Two storied franchises, but only one seemed like a logical choice to make it this far when the season began.Detroit, of course, went to the World Series last year and is in its third consecutive ALCS. The Tigers are backed by a strong pitching staff led by likely Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and former Cy Young and MVP winner Justin Verlander. The offense is deep, too, with Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in the middle of it.Boston, though, is somewhat of a surprise team. The Red Sox have a strong history, savvy front office and big payroll, but it was hard to see them making this kind of turnaround after the disastrous season under Bobby Valentine. John Farrell has proved to be the right man to take over, however, and has guided the team to its first ALCS since 2008.This, much like the NLCS, features two of the top organizations in the game, and has the makings to be a highly entertaining series. What’s working for the Tigers: The rotation is arguably the best in the game. The Tigers used only six starters to get through the season. Even though Justin Verlander won’t be available to pitch until Game 3 after his dominant performance in Game 5 of the ALDS against Oakland, the rotation is still rolling out 14-game winner Anibal Sanchez for Game 1 followed by Max Scherzer. The offense is also going strong, especially with standout ALDS performances by Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta. Cause for concern: Miguel Cabrera showed in Game 5 of the ALDS why he’s the best hitter in the game with his clutch home run, but he is still being slowed by groin and abdominal injuries. Other offensive concerns include outfielders Torii Hunter, who went 3 for 19 in the ALDS, and Austin Jackson (2 for 20), as well as catcher Alex Avila (2 for 15). Another concern has to be closer Joaquin Benoit, who tends to flirt with danger every time he’s on the mound. What’s working for the Red Sox: Everything seems to be going in Boston’s direction at this point. The Red Sox are playing well and have shown they are versatile enough to win in different ways. They are coming off an impressive showing in the ALDS against the Rays. Jacoby Ellsbury batted .500 over the four games; Shane Victorino had a .429 average; and David Ortiz came through with two home runs. And the pitching staff threw the ball well, allowing an average of three runs a game. Cause for concern: John Lackey had a rough start in the ALDS, and closer Koji Uehara showed some signs of his 2011 postseason with the Rangers by allowing a walk-off homer in the series. But Uehara bounced back to save two games. There were also a couple subpar offensive players in the series. Mike Napoli batted .154, and Stephen Drew had a .133 average. Prediction: Justin Verlander and Miguel Cabrera looked like they returned to normal in Game 5 of the ALDS, which doesn’t bode well for Boston. The Tigers repeat as AL champions, taking it in seven games.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison