How the 2021 Detroit Tigers defied the odds

Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch congratulates catcher Eric Haase.
Detroit Tigers manager A.J. Hinch congratulates catcher Eric Haase. /
2 of 5

The Detroit Tigers Were Ruined by April

Detroit Tigers
Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera celebrates with designated hitter Nomar Mazara. Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Tigers were absolutely awful in April, finishing the month 8-19. But one of the persistent themes of this season has been how well the Tigers played in the subsequent months.

The Tigers went 69-66 after April, which equates to a full-season pace of about 83 wins. Is it possible Detroit’s uncharacteristically poor first month skewed their WAR numbers on the season?

WAR from 5/1 – 10/3


In a word, no. For that to have an impact the Tigers would’ve had to substantially under-perform their WAR numbers in April. But that didn’t happen.

In fact, the opposite was true. Detroit’s offense ranked dead last in April WAR with -2.2, while the pitching was tied for 26th at 1.3. They were the only team with a negative overall WAR in April. The Tigers won 8 games in April, which is exactly what a replacement-level team would be expected to do. But WAR suggests they should have won just 7.1 games.

It seems the Tigers may have consistently out-performed their projected WAR all season, even during their pathetic April. So what else could cause this discrepancy in wins?