The thought of “World Series or Bust” has many flaws, but it is the thought of many Detroit Tigers’ fans as the Tigers head into the postseason. The stretch run has not given fans much hope for this postseason, especially with the sweep at the hands of the Miami Marlins and after being no hit by Henderson Alverez, but once the postseason begins, so does the chaos.
The first step he Tigers will have to go on the road and take a game in Oakland to win their series against the A’s and protect their home field. Earlier this season, the A’s took 3 of 4 games at Comerica Park at the end of August and the only game the Tigers won in that series came on a Torii Hunter walk off home run which capped off a 4 run 9th inning. If the Tigers to take down the A’s, they will have to take on the winner of the series between the Boston Red Sox and the winner of the Wild Card Game to reach to World Series.
The Tigers have their flaws, but no team is perfect. This team is good enough to win the World Series. Once the postseason begins, the team who gets the hottest and has the fewest of their flaws revealed wins the World Series at the beginning of November. Here are 5 reasons the Tigers will win the World Series, and 5 reasons they will go home without the World Series Trophy.
Reasons the Tigers Will Win the World Series:
1. Starting Pitching
The Detroit Tigers have the best pitching staff in the American League without a doubt and by using FIP, the best playoff pitching staff in all of baseball. The Tigers have 4 of the top 28 pitchers in baseball according to FanGraphs based on FIP. The next best team is the Los Angeles Dodgers with 2. Good pitching beats good hitting which was shown last year in the World Series. An elite starting staff with a lineup that can pick up timely hits wins in the playoffs. The Tigers as a staff are elite. If Max Scherzer and Anibal Sanchez can stay at the level they have pitched this season and Justin Verlander and Doug Fister can stay away from the big innings, the Tigers will be in position to win every game.
The Detroit Tigers’ lineup is one of the most complete lineup top to bottom in all of baseball, this goes for in National League ballparks as well. It seems every game when Austin Jackson is healthy, he is a scoring a run in every game. The Tigers win over 70% of the time when Jackson scored at least one run in a game. Torii Hunter is the best addition that the Tigers have made since Victor Martinez a few years ago. He does not walk a whole heck of a lot, but he does have a batting average over .300. Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter in the game. Prince Fielder has picked up his game in the second half of the season and has a .352/.400/.560 split in September. Victor Martinez has been the hottest hitter on the planet since the beginning of July. We will see what happens with Jhonny Peralta. Alex Avila, Andy, Dirks and Jose Iglesias are some of the better 7-8-9 hitters in the game. The Tigers have scored the 2nd most runs in baseball, the 2nd highest OPS in baseball, and the most hits in the game. The Tigers do not walk as much as some of the other teams, but their lineup is one of the best in the game.
3. Miguel Cabrera
Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter in the game. Period. There is no one I would rather have at the plate than Cabrera. His presence completely changes the way pitchers pitch to every part of the lineup. Torii Hunter has more fastballs thrown to him. Fielder, who has hit better in the second half of the season gets to hit more often with runners in scoring position and the same goes for Martinez who has been the hottest hitter on the planet in the second half of the season. Cabrera has been slumping in the second half of the season, but a slumping Miguel Cabrera is still one of the best hitters in the game. Cabrera has reached base in every postseason game he has ever played with the Tigers. Cabrera changes the game more than any other position player in the game and that will work to the advantage of the Tigers in the postseason.
The matchups actually are in favor of the Tigers coming into the postseason. The Tigers are 3-4 against the A’s. This doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that this is a losing record. The Tigers lost 3 of 4 games at home to Oakland. They should have learned from their mistakes during that series. Oakland showed that they will take a lot of pitches and take walks, steal bases, and play the game the right way. If the Tigers did not learn from this, they do not deserve to win the World Series. The Tigers have shown that they can win at the O.co Coliseum. If the Tigers can take a game, or even two in Oakland, they just need to protect Comerica Park where the Tigers have a 51-30 record. The Tigers have a 4-3 record against the Red Sox this season. People mostly remember the 20-4 drubbing at Fenway earlier this year, but the Tigers took care of business at home this season and did not get swept in Boston. The Tigers have a record of 15-4 against the Indians, a 3-3 record against the Rays, and a 3-4 record against the Rangers.
5. They’ve Been Here Before
Experience does make a difference in the postseason. The Tigers were in the ALCS two years ago and they were in the World Series last year. They have played on the biggest of stages. They basically have the same teams that played in those games with a few tweaks. There should be no nerves when they take the field. They have taken steps ahead in their past 2 appearances. They reached the ALCS and lost the first time. They won the ALCS in their next appearance, but lost in the World Series. There is only one more step to take to win the ultimate prize.
Reasons the Tigers Will Not Win the World Series:
From Spring Training, we all knew that this bullpen was going to be the weakness of this team. The biggest concern of this team when the season began was the closer’s role. This was eventually filled by Joaquin Benoit has been phenomenal in the 9th inning of games this season. Of the pitchers in the bullpen at the moment not counting Benoit because he will mostly be used in the 9th inning of games, the only pitchers that Tigers fans trust are Drew Smyly, Bruce Rondon, and Jose Veras. Some people don’t even trust Veras. People do not trust Al Albuquerque, Darin Downs, Jose Alverez, Luke Putkonen, and not even Rick Porcello. Late in games when the Tigers need critical outs, many people do not believe that they have the lock down pitchers in the bullpen to do so. The bullpen may cost this team multiple games in the late innings and maybe even a series.
2. Team Defense
The team defense has drastically improved with the addition of Jose Iglesias at shortstop. That does not change that Cabrera would have better range with a hover-round power scooter at third. The right side of the infield is basically the same thing. Prince Fielder has the range to get to nachos in the stands, but not to many other things. Omar Infante will do well to try to cover the rest of the ground. Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter have done a pretty good job in the outfield, but the left field spot is a wild card. If Andy Dirks is out in left, the left field spot is strong defensively. If Jhonny Peralta is out there, it is an adventure to say the least. There will be some extra bases taken against the Tigers which could be the difference in a game.
Breaking News: Speed is not a part of the Tigers playing style. The Tigers are last in stolen bases in all of baseball by double digits. Baserunning is not defined solely by stolen bases. The Tigers flat out don’t make good decision on the bases. They cannot take an extra base to get into scoring position or score from first on a double. The Tigers are basically a station to station team which is a secret to no one. Some runs will be lost because the Tigers cannot stretch the opposing team on the basepaths.
4. Holding Baserunners
On the other end of the baserunning coin is holding baserunners. Only the Washington Nationals are worse at throwing out runners stealing. The Red Sox are the only playoff team who has allowed more runners to steal, but they have also thrown out runners at a better clip than the Tigers. If a runner with any king of speed reaches first against the Tigers, he will probably take second base on a steal. Once at second, it only takes one hit instead of two to score the runner. If the Tigers are up by 1 run late in the game, a walk, steal, base hit combination leads to a tie game
5. Too Much Wear and Tear
The Tigers have been here before. They have played at least 170 games each of the past 2 years. Their starting pitching has thrown the most innings in all of baseball this season. All of these pitches the past 3 years add up. Miguel Cabrera is not even close to being 100% healthy. Jose Iglesias is shaking off a badly bruised hand after he was hit by a pitch a week ago. Rondon has a nagging elbow injury which has limited his pitching late in the season. When the Texas Rangers made a similar run with to what the Tigers have now, they looked to be out of gas. Jim Leyland has done a good job at resting some his players, especially Torii Hunter to make sure they do not run out of gas. Toward the end of the season, the Tigers have not seemed to have as much spark as they did earlier on in the season. Hopefully, this is not the case, but the wear and tear of a 162 game season affects everyone. The Tigers should have enough left in their tank to make a playoffs run.