OAKLAND, Calif. – Josh Donaldson mimics Miguel Cabrera whenever he can, and he has no problem admitting it.

Donaldson spent a couple of days each week over the offseason studying tape of Detroit’s star in the batter’s box, trying to pick up on anything he could apply to his own hitting for Oakland.

Indeed, Donaldson learned a thing or two that worked on the way to a breakout season: .301 batting average, 24 home runs and 93 RBI in 158 games for the AL West champion Athletics.

“JD’s the MVP of our team and Miguel Cabrera is the MVP of baseball,” A’s first baseman Brandon Moss said.

These two talented third basemen will face off in the playoffs for the second straight October.

One is a household name, 2012 Triple Crown winner and widely considered the best hitter in baseball. The other is a more anonymous up-and-comer whose spectacular September in his first full major league season earned him AL player of the month.

Cabrera is making $21 million this season, Donaldson a mere $492,500.

“I’ve watched his videos a lot as far as a hitter,” Donaldson said. “He’s a highly talented hitter, and I really appreciate the way he goes about hitting and I try to learn from him at what he’s doing. I feel he’s one of the best hitters in the game that goes to right field, and what’s helped me be able to take it to the next level this year is the ability to be able to hit it to right field.”

Cabrera was pleased to hear that Donaldson studied his tape.

“That’s awesome,” Cabrera said. “He’s a great player. He’s one of the reasons the Oakland A’s are in the playoffs.”

And to think Donaldson had prepared to be the catcher until he was called upon to fill in at third base when Scott Sizemore went down with a season-ending knee injury in spring training last season.

Aside from much focus at third base, the rematch of last fall’s first-round series takes on a far different look this time around. Cabrera, Prince Fielder and the Tigers have something to prove after being swept by San Francisco in last year’s World Series while the A’s were hardly a surprise division champion this time and know how close they were to beating the Tigers and reaching the ALCS.

Max Scherzer (21-3) gets the ball opposite Oakland’s 18-game winner, Bartolo Colon, for the opener.