2011 MLB Playoff Bracket: Yankees Can't Afford to Overlook Tigers in ALDS

Joseph HealyCorrespondent ISeptember 29, 2011

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24:  Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers goes after his 25th win against the Baltimore Orioles  during a MLB game at Comerica Park on September 24, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
Dave Reginek/Getty Images

If there is a favorite in the American League, it's the Yankees. They get contributions up and down their lineup, C.C. Sabathia is as good an ace as there is in baseball and the back of their bullpen is as good as ever.

It's also not like they've never been here before. There are players with World Series rings all over the place in the clubhouse. No one on that team will be awed by the moment.

The Yankees have to be careful, though. Their biggest challenge is right in front of them in the ALDS. If they aren't in top form from the first pitch of game 1, the Detroit Tigers will beat them.

Depth is nice in the postseason, but success is more about top-end talent at this juncture. The Tigers have plenty of that.

It starts with Justin Verlander. No pitcher was more dominant than he was this season. His stats are bordering on ridiculous. He won 24 games, struck out 250 hitters and had an ERA of 2.40.

Doug Fister has a completely different repertoire, but he is just about as effective. All he did after coming over from Seattle was go 8-1 with a 1.79 ERA. Some say that finesse pitchers can't be as successful as power pitchers in the postseason, but that's not true as far as I'm concerned. Good pitchers are good pitchers no matter how hard they throw.

Offensively, I would put Miguel Cabrera up there against anyone in the Yankees lineup, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira included.

Cabrera is the rare offensive star that hits for average, power and takes his share of walks.

The Yankees are the better team on paper. They have more talent on their roster and they have been there and done that several times over. As we know, though, games aren't played on paper.

The Tigers have the firepower to not only compete with the Yanks; they have the firepower to beat them.