September 25, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez (19) receives congratulations from pitching coach Jeff Jones (right), bench coach Rafael Belliard (center) and first base coach Tom Brookens (left) after the game against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park. Detroit won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE
The first 154 games haven’t been enough to distinguish the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox, but only eight games remain for each team, so the race will be decided soon. But the question remains: now that the Tigers have come back to tie for the division lead, do they have what it takes to finish the job?
A peek at each team’s upcoming opponents suggests the Tigers have an edge. Detroit has two more games to play to finish up the current series with Kansas City (.455), then three games versus Minnesota (.416), and finally a three game set with Kansas City (.455) to finish the year. That’s an average opponent’s winning percentage of .440 for the Tigers.
Chicago, on the other hand, has one more game with Cleveland (.413), before a four game series with Tampa Bay (.545), and finally another three games with Cleveland (.413). So the White Sox will face an average opponent’s winning percentage of .479.
But, unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Detroit only plays the next two games at home before hitting the road for the final six. Chicago has the luxury of remaining at home for five more games before playing only the final series on the road. This probably bumps the needle back toward the middle.
Detroit struggled early on in the year (mostly in late-April and May) before going on a bit of a run starting in June. They clawed their way to being two games above .500 going into the All-Star break. Post-All-Star Game, they’ve amassed a 38-30 record (a .559 clip) and have generally played much better baseball. Chicago, on the other hand, was seven games over the .500 mark at the break, but has only managed a 35-34 (.507) record in the meantime (I’m sure the current skid has something to do with it). Are the White Sox not “hot enough” to get the job done?
What do all these numbers, streaks, and schedules really mean? Not a whole lot, probably. It’s going to come down to which team executes when it counts the most.
Do the Tigers have it in them?