One month into the season, Tiger fans have plenty of reasons to be happy with what they’ve seen so far. Coming off an important series win over Minnesota, the Tigers sit at 14-10, just a game-and-a-half games behind the Twins. They’ve proven they are contenders in the race for AL Central Division crown. Ten come-from-behind victories give fans reason to stick with them to the bitter end as they’ve shown a knack for finding ways to win games despite lackluster starting pitching performances.
Austin Jackson‘s emergence as a potential superstar is clearly justifying GM Dave Dombrowski’s controversial off-season trade of Curtis Granderson. Jackson is batting .364 which includes a 5-5 performance against the Angels last night. Miguel Cabrera is on pace to win the MVP award with a Major-League-leading 25 RBI and Magglio Ordonez (.303 avg.) is continuing his second-half surge from last season.
Starting pitching might be the only blemish (other than defense) on an otherwise sparkling resumé. But Justin Verlander (1-2, 5.530 ERA, 1.4458 WHIP) and Rick Porcello (2-2, 8.027 ERA, 1.9054 WHIP) can’t pitch much worse and have track records to prove they will turn things around. The other key piece in the Granderson deal, Max Scherzer (1-1, 4.229 ERA) had been great until Wednesday’s 3.2-inning setback against the Twins. Reclamation project, Dontrelle Willis (1-1, 3.750 ERA), has been a welcome surprise while Jeremy Bonderman (1-1, 6.968 ERA) has been solid despite one really poor outing versus Seattle.
The bullpen has been incredibly solid with Major-League-leading 2.23 ERA anchored by off-season addition, Jose Valverde (7 saves, 0.750 ERA) and a healthy Joel Zumaya (1.227 ERA) who looks like he’s back to his flame-throwing self.
The defense needs some work with a league-worst 21 errors, but I don’t think the early-season numbers are necessarily indicative of the team’s true defensive prowess and should improve over the long haul.
Offense: A (120 Runs – 2nd in AL, .282 Avg – 1st in MLB)
Defense: D (21 Errors – last in AL)
Starting Pitching: C (5.68 ERA – last in AL)
Bullpen: A (2.23 ERA – 1st in MLB, 8 Saves – 3rd in AL)
Player of the Month:
Miguel Cabrera (16 R, 5 HR, 25 RBI – 1st in MLB, .344 Avg.)