I know this is an Atlanta Braves blog but I just can’t help myself. I try to stay on topic and not stray too far off base (for fear I’ll get picked off) But this is just a topic that I can’t resist. The playoffs are just a few weeks away. The majority of the races have pretty much been decided. I know the A.L West is still up for grabs but for the most part we know who’s going to be playing in Oct, assuming their are no major collapses.
A team that will certainly be playing in October is the Detroit Tigers. They hold an 8.5 game lead in the A.L Central over the Chicago White Sox. Yet, no one is talking about them. Why is that? I realize that everyone has Boston and Philly fever but how can you over look a team like the Tigers?
No they are not as popular as Boston or Philly, or as the Yankees for that matter. But last time I checked popularity doesn’t win championship. The playoffs are all about match ups and I’m not so sure that I’d like to get matched up with these Tigers in the first round of the playoffs. Here’s why.
Let’s start with a guy named Justin Verlander. What does a team need to compete for a championship? An ace pitcher. And the Tigers have one of the best in baseball. Verlander is 22-5 with a 2.44era. Opponents are batting just .191 against him. Those numbers are incredible and yes he will pitch TWICE in a 5 game set. That could easily be 2 loses for the Yankees or Red Sox right there. Would they be able to sweep the other 3 games that Verlander doesn’t pitch? That’s a pretty tall order if you ask me.
The Tigers staff is lead by Verlander but he’s not the only go on that team who can throw the baseball. Doug Fister is showing a lot of promise. He’s had made quality starts against both Texas and the Yankees already this season. He went 7.0 innings and only allowed 3 earned runs against both of those high powered offenses. That’s not too shabby.
Then you have Max Scherzer who is also a good young pitcher with a very talented arm. The guy throws in the mid 90’s and has strikeout stuff. He’s sitting on a 14-8 record this season and will probably end up with 15 or 16 wins by the time the post season rolls around. That’s not too bad for a guy who will probably be the #3 starter in the Tigers playoff rotation. He’s also getting hot at the right time. In his last two starts he’s gone 15 innings allowing just 3 earned runs. He’s getting the job done.
What else does a team need to win a World Series? How about a shut down closer? Well once again the Tigers boast one of the best in baseball. Jose Valverde is 42 for 42 in save opportunities this season. If you aren’t impressed with that then I don’t know what stat will turn your head. Not only is he perfect in his save opportunities, he also has a rock solid 2.49era. Opponents struggle greatly against the Tigers closer as they are batting just .206 against him for the season.
Pitching is great but you also need to score some runs to win a World Series right? Well the Tigers are definitely capable of putting some runs up on the board. Miguel Cabrera is arguably one of the best hitters in the game of baseball. He’s batting .332 with 26 homers and 95rbi. He will certainly reach the 100rbi mark by the end of the season.
Or how about Victor Martinez? He’s hit 10 home runs and drove in 89rbi this season. Although he’s not a serious long ball threat, he is a run producer. He’s also sporting a .326 average which is very impressive. Jhonny Peralta is also a helpful bat in this Tigers line up. He’s hit 18 long balls and drove in 77 runs, while hitting over .300.
I’m not going to go on and on about stats because I think you already get my point. I know I shouldn’t be writing about the Detroit Tigers in our Atlanta Braves blog but I just couldn’t help myself. When a writer gets inspired he has to run with it, simple as that.
The Tigers should not and can not be ignored come playoff time. That would be a very big mistake for whoever gets matched up with them in the divisional round. This team has the best starting pitcher in baseball. One of the best closers in baseball and one of the best hitters in either league. How anyone can take these guys lightly is beyond me.
I didn’t even get into the fact that they are managed by one of the best men in baseball. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Tigers were playing in the ALCS. I think they can beat both Boston and New York in a 5 game set.
Just my opinion.
By: Bob McVinua