Once again the blogosphere has already done most of the heavy lifting on the season previews. I’ll mooch off of their work in a condensed preview edition.
The Tigers pitching has been outstanding this year. The A’s pitching has also been very good. The differences between the staffs in terms of actual pitching is very narrow with the Tigers and A’s finishing 3rd and 5th in terms of Fielding Independent Pitching. Meanwhile, in terms of actual run prevention, the Tigers hold a bigger lead. Now the entire Tigers staff (save for Jeremy Bonderman) could be getting very lucky, or they could be benefiting from awesome defense. My inclination is to go with the latter.
While the A’s are tops in fielding percentage, they are only 7th in terms of defensive efficiency. The Hardball Times +/- measures bear out a similar story where the A’s are middle of the pack, while the Tigers are on top thanks to tremendous infield defense. What could further the Tigers advantage here is the A’s will be doing battle without their regular keystone combo.
I think the pitching is actually very close and the edge will probably swing based on what Rich Harden is able to do coming off of injury. However in terms of total run prevention, the edge has to go to the Tigers.
The difference in the 2 teams approaches is glaring. The A’s of course work the pitcher and take a lot of walks. What they lack in slugging they make up for in getting on base. The Tigers are an aggressive team that is more content to slug you to death. The advantage of the A’s approach is that even if you’re not hitting particularly well, you can still create offense and scoring chances. It also means you’ll get a number of shots at the middle of the bullpen as the starter is chased early.
As for the Tigers, aggressiveness seems to be thought of as a bad thing. If that agressiveness means flailing at anything near the plate, I have to agree. However against the Yankees the Tigers were just aggressive, but they were still swinging at hittable pitches – and they weren’t missing them.
It’s often been said that good pitching beats good hitting, and the Tigers-Yankees series certainly looks like an example of that. But in this series you have 2 teams with good pitching so I think you have to look at the offense as a differentiator. As a Tiger fan, I’m going to have to be partial to the Tigers controlled aggression approach over the A’s staunch discipline approach.
The Tigers attacked the strike zone against a patient Yankee team. When every hitter can hurt you, there isn’t much choice. I expect more of the same in this series. Because the A’s lineup isn’t nearly as balanced I think it will make the Tigers task that much easier.
I’ll take the Tigers in 6.
A whole host of other predictions
Baseball Musings: ALCS Preview – Edge to Detroit
Athletics Nation :: ALCS Series Preview: Oakland A’s vs. Detroit Tigers – Edge to the A’s
Baseball Toaster: Catfish Stew : ALCS Bullet Points – No prediction, but some interesting notes
Mack Avenue Tigers: A Detroit Tigers Blog » ALCS Preview 2: The Matchups – Narrow edge to Detroit
Playoff Preview: Tigers Versus Athletics Detroit in 6
TigerBlog » Blog Archive » A Look at the Athletics Detroit in 7
ALCS Preview: Tigers vs. A’s — The Hardball Times Oakland in 6