Even without knowing their opponent, it wasn't too early to analyze the Detroit Tigers as they prepared for the World Series. One key thing to look at for manager Jim Leyland's club: Is it built to win in a National League ballpark?
No matter the foe, the Tigers must alter their lineup with the designated hitter removed. The National League team "earned" home-field advantage in the best-of-seven series thanks to its league's victory in the All-Star Game in July.
How will that affect Detroit? Delmon Young, who primarily hits fifth in the order and spent most of the season as the designated hitter, likely will move to the outfield to keep his bat in the lineup for Games 1, 2, 6 and 7. But because the spare parts around top offensive stars Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Austin Jackson are so interchangeable, the Tigers actually stand a decent chance away under unfamiliar rules. Players like Andy Dirks and Avisail Garcia can be substituted out at limited cost, and bench players like Quintin Berry, a left-handed outfielder, and Ramon Santiago, a switch-hitting infielder, can enter games late with well over 200 at-bats of experience. Even the catchers -- lefty Alex Avila and righty Gerald Laird -- can platoon depending on the matchup.
"They have a National League kind of roster, and they have a manager that's very adept at using the roster," ESPN analyst Orel Hershiser said. "The key to the depth though won't be the bench, I don't think. ... But when the Tigers bring people out of the bullpen and [Leyland] wants to pinch hit and move pieces, what pitcher does he have to bring in? [Bullpen depth] could end up being the key."
- Brian McNally