Laurila: Phil Coke, the real MVP of the ALCS
From SABR member David Laurila at FanGraphs on October 18, 2012:
When I walked into the Comerica Park press box this morning, the first person I encountered was longtime Detroit Free Press baseball scribe John Lowe. I asked him who the series MVP has been thus far. His response was, “How about Phil Coke?”
Lowe went on to note that Delmon Young had driven in the go-ahead run in all three contests [which he proceeded to do again in Game 4], but his initial suggestion is in accord with my opinion. The Detroit bullpen has been in disarray, and Coke stepped up to literally save the day. Following a Game 1 hold that preceded Jose Valverde’s implosion, he shut the door in the next two and was on the mound for the final six outs of Game 4. The slider he threw to Raul Ibanez on Tuesday night may be the most important pitch of the Tigers season.
It wasn’t to be expected. The colorful left-hander had an inconsistent campaign that included a .324 BAA and just one save in three opportunities. In four regular-season appearances against the Yankees, he gave up hits to six of the 12 batters he faced.
In the ALCS, he was nails. In closing out Games 2 and 3, Coke became first reliever to have two post-season saves after having one or less during the regular season. Vida Blue  and Bob McClure  each had two, but were regular-season starters working out of the bullpen.
Coke’s Game 3 strikeout of Raul Ibanez was likely the tipping point of the series. The southpaw had a huge advantage in regard to their lefty-lefty splits, but Ibanez had been having an October for the ages. Were he to come through yet again, the Yankees would have put themselves in a position to have their best pitcher on the mound for Game 4, trailing two games to one.
Read the full article here: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/phil-coke-the-real-mvp-of-the-alcs/
Originally published: October 19, 2012. Last Updated: October 19, 2012.