Tigers finish off sweep of Yankees to advance to World Series

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We know one team who will still be alive next Wednesday.

Finishing off a thoroughly dominating performance, the Tigers topped the Yankees 8-1 at Comerica Park today to sweep the ALCS in four games and advance to the World Series.

CC Sabathia is a pretty good pitcher to have on your side facing elimination, but he just didn’t have it today. The big southpaw didn’t get much help from his defense, especially in the third inning, but he gave up six runs (five earned) on 11 hits and two walks over just 3 2/3 innings. This included a pair of two-run homers by Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta in the bottom of the fourth inning. Not a good time for Sabathia’s shortest outing of the season.

While Sabathia struggled, Max Scherzer was dominant over his 5 2/3 innings of work. He didn’t allow a hit until the top of the sixth inning and struck out 10. The Tigers pounded out 16 hits on the day, just six less than the Yankees had for the entire series. Peralta socked a pair of homers while seven out of the nine hitters in Jim Leyland’s lineup had at least two hits.

The pathetic output from the Yankees’ lineup has naturally received much of the attention nationally, but the Tigers’ rotation deserves plenty of credit for shutting them down. Scherzer, Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and Anibal Sanchez combined to allow just two runs over 27 1/3 innings during the series. That’s a 0.66 ERA.

While things got a little interesting in Game 1, this was one of the more dominating series victories you’ll see. The Tigers are the fifth team in MLB history to sweep a best-of-seven series while never trailing and the first to do it since the Red Sox swept the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series. This is the first time the Yankees have been swept in a seven-game series since the 1976 World Series against the Reds. They were swept in three games by the Royals in the 1980 ALCS.

The Tigers will have a little while to rest before Game 1 of the World Series next Wednesday night. They’ll start the series on the road and will meet either the Cardinals or the Giants.

Adrián Beltré is a slam dunk Hall of Famer

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Rangers third baseman Adrián Beltré officially announced his retirement on Tuesday, ending months of speculation about his future. The 39-year-old put together one of the greatest careers we have ever seen, spending time with the Dodgers, Mariners, Red Sox, and Rangers across 21 seasons.

Beltré will be eligible for the Hall of Fame five years from now. Given how much more analytically-literate the electorate has become in recent years, Beltré will very likely get the requisite 75 percent of the vote to earn enshrinement in Cooperstown. In a just world, he would get 100 percent of the vote, but no player has ever gone into the Hall of Fame unanimously.

Beltré retires having hit .286/.339/.480 with 477 home runs, 1,707 RBI, 1,524 runs scored, and 121 stolen bases in 12,130 plate appearances. Beltré hit for the cycle three times: in 2008 with the Mariners, and in 2012 and 2015 with the Rangers. He won four Silver Sluggers and made the All-Star team four times, both of which seem criminally low. He also won five Gold Gloves and two Platinum Gloves. For the bulk of his career, he was arguably the best defensive third baseman if not just in his league then in all of baseball. Injuries slowed Beltré in his 30’s, particularly in the last two seasons, but despite that, he showed when he was healthy that he could still hang with the young guns in his old age. No one would have been surprised if he hung around for one more season. Despite health issues, Beltré still hit around the league average with above-average defense.

Among Hall of Famers who played at least 50 percent of their career games at third base, Beltré’s career 95.7 WAR ranks behind only Mike Schmidt (106.8) and Eddie Mathews (96.6), per Baseball Reference. He’s ahead of Wade Boggs (91.4), George Brett (88.7), and Chipper Jones (85.2). Those six are the only third basemen in the 80’s when it comes to WAR.

As Jon Morosi points out, Beltré is the only third baseman in baseball history with 3,000-plus hits and 400-plus home runs. Individually, the 3,000-hit club boasts only 32 members while the 400-homer club has 55 members. Beltré’s 3,166 hits and 477 homes rank 16th and 30th, respectively.

Beltré’s numbers are absurdly good, but beyond that, he was a character. He took the game quite seriously, but he was still able to have fun. He became one of the most .gif-able players in the game. Beltré didn’t like his head being touched, so when he approached or went through the dugout collecting high-fives after hitting home runs, his teammates would oftentimes playfully pat him or rub his head. Beltré would pretend to go after them in revenge.

Beltré once borrowed groundskeeping equipment in order to avoid Gatorade baths.

Beltré wasn’t afraid to drop to one knee to hit a homer, either.

Beltré played games with his opponents after successfully swiping a base.

Beltré got into standoffs with opposing players, further proving he’s anything but an easy out.

Beltré made relevant cultural references.

Beltré once trolled the umpire, who asked him to get back into the on-deck circle, by moving the on-deck circle.

Happy trails to not only one of the best players of his generation, but to one of the most entertaining as well. Baseball will be poorer without Adrián Beltré. His Hall of Fame induction ceremony should be tremendous, though.