidate has hit for average, and for power, and his defense has been exceptional and he has thrown out baserunners at above the league rate, so he has effectively told the league he is not having it.
Bryan – Buster Posey — My first thought was to go with the Giants’ speed given their ten attempts in just seven games against the Reds this season, but how can you go against the should-be MVP? The Reds will certainly do their best to contain Posey, but most teams haven’t had much success in doing that and I don’t see that changing now.
- Biggest Giants weakness for the series:
Stuart – Bench — The Giants need a pinch hitter, and how about Xavier Nady, Joaquin Arias, and Aubrey Huff leading the charge? Doesn’t really instill fear in the hearts of many minor league teams, much less a playoff team like the Reds.
Bryan – Bench — Like Stuart, I too don’t trust the Giants bench. Aubrey Huff, the designated late inning pinch hitter, will be going up against the Reds dominant left handed bullpen and the Giants “speed”, while fast, aren’t exactly known for their base running ability. Add in Arias and Nady who are literally hit or miss and you don’t exactly have an imposing pine.
- What Giants player must the Reds contain to move on?
Stuart – Marco Scutaro — He’s got the 3rd most hits in the NL, and has a .369 wOBA in what are deemed “high leverage” plate appearances. Want to stop the Giants from scoring runs, or from preventing a rally from happening? Keep Marco in check.
Bryan – Angel Pagan — Like Scutaro, containing Angel Pagan is a must for the Reds if they want to move on. As Pagan and Scutaro go, so do the Giants, as the top two batters are the catalysts for the orange and black. Pagan, who has hit right handers far better than lefties this year should be in for a treat given the fact that the Reds don’t employ a single left handed starter. Add in Pagan’s speed and base stealing ability and he becomes a must stop for Cincinnati.
- What Reds player must the Giants contain to move on?
Stuart – Joey Votto — Do not wake the sleeping giant, even though he has no HR since June, he is easily their scariest player in the lineup. He has a .607 wOBA in high leverage situations this year, which even if you don’t understand wOBA, you’d guess is pretty outstanding, and you’d be right.
Bryan – Brandon Phillips – The obvious choice here is Joey Votto, but as we know, outside of ill-timed slumps – star players are star players. With a lineup full of thunder, the Giants must keep the top half of the Reds lineup off base to avoid the big bomb and that starts with Brandon Phillips.
- Name a player from each team who you feel will make an unexpected, big, contribution in the series:
Stuart – Brandon Belt — gets to face all RHP SP from the Reds and will likely start/continue a lot of rallies, in my opinion.
Bryan – Marco Scutaro — While Giant fans know all about Marco, the mid-season acquisition is still slept on in many circles. I have a feeling the Reds will get very acquainted with the native Venezuelan before the series comes to a close.
Stuart – Jay Bruce — lost the Reds a game in AT&T back in the middle of the season, but his power could have the Giants leaving the dance earlier than they like.
Bryan – Ryan Ludwick — Looking at the overall numbers, the former Cardinal, Pirate and Padre wouldn’t initially strike fear in you but Ludwick has had a wonderful second half after posting sub-par first half numbers. With a .309 post break average to go along with 14 round trippers, Ludwick could prove to be a thorn in the side of the Giants if they’re not careful. Add in the fact that Ryan has historically hit Matt Cain well (career .364 avg, 3 HR in 22 AB’s) – a pitcher he could potentially see twice in the series, the Giants should tread lightly.
- Prediction – who takes the series and in how many games? Who’s your series MVP?
Stuart – Giants in 5. Matt Cain the MVP shutting down the Reds in Games 1 and 5.
Bryan – Giants in 5. Both the Reds and Giants are pretty evenly matched and their regular season should extend into the postseason, with a single moment potentially deciding the series. A tough pill to swallow for a fan on the wrong side of that, but no doubt it should breed fantastic baseball. My MVP will be Buster Posey, who holds a career .400 average at Great American Ballpark and a .327 career average against the Reds.