With the Tigers officially in the World Series (and perhaps slated to play the Cardinals in a rematch of 2006), I thought it would be a fun exercise to compare our current World Series position players with their 2006 counterparts. I'll have a post up on the pitchers a bit later.
2006 - Ivan Rodriguez (300/332/437, 769OPS, .330wOBA)
2012 - Alex Avila (243/352/384, 736 OPS, .327 wOBA)
At 34 years old Pudge was in the twilight of his career but still able to post very respectable offensive numbers, especially for the position. Most of Avila's OPS comes from his high walk rate, though Alex does have a bit more power (142 ISO vs. 137), especially away from the pull field. While very competent defensively, Avila is not to Rodriguez' level when it comes to throwing, blocking pitches in the dirt, and calling a game.
EDGE: Pudge 2006
2006 - Sean Casey (245/286/364, 650 OPS, .275wOBA - with Detroit)
2012 - Prince Fielder (313/412/528, 940 OPS, .398wOBA)
Sean Casey is generally considered a swell guy and one of the nicest people in baseball, and he's well known for chatting up the opposing players that stop by his base. He's earned a great nickname: The Mayor. Prince, on the other hand, is an offensive force and a perfect complement to the guy hitting in front of him. While RBI is an overrated stat, the fact that he could still knock in 108 runs while hitting behind a guy that knocked in 139 is astounding, and he did by being toughest in important spots going 338/468/563 with RISP. He also had more walks than strikeouts, something even Cabrera wasn't able to accomplish.
EDGE: The Big Teddy Bear 2012
2006 - Placido Polanco (295/329/364, .693 OPS, .307 wOBA)
2012 - Omar Infante (257/283/385, .668 OPS, .288 wOBA - with Detroit)
Polly put up his typical solid offensive numbers while playing a generally flawless second base. He was a terrific #2 hitter because he was tough to strike out, could hit the ball to right field, and never tried to do too much beyond putting the ball in play. Infante was a reserve on the 2006 team (4 PAs that postseason) and is today a solid upgrade over the Santiago/Worth/Raburn three-headed monster we ran out at 2B prior to the trade deadline. In some respects he's a poor man's Polanco: he hits for a decent average, doesn't walk much, and occasionally flashes power. His defense is generally steady, but Omar is guilty of the periodic mental lapse. On all of these measures, Infante is a bit below Polanco.
EDGE: Polanco 2006
2006 - Carlos Guillen (320/400/519, .920 OPS, .391 wOBA)
2012 - Jhonny Peralta (239/305/384, .689 OPS, .301 wOBA)
Carlos was arguably the Tigers best hitter that season, as he was in the midst of 5 straight seasons with an OPS over 800. 2006 was pretty much his last hurrah as an adequate defensive shortstop, as injuries and age led to rapidly diminished skills over subsequent years. Peralta had a miserable 2012 season offensively, particularly when compared to his stellar 2011 campaign, though he was snakebitten somewhat posting a .275 BABIP despite a very strong 22.0% line drive rate (essentially equal to 2011). Neither had great range at this point in their careers, though Jhonny is a lot more sure-handed, committing just 7 errors compared to Guillen's 28 (in almost exactly he same number of chances). Guillen's bat more than makes up for it though, as he posted a 6.2 WAR season.
EDGE: 'los 2006
2006 - Brandon Inge (253/313/463, .776 OPS, .331 wOBA)
2012 - Miguel Cabrera (330/393/606, .999 OPS, .417 wOBA)
Brandon Inge posted the finest season of his career, slugging 27 home runs, playing gold glove-caliber defense, and posting a 4.0 WAR season. Miguel Cabrera posted his second consecutive season over 7 WAR, and did it while switching positions to a much harder spot on the field. Oh, and there's that whole triple crown thing. He's the heart and soul of the offense.
EDGE: Miggy Poco 2012
2006 - Craig Monroe (255/301/482, .783, .329 wOBA)
2012 - Quintin Berry (258/330/354, .684 OPS, .305 wOBA)
C-Mo enjoyed the best power season of his career with 28 HR and a .227 ISO, but only registered 0.4 WAR, his third consecutive decline, due to a lower batting average, OBP, and defensive skills. QB, meanwhile, had a big impact in limited time posting 1.0 WAR due largely to his success on the bases. Berry also walks and strikes out at slightly higher rates than Monroe did. Neither is great defensively, but Monroe's power is the deciding factor.
EDGE: Monroe 2006
2006 - Curtis Granderson (260/335/438, .773 OPS, .335 wOBA)
2012 - Austin Jackson (300/377/479, .856 OPS, .371 wOBA)
Curtis was (and still is) a fan favorite, and was a major catalyst batting leadoff for that 2006 team. He posted a 4.0 WAR season and was good in all aspects of the game - offensively, defensively, and running the bases. He struck out about 25% of the time, but he gave us 19 HR and 90 runs from the leadoff spot. Ajax broke out in 2012 and appears to be on the cusp of stardom as he posted the second-best WAR on the team at 5.5. He cut down on his strikeouts, increased his walks, and played a flawless center field. Curtis was good, but Ajax is better.
EDGE: The Cleaner 2012
2006 - Magglio Ordonez (298/350/477, .827 OPS, .355 wOBA)
2012 - Andy Dirks (322/370/487, .857 OPS, .368 wOBA)
If there was a more important offensive cog than Carlos Guillen, Maggs was it. 2006 was a typical year for Ordonez, a batting average around .300, an OBP of .350, and a slugging approaching .500. He had lost some of the power from earlier in his career, but Maggs was still a dangerous hitter who was very consistent. He also had one of the most famous home runs in Tigers history. Andy Dirks had an outstanding 2012 season despite missing significant time with injuries, but may have played over his head, as his numbers were aided by an inflated .365 BABIP. That said, he provides solid defense (and brings additional value because he can flip to either corner for defensive purposes) and is one of the tougher players on the team to strike out. He's got a little pop as well. A solid player, but Andy isn't really close to Maggs' level.
EDGE: Gotta be the hair 2006
2006 - Marcus Thames (256/33/549, .882 OPS, .371 wOBA)
2012 - Delmon Young (267/296/411, .707 OPS, .305 wOBA)
Country Strong was another Tiger who had a career year in 2006, belting 26 HR in just 390 plate appearances. Most of his damage was done in June, as he posted a sub-.200 batting average in July and September, though he did manage a .966 OPS in August (in 51 PAs ) despite hitting .238. Delmon somehow managed to put up decent 'traditional' numbers of 18 HR and 74 RBI, but his peripheral stats, 3.3% BB rate and 18.4% K rate, left a lot to be desired. Postseason Delmon is another matter, however, as for the second straight year he's torched the Yankees to the tune of a 1.203 OPS in the first 3 games. It seems that second half Raburn has taken over postseason Delmon's body.
EDGE: Marcus 2006
Wow, whole lotta nothing going on in both cases. 2006 Santiago is better than 2012 Santiago, though not by much, and Omar + Neifi is probably a wash as compared to Worth + DonK. I'll take Garcia over Gomez on his defensive prowess alone, and Avi's had some key hits to boot so far this postseason. Gerald Laird is an easy win over Wilson. Leyland likes to use his bench, and he's done a good job getting the right guys in (especially Garcia and Laird) at the right times (Kelly).
EDGE: Bench Wizard 2012
2006 - 6 wins
2012 - 4 wins
Top to bottom the 2006 team appears deeper thanks to several players having career seasons (or close to it) all at once. The 2012 team has more star power and is top heavy, and the big bats are far better than anything on that 2006 team. Given how that 2006 team stopped hitting in the World Series (seriously, 11 runs in 5 games?), I am inclined to take the 2012 group just to have a much more formidable 1-5 in the lineup. I'll take my chances that Peralta, Avila, and postseason Delmon hit like they are capable.