For the first time since 2006, there’s no AL East team in the Championship Series. That autumn, it was Detroit against another AL West team, Oakland. The Tigers swept.
How might it shake out this time?
Let’s take a look:
Rotation: The Rangers aren’t just the C.J. Wilson show. Heck, they won the three games he didn’t pitch in the ALDS against the Rays. Derek Holland and Matt Harrison are solid, too. Texas just can’t compete with Detroit’s top three, though. Edge: Tigers
Bullpen: The back ends of both are solid — closer Neftali Feliz and midseason pickups Koji Uehara and Mike Adams for Texas, Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde for Detroit. So it’s middle-inning relief that just might decide things. Edge: Tigers
Offense: These clubs sure can put up runs in a hurry, but the Rangers — because of how they destroy opposing pitching in their home ballpark — are at another level. They’ve got speed, they’ve got power, they’ve got good contact hitters. Edge: Rangers
Defense: Texas made more errors during the regular season than all but two AL teams, and that’s with vacuum Adrian Beltre at third. Detroit doesn’t have the range, but it makes most the routine plays. The Tigers didn’t make an error in the ALDS. Edge: Tie
Bench: The Tigers’ bench, perhaps, is a little deeper than some thought — as evidenced by the Division Series, in which major contributions were made by Don Kelly, Ramon Santiago and Brandon Inge. Edge: Tigers
Manager: Ron Washington has improved his win total each year on the job, to a high-water mark of 96 this season. Jim Leyland has more experience, a World Series title on his resume, and continued to push all the right buttons in the Division Series. Edge: Tigers
Who wins? Texas is many folks’ pick to represent the American League in the World Series. Detroit, though, might be the toughest possible matchup. The Tigers have owned the Rangers during Ron Washington’s tenure — winning the season series four of the five years, including in 2011 (6-3). Prediction: Tigers in six