During the regular season, the Tigers walked 8.3 percent of the time, a number that tied them with the Toronto Blue Jays for 10th-best in baseball, according to FanGraphs. Through the first two games of the ALDS, Detroit is walking only three percent of the time, with only Alex Avila and Omar Infante drawing free passes.
That's not conducive to generating offense, especially when neither Avila nor Infante is hitting near the top of the order. Detroit needs the early part of its order to get on base in order to give its biggest run producers a chance to move baserunners into scoring position or send them home with a home run or deep fly ball into the outfield gaps.
While Oakland's pitching staff doesn't issue walks often, averaging only 2.65 walks per nine innings for the lowest mark in the American League and third-lowest in baseball, Detroit's offense isn't helping things by swinging at pitches outside of the zone.
Meanwhile, Oakland has managed to keep its postseason walk percentage fairly consistent with that of its regular-season numbers at 8.8 percent in the playoffs compared to 9.2 percent in the regular season. But Oakland's strikeout rate has skyrocketed, jumping from 19 percent in the regular season to 42.7 percent in the ALDS.
That's right—the A's are dangerously close to striking out in every other at-bat against Detroit's stellar rotation. It's going to be difficult for the A's to not swing and miss in Game 3 against Anibal Sanchez, who averaged nearly 10 strikeouts per nine innings of work during the regular season.
But the A's don't really have much of a choice, as a strikeout rate as high as they've posted is a recipe for a guaranteed first-round playoff exit.