With the playoffs right around the corner in the baseball season, everyone is starting to re-write their World Series picks.
One team being left out of that discussion is the Detroit Tigers, and without much reason.
While the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees are being hyped up as the Boston Red Sox are being looked down upon, the Tigers are humming their way through September with the AL Central crown on their heads.
Each team in the playoffs has obviously deserved it, but the Tigers are vastly overlooked in the American League. Most pundits seem to think that they are not much more than Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera.
This slide show is six reasons why the Tigers could surprise some people in the 2011 playoffs.
Detroit is currently playing some of the best baseball across all of the MLB. They have a 16-6 record in the month of September.
Their 12-game winning streak at the beginning of the month is a big part of that record. Last time Detroit had a winning streak of at least 11 games was 1984, the year they won the World Series.
How the Tigers are able to maintain that momentum into the playoffs will be a big factor in how far they advance in the fall classic.
Despite the fact 2011 was the first time the Tigers were AL Central champions, Detroit is no newcomer to playoff runs.
Jim Leyland led the team to the 2006 World Series before falling to St. Louis.
Many of those players are no longer with the squad, but with Verlander being one of the players still around, Detroit has plenty of leadership to help the newer members.
The most important part of any team's lineup is the middle of it.
In Detroit, their 4-5-6-7 hitters are all batting .297 or higher.
Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Johnny Peralta are all currently hitting above .300, while Alex Avila is "lagging" behind at .297.
With their strong pitching, those hitters can relax and raise those averages even more.
It's commonly said that a strong bullpen is the most important part of a postseason run.
That's exactly what Detroit has.
When Detroit is leading entering the eighth inning, they are 81-0 this season. A lot of that is because closer Jose Valverde leads all of baseball with 47 saves, without blowing a single one.
If the Tigers have a late lead, don't expect them to relinquish it.
At the time of the trade, Doug Fister seemed like a minimal, but necessary, rotation upgrade.
The 27-year-old has turned out to be a whole lot more than that.
Since coming over from Seattle, Fister has a 7-1 record in nine starts while holding a 2.02 ERA.
His peripherals are amazing. Fister's 6.9 K/9 isn't spectacular, but a huge upgrade over his career 5.4 rate. His BB/9 rate is a miniscule 0.7 leading to a crazy 9.6 K/BB ratio.
If Fister can continue this dominance in the postseason it'll be huge for Detroit.
Mark this up as obvious.
Anyone who doesn't vote Verlander as the Cy Young winner should undergo a full round of psychological tests.
The Tiger's ace has been the most dominant pitcher in baseball this year and that shouldn't change in the playoffs.