The Tigers and A's are set to repeat their 2012 playoff match-up. The Tigers won the first two games last year, then lost two, and won the finale. Here are ten reasons why the outcome can be different in 2013.
1. The A's rotation will be stronger than it was during the season. The starting rotation was deep in the regular season, and Sonny Gray is replacing A. J. Griffin for the playoffs. Dropping Tommy Milone helps, and Sonny Gray may be the best starter they have. He only made ten regular season starts.
2. The pitching staff was first in WHIP in the American League. The Tigers will not be able to clog the bases in their usual manner.
3. The A's have the better third baseman. Josh Donaldson hit .301 / .384 / .499 in a tough ballpark, and plays great defense. Cabrera is a better hitter when healthy, but he will not be 100%.
4. The A's led the league in walks. They can be patient and work the starters' pitch counts high for an early exit. Then they can draw walks off the relievers, the Tigers' Achilles' heel.
5. The A's led the league in complete game shutouts (4), and were fourth in team shutouts (13). The Tigers score runs in bunches, but also have droughts. They were shutout twelve times! The A's will shut the Tigers out at least once in the series.
6. The A's platoons make up for the Tigers' big-name advantage. The A's can field seven lefties in the starting lineup. The Tigers will throw all righties. Lefty Brandon Moss slugged .552 against lefties this year, and switch hitter Coco Crisp slugged .505.
7. The Tigers are second in the league in grounding into double plays, while the A's are twelfth. The Tigers will be hitting into double plays and keeping the A's starters' pitch counts down, while the Tigers' pitchers will work for every out.
8. The Tigers have no gimmick, like beards or rally monkeys. The A's have an underdog complex.
9. The A's have home field advantage. It does not mean much in baseball, but it is better than not having it. And half the Tigers' fans will be asleep by the end of games one and two.
10. The A's have Billy Beane, the Tigers have Dave Dombrowski. Dave is a sharp dresser, but Billy Beane was played by Brad Pitt in the movie "Moneyball".
Sorry, they wanted 10 reasons and even 9 was pushing it.