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Alex Remington

10 numbers for the World Series: Giants vs. Rangers

Big League Stew

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With the start of the World Series upon us, Alex Remington takes a look at the numbers that could make a difference in the matchup between the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants.

5 ALCS MVP Josh Hamilton's(notes) intentional walk total in the playoffs, more than twice as many as anyone else in the postseason. After a career of playoff futility, Vladimir Guerrero(notes) has started to take advantage of hitting with a man on base, but he's still nowhere near as dangerous as Hamilton, and odds are good that Bruce Bochy will take the bat out of Hamilton's hands a few times. Still, Guerrero is eminently capable of making them pay.

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5.29 The playoff ERA of all Giant relievers not named Brian Wilson(notes). (I'm not counting Tim Lincecum's(notes) Game 6 performance against the Phillies because he certainly isn't one of Bruce Bochy's normal bullpen contributors.) After a brilliant regular season, the Giants bullpen has frequently looked ordinary in the postseason, and workhorses Sergio Romo(notes) and Ramon Ramirez(notes) have scuffled to respective 9.00 and 12.00 ERAs. The Giants can't keep asking Wilson to bail them out in the eighth inning, so they'll have to figure out how to get the ball to him later. The Giant offense is their best-known weak link, but their middle relief is looking like a mounting weakness. They'll need their starters to go deep into the game.

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7 Elvis Andrus'(notes) stolen base total, by far the most in the playoffs. Andrus has stolen seven in eight attempts, which, coincidentally, is the exact same number the Phillies stole off Buster Posey(notes) in the NLCS. There's little question that Andrus will be running, and the Phillies' success suggests that Posey may have trouble stopping him. With the kind of pitching both teams bring to bear, small ball may be the order of the day, and Andrus' ability to wreak havoc on the bases could be a real momentum swinger.

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3 Andres Torres'(notes) caught stealing total, also the most in the playoffs. After stealing 26 bases in 33 tries during the regular season, Torres is just one for four during the playoffs. He's turning back into a pumpkin at the plate, too, with a playoff OPS of just .558. Bruce Bochy seemed to lose confidence in Torres in the NLCS, starting Aaron Rowand(notes) in center in Games 4 and 5. Torres was one of the best stories of the regular season, but his struggles have created a question mark in the middle of the Giants defense and at the top of their lineup. He also injured his hip during the NLCS, so that could further hinder his speed.

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10 Nelson Cruz's(notes) extra base hit total, most in the playoffs — with five homers, five doubles, 11 runs, and a 1.294 OPS, Cruz is at the top of each of those leaderboards, too. He's the same all-or-nothing player he's always been, with 12 strikeouts and just three walks, but whenever Cruz gets into one he hits it a mile. He probably has more raw power than anyone on the Giants. The Giants' strikeout-happy pitching staff will enjoy trying to get him to chase junk, but if they make a mistake, they won't be able to keep him in the park.

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0.00 Brian Wilson's playoff ERA, nine scoreless innings in seven appearances. It's a little premature to start bringing up the sainted Mariano, but Wilson's performance has been very similar to Keith Foulke(notes), who likewise pitched nine scoreless innings in seven games in the ALDS and ALCS in 2004 — and then allowed just one run in the World Series, good for a 0.64 playoff ERA. Cody Ross(notes) provided the fireworks, and got the NLCS MVP hardware, but Brian Wilson has been arguably the Giants' most valuable player in the playoffs, given the rest of the bullpen. If he can pitch as well in the World Series as Foulke did in 2004, he could bring his team the same happy result.

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0.75 Cliff Lee's(notes) playoff ERA, two earned runs in 24 innings over three starts. (Those two runs were both driven in by Ben Zobrist(notes), a solo homer and an RBI single. Too bad the Zorilla isn't on the Giants.) Lee has faced 87 hitters and has struck out 34 of them. He's allowed just 13 hits and one walk. That means that 39 percent of batters who faced him walked back to the bench after striking out, and 84 percent of batters who faced him failed to reach base safely. It might not be literally impossible to hit Cliff Lee right now, but it certainly feels impossible. It's going to be very hard for the Giants hitters to step into the box with confidence.

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0.00 Matt Cain's(notes) career playoff ERA. No, really: he made one start in the Braves series and one start in the Phillies series, the first two playoff starts of his career, and he has yet to give up an earned run. He is the key to the Giants' hopes, as he will pitch Game 2 and would presumably return in Game 6 or Game 7 if given the chance. It's unsurprising that he's flown under the radar during these playoffs, as he's fallen under the radar for his whole brilliant career. But he's probably a better pitcher than Game 2 starter C.J. Wilson(notes), and if Cliff Lee wins his start in Game 1, the Giants will count on Cain to come back and even up the series. Considering the way he's pitched so far, he's a good bet to do just that.

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.772 The Texas Rangers' OPS against right-handers this year, better than their .718 OPS against lefties. Jonathan Sanchez(notes) and Madison Bumgarner(notes), the likely Game 3 and Game 4 starters, will try to prey on the Rangers' weakness against southpaws, as their prowess against right-handers may neutralize some of Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum's effectiveness.

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5 The number of teams that journeyman 29-year-old Cody Ross has played for in his career, before his star turn as NLCS MVP: the Tigers, Dodgers, Reds, Marlins, and now the Giants. Ross joined the Giants in late August — they picked him up off the waiver wire, giving the Marlins nothing in return — and hit three home runs in a month and a half down the stretch, then hit four homers in three games between the Division Series and the League Championship Series. (That wasn't the first time he was traded for nearly nothing. In 2006, he was traded for a PTBNL in April, then sold for cash a month later.) He's batting .324 during the playoffs, after putting up a .267 batting average over the past three seasons. He's got real power, but he doesn't walk much, and he has enough holes in his swing that he's best suited for pinch-hitting magic (or designated hitter duty) than a full-time position. Commando Cody is a Cinderella story, but the Giants had better hope the clock doesn't strike midnight until after the Series ends.

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