Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The ALCS

I haven't looked forward to a non-Red Sox ALCS this much since 1997. This series has everything: new blood (six different teams have made the ALCS in the last three years - this is a good thing), hungry fans on both sides, good pitching, fresh faces, old faces in new places, and two stadiums that I've seen in person. As Pete Carroll so eloquently put it, I'm jacked and pumped.

So which team gets to advance and sweep the NL champ in the World Series? The "experts" are saying that it could go either way, and it is a very fascinating match-up. Both teams have ridden their pitching this far, both staffs were great in the first round, and both will face lineups in this series very similar to the team they just vanquished.

The A's lineup is a lot like the Yankees' with less power: they take a ton of pitches, work the count, and wear down starters. The Tigers pitchers were able to take advantage of that by throwing a ridiculous amount of early strikes, getting ahead in the count, and then making them chase pitches they weren't looking for. Rogers and Bonderman were especially phenomenal in their starts, but you have to expect a little bit of a drop off their next time around.

The Tigers lineup likes to be aggressive and hack, even more so than the Twins. In the Division Series, the Twins hitters made Barry Zito look great in game one by swinging at everything and getting themselves out, and in the other two games they popped up more first pitches than Willie Mays Hayes. You have to think that the A's pitchers can keep it up, but even if the Tigers do make solid contact like they did against the Yanks, Oakland's defense is better than New York's by just about every measure available, and more of those balls in play will be turned into outs.

I think the A's are more likely to be able to get the Tiger hitters to chase than the Tigers are to get ahead of the A's hitters, which gives a distinct advantage to Oak-town. Throw in the Frank Thomas sticking it to the White Sox factor and I like the A's to take the series in six. And even if it goes seven, the Tigers will throw Kenny Rogers on the road in that game. I know he just tossed a playoff gem, but I still don't like those odds.

(Note: this means you should all bet the mortgage on the Tigers)

2 comments:

Warren said...

Knowing how fate is such a bitch, I expect a lot of 10-9 games in what's being called a pitching/defense series.

But overall I think your analysis is on target.

Sully said...

After watching two innings of Game One of this series, I'm really wishing that the Yankees had hired Lou Pinella... he's just awful in the booth.