The Detroit Tigers have already had the chance to raise one trophy this past Thursday after sweeping the New York Yankees in the ALCS. While this was a great accomplishment for the Tigers, they are still four wins away from their ultimate goal.
They should feel pretty confident heading into this next series because they have a number of factors working in their favor, no matter which team they play.
These are the top eight reasons why the Detroit Tigers will end up being World champions in 2012.
Miguel Cabrera is easily the best hitter left in this postseason and while his postseason numbers are not on par with his regular-season numbers, he is still a major threat in this upcoming series. The American League Triple Crown winner is hitting only .278 with one home run and five RBI in nine games.
Even if his numbers don't scare opposing pitchers, he is still Miguel Cabrera and teams have struggled to stop him for five-plus months now. He has to be the favorite to win the MVP in this series and is in line for a big World Series.
A team has to feel pretty confident when it enters a series knowing it has the best hitter and the best starting pitcher on its team.
Justin Verlander is hands down the best pitcher left and the case can be made pretty easily for him as the best pitcher in all of Major League Baseball.
Verlander has had a much better postseason than last year, when he had an ERA of 5.34 in four games. This year has been a different story, as he has thrown a complete-game shutout in Game 5 against Oakland and currently has an ERA of 0.74.
The biggest improvement between this postseason and past years is his control and ability to limit his walks. This year, he is averaging 1.8 walks per nine innings, which is much better than his career number of 4.3 before 2012.
The Detroit Tigers' pitching staff has been close to perfect this postseason and has been a big part of this team's success. In nine games, it has a team ERA of 1.74 and has held opposing hitters to a batting average of .176. It is second in strikeouts at 86, one behind St. Louis, but has played two fewer games than the Cardinals.
The Tigers have already set their rotation for the World Series, giving Verlander the nod in Game 1 followed by Doug Fister, Annibal Sanchez and then Max Scherzer.
The Tigers will be a tough team to beat if they keep pitching they way they have so far in October.
There aren't many players remaining from the Detroit Tigers team that went to the 2006 World Series, but there are two key figures in manager Jim Leyland and pitcher Justin Verlander. These two haven't forgotten how it felt to be so close and ultimately fall short to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006.
This type of experience and motivation will be invaluable for Verlander and Leyland in the World Series, but if they are able to communicate the message of urgency and how it feels, this can only benefit this club.
This seems to be an ongoing debate not just in baseball, but all of sports—whether having an extended break during the postseason is a good or bad thing. The general concern is that when players go from playing every day or every other day to having a five or six days off, they will become rusty.
However, I am usually in the camp that having some extended time to rest is a good thing. It allows players to heal up any nagging injuries they may have and take a little time to enjoy what they have accomplished. This still provides the players with plenty of time to prepare and turn their focus to the upcoming series.
A well-rested Detroit Tigers can only help their chances at a World Series title.
The Detroit Tigers are the only team this postseason to sweep their opponent and it was the New York Yankees, one of the most successful franchises in all of sports, no less. This has to give the Tigers a little extra confidence as they take on whoever may win the NLCS.
While it was a sweep, the overall series was much closer than first glance, which also helps the Tigers. Except for Game 4, all the games were close and the Tigers showed they were able to limit costly mistakes and make the plays when they needed to. This type of experience can only help Detroit.
Jim Leyland is getting a great deal of credit for getting the Tigers to where they currently are. This season was not easy for the manager, though, and there were whispers of the Tigers making a managerial change during the summer.
However, Leyland turned this team around and has done a great job of putting players in position to succeed. One of the best examples has to be his decision to move Jose Valverde from the closer role and going with Phil Coke.
It probably was not easy to bench a guy who, over the past two seasons converted 84 of 89 save opportunities, for a guy who has been in the league four years and has five career saves. However, Coke has been close to unhittable and converted two saves against the Yankees in the ALCS.
The members of the Tigers organization have made it clear that they want nothing more than to get a World Series championship for owner Mike Ilitch. With all the lockouts and disputes between team owners and their players, it is good to hear a story like this one.
Now, I am not saying the Cardinals or Giants don't respect their owner any less, but it sounds like there has been a special relationship forged between Ilitch and his players. This type of motivation can only help the Detroit Tigers get over the hump and win their first championship since 1984.