Saturday, September 23, 2017 Elyria 59°


Chris Assenheimer: Indians vs. Tigers .... which team has the edge?


With the Indians and Tigers duking it out for Central Division supremacy — two-time defending champion Detroit holding a half-game lead over Cleveland — it seems like an appropriate time to take a look at how the two teams match up:


Nick Swisher (Cleveland) vs. Prince Fielder (Detroit)

The edge: Tigers

The reason: Swisher, one of the Indians’ top offensive weapons, is the better defensive player and clubhouse guy, but Fielder is an elite run producer who changes games with one swing on a regular basis. It’s not even close, so, No-H-I-O cigar for the former Buckeye star.


Jason Kipnis (Cleveland) vs. Omar Infante (Detroit)

The edge: Indians

The reason: This is closer than some would think ... at least some Tribe fans. Kipnis is considered a rising star, but he has yet to produce over an entire season, while the veteran Infante entered this year with a respectable .277 lifetime batting average.


Asdrubal Cabrera (Cleveland) vs. Jhonny Peralta (Detroit)

The edge: Indians

The reason: Cabrera, a two-time All-Star, is the reason Peralta is no longer in Cleveland, so it stands to reason that he gets the edge. He’s also the better overall player.


Mark Reynolds (Cleveland) vs. Miguel Cabrera (Detroit)

The edge: Tigers

The reason: Though Mega Mark stayed right along with Miggy through the first month-plus, at least where power numbers were concerned, this isn’t even close, and Reynolds would tell you the same. It’s not his fault. Cabrera is in a class by himself.


Carlos Santana (Cleveland) vs. Alex Avila (Detroit)

The edge: Indians

The reason: If this were 2011, an All-Star season for Avila, then the Tigers would get the edge. But Santana has produced the better body of work and, at 27, the Indians are hoping he’s just getting started.


Drew Stubbs (Cleveland) vs. Torri Hunter (Detroit)

The edge: Tigers

The reason: Hunter has lost a step in the outfield — the speedy Stubbs hasn’t — and he’s not the hitter he was, but I’m going on track record here. Hunter has one. Stubbs really doesn’t.


Michael Bourn (Cleveland) vs. Austin Jackson (Detroit)

The edge: Indians

The reason: Detroit thinks it has a good one in Jackson, but Bourn, a Gold Glove-caliber defender and productive leadoff hitter, is the better player right now.


Michael Brantley (Cleveland) vs. Andy Dirks (Detroit)

The edge: Indians

The reason: Brantley, nicknamed “Dr. Smooth” by a member of the Cleveland media, appears poised to have a breakout season. He is the more talented player in this matchup.


Yan Gomes (Cleveland) vs. Victor Martinez (Detroit)

The edge: Tigers

The reason: When healthy, Martinez is a professional hitter, capable of driving in runs with the best of them. Gomes looks like an offensive weapon, but he’s young and is getting his first taste of regular big league playing time. Who knows if he’ll be around two months from now?


Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach McAllister, Brett Myers, Scott Kazmir (Cleveland) vs. Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez (Detroit)

The edge: Tigers

The reason: This one doesn’t take much thought. Detroit has a talented staff, headlined by MVP and Cy Young winner Verlander. Cleveland’s staff was a big question mark heading into the season and nothing has changed.


RHP Chris Perez, RHP Vinnie Pestano, RHP Joe Smith, RHP Bryan Shaw, RHP Cody Allen, LHP Rich Hill, RHP Matt Albers (Cleveland) vs. RHP Jose Valverde, RHP Joaquin Benoit, RHP Drew Smyly (Detroit), LHP Darin Downs, RHP Jose Ortega, LHP Phil Coke, RHP Luke Putkonen

The edge: Indians

The reason: Though it hasn’t shown it much lately, Cleveland’s relief corps has been one of the American League’s best over the past two seasons. Detroit’s began the year in disarray and without their closer, Valverde, who is just working his way back.


Jason Giambi, Mike Aviles, Ryan Raburn, Lou Marson (Cleveland) vs. Matt Tuiasosopo, Brayan Pena, Don Kelly, Ramon Santiago (Detroit)

The edge: Indians

The reason: Cleveland is the clear-cut winner here, with two of its three players — Aviles and Raburn — capable of winning starting spots somewhere else.


Terry Francona (Cleveland) vs. Jim Leyland (Detroit)

The edge: Even

The reason: Both guys are championship managers, so there isn’t an advantage here, since neither can win without talent anyway. If there is anything, Leyland is at the end of his career, while Francona is restarting his and could have more energy.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or

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