How the Detroit Tigers Will Beat Each Predicted AL Playoff Team
The 2013 American League playoffs will be exhilarating to watch. With the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers and Boston Red Sox all likely going head-to-head, any of these projected division winners could emerge as the World Series favorite.
But given the Tigers' particularly outstanding rotation and lineup, there’s a good chance the team will triumph over their fellow powerhouses.
Assuming the incumbent Tigers again become the team to beat, this is how Detroit will edge out each predicted American League playoff team.
Note: The article assumes the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox, Oakland Athletics and Tampa Bay Rays will represent the American League in the playoffs.
All statistics (through September 4) sourced from Baseball-Reference.com.
Oakland Athletics or Tampa Bay Rays
Up until 2013, the Detroit Tigers have been an offense-centered team. With Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder hitting third and fourth, respectively, it’s easy to see how the Tigers have been so successful.
But this season has been different. Despite Justin Verlander not pitching like himself (a park-adjusted 166 ERA+ from 2011 to 2012 versus a 117 ERA+ in 2013), the rest of the Tigers’ rotation has been outstanding. Max Scherzer (146 ERA+), Anibal Sanchez (157 ERA+) and Doug Fister (115 ERA+) have all been putting their run support to good use.
Simply put, neither the Oakland Athletics nor the Tampa Bay Rays—the two wild-card teams—boast the type of rotation or lineup that could stop the Tigers. If the Tigers were to face the Athletics or Rays, a sweep for the Motor City wouldn’t be surprising.
The Texas Rangers have always mashed their way to success. But with the loss of Nelson Cruz due to his involvement with the Biogenesis scandal, the Rangers have instead relied on their bolstered rotation.
The trio of Yu Darvish, Matt Garza and Derek Holland has proven to be a new-found weapon in Texas. But their sterling performances in 2013 still don’t fill the void left by Cruz.
The Detroit Tigers arguably best the Rangers on both sides of the ball. Regardless, it will still be a hard-fought battle between the two top-shelf squads.
Boston Red Sox
After shedding the salaries of Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez, the Boston Red Sox retooled their roster with Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew, Ryan Dempster and Koji Uehara. Sprinkle in well-timed comeback seasons by Jacoby Ellsbury and John Lackey as well as a trade for Jake Peavy and it just about explains the Red Sox's ascension in the American League East.
With one of the most balanced rotation, lineups and even bullpens, the Red Sox are the one team that could really give the Detroit Tigers a run for their money.
But when push comes to shove, the Tigers still have the best hitters and pitchers between the two teams. As great as David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Peavy are, one must acknowledge that Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Max Scherzer are superior.