I came up with this idea for a series of guest blogger spots over a week ago. When it first came to me the Indians were in second place behind the Twins. Then they swept the A’s to take over first. Now, it’s the White Sox turn at the top. With all these teams bunched together the A.L. Central is wide open, with no team out of it. We asked bloggers from each team to tell us why their team WILL WIN the A.L. Central. Most of them replied reluctantly, because the baseball in the Central just hasn’t been that good this year. Up first is Kurt from Mack Avenue Tigers. (Check out the site, they are doing us a favor by helping out here!)
Any team can still win the American League Central. That’s the thesis anyway. I was asked by Rick to explain to fans of the Indians why I think the Tigers can pop the corks on the Champagne this September. Talk about leading a sheep to slaughter! Or maybe Mission: Impossible is the better way of putting it. But I shall fulfill my duty. The Tigers can still win the division. My apologies if this article is short, but I’ve watched this team more than you have.
There are three main reasons to think the season is not over for Tigers fans.
1) The Indianapolis 500 has not yet run. Hey, we’re from Motown. You think we measure the unofficial state of summer based on Memorial Day? The baseball season does not even begin until June. You cannot be deciding who is a playoff team and who isn’t this early in the year. Sure, you’re pretty sure a team like the Texas Rangers or the Washington Nationals is probably safely out of the running. But the last time I checked, they don’t have a pitcher who was touted as having Cy Young potential, who was Rookie of the Year, and who threw a no hitter in just his second season. They don’t the reigning batting champion, or one of the best young hitters in the game on their teams. And they don’t have a $140M payroll. If we have learned one thing in baseball, you can’t keep a high payroll down for the entire season. So that’s reason No. 1. It’s early.
2) Reason No. 2? I alluded to it already. The Tigers have players with a track record. This isn’t some team of guys who had one hot season. It’s not the 2006 Tigers, who got hot but who maybe you thought would come back to earth. No. It’s Curtis Granderson, and Carlos Guillen, and Magglio Ordonez, and Edgar Renteria, and Miguel Cabrera. What do those guys have in common? They’ve all had couple years of OPS+ over 100. There was a reason people thought they’d score 900-1,000 runs this year. Nothing says they won’t play out the rest of the season scoring 5.5 or 6 runs per game still. The potential is there.
And the pitching? Jeremy Bonderman, Justin Verlander, Dontrelle Willis, Kenny Rogers, all four have had good seasons recently. They seem to be stumbling, not quite sure of their mechanics, not quite on their games. Yet. But who says all four are going to continue playing like crap?
And that bullpen issue? Overrated. Bullpen has been about the only part of the team that doesn’t make me want to pull out my hair this month.
This team has a big ball of potential, and it’s still there. At some point, they are going to roll off wins in 9 of 10, games or 13 of 15. They’ll fly right up the standings at that point.
3) The division remains close. As I right this, the Tigers are 5.5 games out of first place. That may be a problem in late August, but it’s not a problem in late May. Every time a team starts to make a run for daylight, they fall back to earth. The Twins have done it. Your Indians recently did it. Sorry, White Sox fans, but your team will be the next kings of the mountain to trip and roll down. The Tigers have yet to get hot for more than a week. But when they do, you can count they’ll be making a run for daylight, too. And with five teams that all seem flawed, whoever gets hot and stays warm is going to come out the champions of the Central.
Hey, why not the Tigers?