The Detroit Tigers are off to an excellent start in the second half of the season, and it’s part of a general trend of solid baseball over the last two months.
Things looked a bit sketchy for the Tigers as they dropped a four-game series to the Twins heading into the All-Star break. But the time off seems to have given a taxed bullpen the rest it needed, and the club is right back to playing .500 ball.
But before we fully train our sights on the trade deadline and the stretch run, we though it would be fun to take a look back at our preseason predictions. We had six contributors offer their thoughts back at the end of March. Let’s see how we did:
Detroit Tigers Record Predictions
Most of our predictions were in a pretty tight cluster, with Jon the clear low man. Through the first five weeks of the season he looked downright optimistic, as the Tigers limped to a 9-24 start. But they’ve been winning at a .565 clip ever since.
If they continue on this pace for the rest of the year they’ll finish with an 82-80 record. We envision a few more bumps in the road, but it’s safe the Detroit Tigers are doing better than any of us expected.
Detroit Tigers Predictions: Whiffs
It’s always fun to look back and laugh at how wrong we were. We’ll split this one into two groups:
"The club will likely see some solid offensive output from the likes of Jeimer Candelario, Robbie Grossman, and Willi Castro, but the club has a ways to go to be competitive, especially in the power department."
This is mostly right, but Jake didn’t have any huge whiffs, and it gives us a chance to touch on Willi Castro. Several of us thought Castro was going to be a key piece of the future, but it’s July and he finds himself back in Toledo. His batted-ball luck regressed, he’s proven to be unplayable on the infield, and Castro is going to have to fight to be a part of this team in the future.
"Tarik Skubal, despite the great talent that is available in the AL this year as far as Rookie of the Year candidates go, is my prediction to win ROY. He may be on an “innings limit” but if he can go out and command his secondary pitches, he will make a name for himself."
Skubal has made a name for himself and shown flashes of dominance. He’s been one of the better starters in the American League since May, but his Rookie of the Year chances are pretty slim because he really dug himself a hole in April.
Swing and a Miss
"Off the wall prediction: Daniel Norris is fantastic in a multi-inning relief role and is the most coveted relief pitcher available at the deadline. He gets traded and everyone feels good about the return."
Joe gets a slight break for explicitly stating this was an off-the-wall prediction, but it doesn’t look great. Daniel Norris’ numbers aren’t quite as bad as they appear to be on the surface, but he quickly pitched himself out of favor in the bullpen, he doesn’t appear to be particularly coveted, and if he gets traded at all it’s unlikely anyone will be happy with the return.
"Miguel Cabrera stays healthy for most of the year and has one last great season, batting .290 with 28 home runs to win the Comeback Player of the Year award."
The numbers are WAY off. He’s currently hitting .243 with seven home runs, so to reach the stats I predicted, he will have to bat .340 with a slugging percentage of about .612 in the second half. That kind of second-half has happened just eight times in Detroit Tigers history. Cabrera did it in 2011 and again in 2016…so maybe he’s due.
Detroit Tigers Predictions: Hits
Now that we have that unpleasantness out of the way, let’s take a look at some things we nailed.
"It’s also a sneaky-good bullpen–especially if Michael Fulmer gets on a roll as we’ve seen flashes of since he has made the transition to relief."
“Sneaky good” was an absolutely perfect way to describe this bullpen. On the season they own a 5.22 ERA, which is the 4th worst in baseball, but they are in the bottom third in blown saves, and they have four very solid options to help close out games now, including Michael Fulmer, when he’s healthy. Speaking of which…
"The Tigers’ closer situation may be in flux during the early stages of the season. If the revamped Fulmer begins to thrive as a reliever, AJ Hinch may decide to capitalize on that by giving him opportunities to close. If so, the competitive Fulmer could seize the role and establish himself as the Tigers’ closer by the end of the season."
It briefly looked as though Fulmer would return to the rotation, but he settled in as an excellent bullpen piece, with short stretches of dominance in the closer role.
"After years of rebuilding, 2021 feels like we may be on the precipice of the upswing (or an inflection point). Skubal, Mize, Candelario, Castro, Baddoo (yeah, I said it) are a part of the opening day roster and bring with them the possibility of a new era of Tiger’s baseball (and a winning one at that)."
This isn’t a whole lot different that Jake’s “miss” prediction, but Joe seems to have captured the general feel of the season now. Skubal, Mize, and Baddoo all look to be legitimate pieces for the future, and the upswing does feel real.
"Jonathan Schoop leads club w/25 homers"
The season isn’t over yet, and Schoop may well be on another team in ten days, but the general idea is correct. Jonathan Schoop has been one of the most productive hitters in baseball since the beginning of June, and with 17 home runs right now it’s hard to picture him not hitting at least 25 on the season.
"Derek Hill will get some time in the majors again along with Daz Cameron. An outfield of Hill, Cameron, and Baddoo in either August or September."
This may seem obvious now, but back in March there was no guarantee Baddoo would stick around, and Hill and Cameron had to make their way though JaCoby Jones, Victor Reyes, and Nomar Mazara. Rog nailed this one.
"Robbie Grossman will have a 20-20 season. It’s not that Grossman is particularly speedy, but he gets on base at an above-average clip, and A.J. Hinch is likely to be very aggressive with a team that will almost certainly be in the bottom 5 in home runs."
This one is gonna be real close. Right now Grossman has 13 home runs and 11 stolen bases, which are both already career highs. Are the Tigers in the bottom five in home runs? Not quite. They currently rank 21st with 104 homers, which is ahead of the White Sox and the Mets, among others. But the aggressive base stealing was right. Detroit ranks 4th in baseball and 2nd in the American League with 59 steals.