May 11, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Robbie Ray (38) pitches in the second inning against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Which Team is the Biggest Threat to the Tigers in the AL Central?


The Tigers currently sit at 21-12 which is the best record in the American League by a ½ game and the best record in the AL Central by 5 games over the Chicago White Sox and Kansas City Royals and 5.5 games over the Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians. The Tigers are taking care of business to start this season and have proclaimed dominance over the AL Central like many believed before the season. With the rest of the teams in the Central all either 5 or 5.5 games back of the Tigers, who poses the biggest threat to overtake the Tigers this season?

Here are the Tigers current pitching and hitting rankings in the AL:

  • 6th in runs and 4th in runs per game at 4.94
  • 1st in batting average at .283
  • 4th in OBP at .335
  • T-2nd in slugging percentage at .432
  • 1st in OPS at .766
  • 2nd in ERA at 3.45
  • 3rd in Batting Average against at .237
  • 2nd in opposing OBP at .297
  • 6th in opposing slugging at .387
  • 4th in opposing OPS at .684
  • 2nd in WHIP at 1.20
  • 2nd in FIP at 3.32
  • 3rd in xFIP at 3.58

Here are the Twins ranks:

  • 5th in runs at 164 and 6th in runs per game at 4.69
  • 12th in batting average at .242
  • 6th in OBP at .331
  • 13th in slugging at .365
  • 11th in OPS at .697
  • 14th in ERA at 4.71
  • 15th in batting average against at .278
  • 10th in opposing OBP at .338
  • 12th in opposing slugging at .422
  • 12th in opposing OPS at .759
  • 14th in WHIP at 1.45
  • 12th in FIP at 4.17
  • 15th in xFIP at 4.55

Here are the White Sox ranks:

  • 1st in runs at 196 and runs per game at 5.16
  • 2nd in batting average at .267
  • 7th in OBP at .330
  • 4th in slugging at .423
  • 4th in OPS at .753
  • 13th in ERA at 4.63
  • 8th in batting average against at .257
  • 14th in opposing OBP at .343
  • 7th in opposing slugging at .391
  • 9th in opposing OPS at .734
  • 15th in WHIP at 1.46
  • 13th in FIP at 4.25
  • 14th in xFIP at 4.53

Here are the Royals ranks:

  • 14th in runs at 139 and runs per game at 3.86
  • 9th in batting average at .255
  • 13th in OBP at .307
  • 15th (last) in slugging at .358
  • 13th in OPS at .665
  • 4th in ERA at 3.49
  • 5th in batting average against at .240
  • 4th in opposing OBP at .308
  • 3rd in opposing slugging at .370
  • 3rd in opposing OPS at .678
  • 3rd in WHIP at 1.25
  • 6th in xFIP at 3.88

Here are the Indians ranks:

  • 11th in runs at 147 and 13th in runs per game at 3.97
  • 13th in batting average at .237
  • 11th in OBP at .316
  • 11th in slugging at .373
  • 12th in slugging at .688
  • 7th in ERA at 3.87
  • 6th in batting average against at .251
  • 8th in opposing OBP at .323
  • 4th in opposing slugging at .370
  • 6th in opposing OPS at .699
  • 8th in WHIP at 1.34
  • 1st in FIP at 3.23
  • 2nd in xFIP at 3.54

Looking at all of these numbers, it can easily be seen that the Tigers are the most complete team with the highest overall rankings in the division both offensively and pitching. Looking at the rest of the division the Twins and White Sox have started strong offensively, but are struggling on the mound. The Twins are dealing with injury problems which is leading to offensive struggles of late. The Indians and the Royals are both having a hard time scoring runs, but are pitching well. Looking at advanced statistics, the Indians’ pitching staff is pitching better than their numbers show. They are 1st and 2nd in FIP and xFIP which means their ERA should decrease if their defense holds up.

I am a believer that pitching wins championships, or at least will keep you in the race for one. The Royals and Indians have the better pitching staffs behind the Tigers. I believe that Indians’ offense is more likely to come around than the Royals’. I think the Indians are still the team to look out for in the Central as this season wears on. What do you think?

Tags: AL Central Detroit Tigers