Will Cinderella win again?

At the start of the year few saw the 2006 Detroit Tigers putting up a winning season, let alone reaching the playoffs. Yet, here they stand, the latest “Cinderella” team to make it to the World Series and if history repeats itself they could win it all. Since 2001 the Diamondbacks, Angels, Marlins, Red Sox and White Sox have all captured the crown, all unlikely and inspiring stories. Fast forward to 2006. With this in mind, and given the Tigers impressive 3-1 series win over the Yankees and the sweep of the A’s, Detroit is poised to take the title. St. Louis has earned their way into the Fall Classic for the second time in three years. Even with injuries to key players, the Cardinals were able to win the National League Central. Returning most of their starting lineup in the postseason, St. Louis walked through San Diego, and then defeated the Mets in a thrilling seven game series. Taking a closer, position by position look however, the World Series is Detroit’s to lose.Infield Detroit brings a balanced lineup and solid defense up against St. Louis’ power attack. “Pudge” Rodriguez has a cannon behind the plate, and with 16 years of MLB experience, Rodriguez is clutch, batting .341 with runners in scoring position. Second baseman Placido Polanco has been on a tear this postseason batting a staggering .471, while pounding out 16 hits. Brandon Inge, on top of being one of the best defensive third basemen in the league, hit 27 home runs with 83 RBI in the regular season. For the Cards, Albert Pujols is perhaps the most feared slugger in the game and put up another MVP type season, batting .331 with 49 HR with 137 RBI. In order to have a chance in the series St. Louis needs his bat to come alive. Catcher Yadier Molina’s heroic game seven homerun lifted St. Louis to the World Series. He is batting .348 with two homeruns this postseason. David Eckstein is an electric leadoff hitter and is one of the best shortstops in the field. He batted .292 in the regular season and is the spark plug for the Cardinals offense. Advantage: Detroit’s balanced infield makes it tough for any team to compare.Outfield Left fielder Craig Monroe is the most dangerous of the Tiger hitters, posting a team-leading 28 homeruns in the regular season while adding three homers in the postseason. In center Curtis Granderson has been the catalyst for the Tigers all year long and has broke out in the playoffs, batting .313 with three HR and seven RBI. Magglio Ordonez’s walk off 3-run homerun sent Detroit to the World Series. He led the team with 104 RBI’s during the regular season, adding 8 thus far in the postseason. Jim Edmonds is a human highlight reel in center field, and has two homers and six runs batted in this postseason. Juan Encarnacion has struggled in the postseason. However he does have World Series experience with Florida in 2003, and during the season hit .278 with 19 HR and 79 RBI.Advantage: Detroit’s overall talent gives them the edge.Pitching Detroit’s pitching has been dominant in the postseason. The starting rotation of Kenny Rogers (2-0, 0.00 ERA), Justin Verlander (1-0, 5.91), Jeremy Bonderman (1-0. 3.00) and Nate Robertson, have steered Detroit into the World Series. St. Louis can rely on Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter (2-1, 3.70), but after that there is no guarantee. Streaky Jeff Weaver has been impressive so far, but is known for his playoff meltdowns. Jeff Suppan pitched brilliantly in the NLCS to capture MVP honors. The Tigers’ bullpen has been lights out thus far. Flamethrower Joel Zumaya will return from injury and Fernando Rodney, Jamie Walker, and Jason Grilli have held the middle innings down. Veteran closer Todd Jones has three saves with a 0.00 ERA. The Cardinals are thin in the bullpen, relying heavily on Tyler Johnson, and Randy Flores. Rookie Anthony Wainwright has been impressive with three saves and closed out the Mets with the bases loaded.Advantage: Detroit’s experience is a big plusPrediction: Detroit in 6 games.