They ended up with the worst record among American League playoff teams – and tied with St. Louis for worst record of any playoff team – but that apparently isn’t stopping the ESPN ‘experts’ from picking the Detroit Tigers as one of the top playoff darlings. The worldwide leader came out with their obligatory expert prediction post yesterday, polling 29 baseball writers from across their network, and they seem to expect the Tigers to fair extremely well.
19 of the 29 writers (66%) expect the Tigers to top Oakland in the ALDS. This isn’t a completely overwhelming number on the face, but, considering the Athletics won six more games in the regular season and have home field advantage, it’s still more than a little bit surprising.
The eye popping numbers come in the later rounds. 12 of the 29 (41%) picked the Tigers to win the ALCS, where the most commonly picked opponent was the Yankees. The only AL team picked as more likely to advance to the World Series was the Yankees, who were picked by 13 writers. But perhaps the number of Tigers selections is more impressive considering the number of time’s they’re expected to reach the ALCS in the first place. 63% of the Writers that expect Detroit in the ALCS also expect them to play in the World Series; that number is only 52% for the Yankees (who were picked by 25 experts to reach the ALCS).
And when it comes to the World Series, 6 of the 29 (21%) predicted the Tigers would win it all. (They’re tied with the really-going-out-on-a-limb-here New York Yankees as the most predicted World Champion from either league).
Of course anything can happen in playoff baseball (short series and all that jazz), but it’s encouraging (even if completely meaningless) to see the Tigers among the favorites despite their worse-than-expected regular season record.