From Joe Sheehan's (subscriber-only) newsletter, just a bit of his cogent pre-Series analysis:
- Ron Washington seems intent on starting Vladimir Guerrero in right field in games played without a DH, a decision that makes his team worse. Guerrero was once an athletic, if error-prone, right fielder and a dominant lineup force. Now, he's a creaky 35-year-old who hasn't hit much since June and who had just a .287/.328/.482 line against righties this year. David Murphy is a tougher out against the Giants' righties (.288/.354/.487 career, a little better than that in 2010) and a stronger defensive player. To win any one game against a right-hander this year, you would take Murphy.
The decision is particularly risky because of the park. AT&T Park has a very complicated right field, all angles and mixed elements (brick facade, fencing, scoreboard), with a deep alley. The game's early innings will be played as the sun is setting, making the play of fly balls a challenge. There's a great likelihood of a close game, one in which converting balls in play into outs, not giving up extra bases on hits, will be critical. Trading defense for offense can be a good play; the Rangers are trading defense for legend.
I'm reluctant to make a prediction. The edges each team has are small, save for the Giants' bullpen, which i think is well ahead of that of the Rangers, especially given Washington's bizarre Neftail Rules. Washington, in fact, is nearly enough to swing the whole thing for me. His leader-of-men skills may well be fantastic, but men become chess pieces in the World Series, and he doesn't seem to play chess well. Bochy has his peccadilloes, but he's not the guy shoving Vladimir Guerrero's back and legs into a difficult position so he can get a bad matchup into his cleanup spot.
The Giants have three ways to win:
1. Play better,
2. Get lucky, or
3. Grab a couple of games through Bruce Bochy out-managing Ron Washington.
On paper, there's a deficit between the Rangers and the Giants, and that deficit favors the Rangers.
It's not a particularly large deficit, though. It could easily be made up by one of those three things, or some combination of them.
Barring a sweep, though, No. 3 is the only one that's going to get much attention. After every close game, we're going to analyze every move these guys make to death. Maybe Washington will surprise us. But he doesn't seem to be off to a great start.