The Detroit Tigers Deserve Patience


At 29-28, the Detroit Tigers are perhaps baseball’s biggest enigma. Mired in the midst of one of their worst runs in recent history, it is unclear whether their run of dominance is over, or if they are still a championship contender, simply battling misfortune.

One thing is for certain, however, and that is that from the front office, to the starting nine, this organization has earned patience.

Now, there is no sense in talking about the past. The Tigers faithful are well versed in the achievements of years prior. In fact, over time, success has begun to hang over this fan-base, and this team, like Torii Hunter hanging over the wall at Fenway.

However, there is logic (and sanity) to be found in assessing why the four-time defending AL Central champions are still capable of defending their crown once more.

To begin, the division which Detroit has had a stranglehold over, in recent memory, is not as far from their grasp as it may seem. Currently, the Tigers sit at third in the division, behind a surprising Twins team, and a Royals team with a chip on their shoulder. But it does not take long to find a silver lining. Detroit is just four games back of Minnesota, and three back of Kansas City, despite having only just capped an eight game losing streak.

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Beyond that, there are strong indications that each team the Tigers trail will have trouble maintaining what slim leads they have. Not only does Minnesota rank 22nd out of all 30 Major League teams with 35 errors, but of the six Twins pitchers who have started five or more games in 2015, only two have an ERA under 4.00.

By the same token, Kansas City’s achilles heel in 2014, may once again prove to be their downfall in the AL Central, in 2015. Prior to Saturday’s contest with Texas, the Royals had scored more than four runs just once in their last 10 games, and after another loss in which they managed less than four runs, they had lost nine of their last 11 games.

In reality, any fan of the Tigers prone to reactionary calls for Brad Ausmus’ job, or a fire-sale, should be more worried about a team that trails them, in the Cleveland Indians, than either of the two that lead them. In fact, FanGraphs has Terry Francona’s bunch as their projected AL Central champions.

What they should be less worried about is Detroit’s recent slide. Yes, the eight game series of debacles has been difficult to stomach. However, this is no true iteration of this team. Detroit is currently without Alex Avila, Bruce Rondon, Justin Verlander, and Victor Martinez. Take the equivalent away from any other team within the division, and the margin is likely far greater than just four games.

It is no certainty that Brad Ausmus, and this core group of players, are destined to win the AL Central. In fact, a failure to do so may represent the close of Detroit’s championship window. However, Detroit has shown their foes, as well as their fan-base, that they are capable of surmounting any number of deficits, and until the magic number reaches zero for another team in the Central, it would be unwise to place your bets against the Tigers.

Next: Fantasy Baseball: Five Coldest Hitters In The AL Central