2013 ALCS Preview and Predictions From WhatIfSports.com image

Red Sox are World Series-bound, prevail in six

Simulation predicts Red Sox advance to third World Series in 10 years

WhatIfSports.com
October 11, 2013

Using our MLB simulation engine we "played" the Detroit Tigers versus the Boston Red Sox in the 2013 best-of-seven American League Championship Series 101 times.

In the table below, you will find each team's chances of advancing to the World Series and how often they win in 4, 5, 6 or 7 games. The most likely scenario is the Red Sox beating the Tigers in six games 22.8 percent of the time.

ALCS 101 Simulations of Best-of-7 Series
MatchupWin%4-Games%5-Games%6-Games%7-Games%
Tigers35.61.85.014.913.9
Red Sox64.411.917.822.811.9

A year ago, Boston was in shambles. They finished with a record of 69-93, the fewest wins since 1994. The Red Sox were 26 games out of the division, biggest deficit since 1966. Bobby Valentine ended up a one-and-done manager in Fenway. Big names were traded away. It wasnít fun to be a Red Sox fan anymore.

Then, the offseason came. John Farrell returned to Boston after earning his managerial stripes in Toronto. Mike Napoli eventually signed with Boston. Also, the biggest rival, the Yankees, were in the midst of injury issues to start the season. Things were starting to look a lot better.

Then thereís Detroit. Last year, the Tigers had a Triple Crown winner and made it all the way to the World Series. Before the 2013 season started, Torii Hunter was added to the roster for his veteran experience and his ability to impact a young outfield.

Fast forward to now, where both teams didnít exactly run away with their division, but both had a solid grasp on the title. Boston disposed of familiar foe, Tampa Bay, and Detroit fought a full series with Oakland.

The Tigers are in the ALCS for the third-straight season. Since the round with the Athletics went the distance, it puts Detroit at a disadvantage for this series, pitching-wise. Max Scherer was needed in a relief appearance to extend the ALDS to a fifth game and Justin Verlander went eight strong innings to seal the deal.

Game 1 Sample Box Score
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Tigers180Boxscore
Red Sox280Simulate Game

Anibal Sanchez is the pitcher for Game One and our simulation engine predicts he will not be successful. His biggest mistake was a belt-high fastball to Dustin Pedroia. The 2008 AL MVP smacked a two-run shot that barely reached the seats. Those two runs were enough as Jon Lester pitched a stellar eight inning performance where he only allowed one run on seven hits while striking out six.

Game 2 Sample Box Score
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Tigers6121Boxscore
Red Sox151Simulate Game

Game Two pitted a couple of starting pitchers who arenít privy to losing. Scherzer is the eventual Cy Young Award winner this year, sporting a record of 21-3 with a 2.90 ERA. Clay Buchholz concluded 2013 with an overall record of 12-1 with an ERA under two. When they duel in Boston, the engines suggest the Tigers hitters will get the best of Buchholz. Even though he only allowed one earned run on seven hits, Buchholz still ended up with the loss after the bullpen collapsed, allowing four more runs to score. Scherzer Kíd 13 batters through seven innings of work to earn the win.

Game 3 Sample Box Score
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Red Sox460Boxscore
Tigers360Simulate Game

Heading back to Detroit with the series even 1-1, Jim Leyland handed the ball to his ace, Verlander, in front of the loud, roaring crowd at Comerica Park. Unfortunately, the fans were disappointed almost immediately after Pedroia singled in Shane Victorino. The next batter, David Oritz, then silenced the park with a two-run homer to right. Victorino added a sacrifice fly in the seventh, cushioning the lead to 4-0. That was plenty for John Lackey as he pitched eight strong innings of shutout baseball. Being that it wasnít a save situation, Craig Breslow relieved Lackey in the ninth. Hunter and Cabrera reached base and Victor Martinez hit a ground-rule double to left center closing the gap 4-2. Koji Uehara would then enter from the pen and only let one more run score. Boston took the series lead 2-1.

Game 4 Sample Box Score
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Red Sox7131Boxscore
Tigers8130Simulate Game

With a chance to even the series at home, Doug Fister toed the rubber for the Tigers. Though he allowed six runs in 4.1 innings of work, his teamís offense came through. Down 7-4 in the bottom of the ninth, Hunter drove home Austin Jackson with a base hit. Then, Cabrera pounced on a Ryan Dempster pitch and deposited it into the left field bleachers, evening the game at 7-7. Later, with runners on second and third and two outs, Omar Infante hit a groundball to left and Andy Dirks easily beat the throw home from Daniel Nava.

Game 5 Sample Box Score
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Red Sox9130Boxscore
Tigers470Simulate Game

In the final home game for Detroit, and possibly the final game of the ALCS, Tigers fans were again punched in the gut early. The Red Sox scored nine-straight runs off of Sanchez in the first four innings. Lester was victorious once more, propelling Boston up 3-2 and returning home.

Game 6 Sample Box Score
TeamsRHEWIS Interactive
Tigers6120Boxscore
Red Sox7110Simulate Game

Again, it was Scherzer squaring off against Buchholz in Fenway Park. The Red Sox took a 6-0 lead and all was thought to be in the bag. That is, until Jackson, Hunter, and Peralta all contributed to five runs in the fifth, cutting the deficit to one. Then, in the seventh, Peralta finished the comeback with a solo home run off of Dempster to even the game at 6-6.

Finally, in the bottom of the ninth, Joaquin Benoit made his first appearance of the ALCS. The rest might have been too much as the first batter, Nava, smoked a line drive single to left. Former Tiger Quintin Berry then pinch-ran for Nava. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia stepped to the dish with Red Sox nation on its feet. With the winning run on base and nobody out, Salty skied one to left center. Berry read the ball perfectly and sprinted around the base path. Peralta, however, did not get a decent look of the ball off of the bat and he was late to charge the pop fly. The ball would drop in front of Peralta and he would come up firing to home, but it would be for naught. Berry avoided Alex Avilaís tag and was called safe.

The Red Sox climbed out of the basement of the AL East and earned a spot in the 2013 World Series for their third trip in 10 years.

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Adam Meyer is a Contributor for WhatIfSports.com. Follow him on Twitter at @FOXSportsMeyer.

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