The San Francisco Giants won the World Series last year on the strength of their pitching. Could 2011 be a year when pitching doesn't decide the outcome of the postseason?
The two best pitching staffs in this postseason -- Phillies and Rays -- already have been eliminated, so I believe this World Series will be decided by the team with the most potent offense.
The Cardinals led the National League in runs scored, and the Brewers have the best 3-4 hitter combination -- Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder -- in the Majors. Needless to say, there will be a ton of pressure on the managers to decide which player to allow to beat you.
Pitching to Fielder already has cost the D-backs and Cardinals this postseason, but I believe Brewers manager Ron Roenicke will have tougher decisions than Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa because of the Cardinals' 3-4-5 combination of Albert Pujols, Lance Berkman and Matt Holliday.
It's similar in the American League Championship Series. Detroit's Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez ranked 1-2 in the AL in batting average with runners in scoring position. But the absence of Magglio Ordonez and the uncertainty of Delmon Young (injured, but playing) is an advantage for Rangers manager Ron Washington when trying to navigate the Tigers' batting order.
Looking at the Rangers' lineup, there's really only one guy you don't worry about hitting a home run -- Elvis Andrus. Michael Young hit just 11 home runs this year, but he did drive in more than 100 runs. Everyone else in the Rangers' lineup is a legitimate threat to hit the ball out of the park. If I were going to pick three Rangers I wouldn't let beat me, they would be Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli, the latter being the surprise of the three despite hitting 30 homers and driving in 75 runs while batting .320.
The winner of this year's World Series will be the team that outslugs the other. It will be great viewing from a fan's standpoint. No lead will be safe. My advice is to watch every inning.
Mitch Williams is an analyst for MLB Network. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.