The Detroit Tigers were almost an invisible contender much of the year, though when the amazing four-team stretch drive began the Tigers were right there. Some days they looked like a classic ball club, but there were other days when the pitching soured, and homers jumped off the bats of their opponents at all the wrong times. Any pitcher who works in Tiger Stadium for very long is going to see balls rattle around in those green seats, though, because baseballs carry well in Detroit. Through September 23, Tiger pitchers had given up 144 homers; Cardinal pitchers had given up only 94. Earl Wilson, Detroit's 22-game winner, allowed 33; Denny McLain 34, Joe Sparma 16, Mickey Lolich 14. Briles and Carlton of the Cardinals together have given up a total of 16.
Detroit has an excellent outfield, a good infield and strong catching. Detroit does not often use a running game, but Al Kaline, Bill Freehan, Norm Cash, Dick McAuliffe and Willie Horton are all home-run hitters, and so are Jim Northrup and Ed Mathews. One of the weaknesses of Detroit's club is the lack of right-handed hitting on the bench, but Mathews, Gates Brown, Lenny Green and Jerry Lumpe make the Tigers strong from the left-hand side.
Manager Mayo Smith has been plagued for most of the year by the inconsistency of his bullpen. Early in the season Fred Gladding was effective. Then it was Mike Marshall. Lately it has been Fred Lasher. In a World Series Smith would also get a chance to call on John Hiller, a left-hander who came up late in the season and won several games for the Tigers and saved others, though he failed sadly against the Senators last Sunday. But if the homers flew for the Tigers instead of against them and the relief pitching came through, they would have a glittering chance to upset the Cardinals.