American League Championship Series (ALCS) Preview

2013 American League Championship Series Preview

Boston Red Sox vs. Detroit Tigers

As James mentioned, I will be previewing the ALCS. James and I are both National Leagueists (we both oppose the DH on philosophical grounds). However, given the flame war he created last time we let him write about the AL, I’ve had to take over this side of things. I’m going to take a little different of a format, let’s see how it goes.

Boston Red Sox

2013 record: 97 wins, 65 losses

The Red Sox. Some of us are tired of hearing about how tough Boston is, how they are the anti-Yankees, how we should pull for them because of of this. I’m going to reject that out of hand. They have a top 5 payroll and compete on the market with the Yankees. At this point, they are 1 and 1A, meaning, they have no claim towards any sort of underdog status.

What they do have, is Bill James on staff (which is awesome), they have John Henry, who tried to hire Billy Beane away from the A’s (before getting Theo Epstein to rebuild baseball ops and lead them to the promised land of a World Series title or two) and a totally rebuilt staff from last season. The massive salary dump they made to the Dodgers (who are riding those dumped players to the NLCS this season) and rebuild by bringing in under-appreciated skillsets/players on short-term deals was nothing short of brilliant and missed on the season preview wire. I thought they’d be in 3rd place at this point on the AL East standings, sitting at home. Instead they are playing in the ALCS.

They found Mike Napoli, Shane Victorino, and a few starters on the marketplace. They traded away glove-first short stop Jose Iglesias to Detroit of all people, to get Jake Peavy.

In addition, homegrown Will Middlebrooks, Dustin Pedroia (the gritmaster himself) and (free agent to be) Jacoby Ellsbury, the late season callup Xander Boegarts, and a pitching staff led by a revitalized Lackey/Lester/Buchholtz has taken the AL East by storm. They also have the 9th inning shutdown city of Koji Uehara, and his 1.09 ERA with 12.23 strikeouts per 9 innings. That, is pretty much the definition of dominance.

And, beloved Big Pappi.

via boston.com

Alright, I may not think the world of Boston (although I admit to getting caught up in the hype on occasion, they are easily to love, beards and all), but David Ortiz is one of my favorite players in baseball. He’s had a season at his age that makes his Hall of Fame case all but certain as far as I’m concerned. He’s been a leader post Boston Bombings, he’s called for equality and respect in the locker room (and welcoming a gay teammate). In short, Ortiz is admirable, and if nothing else, he’s totally worth watching in this series just to see how he responds to such great pitching.

In short, if you’re a Red Sox fan, you already know how you feel. You know you’re in that Cardinals situation of somehow baseball royalty. The rest of us, we may go the other way on this. Sorry. We just can’t hear about the legacy of Boston and St. Louis forever without it getting on my nerves a bit.

Detroit Tigers

2013 record: 93 wins, 69 losses

Full disclosure, I won’t be penalizing Detroit for beating the A’s two years in a row. I just can’t. That’s the game. And I’m more into the city of Detroit winning one than I am Boston. I’ve been to Detroit, it’s not as nice as the photos make it seem (and that’s saying something).

Miguel Cabrera

Miguel Cabrera, image credit flckr user keithallison

We’ve discussed at length our thoughts on the team as it is now. The 1/2/3/4 of Scherzer/Verlander/Sanchez/Fister is brutal. Miguel Cabrera is Miggy. Apart from being awful at 3rd base, he manages to produce 7+ WAR even with minus defense. Meaning, after he’s penalized for being very bad at his position, he still manages to produce incredible value. Austin Jackson, Prince Fielder, and Jose (don’t call me Enrique  ‘Balimos’) Iglesias as a vacuum cleaner at shortstop is beautiful to watch. Detroit lacks any major narrative.

Detroit has managed to do this yearly with minor only tinkering on the roster, with pitching dominance, and no remorse for how you feel about them. I like Detroit. I’m pulling for the Tigers. I am tired of the narrative about Boston, I can appreciate the team that Detroit has built, and hope to win one for the city. Later this week, we hope to have a video up by a Detroit comrade whose asking people what the Tigers mean to them. Hopefully that gives us a glimpse into the sports culture of Detroit.

Predictions:

Harjit: Boston in 6

James: Boston in 5

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