The Detroit Tigers knocked off the 27-time World Series champion Yankees last night in one of most intense games in recent memory. What made this series so special for the Tigers, besides the fact they won a decisive Game 5 in the Bronx, was the way in which they won. The players whose contributions helped them move on to the American League Championship Series are not who we'd expect.
Miguel Cabrera hit .200 with one home run.
Alex Avila hit .063 with one hit in 16 at-bats.
Austin Jackson struck out in half of his at-bats.
If one judged solely from the above statistics, one might have expected the Tigers to lose the series in three or four games. However, this was not the case because with the drop of production from some of the stronger regular season players came a sharp increase in play from those we expected little of.
Delmon Young hit .316 with three home runs and three runs batted in. If an MVP were chosen for the series, it would be Young.
Magglio Ordonez hit .455 and slugged .545
Don Kelly hit .364 with one of the biggest hits in the series (Game 5 home run).
There you have it. The two best hitters in the series were not even on the Tigers' opening day roster.
Delmon Young was acquired in August from The Twins for a stick of gum and 75 cents (they gave away nothing) and Kelly has been a part time player with the team for several seasons but had one of the hottest Detroit bats in September and August. His value comes from his versatility.
Magglio Ordonez was once one of the finest hitters in the game but has been injury plagued the last few seasons and age is no longer on his side. After an abysmal start to the season, he began to hit in the second half and raised his average to the .250 range. If Magglio can recapture his youth and some of the magic he had when he hit .360 in 2006, it will be a tremendous help for the Detroit Tigers as they take on The Texas Rangers in the ALCS.
The pitching was strong in the ALDS. Max Scherzer pitched very strongly in his one start and looked great out of the bullpen in Game 5.
Verlander and Fister looked strong as well. Fister performed far better in his second start and Verlander gave up more runs than we are used to, but still looked dominant. Rick Porcello gave as a good a start as one could have hoped for.
If the Tigers expect to beat Texas, they need the players who we expect to hit to do so and the players we expect little of to do the same. I want Miguel Cabrera and Don Kelly both at their highest level of play. If they are, the Tigers will mop the floor with Texas and advance to the World Series.