Tigers’ Continued Success Makes Them Baseball’s Best

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Tigers’ Continued Success Makes Them Baseball’s Best

David Price, No. 14 for the Detroit Tigers, is the new ace pitcher since departure of Max Scherzer. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MANDI WRIGHT /DETROIT FREE PRESS VIA TNS)

David Price, No. 14 for the Detroit Tigers, is the new ace pitcher since departure of Max Scherzer. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MANDI WRIGHT /DETROIT FREE PRESS VIA TNS)

MCT

David Price, No. 14 for the Detroit Tigers, is the new ace pitcher since departure of Max Scherzer. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MANDI WRIGHT /DETROIT FREE PRESS VIA TNS)

MCT

MCT

David Price, No. 14 for the Detroit Tigers, is the new ace pitcher since departure of Max Scherzer. (PHOTO COURTESY OF MANDI WRIGHT /DETROIT FREE PRESS VIA TNS)

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By DYLAN PENZA
Editor Emeritus
Published: April 29, 2015

Despite an aging roster and strong competition from divisional rival the Kansas City Royals, the Detroit Tigers still remain the best team in the American League (AL) and in baseball.

Perennial success in sports is, for lack of a better term, boring. Watching the same teams or players sweep tournaments without much competition takes away the adrenaline of observing a great game. Writing about these same teams time and again can also become monotonous. That said, these consistently excellent teams and players should not be punished for their continued success. That’s how you wind up with Karl Malone defeating Michael Jordan for the 1997 NBA Most Valuable Player Award, or many fans and pundits counting the New England Patriots out of this year’s Super Bowl. So, with that in mind, it’s time to talk about how the Detroit Tigers are once again the best team in baseball.

At 11 wins and two losses, the Tigers, at the time of writing, have the best record in baseball and a one game lead over the Kansas City Royals in the AL Central Division. As per usual, the team has been defined by strong hitting, leading the major league with a .843 on base plus slugging percentage (a hitter’s ability to get on base added to the hitter’s ability to hit doubles, triples and home runs). While star player Miguel Cabrera has once again started the year off well, with 10 runs batted in (number of runs scored off a hitter’s plate appearance) in only 13 games, the team has also been receiving offensive contributions from less heralded players. The most notable of these unlikely offensive spark plugs is shortstop Jose Iglesias, who currently leads all of baseball with a .439 batting average (number of hits divided by number of plate appearances). While Detroit has exceeded expectations in terms of hitting, as long as Cabrera is still playing effectively, it can be assumed that the team will be able to generate runs. It’s been the squad’s surprisingly strong pitching that has put them in pole position early in the season.

The Tigers’ pitching staff has a 2.48 earned run average per nine innings, good enough for first in the American League and second overall in baseball. They also lead the league with a .98 WHIP (the team gives up less than one hit or walk per inning). Now while this kind of success is not necessarily feasible over the course of a full season, the fact that the staff has done well so far is a bright sign for a team that many pundits and sports writers projected pitching to be a weakness for. The pitching rotation seemed to be full of question marks outside of ace David Price due to the decline and subsequent injury of star pitcher Justin Verlander, who is now on the disabled list, and the departure of Cy Young winner Max Scherzer, who is now with the Washington Nationals. However, players such as Alfredo Simón and Shane Greene have done admirable jobs replacing these once franchise cornerstones. Greene in particular, who ranks second in the AL with a .39 earned run average, looks like a player who can make a huge impact on the Tigers for years to come.

There are huge questions surrounding the Detroit Tigers early season success. It seems unlikely that the team will be able to keep the upstart Kansas City Royals at bay in the division if said questions remain unanswered. Can Cabrera continue this level of hitting success even as he passes the age of 40? Can Verlander regain his once dominant pitching form? Can these unlikely contributors such as Iglesias and Green continue to exceed expectation? Regardless, the Detroit Tigers are at this moment the best team in the American League.