AL DIVISION SERIES
Athletics vs. Tigers matchup
Postion-by-position look at the American League Division Series
Published: Friday, October 5, 2012 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 5, 2012 at 9:36 p.m.
Largely because of Justin Verlander, the rest of the AL playoff field was hoping the White Sox would take out the Tigers. This could be the year Verlander establishes himself as a postseason weapon. It was supposed to happen in 2011, but a Game 1 rainout messed him up. The group behind Verlander (Max Scherzer, Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez) was strong down the stretch, but Scherzer's sore shoulder is a big concern. Rookie Jarrod Parker is the ace in Oakland's rotation, which because of the suspension of Bartolo Colon and injuries to Brandon McCarthy and Brett Anderson could be an all-rookie group. Tommy Milone and A.J. Griffin were 20-11 combined. Edge: Tigers
Among playoff teams, only the Reds had a lower relief ERA than the A's. Rookie Ryan Cook was an All-Star, but Grant Balfour ended the season as the closer, with Cook working in front of him. Lefty Sean Doolittle, another rookie, could see a lot of Prince Fielder. Tigers closer Jose Valverde is sure to draw the ire of fans at the Oakland Coliseum, which would be great theater if he gets a chance to close out the series. Edge: A's
Miguel Cabrera finished strong to win the Triple Crown and help Detroit win the Central. But the Tigers averaged only 3.6 runs in their last 12 games. The A's hit more home runs than the Tigers and were the highest-scoring team after the All-Star break. They have power throughout the order, with Josh Reddick and Yoenis Cespedes the biggest threats and Jonny Gomes and Brandon Moss also game-changers. Edge: A's
The A's midseason trade for shortstop Stephen Drew allowed Cliff Pennington to move to second base, and his range there is a big asset. Likewise Coco Crisp's solid hitting allowed Cespedes to move from center field to left, where he's better. The A's allowed 45 unearned runs, tying the Cardinals for the fewest among playoff teams, while the Tigers gave up a majors-high 74. Don't be surprised to see A's manager Bob Melvin try to bunt on Cabrera at third base. Edge: A's
The Tigers make more defensive substitutions than most teams, and Quintin Berry and Don Kelly could play key roles. Avisail Garcia hit .319 in September, extending the bench. Seth Smith is the A's top reserve. Edge: Tigers
Melvin managed a Diamondbacks team that swept the Cubs in the first round in 2007, and he has done a great job in Oakland. Jim Leyland is under the gun after a season in which the Tigers played from behind, and he might not stay on the job beyond this season.
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