On paper, at least, you could call this year’s World Series a battle between David and Goliath. How could it not be? I mean, you have the powerful Detroit Tigers, led by Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, pitted against the overachieving San Francisco Giants and their inspirational second baseman, Marco Scutaro.
Or, baseball’s grand event for 2012 could also be dubbed, the Latino Fall Classic. Both the Tigers and Giants boast 10 Hispanic players on their tournament rosters, many that qualify as superstars of the game. Detroit is legit with Cabrera, baseball’s best hitter, and All-Star shortstop Jhonny Peralta, who has hit a blistering .343 in the postseason, including two bombs against the New York Yankees. They also have Anibal Sanchez, a pitcher who has peaked in October. The Venezuelan punctuated that by throwing seven shutout innings against New York. Then again, everybody tore up the Yankees.
Pablo Sandoval has been on fire for San Francisco in the playoffs, hitting .320 with four doubles and three long flies. Center fielder Angel Pagan has come alive as the perfect table-setter along with the 36-year-old Scutaro, an MVP on the field and in the dugout. And then there’s the story of journeyman relief pitcher Sergio Romo, the son of immigrant farm workers from Mexico who hurled some remarkable key innings in the postseason, allowing his team to persevere.
Surprise players to watch:
Al Alburquerque, Detroit: The Tiger’s bullpen has been terrible. If Jose “Papa Grande” Valverde and Joaquin Benoit can’t get their acts together, look for this 26-year-old Dominican relief specialist to be manager Jim Leyland‘s savior.
Joaquin Arias, San Francisco: Manager Bruce Boche is a master at plugging players in to fit the puzzle. Arias is a versatile guy off the bench who can do a lot of things to help his club. The lanky infielder was clutch against the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS with a couple of ringing doubles, but saw no action against the St. Louis Cardinals. Look for Arias to loom large with the whole enchilada on the line.
I love an underdog and my heart is with San Francisco. But my instincts tell me Detroit will eventually wear down these “Cinderfellas.” The Tigers will triumph, but I expect it to be a seven-game dogfight.