A Fan’s Take: Are the Yankees and Tigers on Another Collision Course?

In case there is anyone left who hasn't taken stock of this, the latest thorn in the side of the New York Yankees is the Detroit Tigers.

Catching a Tiger by the tail? Jim Leyland and the Detroit Tigers may once again be the Yankees greatest obstacle to reaching the World Series in 2012.
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The nightmare began in 2006 when the wild card Tigers toppled the Yankees in 4 games in the first round of the AL Division Series. With 97 games won that season the Yankees were the number one seed and finished comfortably ahead of the Toronto Blue Jays by 10 games.

Fast forward to 2011 and the scenario wasn't much prettier. Not only did the Tigers defeat the Yankees in five games, eliminating them from the playoffs, the Tigers won the decisive game in Yankee Stadium.

With all the talk of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, perhaps it's more important to look at the Tigers as the new David in town to spur the Goliath-like Yankees.

The Tigers sharpen their teeth

Justin Verlander may very well be the best starting pitcher in the AL. While the remainder of the Tigers starting rotation (Max Scherzer, Rick Pocello, Doug Fister and Jacob Turner) is solid, it's the offense that presents headaches for opposing teams. The Tigers scored 787 runs last season (4th in the AL).

Now, enter Prince Fielder.

With a line-up that already includes Austin Jackson in the lead-off spot and Miguel Cabrera batting third, Fielder makes the Tigers an elite offense. Keeping in mind the batting order also includes the underrated Alex Avila and Jhonny Peralta and it's easy to see why the Tigers have so much swagger these days.

Nonetheless, the reality persists that the Tigers do not necessarily need to be a powerhouse to win the weakened AL Central this season. But they will have to flex their muscles come playoff time.

Testing the Yankees mettle

The Tigers will enter the 2012 season with the estimated 10th highest payroll in baseball at approximately $106 million. All things considered they have spent wisely and it would be a shock if they didn't capture the AL Central crown.

Not to be deterred, the Yankees also made great strides in the off-season with the trade which brought Michael Pineda to New York(for Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi) and the signing of Hiroki Kuroda. They return with most of the offense intact, a line-up that was second in the AL in runs scored (867).

Do the Yankees fear the Detroit Tigers? No.

Would they like to avoid a first-round match-up with them? Probably.

Souces: Yahoo! Sports

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Robert Watkins is former investment professional and partner. A native New Yorker until 9/11, he considers Pa. his adoptive home. A passionate Yankees fan and Pennsylvania sports enthusiast, Robert is a frequent contributor to Yahoo! Sports and News.

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Updated Friday, Mar 16, 2012