Now that the Detroit Tigers look like a lock to win the AL Central (with a 97.3% chance of making the playoffs, according to ESPN), it's time to ponder how they might fare in the postseason. While it would be fair to say that they aren't exactly the favorite to win it all, I am confident that they have what it takes to capture the Commissioner's Trophy in October. Here are five reasons why:
1. Justin Verlander.
He's all but guaranteed to be named the AL Cy Young Award winner, and he has a realistic shot at being voted the AL MVP as well. He leads the league in a number of statistical categories, including strikeouts, wins, innings pitched, ERA, and WHIP. He's also thrown a no-hitter this season. Verlander has won each of his last nine starts, giving up one earned run or less in five of those outings.
2. The rest of Detroit's pitching staff.
These guys are better than they are given credit for. New acquisition Doug Fister (from Seattle) has a 4-1 record as a starter since joining the Tigers. He has an ERA of 3.17 and has walked just 35 batters all year (and only three since becoming a Tiger). Max Scherzer has a respectable 4.33 ERA and 14 wins. He possesses a deadly fastball, and he has won three of his last four decisions. Looking at middle relievers, Al Alburquerque has a 2.19 ERA, and both Joaquin Benoit and Daniel Schlereth have ERAs below 4.00. And then of course, Jose Valverde has been the most successful closer in baseball this season, with an incredible 41 saves in 41 opportunities, and a 2.54 ERA.
3. Miguel Cabrera.
He probably won't be the AL MVP, but he deserves to at least be in the conversation. His .328 batting average is third in the American League. He has 26 home runs and 93 RBI, both of which put him in the AL's top ten. Cabrera has been walked 92 times, which is second in the AL. He's also ranked number two in both OPS and OBP.