Detroit Tigers: Early thoughts on the 2018 season

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 18: Manager Ron Gardenhire #15 of the Detroit Tigers warms up the players before a MLB game against the Baltimore Orioles at Comerica Park on April 18, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - APRIL 18: Manager Ron Gardenhire #15 of the Detroit Tigers warms up the players before a MLB game against the Baltimore Orioles at Comerica Park on April 18, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Tigers have been playing better than anticipated early on this season. Young players and veterans have been contributing.

The Detroit Tigers were expected to be the punching bag of the American League this season. They are currently 9-11, showing that this season might not be as bad as some predicted.

I’m not saying they are going to compete and get into the postseason. I’m saying 100 or more losses likely won’t be the result of the 2018 season.

Here are some of my thoughts on the Detroit Tigers to this point in the season.

This team just doesn’t quit

Look, if you’re going to be a bad team in any sport, I want to see some effort. The Tigers have showed plenty of that to this point.

You can look at the last home stand for evidence of that. The Baltimore Orioles took a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the eighth before John Hicks hit a three-run home run to take the lead.

The Orioles tied it in the ninth before the Tigers came right back and won it in the bottom of the ninth inning.

They battled back from a deficit to spoil opening day for the Chicago White Sox as well.

They work pitch counts at the plate and play aggressively all the way around. It’s the resilience we haven’t seen from the Tigers in the past few seasons.

Detroit Tigers’ young guns playing with confidence

There are a few of the Tigers’ younger players that continue to get better as the season goes on.

Dixon Machado is the first one that stands out. Defensively, he’s flashed the glove a few times this season. His batting average is down to .211 but he’s second on the team in RBI’s (12). He also has eight doubles already this season.

Machado has been making great contact so the average will rise back up.

Joe Jimenez is 2-0 and hasn’t surrendered an earned run to this point in the season. I believe he’s been the biggest surprise.

He has eight strikeouts, three walks, and a 0.93 WHIP. Last season, he struggled mightily. This year, you can see the confidence he has on the mound.

Detroit Tigers
DETROIT, MI – APRIL 20: JaCoby Jones #21 of the Detroit Tigers rounds first base after hitting a walk-off home run in the 10th inning to defeat the Kansas City Royals 3-2 during game one of a doubleheader at Comerica Park on April 20, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images) /

JaCoby Jones has taken full advantage of his opportunity in 2018 thus far. He has taken the majority of reps in left field since Mikie Mahtook was optioned to the minor leagues.

Jones has a .293 batting average with two home runs and five RBI’s. He’s also riding a six-game hitting streak.

Jones struggled to make any solid contact at the plate last season which is why he struggled to stay in the big leagues. We’ve known about his athleticism and defensive capability.

Veterans taking care of business

Miguel Cabrera finally looks like himself after having the worst season of his career last year. He’s leading the team with 14 RBI’s and has a .300 batting average.

Having Miggy healthy is crucial to the success of the Tigers and has been since he came to Detroit. Even at 35 years old, he’s a force to be reckoned with.

Nicholas Castellanos has been hitting the ball hard in what seems like every plate appearance. It’s hard to believe that he hit his first home run of the season over the weekend.

I think Castellanos can be a great big league player for years to come. He just has to stick to his approach and good things will follow.

What’s next?

The Detroit Tigers hit the road for six games in Pittsburgh and Baltimore starting on Tuesday. They’ve seen both teams already this season.

I’m sure the Tigers will be looking for a little bit of revenge in Pittsburgh. The Pirates took all three games on opening weekend at Comerica Park. The Pirates come into this series at 12-10. They were just swept in four games by the Philadelphia Phillies.

The Orioles have struggled lately as well. They were just swept by the Tigers and have lost eight out of their last nine games. The Tigers have an great opportunity to get above .500 in their next six games.

Next: Predicting the Lions' first round pick