History may suggest that teams heading into the postseason do much worse if they are on a hot streak. The only team that has defied this in recent memory is the 2004 Boston Red Sox. History also suggests that teams that stumble or drag themselves into the postseason do much better, with a recent example being the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals.
However, there is some history backing Detroit’s candidacy as well.
• Since 2000 in both the AL and the NL, Cy Young winners who have competed in the postseason the year that they won the award are 12-5 in the postseason. (Assuming Justin Verlander does in fact win the Cy Young).
• What’s more, the Cy winners who happened to have 20 wins in the regular season had 8 of those 12 wins.
• To a greater extent the last winner of the award given to the best pitcher threw a perfect game in his first start in the postseason that year. (Roy Halladay)
• Now I’m not saying that Verlander is going to throw another no-no like Halladay, but it wouldn’t surprise me seeing as both threw no hitters earlier in the year.
• Another nugget that could be meaningless or extremely important is that over the last six years the AL and NL have alternated winners. This isn’t by design by any means, but if history repeats itself then an AL team probably takes home the trophy.
• More historical backing for the Tigers is that their two longest winning streaks before their current one were in 1968 and 1984. Both years Detroit won the World Series.
The Tigers not only have historical backing, but they have statistical backing and backing on paper.
Granted this is on paper and not a real game, but go with me here-
The Tigers lineup will likely look like this in the playoffs:
1. CF Austin Jackson
2. RF Magglio Ordonez
3. LF Delmon Young
4. 1B Miguel Cabrera
5. DH Victor Martinez
6. C Alex Avila
7. SS Jhonny Peralta
8. 2B Carlos Guillen/Ryan Raburn
9. 3B Brandon Inge/ Wilson Betemit
Honestly I would take Miguel Cabrera over any other first baseman in baseball at this point, playoff bound or not. I’d say the same for Victor Martinez at DH, Alex Avila at catcher, Jose Valverde closing the game out and obviously the aforementioned Verlander and Jhonny Peralta is having the best year of any shortstop going to the playoffs.
The Tigers have also benefited from timely play from role players. Brandon Inge has rebounded nicely from his minor-league stint. Wilson Betemit and Delmon Young have both played exceedingly well since coming over from Kansas City and Minnesota.
Every year there is always an un-heralded hero in the playoffs ( See Colby Lewis, Cody Ross ). The Tigers version could be Ryan Raburn. Raburn is a .213 career hitter in the first half of the year while he goes bananas with a career .327 line in the second half. If you’re looking for an un-heralded hero, this is your guy.
Another note on Valverde, the last time a pitcher had a most consecutive streak going was Brad Lidge in 2007-2009 with the Astros and Phillies. And in ’09 the Phils won the World Series. I think Valverde will be OK with a blown save at some point if Detroit runs the table.