Chris Assenheimer: Indians vs. Tigers … who has the edge?

Though the White Sox are still in it, it looks as though the Central Division race will be decided by the first-place Tigers and second-place Indians, with three games separating the two in the standings.

The teams have played nine times this season, with the Indians winning six of them, including five-of-six at Progressive Field. They will play nine more times before the season is complete, six in Detroit, including the final three games of the year.

Here’s how Cleveland and Detroit stack up in head-to-head matchups, with statistics through Friday:


Matt LaPorta, Cleveland (.239, 10 HRs, 41 RBIs) vs. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit (.318, 22 HRs 72 RBIs)

The Edge: Tigers

The Reason: This one doesn’t even deserve a discussion. Cabrera is one of the game’s most potent offensive weapons, while LaPorta, a highly touted slugger, has shown little of that.


Jason Kipnis, Cleveland (.279, 6 HRs, 11 RBIs) vs. Ramon Santiago, Detroit (.235, 1 HR, 11 RBIs)

The Edge: Indians

The Reason: Kipnis has only played in a handful of games but he’s starting to look like a veteran, at least at the plate. Detroit has used a number of players at this position, including veteran Carlos Guillen, who is probably the best the Tigers have to offer there.


Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland (.290, 19 HRs, 68 RBIs) vs. Jhonny Peralta, Detroit (.310, 16 HRs, 62 RBIs)

The Edge: Indians

The Reason: This is a tougher call than most would expect. Both players are All-Stars, though Cabrera was voted into the game, while Peralta was a replacement for  injured Derek Jeter. And Cabrera is the much better defender.


Lonnie Chisenhall, Cleveland (.240, 3 HRs, 7 RBIs) vs. Wilson Betemit, Detroit (.360, 2 HRs, 10 RBIs)

The Edge: Tigers

The Reason: Detroit’s longtime third baseman Brandon Inge was sent to the minors, with the club recently trading for Betemit. He’s not great, but he’s a veteran that gets the nod over the rookie Chisenhall, who has not been the run producer the Indians had hoped.


Carlos Santana, Cleveland (.238, 18 HRs, 59 RBIs) vs. Alex Avila, Detroit (.290,

13 HRs, 54 RBIs)

The Edge: Tigers

The Reason: This is another close call, with Santana starting to heat up as of late, but Avila is an All-Star and he doesn’t have the defensive liabilities of the Indians’ backstop.


Shin-Soo Choo, Cleveland (.244, 5 HRs, 28 RBIs) vs. Magglio Ordonez, Detroit (.224,

4 HRs, 22 RBIs)

The Edge: Indians

The Reason: Both players have had ineffective injury-plagued seasons, but Choo looks more poised to finish strong, and he is the younger player.


Kosuke Fukudome, Cleveland (.268, 3 HRs, 18 RBIs) vs. Austin Jackson, Detroit (.244, 5 HRs, 28 RBIs)

The Edge: Tigers

The Reason: Fukudome, who shifted over in the outfield when Choo came off the DL, hasn’t done much since arriving in a trade from the Cubs. Jackson’s offensive numbers aren’t real impressive, but he’s a top-shelf fielder.


Michael Brantley, Cleveland (.270, 7 HRs, 44 RBIs) vs. Brennan Boesch, Detroit (.285, 16 HRs, 54 RBIs)

The Edge: Tigers

The Reason: Brantley has adapted better to the big leagues this season, but Boesch has had the better year and gets the nod here.


Travis Hafner, Cleveland (.293, 10 HRs, 46 RBIs) vs. Victor Martinez, Detroit (.317,

6 HRs, 64 RBIs)

The Edge: Tigers

The Reason: Both players have spent time on the disabled list this season and have been productive when in the lineup. But Martinez is the better hitter, especially now that Hafner doesn’t possess the same power he used to.


Cleveland (38-42, 4.19 ERA) vs. Detroit (49-40, 4.14 ERA)

The Edge: Indians

The Reason: Even with the addition of frontline starter Ubaldo Jimenez (7-9, 4.37), the Indians don’t have anyone to match Tigers ace Justin Verlander (17-5, 2.35), who is a strong candidate for the American League’s Cy Young award. Still, Cleveland’s rotation is deeper with Justin Masterson (9-7, 2.69), Josh Tomlin (11-5, 4.08) and, when he’s right, Fausto Carmona (5-12, 5.12).


Cleveland (21-15, 3.35 ERA) vs. Detroit (14-15, 4.37 ERA)

The Edge: Indians

The Reason: Both relief units possess top-shelf closers – Cleveland’s Chris Perez (2-5, 3.38, 24-of-27 in save opportunities) and Detroit’s Jose Valverde (2-3, 2.81, 34-of-34). But the stats say the Indians have one of the AL’s best bullpens, while the Tigers have one of the worst.


Manny Acta, Cleveland (59-57, second place) vs. Jim Leyland, Detroit (63-55, first place)

The Edge: Even

The Reason: Leyland is considered one of the game’s best managers, but Acta is the frontrunner for the AL Manager of the Year award for guiding an Indians team projected to finish fourth by most into contention.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or Fan him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

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