If you could pick Orioles' playoff opponent, which team would you choose?

September 24, 2014|By Peter Schmuck | The Baltimore Sun

Though there still is a slight chance that the Orioles could overtake the Los Angeles Angels and finish the season with the best record in baseball, it's far more likely that they will be the second seed and will match up against either the Detroit Tigers or Kansas City Royals in the American League Division Series.

So, who do you think would be a more vulnerable opponent?

It might seem obvious, since the Tigers have all those great starting pitchers and the best middle-of-the-lineup hitter in the sport, but there are also reasons to fear the scrappy Royals, who have a terrific bullpen and a very balanced offensive lineup full of guys who find ways to win. Guess that's why they are battling down to the wire for the AL Central title.

I'll go with the obvious choice. The Orioles won just one of six games against the Tigers during the regular season. They didn't have a winning record against the Royals either (3-4), but the potential for the Tigers to send out a former Cy Young Award winner in almost every game is too much too overlook.

That doesn't mean the Orioles wouldn't win that series, but the club's starters would have to hang very tough to give their hitters a chance to get to the Tigers bullpen, which has been their major weakness. The Royals rotation is nothing to take lightly, of course, but it isn't quite as scary as the star-studded group the the Tigers can trot out there.

The head-to-head record is a concern, but the Orioles played both the home and away series during the first couple months of the season, so it's hard to gauge its relevance.

If you want a little ancient Schmuck history on that score, the Los Angeles Dodgers team I covered during the 1983 season had an 11-1 record against the Philadelphia Phillies during the regular season, which seemed pretty significant going into the National League Championship Series.

I'm guessing everyone knows which team ended up losing to the Orioles in the World Series.

pschmuck@baltsun.com

twitter.com/SchmuckStop

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