Have the Tigers Put Together A Winner?
I'm a fan of Detroit, and blogged their worst season back in 2003. Now the team is suddenly 20-11, and looking like a contender. How real are they? Let's take a look at the everyday players first:
Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez. What can you say? One of the all time greatest hitting and defensive catchers ever. Hitting .315 but with nowhere near the power he has shown in the past.
First Base: Chris Shelton has played about the equivalent of one full year in the majors, with a .290 average, 29 homers and 83 RBI. This year he seems to be kicking it up a notch.
Second Base: Placido Palanco is hitting .287, but it's gotta be the weakest .287 in major league history. He's got one extra base hit (a double) in 108 at bats, and one walk. He has shown power in the past so it seems likely that he's got some minor injury that's slowed his bat down.
Third Base: Brandon Inge. Average is down this year but power production is more than offsetting it.
Shortstop: Carlos Guillen. Shows signs of returning to his 2004 form when he hit like Derek Jeter.
The outfielders (Ordonez, Granderson and Monroe) are a little light on batting average (not Ordonez) but have more than enough pop in their bats.
The rotation looks solid, with Maroth, Bonderman and Rogers all well-above average starters. Fernando Rodney may be developing into a top-flight closer; he's converted five of five save opportunities this year and has yet to give up a run.
So yes, this Tiger team looks for real. They have the misfortune of playing in the same division with the team with the best record in baseball, the defending champion White Sox. But they will probably be in the hunt for the Wild Card spot in the American League.