OffenseTexas: The Rangers collected the most hits (1,556), the highest average (.276) and the fifth-best OPS (.757) in the AL over the course of the regular season. Nelson Cruz (.375, 5 HRs, 8 RBIs) has been their sparkplug in the postseason. Josh Hamilton has a weak playoff average (.237) that belies his strong play.
San Francisco: As a team, the Giants were pretty average in the regular season (.321 OBP, .257 BA; both right around the league mean). Both stats have actually been lower (.296
OBP, .231 BA) in the playoffs. Only Cody Ross (.324 BA, .395 OBP, 1.189 OPS) has done much with the bat in the playoffs.
Advantage: Rangers, by a Texas mile.
PitchingTexas: Cliff Lee is one of the best postseason pitchers ever to take the mound. Through three playoff starts this year, he’s posted a 0.75 ERA, 34 Ks, 1 BB and a 0.58 WHIP. He’s backed by Colby Lewis (1.45 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 18 Ks, 11 BBs this year) and C.J. Wilson (3.93 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 13 Ks, 8 BBs). Neftali Feliz and Darren O’Day are the backbone of the bullpen.
San Francisco: As good as the Rangers’ pitching is, the Giants’ might be better.
S.F. has a 2.47 ERA through 10 postseason games this year. Matt Cain hasn’t given up an earned run in 13.2 innings, and Tim Lincecum (1.93 ERA, 0.81 WHIP in 4 games) is amazing.
Advantage: Can’t pick a winner here.
IntangiblesTexas: The Rangers have only reached the postseason four times (2010, 1999, 1998 and 1996), and won their first series just a few weeks ago. It’s hard not to root for another ginger ale-spraying celebration for Hamilton, who’s made himself one of the sports world’s great redemption stories.
San Francisco: The Rangers have made the playoffs five times since 1997, but haven’t taken a World Series title since 1954. That makes them 0-for-the West Coast.
The pick: Texas in six games.