As the Oakland A's celebrated their American league Western Division Championship on October 3, it marked the end of an improbable season and an improbable championship run. For the team with Major League Baseball's lowest total salary to not only make the playoffs, but also win the division, seemed, at first glance, the most unlikely scenario. General manager Billy Beane, once again, found a way to take a hodge-podge group of players and turn them into an unlikely contender. For their efforts, the A's will be rewarded with… a series against the A.L. Central Division Champions, the Detroit Tigers.
Led by last year's Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award-winner, Justin Verlander, and this season's historic "Triple Crown" winner and potential MVP, Miguel Cabrera, the Tigers have been the year's best performing underperformer. Projected to cut through the league like a proverbial buzz saw, Detroit barely crept into the division lead, as the Chicago White Sox fell apart, late in the season. Now turning on the "juice," the Tigers seem to be rolling on both sides of the plate and will pose a dangerous threat to every team in their path, including the A's, whom they haven't faced in the playoffs since 2006.
While starting pitching will be of little concern to the Tigers, boasting perhaps one of, if not the best, rotations in the major leagues, they are limited on defense by one of the most mediocre infields in the game. While Prince Fielder, Omar Infante, Jhonny Peralta and Miguel Cabrera can, on most nights, facilitate adequate offense, it will be their defensive abilities that make the difference in advancing past Oakland.
Detroit is on a roll, as of late. Should they be able to continue the trend, with spectacular pitching, improved defense and an offense that has the potential to be juggernaut-esque, there is no reason they shouldn't be able to cruise through Oakland and advance through the first round.
Oakland, however, will come into Detroit on Saturday, October 6, secure in the knowledge that they have nothing to lose. They were not expected to have a winning record, let alone win the division and make the playoffs. They have a roster full of names that are unrecognizable outside of the fan base. They have battle an exorbitant amount of injuries over the course of the season, yet, they still found a way to get here. That, in itself, makes them extremely dangerous. Detroit needs to refrain from overlooking that.The author, D. Benjamin Satkowiak, is a successful entrepreneur and published, freelance author, who has tailored works on various sports, health and fitness topics. He currently serves as a Yahoo! Contributor Network "Featured Contributor" and writes on the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Lions, Great Lakes Loons and Notre Dame football.
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