1968. 1984. 2006. Those years marked very special seasons for the Detroit Tigers. Now, you can include 2011 with that list of outstanding Tiger teams. We never had any doubt that the Tigers would wind up in the postseason this fall, right? Well, that’s not quite true. Actually, we all had a lot of doubts. Doubts that the Tigers rotation could win enough games on nights that Justin Verlander was not pitching. That the team could find some punch in the lineup outside of Miguel Cabrera. That Alex Avilla could bounce back from a subpar year. And that Jose Valverde could recover from last year’s second half slump.
As it turned out, a number of Tigers far exceeded expectations, including Avilla, Valverde, Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta, and Verlander. We all knew Verlander would be good, but who knew he would be this good? Cy Young Award good. And, in my opinion, he should be the MVP of the league. What other player had that much impact on his team and the league? Imagine where the Tigers would be without Verlander’s 24 wins. No doubt, it would have been another unhappy ending to the Tigers season and another long winter.
How far can the Tigers go in the playoffs? With their powerful lineup and a rotation of Justin Verlander, the surprisingly strong Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, and Rick Porcello, and an excellent bullpen, there’s no reason they can’t go all the way.
My fearless prediction. Tigers and Phillies in the World Series. Tigers win in seven.