Players to Watch: Tigers
Miguel Cabrera: As if there was any doubt that Miguel Cabrera would be one of the players to watch in this series. He’s one of three players who can currently make a case for the AL MVP and without his bat there’s no telling where the Tigers would be. Yes, they have Prince Fielder and Austin Jackson is having a career year, but undoubtedly Cabrera is the engine that makes the entire machine run. If the Tribe can limit the amount of damage he inflicts then they greatly improve their chances of winning the series and sending the Tigers home unhappy.
Austin Jackson/Prince Fielder: I’m doing something a bit different and combining Jackson and Fielder into one super-ultra-mega player. The impact Cabrera is able to have on this series relies on the main man at the top of the order and the man-beast immediately following him. If Jackson can get on base he makes Cabrera that much more dangerous. The last thing anyone wants to do is face Cabrera with men on base. As for Fielder, if he can get hot it will force Manny Acta into a decision of which one of the two he would rather face. As we’ve seen at other times this season, this isn’t a decision Acta generally excels at. Adrian Beltre is nodding his head in agreement.
Players to Watch: Indians
Jason Kipnis: Prior to the all-star break Jason Kipnis looked like a potential MVP candidate and was having a season that rivaled the best seasons of Brandon Phillips, Dustin Pedroia, and Ian Kinsler, just to name a few. Then some idiot on a Cleveland Indians fan blog who shall remain nameless went and wrote an article talking about how great Kipnis was and how he was headed for super stardom. In the process he placed the reverse jinx of all revers jinxes on Kipnis and he hasn’t been the same ever since (my bad). Kipnis hit the game winning homer last night so maybe, just maybe he’s primed to finish the year off with a bang.
Lonnie Chisenhall: Chisenhall made his long awaited return this past week after many thought he was done for the year after breaking his arm/wrist. While his return isn’t nearly enough to remedy everything that’s ailing the Tribe, it does give Chisenhall another month of valuable Major League experience heading into a 2013 season in which he’s expected to have a leading role on the team in the heart of the lineup. The at bats he gets in the final weeks will be invaluable both to himself and to the team. Also, can he use these final games to regain a sense of plate discipline that appears to have been lost somewhere along the line?