Detroit Tigers: The First 40 Games


Sparky Anderson famously once said “You can’t tell anything about a baseball team until 40 games have been played.”  He knew that preseason expectations meant nothing, and until you have a decent enough sample size, you really can’t judge a team.   With approximately 25% of the season played, we can move past the preseason guessing and now have a gage for how the season will play out.  So with the Detroit Tigers current sitting at 24-17, I figured it is a good time to take a look at the first quarter of the season and see how the Tigers have performed versus expectations.

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The thoughts for the Tigers going into the season were that the defense would be improved, and the offense would carry the team. The starting pitching was suspect but David Price and Anibal Sanchez would be strong at the beginning of the rotation. The bullpen would be a downright disaster.  And they would be in a dogfight in the Central with the improved Indians and White Sox teams, and with a Royals team that went to the World Series last year

And the reality?  The Tiger’s are 2.5 games out of first place, and 3rd overall record-wise in the American league.  The Royals are as good as advertised, while the White Sox and Indians are both sub .500 teams.  David Price has been fantastic while Anibal Sanchez…has not been fantastic.

They have a pretty reasonable team batting average of .278, second only to the Royals at .288, and are also second in on base percentage, so the offense has come through.  The team ERA is 3.70, which is in the top ten of major league baseball, while their defense has been outstanding and is ranked in the top 5.  The bullpen has been a pleasant surprise, with both an ERA and  WHIP in the top ten, and we have finally found a closer we can trust.  And we have gotten surprising contributions for the center field position, with Rajai Davis and Anthony Gose providing both offense and defense help.

Will it continue?  The impressive defense is unlikely to change, as speed, catching and throwing ability rarely slump. Joakim Soria is a proven performer and should continue to seal the win in the ninth inning. The offense, anchored by a healthy Miggy, should continue to hit, despite the loss of Victor Martinez.  The big unknowns will be to see the players that are exceeding expectations (Davis, Gose, Simon) continue to perform at their current level, and the players that are performing below their history (Sanchez) improve.

The first 40 games usually provides a good indication of how the team will be. I hope in this case that Sparky was right, as the Tigers have performed pretty well to date.

Next: Tigers: Top 10 Longest Home Runs of 2015

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