In the 2013 ALCS, the Detroit Tigers were a hit, flip, and a police officer's skip away from 2-0 series lead. Instead, the choreographed Cirque du Soleil piece by David Ortiz, Torii Hunter, and that Boston cop tied the game, the Sox tied the series, then muzzled the Tigers on their way to the title.
The Detroit roster has changed much since then. The Orioles'? Not so much. This time last year, the O's dozed in their vacation homes, just hoping Manny Machado would come back healthy. He did, and then he didn't, and other Orioles have yielded to injury and suspension. Many of Buck Showalter's AL East-winning Orioles were with the club last year -- this time around, these O's are simply playing bigger roles.
Here we'll look at all the roster moves these two Division Series foes made since this time last year, and ask, simply, are they better or worse?
2013 Detroit Tigers: 93-69, 1st AL Central, ALCS
2014 Detroit Tigers: 90-72, 1st AL Central
Lost: Prince Fielder
Injured: Bruce Rondon
Gained: Ian Kinsler
Better or worse?
Despite the loss of all those hitters, the team has hit just as well as it did last year, again placing second in the AL in runs scored. Pitching is the difference, as the team has gained 40 points from last season's 3.61 team ERA. The trade deadline addition of David Price was supposed to help, and it has: Price's small sample of 11 starts -- in which he's accrued a 2.44 FIP, compared to his 3.59 ERA in those starts -- hasn't been enough to change Detroit's ballooning pitching numbers. If the Tigers get two ALDS starts from Price, that small sample should be a large gain for Detroit. So, better or worse? Better.
2013 Baltimore Orioles, 85-77, 3rd AL East
2014 Baltimore Orioles, 96-66, 1st AL East
Lost: Matt Wieters
Chris Davis (sort of)
Gained: Andrew Miller
Better or worse?
The Orioles, like the Tigers, have not changed much offensively in the last 365 days. Their power numbers, sure to take a hit after Chris Davis halved his homer total, have stayed exactly the same (the team has one fewer home run than last year). Nelson Cruz's 40 bombs -- and Steve Pearce's 21 -- sure helped. Pitching is easily the difference for the Orioles, who have only one starter with an ERA over 3.65 (incidentally, it's Jimenez, the only starter they added in the off-season). In 2013, EVERY starter's ERA was over 3.65. Andrew Miller, Ryan Webb, and Zach Britton have been excellent out of Showalter's bullpen as well. Better or worse? Much better.