The World Series match-up is set. Giants vs. Tigers. San Francisco vs. Detroit. Boys from The Bay vs. The Motor City Cats. Ghirardelli chocolate and cable cars vs. coney dogs and, well, regular cars.
As I noted a few weeks ago, baseball’s post-season this year has been filled with former Nashville Sounds. So, it’s not a shock that Sounds alums are in the World Series. Each club has a pair of former Sounds — one player and one coach. Interestingly, Detroit has a hitter and a hitting coach, and the Giants have a pitcher and a pitching coach. Here are the former Sounds in the 2012 World Series…
Detroit Tigers, American League Champions
American League Central Division Champions (88-74, 3 GA of Chicago)
Defeated Oakland in the ALDS, 3 games to 2
Defeated New York in the ALCS, 4 games to 0
The Tigers have one of the most vaunted 3-4 hitting combinations in baseball in Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and first baseman and former Sound Prince Fielder. The four-time all-star slugger Fielder hit .313 with 30 homers and 108 RBIs this season, and for the second year in a row and third time in four seasons, he played in all 162 games. It was also the sixth time in seven years he eclipsed the 100-RBIs mark. Fielder was a 1st-round pick — 7th overall — in ’02, taken by the Brewers right after the Royals drafted Zack Greinke (side note: two of the players drafted ahead of Fielder never reached the major leagues). Fielder played for the Sounds in ’05, the first year of the Sounds-Brewers affiliation and the last time the Sounds won a league championship. He .291 with 28 homers and 106 RBIs that year, also the last time he put on a minor league uniform. One of the men observing Fielder is Tigers hitting coach and former Sound Lloyd McClendon. The Indiana native played in Nashville from ’87-’88 (Triple-A American Association, Reds), totaling 28 games. He enjoyed an eight-year playing career in the majors (570 games) from ’87-’94 with the Reds, Cubs and Pirates. He played for the Cubs in ’89 when they reached the NLCS against the Giants, and he was with the Pirates in ’91 and ’92 when they were eliminated each year by the Braves in the NLCS. McClendon is in his sixth year as the Tigers’ hitting coach under Jim Leyland.
San Francisco Giants, National League Champions
National League West Division Champions (94-68, 8 GA of Los Angeles)
Defeated Cincinnati in the NLDS, 3 games to 2
Defeated St. Louis in the NLCS, 4 games to 3
What a post-season it’s been for the Giants. Down 2 games to 0 against the Reds, they fought back to win three straight to take the NLDS. Then down 2 games to 0 and later 3 games to 1 against the Cardinals, they fought back to snare the NLCS. No club other than the ’85 Royals had ever won six consecutive elimination games in a post-season. For the past few years, the Giants have had one of the most dominant pitching staffs in baseball. One of those pitchers and the guy overseeing the pitchers are Sounds alums. Right-hander Ryan Vogelsong has had quite a journey. He entered 2011, for example, as a non-roster invitee to Giants Spring Training having been signed to a minor league deal that December. He not only made the club but also became a National League all-star, going 13-7 with a 2.71 ERA. This season he went 14-9 with a 3.31 ERA in 31 starts. So, in the last two seasons, he’s won 27 games in 61 appearances after winning 10 major league games in 135 appearances from ’00-’10. He originally was drafted by the Giants (5th Round in ’99) and joined the Sounds in ’01 for six appearances when he was acquired in July by the Pirates for Jason Schmidt. Vogelsong also went 12-8 with a 4.29 ERA in 26 starts for the Sounds in ’03 (Triple-A Pacific Coast League, Pirates). Eventually, the Pirates let him go, and after three years in Japan (’07-’09) and stops with the Phillies and Angels organizations, the Giants grabbed him again in the winter of 2010. In his first taste of playoff baseball in the major leagues, Vogelsong is 2-0 in three starts and has yielded just three runs in 19 innings. He beat the Cardinals in Games 2 and 6 in the NLCS. For the last 13 seasons, the Giants’ pitching coach has been former Sound Dave Righetti,widely regarded as one of the best pitching coaches in the game. He enjoyed a 16-year pitching career in the majors and pitched for the Sounds near the end of his career in ’95 (Triple-A American Association, White Sox), going 4-5 with a 3.23 ERA in 16 games (15 starts). “Rags” was named AL Rookie of the Year in ’81 when he went 8-4 with a 2.05 ERA in 15 starts. As a player, that was his only season in the playoffs as a major leaguer, as the Yankees lost in the World Series to the Dodgers. Righetti later became an effective closer for the Yankees, including in ’86 when he saved 46 games and finished 4th in Cy Young Award voting and 10th in MVP voting. With the Giants as pitching coach since ’00, Righetti currently is the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues.
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