Since I'm busy running around like a chicken with my head cut off, thanks to TigerDog for stepping up and writing this FanPost. --Kurt
Here is how I view the American League Championship Series, position by position. What do you think?
Rotation: The Rangers had a better team ERA for the season by a good bit, and slightly better after the break, despite playing in a tiny hitters' ballpark. In the post season, take out Ogando, who beat the Tigers three times during the season, and Brad Penny, who had the highest ERA and WHIP of any qualified starting pitcher in the league, and the Tigers close that gap. Verlander is the best pitcher in the league, and Fister was the best pitcher at the end of the season. Scherzer is a fly ball pitcher scheduled to start twice in a hitters' park, but he's on a roll and can be dominant. Porcello even pitched very well vs Texas. If Leyland was willing to use Verlander three times if necessary, the Tigers would have a clear advantage. But since he's not, there's a smaller edge to the Tigers.
Bullpen: The Tigers led the league in save percentage and were 79- 0 when leading after the seventh inning. Nobody has a better back end of the pen, despite false claims by the media about the Yankees' advantage. The Rangers have last year's Rookie of the year in closer Neftali Feliz, then went out at the trade deadline and picked up arguably the two best relief pitchers available in either league, in Koji Uehara and Mike Adams. The Tigers promptly greeted these two with game winning homers off each of them.
In middle relief, the Tiger bullpen sucks. Nobody can be trusted. One of the worst bullpens in the league was made worse by adding the worst qualified starting pitcher in the league for sentimental reasons. If it comes down to middle relief, the Tigers could be in trouble.
Offense The Rangers outscored the Tigers by 22 runs after the break. They hold a 3 point lead in batting avg, one point in on base pct, and 22 points in slugging, much of which might be attributed to ball park. The middle of the Tiger lineup matches up well with anyone, but the top of the order lacks the on base ability that could make the Tiger lineup an offensive juggernaut. The Rangers have been more consistent and have one of the top offenses in the league.
Defense This one is not close. The Rangers have a lineup full of two way players in both the infield and the outfield that can hit and field, and they also can run just for a bonus. Andrus is one of the best shortstops in the game for those whose defensive analysis goes beyond counting errors. With three lefties in the Texas rotation, Leyland likes to put one of the worst defensive infielders in the league at second base in Ryan Raburn. Putting Santiago at 2B eliminates this problem, but subtracts from the offense. Magglio probably will start in right field against lefties, giving the Rangers another significant defensive advantage. Delmon Young is a terrible fielder, as is Wilson Betemit if he finds his way into the lineup. Beltre is as good as they come at third base. Jackson and maybe Avila are the only possible areas where the Tigers may have an edge defensively, and the Rangers are not deficient in those areas.
Manager Leyland is my manager of the year, but he still makes decisions that irk the bejaysus out of me, several of which I've highlighted here. No signficant advantage.
How they match up Three words. Rotation, rotation, rotation:
The Tigers got solid pitching across the board when they played the Rangers during the season. The four righties match up well with Texas' mostly righty lineup, and the Tigers mostly righty lineup matches up well with the Rangers 75% lefty gang. No Ranger pitcher beat the Tigers this season except for Ogando, who has been moved to the bullpen. The Tigers match up well with the Rangers.
Prediction: Tigers in Seven.