Despite their recent four-game losing streak, the Tigers have the second-best record in baseball, and their 4.5 game lead in the AL Central is the biggest in Major League Baseball. Things are going well.
But what are the key factors powering this exceptional start? The MLB baseball odds favor the Tigers in just about every game they play, and most oddsmakers have them as favored to win it all in 2014, a sign that they’ve outperformed even their loftiest projections.
Here are three elements that have backed the Tigers dominant start to the season.
No surprise here, the Detroit Tigers starting hurlers have continued to be amongst the league leaders in ERA, walks allowed, and quality starts. Max Scherzer is following up his Cy Young campaign with an even better start to this season (2.59 ERA and 78 strikeouts in nine starts). Justin Verlander’s been strong (3.55 ERA) and Rick Porcello is surprising all with his 2.91 ERA to go with a 7-1 record.
The pitchers haven’t been the only ones stepping up, however, as the team’s hitting has been very consistent even after the departure of Prince Fielder. Detroit has four hitters in the top 50 in the league in batting average (Victor Martinez, Ian Kinsler, Torii Hunter and of course Miguel Cabrera). Miguel Cabrera continues to be the best hitter in baseball despite a slow start.
But what’s different about this team, this year? How are this season’s Tigers better than last year’s division-winners?
The answer is in the retooling of the team’s situational offense, and base running. GM Dave Dombrowski has built a lineup that can produce runs in all situations. The 2014 Tigers are atop the AL in stolen bases with 38 – more than they stole in all of 2013. The players are fast, aggressive, and able to score even without Fielder hitting cat walks.
Indeed, this Detroit team seems to be a more versatile, playoff-ready group than the 2013 edition. It should be quite a year.