When the Tigers invested more than $200 million in first baseman Prince Fielder in the offseason, it was clear the objective was to win the World Series, no matter the price. When they traded top prospect Jacob Turner during the season for veterans Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez, it was even more clear that the team was focused on winning immediately.
The season didn't necessarily go as planned for Detroit. Although Fielder and Miguel Cabrera both had monster seasons, the offense was not the feared force that it was expected to be when Fielder signed. The pitching was up and down all season and the team had defensive struggles. All of those factored into Detroit just barely making the playoffs, aided by a collapse by the Chicago White Sox.
Al Beaton of Tigers blog Bless You Boys writes that all of those factors make this World Series appearance even more special:
7 months ago the Tigers were weighed down with out-of-control expectations, a team which was going to stroll damn near uncontested to the AL Central championship. 3 months later the Tigers were considered the most overrated and disappointing team in baseball. 6 weeks ago, rumors swirled Jim Leyland needed to make the playoffs in order to save his job. A mere 4 weeks ago the Tigers were reeling, 3 games back of the Chicago White Sox, the playoffs seemingly out of reach. 6 games ago, the Oakland Athletics walked off in soul-crushing fashion to stretch the ALDS to a 5th game, the Tigers again appearing to be in deep trouble. 4 games ago, the Tigers apparently gave away game 1 of the ALCS to the the Yankees, unable to hold on to a 4 run lead.
Today the resilient beyond belief Tigers are the champions of the American League after sweeping the Evil Empire.
I dare you to find a more fun, crazy, intense and just plain all-around bizarre season in Detroit Tigers' history.
Game 1 of the World Series will be Wednesday, against either the St. Louis Cardinals or the San Francisco Giants.