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J-Dog Dungan

Playoffs pt. 3

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Now, to the AL. The final day of the AL was quite a wild one, with all the scenarios that could have played out, but it never really turned into an epic turn-everything-on-its head Day 162 as last year.

The day left the A's (what the heck?) on top of the AL West, the Rangers falling to the one-game playoff between the Wild Cards, the Yankees obliterating the Red Sox in Bobby V's last game there to clinch the East, and the Orioles going VERY quietly against the Rays to claim the second wild-card spot.

I will start with the upcoming divisional series match-up between the A's and Tigers. During the regular season, the Tigers won the season series between the two, 4-3, but the A's have home-field advantage because they won 6 more games than the Tigers.

vs.

Offense:
Again, there is a player (this time on the Tigers) that makes me want to give this category right to that team (that player being Miggy). Just saying, if you earn the Triple Crown, you are getting some respect out of this Twins fan (for the first and only time ever). And again, that would be ignoring the statistical side of things. As I just mentioned, the Tigers have one of the best players in the Majors on their team, and his name is Miggy (I just refuse to call him by his real name for no reason apparent to me.) Now, since the All-Star Break, the Tigers are hitting .267 with 81 HR, 330 RBI's, over 500 K's, 263 BB's, and an OPS of .763. The Athletics, however have hit a mere .252, but with 112 HR (which leads the Majors), 374 RBI's, 704 K's, 255 BB's, and an OPS of .765. The Oakland A's lead the Majors in two very distinct categories since the Break, one good (leaders in HR hit) and one not so good (704 K's, as part of a season where they broke the record for K's in a season by one team, if I am not mistaken).

Miggy is leading the charge for the Tigers, and with Fielder at his side, those two have the firepower to take over the series. The A's, though, have gotten key support from unlikely sources all season, and they will look for the same unknowns to keep their offensive attack going.
Advantage: Leaning Tigers (ducks)

Defensive:
Here is where I knew the Tigers would have trouble with having Fielder and Cabrera in the same infield (unfortunately, not enough to keep them out of the playoffs), and I was right (mostly). Somehow, the Twins actually have a higher fielding percentage than the A's, and the same fielding percentage as the Tigers, which is not a good sign if you're a playoff team and there are teams who are losing 90+ games who are fielding as well as or better than you are. The Tigers could have a problem against the A's, as their catchers are giving up a steal percentage just south of .750 (A's are around .690), and the A's, when they have been given the green light, they get the stolen base nearly 80% of the time. Yikes! The A's have also given up fewer passed balls and wild pitches than the Tigers, and those two can be killer in the postseason where every base counts

I am looking at this to be the time where the Tiger's fielding deficiencies finally catch up to their abilities on offense.
Advantage: A's, most certainly.

Pitching:
Ah, pitching, the Achilles heel of so many teams. The A's have had even more turnover in their pitching staff than the Twins had this year, but it doesn't seem to have slowed them down a bit. If nothing has changed since a few days ago, I believe that the A's will be the first team ever to go into the playoffs with an all-rookie pitching staff. Quite the first season, eh? The Tigers, on the other hand, have had somewhat more success, mostly because of two pitchers, the AL K leader for most of the season, and Justin Verlander (didn't see that one coming? Neither did I.) The Tigers have been blessed with the top 2 pitchers in K's this year, Verlander and Max Scherzer, who for IP/K ratio kicks Verlander's butt up and down Motor City (Scherzer has thrown over 50 innings less than Verlander and has only 8 fewer K's). This 1-2 combo in K's leads the Tigers starters to an ERA advantage over the A's by about .04 points.

Statistically, the Tigers starters have a 63-51 record with a 3.76 ERA in just under 1000 innings, have given up 99 HR, have K'd exactly 900, walked just 263, have a BAA of .260, and a WHIP of 1.28. Their relievers are just about the same. They have a 25-23 record, with an ERA of 3.79 with just under 460 IP, have given up 47 HR (yikes!), have K'd 433, have a BAA of .249, and a WHIP of 1.31.
The A's have been just as good, if not even better. Their starters come into the postseason with a record of 64-54, with an ERA of exactly 3.80 in 958 innings, have given up 102 HR, have K'd 667, walked only 253 (league leaders), have a BAA of .264, and a WHIP of 1.28. Their relievers have been among the best in the game, considering. They have a record of 30-14, a miniscule 2.94 ERA (second behind the Rays, who else?), have thrown 512 innings, have given up 45 HR's, have K'd 469, walked 209, have a BAA of .209 (second behind the Rays again), and have a WHIP of 1.17 (second, again to the Rays.)

The Tigers have the "name" advantage in that they have Verlander and other "established" veterans on their squad, where the A's are relying on rookies and veterans who have been playing out of their minds, especially in the bullpen.
Advantage: A's

Overall:
The Tigers have a slight, but definite advantage in the hitting department, and their strikeout pitchers should have a field day with the A's' strikeout-prone lineup, but the A's pitching staff is playing like established vets all, and the fact that they don't have to deal with Miggy and Fielder in the corners is a definate plus in the defense game

Prediction: A's in 5. Long and hard, this series will last all five games, but the A's 'pen will outlast the Tigers and give the A's a series victory.

Here are the links to my first two playoff predictions, with another one on the way, with the rest to follow as each series concludes:
Braves vs. Cardinals: http://twinsdaily.com/entry.php?1987-Playoffs-pt-2
Reds vs. Giants: http://twinsdaily.com/entry.php?1975-Playoffs-pt-1
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