Detroit Tigers This & That: History, Peralta and Home Field Advantage


Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

With a 6-2 win over the Seattle Mariners last night, the Detroit Tigers whittled their Magic Number to clinch the American League Central to six.

Historical Run

Should the Tigers avoid a colossal collapse, they will clinch another divisional crown. It will be the first time since 1907-09 that they have gone to the postseason three straight seasons (of course back then the “postseason” was one round–the World Series). Detroit’s three division titles (knocking on wood as I write this) since 2011 would match the amount of division championships they had previously won (AL East titles in 1972, 1984, and 1987) since divisional play began in 1969.

It seems the main question fans have heading into the postseason is whether a certain shortstop/”left fielder” who has been on prolonged vacation should be a part of the playoff roster.

The Jhonny Peralta Issue 

I understand that there are strong feelings for keeping Jhonny Peralta off of the Tigers’ playoff roster, but my personal feeling is that having Peralta in the lineup (yes, even in left field), or on the bench, makes the Tigers a better team.

Here are some of the arguments people have for keeping him off.

“Last season, San Francisco kept Melky Cabrera off the playoff roster when he became available.” 

The Giants made a decision that they thought was in the best interest of their team. Had they not won the World Series, it may not have been a big deal, but they showed that they could win without him.

Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

That’s great–for them. They made a decision, but did not set a precedent. The sputtering Texas Rangers will certainly welcome back Nelson Cruz should they stop their skid in time for the postseason, and other teams will likely do the same.

“Peralta cheated and should not be playing in this year’s postseason.”

Yes a strong argument can be made that Jhonny cheated, however he paid for his crime. He has served his suspension and apologized. Not to get sappy, but baseball is the most American of games, and Americans love giving people second chances so why would a PED using athlete be any different?

Also, technically he “cheated” last year, before the start of the 2012 season. He never tested positive this season. Thus he should not be given an adult timeout during this year’s playoffs.

“If the Tigers win the World Series with him in the lineup, it will be tainted.”

“Tainted” is subjective. I have been a fan of the Tigers all my life. I vaguely remember the 1984 championship (I was six), so I would really love some payoff for being a fan of this team through the highs and (many) lows.

Today, the 1968 and 1984 championship teams are still looked back upon fondly. Years from now if the Tigers are fortunate enough to be the 2013 World Champions, I won’t be thinking of what Jhonny Peralta did. And if hardcore Tigers’ fans think that’s a “tainted” championship, well then I feel awfully bad for you.

Home Field

Last week the Tigers’ fan base was melting down and throwing cries of “2009” at the heavens. The team has since righted the ship by winning six of their last seven games. The collapse talk has subsided but some are upset that the Tigers’ struggles in early September may have robbed them of home field in the AL playoffs (they currently trail their likely ALDS opponent Oakland by a half game for home field in the first round).

Since 2006, the Tigers have made three postseason appearances, making it to the World Series twice, and losing in the ALCS once. In only one of those eight series did the Tigers have home field advantage–the 2006 World Series, and of course they lost.

In series that the other team has had home field advantage, Detroit is 5-2.