With the 2014 Detroit Tigers season hitting the pause button for the All-Star break, the Motor City Bengals staff put our heads together and discussed what has gone right, what has gone wrong, who has starred, and who has been the goat through the first half of the season.
Today we look at the first half of the season. Please join us for the second half of our roundtable on Thursday, where we’ll discuss what we think will happen heading into the final 70+ regular season games and (hopefully) into the postseason.
Please click through the slideshow to see what we all have to say.
What has surprised you or has exceeded your expectations about the first half for the Detroit Tigers?
Matt Snyder: Ian Kinsler has been a pleasant surprise. We all knew he was a good player, but there was some question about how his bat would play away from Texas. Just fine, was his answer through an All-Star first half.
Chris Hannum: What has surprised me (in a good way) has been the quality contributions we’re getting from young guys that we hope can be major contributors even after 2015 in Castellanos, Suarez and JD Martinez. Not just that these particular guys are playing a lot and playing well, but that the overall feeling about the team has changed from one with a rapidly closing window into one with more hope for the future.
Michael Emmerich: Victor Martinez, especially his late career power surge. I was one of those worried about the Tigers’ loss of power. But Victor has been a savior (as has that other Martinez). Hopefully Martinez’s current injury doesn’t linger or sap his power.
Grant Stoye: What’s surprised me is how well the Tigers have done despite having a revolving shortstop. Without Iglesias I thought they’d be dead in the water, but they’ve managed to stay at the top of the class despite having several iterations of Joey Bagadonuts manning shortstop.
Tom Zahari: The emergence of J.D. Martinez is the obvious answer, but I will go with Joba Chamberlain’s performance out of the Tigers’ bullpen. Joba has been automatic in the 8th inning this year. Yes, he did struggle in the 9th when he was given a chance during Joe Nathan’s struggles, but Joba and his breaking ball have shut down everyone to the point where he has 16 holds, 39 K’s, an ERA of 2.78 and a WHIP of 1.15. He has held this bullpen together.
Blair Tatrault: The emergence of J.D. Martinez as a force in the line-up. The front office deserves major credit for his acquisition. I’m not sure what the second half holds for Martinez, but if he’s real, watch out. Of course after giving up the most hits in the American League in 2012, Rick Porcello’s first half represents a phenomenal career turn-around.
Matt Pelc: Players that have stepped up that we weren’t counting on heading into this season. Eugenio Suarez has made us forgot about Alex Gonzalez and Andrew Romine (other than his 1-2 starts per week), Nick Castellanos has exceeded expectations both offensively and defensively, J.D. Martinez came out of nowhere to establish a legitimate power threat, and Joba Chamberlain came in with very low expectations and has been lights out this season.
Josh Scramlin: The Tigers offense has exceeded every expectation I had this year. Kinsler, Victor Martinez, and Cabrera are absolutely deadly; and players such as Rajai Davis and JD Martinez, whom are offensively challenged in years past, are hitting like no other. I knew we had a good core offense in our 1-5 hitters, but to see the bottom of the lineup and the top of the lineup perform in harmon is incredible. The 2014 offense has been better than advertised.
Sam O’Toole: Ian Kinsler has definitely exceeded my expectations this season. The Fielder-Kinsler trade looked like a salary dump by the Tigers at the time, but halfway through 2014, it looks like the Tigers were the big winners. Kinsler’s .307 batting average is his highest since 2008, his first All-Star game. The second baseman has become one of the leaders if the Tigers and paces them at the top of the lineup.
Josie Parnell: The new players, specifically Ian Kinsler, Rajai Davis, Joba Chamberlain and, of course, J.D. Martinez. All of then have been at least as good as advertised, and in most cases they’ve been way better. J.D. Martinez will likely cease to produce the way he has been since his call up, but why not ride it ’till the wheels fall off.