The ALCS was almost too easy for the Detroit Tigers, and the World Series was almost too easy for the San Francisco Giants.
Detroit”s bats went cold during the World Series, eventually going 21.1 innings without scoring a run as San Fr
ancisco shut them out twice. Madison Bumgarner, who was 0-2 with a 11.25 ERA previously in the playoffs, got away with a 90 mph high and barely any stuff and shut the Tigers out for seven innings.
So, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder went cold at the right time. But what about the ALCS?
Anibal Sanchez, Doug Fister, Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer all had their way with the Yankees, and so did Phil Coke and Drew Smyly. The Tigers cruised, as Jhonny Peralta and Delmon Young carried the offense. But that wasn”t the case in the World Series.
Young had a .296 OBP, and he struck out too much. He will be gone, but the team will compensate for his loss. Actually, they will get a much better player.
Torii Hunter”s batting average was better than Young”s OBP, and his .365 OBP wasn”t horrible either. He boosted the Angels” offense while providing incredible defense, something Detroit lacked outside of center fielder Austin Jackson. Now, they will have right and center field covered, as well as the No. 2 hole.
It wasn”t too hard to jump into Detroit”s batting order with Jackson leading off and Omar Infante or Quintin Berry hitting second. But with Jackson, Hunter, Cabrera and Fielder anchoring the lineup, it will be harder. Oh, and Victor Martinez will definitely help hitting fifth at designated hitter.
If he wasn”t hurt, Detroit”s season could have been completely different. And, the 2013 season will be completely different.
So maybe the Tigers won”t retain Sanchez. But they have Smyly, who can start. They would have Justin Verlander, easily the best pitcher in the game, and Doug Fister, one of the most underrated pitchers in the game who pounds the corners and can get outs in any way.
Oh, and Max Scherzer? He almost led the league in strikeouts, and he knows how to pitch.
Jose Valverde gave the Tigers bullpen a bad name in 2012, but he will be gone, and Phil Coke can close. Joaquin Benoit and Octavio Dotel can pitch, so the bullpen will be fine. The rotation will still be among the best in baseball, which is great for an offense and defense receiving a huge boost.
In a vast ballpark like Comerica Park, good outfielders are needed. And Hunter, who won nine consecutive Gold Gloves from 2001-2009 and is known for robbing home runs, can do so. He is also fast, which is good in a place like Comerica. Playing in Detroit was a great choice for him.
Why? Because Hunter isn”t really a power hitter, but finding the gaps is one of his many strengths, and Detroit supports that strength. He will be getting on base and setting up the Triple Crown winner, which is a luxury Detroit didn”t have in 2012 when they fell short.
So now that they do have that luxury, it”s hard to say that they”ll fall short again.