I never quite realized how great of an idea it was to write about the Tigers on Thursdays. They’ve improved every single week I’ve written about them. Hopefully, by next week, I’ll have a playoff edition! But for now let’s delve into this past week.
First and foremost, Detroit has claimed sole possession of first place once again for the first time since July 24th! Not only have the Tigers been playing solid, cohesive, TEAM baseball but there seems to be a new energy for the team after last night’s thrilling victory.
On the other hand, Chicago’s free fall has come at the worst possible time. The Sox were swept in Los Angeles last weekend and lost two of three to the lowly Cleveland Indians at home. Detroit has taken full advantage and gone from being down three games last week to being one game ahead of Chicago.
Fortunately, with talk of winning the division, comes talk of the playoffs and the discussion of who will and who won’t be on the team. A breakdown of the roster for the 2012 ALDS is as follows:
I’d go with the crew listed above. Unfortunately for guys like Brennan Boesch, Don Kelly, and Darin Downs, these are the 25 that I have the MOST confidence in going forward. We’ll see the rest in Lakeland after the Super Bowl.
As for the playoffs themselves, there is a catch this year. Major League Baseball instituted the 2nd Wild Card spot and the Wild Card Play In Game after the 2012 Schedule was released. Due to the time constraints and lack of travel days, the lower seeded team (we’ll use Detroit and the Yankees in this case) will host the first two games of the League Division Series. So Detroit would host the Yankees in Games 1 and 2, and then fly to the Bronx for the final three games. This works incredibly in the Tigers’ favor as they’ve been great at home and I do believe that the Tigers’ rotation would have the advantage in a 5-game series.
As much as this season has been an emotional roller coaster, this past week has been a steady improvement for the Tigers. Following today’s victory over the Royals, the Tigers are 11-5 in their last 16 games and finished the season with a 50-31 record at Comerica Park.
However, I should caution the fans that are “celebrating” over the 1.5 game lead. Recall at the beginning of the year that when Victor Martinez went down with a knee injury. The signing of Prince Fielder was viewed as an “addition” to the Tigers’ roster when in reality it was a “replacement”. Thus, for this reason only, keep in mind that one cannot declare this a poor season if a World Series championship is not won by the Detroiters. The team is not the same as it was last year; though similar Martinez and Fielder are not the same player. Because of this, I do think fans can relish the fact that we have a lead going into the final six games of the season but realize that even if the ultimate prize doesn’t come home with us, the Tigers will add a player without a big trade or signing: and that player is Victor Martinez.
But as I always encourage my readers: keep watching and keep listening. All you have to do is get in.