Here's the crew Tigers manager Jim Leyland will send out against Jarrod Parker in Game 1 of the American League Division Series:
1. Austin Jackson - CF
2. Quentin Berry - LF
3. Miguel Cabrera - 3B
4. Prince Fielder - 1B
5. Delmon Young - DH
6. Andy Dirks - RF
7. Jhonny Peralta - SS
8. Alex Avila - C
9. Omar Infante - 2B
You really don't realize how imbalanced the Tigers' lineup is until you type it out. Seriously, give it a try. You start furrowing your brow at Quentin Berry, and by the time you get to Delmon Young hitting fifth, you start wrinkling your nose in disgust.
But, there are two things to remember:
1. Austin Jackson has been a bad, bad man this year, and that's good. He hit .300/.377/.479 while playing a splendiferous center field. He looked absolutely lost and overmatched as a leadoff hitter last year during the playoffs, but he's made an amazing transformation. His strikeout rate plummeted, and his walk rate shot up. Good signs, both.
2. I guess Andy Dirks is good now? Huh. He's only 26, and while he did have something of an inflated batting average on balls in play (.365), it wasn't that outlandish. He hit .322/.370/.487 this season in 314 at-bats. That's quite good, especially relative to expectations.
So that's two monsters, two guys who had good years, and competent-if-not-more types like Alex Avila and (usually) Omar Infante. Okay, so it's not that bad. You just have to forget what you thought you knew about the Tigers last season.