The Week in Overreactions: The Tigers obviously own the A's
In each of the previous two seasons, the A's lost to the Tigers in the ALDS. They were just swept in three games in Detroit. So that means the Tigers 'own' the A's, right?
It's time for another installment of "The Week in Overreactions" -- the idea that was
stolen borrowed with approval from our friends at Eye on Football. To the narrative machine!
"The Tigers have the A's number"
This past series, the Tigers got a walk-off grand slam victory over the Athletics on Monday, a Rick Porcello shutout in a 3-0 win Tuesday and a blowout 9-3 win Wednesday. The three-game sweep by Detroit means the Tigers are just a stone's throw away from having the best record in baseball.
Of course, for many, it's also a signal. After all, the Tigers have topped the A's in each of the previous two postseasons in the ALDS. After this three-game sweep, the Tigers quite clearly "own" the A's, many will say.
Here's a nice example, from a reader named Dean in an email to me:
I hope you are a bit more objective about the A's in your next power rankings. A Tiger sweep says something about that.
I'll leave aside the "objective" nonsense that so many can't seem to get over and the fact that a game in the series was played after I did this week's power rankings. Let's focus on the sweep saying "something."
The Tigers have been swept by the Blue Jays this season. Should they be terrified of the Blue Jays if the two clubs face off in October? A sweep says something about that, right?
A few weeks ago, the Braves were swept by the Phillies -- in Atlanta, mind you. That definitely said "something," right? Well, no. The Braves swept the Phillies in four games last week, in Philadelphia.
Just yesterday, the Reds were shut out in San Diego, marking a three-game sweep at the hands of the lowly Padres. The Reds had won 14 of their previous 18 games. They had just swept the first-place Giants in four games.
The Tigers were swept by the Indians in the third week of May, but somehow, some way -- please note the dripping sarcasm -- were able to come back and sweep the Indians the next month.
The A's themselves were swept earlier this season by both the Blue Jays and the Rangers. Did those series say "something" or were they just series that made up part of the 162-game marathon that is the MLB season?
Did we forget that earlier this season the A's and Tigers split a four-game series, which included a 10-0 Oakland beatdown? If the Tigers so clearly owned the A's, they would have managed better than a split in Oakland.
Look, if the A's and Tigers were to face off in a playoff series right now, I would probably pick the Tigers. If the two square off in the ALDS or ALCS this season, the Tigers may well win, but none of this is because of a run-of-the-mill, regular-season sweep.
We have to stop treating baseball like it's football or basketball where some matchups might mean that there's a distinct head-to-head advantage. Baseball doesn't work like that. The worst team in the league could go out and take five games in a row from the best team in the league and it says nothing about either team. That's just the way the game goes sometimes. It's why we watch a 162-game regular season instead of a 16-gamer or a round-robin format.
The Diamondbacks took two of three from the Braves earlier this year. The Twins have taken four of six from the Blue Jays. The White Sox recently took three of four in Toronto pretty quickly after being swept in four games against the Twins. The Mariners were crushed in a three-game sweep in Miami earlier this season, being outscored 18-6 by the Marlins. The Braves won seven of their first eight games against the Nationals this season, but somehow (again, sarcasm) the Nationals found a way to win the two most recent games against Atlanta.
How about this? On May 17, the D-Backs beat the Dodgers 18-7. They chased Clayton Kershaw after just 1 2/3 innings, in which he allowed seven earned runs on six hits.
It's a long season. Things happen.
Individual conclusions could always be drawn on the most recent A's-Tigers series, such as Porcello starting to finally "get it," Justin Verlander's good (but not great) outing, J.D. Martinez continuing to be a revelation and more. But on a team level, a series sweep isn't really a statement in the grand scheme of things.
The Tigers just swept the A's and it means ... that the Tigers swept the A's. Nothing more, nothing less.