The American League Championship Series is set. It will be as rematch from one of last season’s Division Series, the New York Yankees against the Detroit Tigers. That series was won by the Tigers in five games. This season, Prince Fielder has been added to the Detroit mix and in case you have been living under a rock, this week the big Yankee story is the pinch-hitting for and subsequent benching of Alex Rodriguez. Throw in the fact that neither Justin Verlander nor CC Sabathia will be pitching Game 1 and you have all the ingredients of a series that has seven games written all over it.
The key players for me will be Austin Jackson for Detroit and Ichiro Suzuki for New York. Jackson again led the AL in Triples and his batting average jumped 51 points to an even .300. He had a miserable ALDS last year vs the Yanks, batting .125 with eight strikeouts in sixteen at bats. He is a year older now and although his average was .250 in the just concluded set against the Oakland A’s, I look for this ALCS to be his coming-out party. As for Ichiro, this may be his last chance at a World Series and though he batted only .200 the previous round, he did stroke a big RBI double in the Game 5 clincher. I expect some big games from the future Hall of Famer, something along the lines of a .400 average with 5 doubles.
The prediction? These are two teams are so evenly matched it’s hard not to see this going a long time. If it comes down to the closers, I am taking Rafael Soriano over Jose Valverde. For that reason and for the fact Derek Jeter is just as bit the MVP candidate as Miguel Cabrera, I go with the Yankees in seven.
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