No one, however, stood taller in the American League Championship Series than the Detroit second baseman.
Polanco was the sparkplug that ignited Detroit's four-game sweep of Oakland, hitting .529 with a double and two RBIs while extending his postseason hitting streak to nine consecutive games. For his efforts, which included three consecutive multi-hit games, Polanco was named Most Valuable Player of the ALCS.
"We wouldn't be here without Placido," teammate Todd Jones said. "For the non-baseball people who don't understand how good he is, the ALCS MVP will shed some light on him."
Polanco, who went 3-for-5 in the clinching game, has recorded at least one hit in all eight of Detroit's postseason games this year.
"Other than my kids, this is the greatest thing that's ever happened to me," Polanco said. "This is by far the best moment of my career. It feels great to win, to go to the World Series. We know we still have one more to go, and without a doubt, you've got to give the A's credit. They really battled and they played hard today. They didn't make it easy for us."
Polanco attacked the A's the same way he's attacked opponents his entire career. He fielded his position well, ran the bases aggressively and set the tone for the offense. While he doesn't have much power, Polanco is a dangerous hitter who makes the most of every at-bat and is very adept at moving runners.
"Look at my size," Polanco said. "I'm not going to hit home runs. I've got to make contact. That's what I do."
Polanco, who turned 31 on Oct. 10, is quite the package in a small package. The Tigers went 13-21 when Polanco injured his left shoulder in August. With him, they are winning again.
Coincidence? The Tigers think not.
"He does so many things to help us win," third baseman Brandon Inge said. "He really is a great player -- players know that, now maybe more people will."
Polanco had 19 plate appearances in the ALCS and reached based 12 times. He struck out just once and had a .579 on-base percentage. He went 3-for-5 on Saturday, and one of the outs was a line-drive double play to second base with two on and one out in the fifth inning.
The A's could never figure out how to pitch Polanco, who also killed Oakland in the field, especially in Game 1 when he started two inning-ending double plays to end a pair of A's scoring threats.
"He's amazing," Tigers center fielder Curtis Granderson said. "There's not much he can't do."
Polanco credited his teammates and was quick to praise the Detroit pitchers for their masterful job against the A's.
"They did a great job, and I think that's why we won it," Polanco said. "It's hard to make it to the playoffs. It's hard to win. It's even harder to do this. So I think it's just, like I said, very special, very special."
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less