Everything seems like a mismatch now! It all begins with Miguel Cabrera, of course.
Let’s say the A’s decide to exploit the defensive deficiencies of a half-stationary Cabrera at third and just start bunting like mad down the third base line. They’ve already got better team speed than the Tigers, so if they adopt this strategy it’ll be good for hits until Leyland decides to yank Miguel from the defensive side and stick him at DH.
Ugh, but then that forces Leyland to put Martinez behind the plate, taking the bat out of Alex Avila’s hands, and he was batting .343 in September and finally showing flashes of his All Star season! And if Victor is behind the dish, then the Athletics will start running. These guys have success in 73% of their steal attempts, but Martinez, in his 29 games as catcher for the Tigers, has thrown out 8 of 38 attempts! There’s no way Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes and whoever else doesn’t take advantage of that!
And the Oakland bullpen is fantastic. They have Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook, Jesse Chavez, Jerry Blevins, and Grant Balfour, who has established himself as a top-10 closer this year. Nearly all those guys have a 7.8 k/9, with Balfour topping out at 10.34!
Josh Donaldson. Ugh. I forgot about the guy who is second only to Mike Trout in the AL in terms of WAR (7.7). He has been incredible this year, leading the Oakland offense with a .199 ISO, an 11.4 BB%, and an .883 OPS. His defense at third has been as good as his offense, with an UZR of 9.9.
The A’s have Bob Melvin, who utilizes his team better than almost any other manager in the bigs. He platoons well, he goes with the matchups that exploit opposing teams’ weaknesses, and he uses his bullpen to the best of their abilities. Melvin plays chess while Leyland plays Connect Four.
The A’s were 52-29 at home. And had the third best run differential behind Detroit.
I feel sick to my stomach.