The Vegas odds favor the Tigers. Actually, the odds are pretty heavy in favor of the Tigers. I guess that is what happens when you sweep the Yankees. The guys who set the lines aren’t stupid, but this seems to really discount the Giants chances so let’s take a look.

Here is the statistical breakdown for each squad:


        AVG          OBP          SLG       wOBA       wRC+
Giants 0.269 0.327 0.397 0.315 99
Tigers 0.268 0.335 0.422 0.328 105


       ERA-         FIP-        xFIP-
Giants 97 101 101
Tigers 91 86 90


The Tigers’ offense is good but the Giants are not far behind (especially in the second half of the season). The Tigers’ pitching is very good, while the Giants have been only a bit better than average.

Looking at this, things seem to favor the Tigers.

However, the Giants have a couple things in their favor that help to make this closer. On defense the Giants have a decisive advantage. By defensive runs saved the Giants have been 25 runs better this season; by UZR the Giants have been nearly 37 runs better. As we saw against the Cardinals, defense matters and that one is a check mark on the Giants’ ledger.

In addition, the Giants’ bullpen (combined with Bruce Bochy’s well done usage) is clearly superior to the Tigers’ relief corps. I want to see a ton of Javier Lopez vs. Prince Fielder this series.

Oh, and there is a little thing called home field advantage (Thanks Melky!) that improves the Giants’ chances if the series goes long.

Neither of these make the Giants favorites, but it should be enough to give them a puncher’s chance for a second title in three seasons.

Next let’s move on to the projection. In case you forgot or haven’t seen the explanation, here is a quick description of how the model works:

  • I start by estimating the runs scored and allowed for each team given the starting pitcher, bullpen, defense and each team’s offense.
  • The data used in the projection model is based on the current season’s statistics to date and if a player has less than a full season of data it is supplemented with the ZiPS projections
  • The estimated run differential is then converted into a projected winning percentage using the pythagorean expectation.
  • Then, it’s converted into an odds of winning the game using the log5 method developed by Bill James


Wednesday, October 24, 5:00 PM: Justin Verlander vs. Barry Zito PREVIEW

Thursday, October 25, 5:00 PM: Doug Fister vs. Madison Bumgarner

Saturday , October 27, 5:00 PM: Anibal Sanchez vs. Ryan Vogelsong

Sunday, October 28, 5:00 PM: Max Scherzer vs. Matt Cain

Monday, October 29, 5:00 PM*: Justin Verlander vs. Barry Zito

Wednesday, October 31, 5:00 PM*: Doug Fister vs. Madison Bumgarner

Thursday, November 1, 5:00 PM*: Anibal Sanchez vs. Ryan Vogelsong

*If necessary. There is always the chance that if the Tigers get down we’ll see Verlander on short rest or Lincecum instead of Zito or Bumgarner for a second go-around.


     Giants       Tigers
Game 1 42% 58%
Game 2 55% 45%
Game 3 51% 49%
Game 4 50% 50%
Game 5 37% 63%
Game 6 55% 45%
Game 7 55% 45%


No real surprises here. Verlander moves the Tigers to the favorite on the games he starts. Cain and Vogelsong make the first two games in Detroit toss-ups. The big wild card: can Bumgarner fix whatever broke in his mechanics? The Giants think he has, so I really hope that is the case.

Here is how the different permutations turn out for the series, with the odds of each team winning in a certain number of games:

     Giants       Tigers
Sweep 6% 6%
In 5 games 9% 16%
in 6 games 16% 15%
in 7 game 17% 14%
Total: 49% 51%


With both teams being even it’s no surprise that the chances of either team sweeping are low. The Tigers’ best chance to win the Series is to finish things off at home in five games or less. Any longer and things favor the Giants.

Playing around with things, if Zito is capable of beating Verlander things move heavily into the Giants favor (67% chance of winning series). While a split of the first two games leaves things at 50/50 headed to Detroit.

Getting down 3-1 is probably a very bad idea. If that happens again, the odds of coming back slip to just 11% (by comparison their odds against St. Louis were at 18% in that situation).

I may be a homer, but my prediction is Giants in 7. I want another parade!